Remote Working, Leave Your Office and Go Home

by Vasco Duarte

This weekend I did some research on remote working. (One of the advantages of being fictional; you don’t need time to relax in the sun or silly stuff like that) On Infoq I found a great article called ‘Remote Working Works’ by Tom Howlett who works at a company called Biomni. Since Happy Melly is all about working without offices, I like to share some insights with you guys.

Finding good employees

A couple of years ago Tom and his team (and many more in the company) decided to leave their London office to work from home. No more ‘bars and restaurants’ but ‘poultry keeping and mountain biking’. For them it was a great success. They are now ‘closer together than ever’. For us at Happy Melly working without offices works as well. Our traveling designer Linda Hirzmann worked from Japan, Thailand and India with Jurgen, who was in Vienna, the USA, and a zillion other places. And we have offices all over the world, from Sweden to Brazil and Australia. There is another big plus Tom says: it turned out to be way easier for them to find good employees. He referrers to Dan Pink, who said that knowledge workers aren’t driven by money, but by other stuff. Of course, we know all about intrinsic motivation at Happy Melly. Luckily, we don’t have problems finding great people as well.

I walk my children to school before settling down with a large coffee and get straight to work.

Tom Howlett

Stay social

The story has quite some other parallels with the Happy Melly environment, but there are differences, too. Tom likes his people to be in a compatible time zone, we don’t care about that. My ghostwriter has Hangouts or Skype calls with people from Australia to Canada and from Belgium to Brazil. I like that even better. In the Happy Melly empire the sun never goes down 🙂 People ask Tom if he ever gets lonely. But he doesn’t. In his words ‘offices can be lonely places’ as well. People surround you, but it often is anonymous. At home he is ‘more confident, freer and more independent’. He has a couple of tips, though. The first: stay social. Be online some time before an online meeting to talk about other stuff for instance. And meet up in real life every now and then. Tip two: make sure you are technically well equipped. There’s nothing more frustrating than one person in a meeting struggling with sound. Quite true. On the other hand, the connection with Brazil was horrible once and Alexandre Magno had to email his story to me. It resulted in a very funny blog post because, in his writings, Alexandre made a great joke. And because Mischa Ramseyer participated in a Hangout from the noisiest coffee place in the world, our Huddle had a funny edge to it.

Please, read the article yourself. It’s fun and you get to learn something. Tom writes about other stuff, too, like health, creating and learning. In his conclusion Tom says, ‘We have a long history of working together in offices and a very short one of doing it remotely.’ He also says that the ‘tools are there’. He’s right about that, I’m the non-existing proof to that. So tell me, what’s your favorite place to get work done?

Photo by Michael Marston

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