I guess we haven’t yet exactly explained why our company operates without the main office, where we all would sit in front of our laptops and get distracted regularly, and meet in cool conference rooms in order to talk through what could be discussed more efficiently within the task comments. Here is why:
Work = office?
It seems that the modern “must” for getting a job done is a fancy office. It’s like there’s an equation between the two: work = office!
Once you’ve read it printed like that I’m sure you can see how absurd it sounds. Work is not a place to go. It’s a thing you do. And you can actually do most of the stuff that knowledge workers do on a regular basis from a computer that’s plugged in anywhere.
Let’s fight the myths
Why is it so important for most companies – big and small ones – to make their employees work in an office? I guess there must exist some deeply rooted beliefs and outdated convictions that make founders and managers think of the office as something inevitable and – what’s even more astonishing – beneficial.
- Every “serious company” needs an office
If we don’t have an office, we won’t be taken seriously in the world of business… And what about MySQL, Automattic, Buffer, InVision, GitLab and many more?
2. We need a place to work
Do employees really need to commute to work on crowded trains or inhale (and produce!) exhaust fumes in traffic jams for almost an hour to be able to get to… his or her laptop(!) to work on it?
3. We need to collaborate
Haven’t you heard of Nozbe, Skype, Zoom, Slack, Google Docs, etc.? Collaborative software seems more efficient to us than sitting next to each other in an open space and pretending to collaborate when you’re actually just distracting each other?
4. We need meetings
In fact, we don’t need that many of them! Meetings are toxic. And when necessary and well planned, they’re equally effective when conducted via Zoom, Skype, FaceTime, etc.
5. We need to meet our clients
Is it really crucial to invite customers to the office? How often? The only offices we have at Nozbe are nozbe.com and our social media networks. We have customers from all over the world and Michael, our CEO meets them all the time… just not in the office. And it’s not like any of them has ever asked to come to the Nozbe office anyway…
6. Every other company of our size has an office
We’re a company of 26 and we don’t have an office. MySQL had over 500 employees working remotely. Besides, doing something just because someone else is also doing it is a lame argument. Go through statistics and facts and decide whether your company really needs an office to do well in the marketplace.
7. The best people to do the job live in the same city
Instead of recruiting people who live not far from the company’s office, it’s better to look for the best people in the country, or even better - in the world. Why to narrow down the choice or force someone to leave their home town and local community to be able to work for you?
How to cope without an office
Working in a virtual team isn’t much of a challenge if you:
- use the right tools
- agree upon a specific workflow and communication rules
- make sure all the team members know what they are responsible for and how to get organized
A distributed team of knowledge workers needs tools for: group video calls and chats, for project and task management, the customer base management, documentation as well as storing files in the cloud.
You can find out more about the tools we use in this Nozbe.how template.
Workflow in a virtual company should be based on projects and specific and accurately delegated tasks (SMART criteria should be applied automatically when formulating goals and tasks). It’s great if all team members from cooperating departments know who is responsible for what.
When working remotely you can communicate through tasks, preferably within a good productivity app. This is the most effective way and nothing gets lost in “the noise.” Communication channels should be well defined so that private/random chats take place in different channels/chat-rooms than work-related communication. This way the essential information gets attention and is safely stored.
The right people
When hiring, it’s worthwhile to explain to the candidates what the remote team is all about, emphasize the importance of mutual trust and check how they get organized on a daily basis. The team itself will very quickly asses whether a new colleague can work from home efficiently or not. If he or she becomes a bottleneck, they won’t be willing to continue cooperating with him or her. That’s why you don’t need to worry about employees cheating and pretending to do their job. Dishonesty will be revealed and rebuffed naturally.
Work is not a place to go
In most cases, knowledge workers of all sorts do their jobs on their computers (most often from laptops, more and more often from mobile devices). They search for and exchange information, type, think, create. It’s not about the office… it’s all about the work that needs to be done! And work is not a place to go. It’s a thing you do.
More about Nozbe’s #NoOffice policy:
Is there anything else you would like to know about us working remotely with no physical office? Let us know in the comment below.