otsukare Thoughts after a day of work

This is not a remote work

The Fallacy Of Remote Working

Everyone these days is working remotely in some ways. What people assume (both companies and employees) is that remote working is about working at distance from the office, and most of the time, from home. The notion of location here is a very important trope carried by the word "remote".

There is an assumption from corporations that time on site is equivalent to one of these:

As a note for managers, it makes me grin when a company is able to hire another company for a service or a specific deliverables without control on daily hours, locations, etc. but freak out when discussing with its own employees cohort about relaxing the constraints of the office location.

Criteria For "A-Localized" Work

So let's create a term for it. I prefer "alocalized" instead of remote. Remote too often induces the meaning of a central location, where some of the employees are working as satellites. Not all profession can be alocalized. Some jobs require someone to be physically on-site to be able to act on the task (in-house offices cleaners, receptionists, assembly line workers). Some jobs are done outside of the central location by their nature themselves (carpenters, high power lines workers). It's not usually the type of works we consider when we mention this topic.

Everyone who can execute their task in a distributed fashion, still cooperating with each other to be able to advance the work is a possible candidate for alocalized work.

If you are an employer, stop worrying about the abilities of your employees to work in an alocalized fashion. Before you need to assess if the company is able to work that way. Here some criteria that will make the environment friendly for workers.

Management must be part of it. Everyone should be included in the new way of working. The location is not important. Work in or outside of an office should not matter. That's critical.

Real Problems Of Not In An Office

There are issues, where this way of working will fail. But not necessary, the way most employers think about it.

Many of the issues for people working alocalized are often created by the work organization in the company itself.

On the personal level, the employees should assess their ability to work outside of an office. It's unrelated to the skills level. Some employees with 20 years of work experience will always be unable to work outside of an office. See below.

My Own Experience

I have started working in a distributed environment very early. In 1994, when I was studying for my DEA in Astrophysics and Spatial Techniques, I was also doing my national service (mandatory at the time) at Observatoir de Meudon in France. The work included working with people and data across the world. Probably my first experience of having to deal with alocalized, asynchronous tasks.

But my skills of really working in a distributed environment was when I landed a job at W3C from 2000 to 2008. There is a specific culture at W3C which is first class in terms of working in a distributed fashion. This is essential. I worked both from offices and from home (or cafes or airports). Location didn't matter that much. I had years where I worked only in offices, and years working exclusively not from an office. I insist on saying "not from an office" compared "from home".

Then I worked for Opera Software from 2010 to 2013, again not in an office. And the same for Mozilla from 2013.

W3C is still the place which fares the best in terms of working in a distributed, alocalized fashion. At Mozilla, for example, too many people relies on slack discussions, closed google documents or private email threads for working. This should not happen.

For my work self-organization, things which worked.