Telecommuting With (Literally) Extra Steps
Gary Walker guests. We trade data points while pontificating on the pursuit of remote work as a cultural shift; not just towards location-independent labor, but the rebalancing of personal space & time.
(1:30) Mitch introduces Gary Walker, creator of "Ready for Remote" and Digital Director at Distribute. (4:45) Gary lays out some of his process around aligning employers to the optimal working environment for their staff & departments... one tell-tale sign informing his consideration for taking any job remote is when 75% of its labor occurs over digital tools or virtual interaction. He states that in large part, successful shifts in team structure and virtual engagement lean on establishing trust in consistent & clear communication. (10:18) Riffing on the importance of working as if all coworkers are remote to you, Mitch recalls a study by Humanyze finding a corporation's interactions so tied to proximity that employees sitting within 500 meters accounted for 90% of all communications. We talk about how this natural tendency for informal, splintered communication leaves employee success & satisfaction to chance. (14:56) Gary speaks to some early-stage approaches he's been taking to integrate mindfulness and mental health tools into an employee's workday. We discuss the precarious path of gathering & applying wellness insights, including the opportunity to blend your work "location" with a real-time trip to your therapist, for example. (21:24) Gary revisits his 75% number, revealing what employees and leaders specifically come to understand about what the office's real value could be. (25:13) We go on a bender in denouncing the anti-telecommuting protectionist myth of physical "collaboration" -- Mitch's mental model is that collaboration is half of a "net interaction" equation, with the other half being distraction. Gary calls it the illusion of collaboration and invokes the research of Adam Grant. (32:53) Mitch heaves up his hot take: if supervisors expect employees in their seats to ensure productivity through observation, then we should replace those supervisors with cameras at a fraction of the cost. Gary champions the servant leader and doubles down on the need for organizations to embrace the principles of trust, transparency and clarity.