Remote Work does not work… completely by itself

Even if the technical preconditions, available work and willingly remote workers are distributed everywhere, remote work runs not by itself.

Distractions

Most critics are complaining the possible distractions you can have at home or at the coworking space. Distractions are possible, but by far most of the remote workers would have more distractions in the office environment than at home. My actual job is 4 days onsite and 1 day at home. The home office day is the ‘work day’ the 4 others are the organizing stuff days, packed with meetings and 1-to-1 discussions, regarding my work as project manager. Reading specifications and do longer planning sessions is only possible at home.

Off-topic work

Another problem of remote work is the content, meaning what tasks will be performed. If the project information and tasks are not properly distributed over the team, people tend to perform task they like most and not the ones which are needed most. This can only be faced by good project management. Be it agile or more traditional the core points are:

  • have the necessary information at the right time at the people who are needing it
  • provide a clear overall picture to all stakeholders
  • have a clear structure in your project
  • trust your team members (clear point but often missing) – see also ‘Trust is the key for successful remote work
  • transfer responsibility to your team members, but monitor the results
  • make agreements about delivery times not orders

Failure at remote working situation is rarely based on the people, but mostly about bad communication and bad project management.

Self-motivation

Anyway you need a good portion of self-motivation. Most people need a good environment for that. You can achieve that with a good company culture which is even effective for remote workers or, if you are working for your own, by a good coworking space. I’m referring here not only to the fancy, busy spaces in big cities, but primarily all that small office spaces which are available in your direct neighborhood. And this unspectacular place to work together with other remote workers is a thing that hopefully will spread further in the near future.

Here are some more points, ‘Why Remote Work has Not Exploded yet‘ and here is my ‘The Ultimate List of Remote Work Pros and Cons‘.

What is your experience about the success factors of remote work? Let us know in the comment section!

Australia, Please Move Over to Remote Work!

Dear Australia, I have seen your wonderful country now for the second time. It is so beautiful! Great landscape everywhere, beautiful animals, tasty food, free BBQs in every park and very friendly, lovely people.

But you have one big problem. You are destroying your beautiful nature in a rapid speed. You changed the positive meaning of the forward-thinking word ‚development‘ to the cruel synonyme for logging very old woods, which are full of species and building houses, industrial areas, extra-wide highways or yet another shopping mall.

I’m not saying that you should not develop! But it is definitely wrong how it is going on now. You are selling your nature to international and national companies for a few hundred job here and a few hundred there.

You let the Indian company Adani build worlds biggest coal mine in the hinterland of Cairns with a new railway to the coast and yet another coal port for huge ships in the Great Barrier Reef. Just a few month ago, they got a way too small fine for the spill of contaminated water into the wetlands next to their actual smaller operation up there.

Without any care about koalas, you are ‚developing‘ thought the east coast. The complex habitates of male and female wild koalas are even not fully researched, but cutting their food trees for ‚land clearing‘ is permitted everywhere. You are literally killing your iconic animal. The newly build freeway no. 1 between Brisbane and Sydney is getting tiny horizontal ladders 150 meters actross the road (maybe used by possums, but never by koalas) and special tunnels under the road to let the koalas cross underneath. Nobody knows if they will be used sometime. The fences along the road are only to prevent the cars from kangaroo damage – koala will easily climb over them.

Airlie Beach is a nice touristic destination at the Great Barrier Reef south of Cairns. It was developed from a small fisher village to a medium sized town. That is enough! You do not have to put concrete over every grass halm between the town and the highway in the hinterland. The building signs for exactly that are already standing – this time backed by Chinese money for huge casino resorts!

Australia, I know you need jobs – you just need a better plan than betting on fossil fuels, mining and tourism.

You are the remote country! Dive into remote work!

You have a tradition in very remote mining operations and very remote farming. You are the remote country, you are even the remote continent! On the other hand you are highly urbanized – the percentage of your population, which lives in cities rankes right next after the city countries like Singapore – and this is not good for a right balance with nature and the health of your people. I have already written a post about that at the beginning of this year: How remote work supports the health of our planet .

Get prepared for the actual form of remote work which means working over the internet. This means mostly getting highspeed internet in every populated corner of your country – I know Telstra did a good job with that, even with over-the-air-wifi in cities, but it is still hard to get good internet in smaller towns.

Then educate your workers for this kind of work, which is new to most. I even found a New South Wales agency for that: Pointer. All the remote work pros and cons are here: The Ultimate List of Remote Work Pros and Cons. Jumping into remote work would have two major impacts: 1. you don’t have to run after everyone who want to create a few jobs and allows him ruining your country for that. 2. enabling the people to work wherever they are would reduce the pressure on the cities – especially the koala inhabitating east and southeast coast and your biggest cities Sydney and Melbourne where you already cannot afford the tiniest houses.

To see what other benefits it will have for your residents, even mentally: What Remote Work is Doing with You.

And there is the big trend of spreading sustainable energy. Your geography is perfect for solar power generation – in big and small scale. You can go completly off-grid with the ongoining reduction in battery prizes – great in every remote area. Nice that you purchased a huge Tesla battery for he stability of the South Australian power net.

Boost your jobs for PV and battery installing electricians and put money in battery research. And switch from coal to PV power generation in the big scale quickly and let the coal in the ground – that would be a enourmous contrubution for reducing the outcomes of the climate change. Your PM want to extend the time of the coal Liddel power station (Link), despite its operator AGL will not?

Australia, please wake up, before it is too late!

Remote Work Makes Your Business Disaster Safe

Do you know someone who had to evacuate because of the hurricanes Harvey or Irma these days? Or someone without power after the earthquake in Mexico yesterday?

It is important that we think about their lives and their belongings first. I hope that everyone is doing well and that Irma hits Florida not as hard as supposed.

But after that start thinking about their businesses. Natural disasters have an huge impact on the economy. Not only because of the destruction of buildings and infrastructure, especially because of the missing employees through evacuations.

If your are relocated for the arriving hurricane and your company allows remote work, you will be able to work anyhow.

Is your business located in the disaster zone? Can the work of your company done from anywhere over the internet? Then you are well prepared if you have already implemented remote work possibilities at your company.

These disasters can also be snowstorms, earthquakes, floodings, bush fires, power outages, construction work on imporant infrastructure or even a flu outbreak like actually in parts of Australia.

So use remote work to be prepared for whatever comes. See all the other benefits in my post ‘The Ultimate List of Remote Work Pros and Cons‘.

Please tell us the story of your company in the comment section! Which disaster was handled by your company in a good way – and which in a bad way?

Find Fendi

This post is the very actual problem we have in our family.

We 4 flew from Zürich over Hong Kong to Cairns in the last days and my 8yo. daughter lost her beloved little elephant ‘Fendi’ at our stop at Hong Kong International Airport. It is grey, laying, about 20cm long and from the trademark ‘Steiff’, so similar to the picture above.

To say something about location and timing: It is highest likely, that we lost him in the waiting area between Gate 22 and 24  under the seats near the windows in the time between 18:00 (6pm) and 19:45 at Tuesday the 8th of August. So every sighting after that time would be great! After that we waited again at Gate 49 till we boarded our next flight there.

We contacted already Cathay Pacific and the Lost&Found departement at Hong Kong IA, but they both didn’t find him.

Please share that story as much as possible, that we can bring back the elephant to our daugther. It really means very much to us! Hong Kong International is very well frequented, so it would be great to put this message especially to your travelling friends and everyone you know in Hong Kong.

Remote Work Creates a Fairer World

We all know the big inequality we have on earth. Your chances in life are highly different depending on your place of birth. Remote work will lower that on a large scale. Have a look how that will work out.

Birth Lottery

The biggest disadvantage on earth is based on the birth lottery. You have less possibilities in life, if you are born into a poor family. The education is worse, the motivation to go studying is less and the connections to good jobs are missing. That is common everywhere on earth and we know it from our western communities.

But the birth lottery is even worse at developing countries. If you are born in a rural area without internet access and maybe without electricity, the way to a middle class life is very, very hard. You have to start real work underaged, have to get kids in your twenties or earlier and cannot even think of university.

The good news is, that it is getting a little easier to improve your standard of life with every year. Electricity and internet are on the rise, i.e. with photovoltaic power generation, in every region on earth.

Remote Education

With the higher availability of the (hopefully neutral) internet comes the better access to education. Everyone who is a little self-motivated can receive free high level education, i.e. from Udacity or other MOOCs (massive open online courses) of high schools and even well-known universities.

This is a big chance for talented, young people in the developed and in the developing world. No matter if you are a young African software developer or a German mom and likes to restart your career without leaving your kids alone too long.

Well-paid Work

And then comes remote work! Because all the education doesn’t help without well-paid work. Electricity, internet, laptop and education are the only ingredients, what a motivated woman or man needs today to increase their standard of living fundamentally.

Take the example of tunga.io a remote startup run by a Dutch founder. They are working together with BITS ACADEMY with sections across Africa, which are training IT skills to students. Tunga tries to link these trained developers to worldwide software projects.

A little bit more on the side of entry level jobs is Sama Source from San Francisco. Their mission is to lift people out of poverty with remote jobs like data entry or data enrichment. If that all is working on a large scale, this will improve the life of whole communities, including better sanitation, increased health, less hunger and a reduced number of children in families (which slows overpopulation).

The possibly increased standard of living is the same for underprivileged people everywhere. A disabled person who can work on a computer but is not so mobile thrives with actual remote work options.

Better Than Development Aid

Nothing bad about good development aid! It saved an amazing number of lives and helps the people who are mostly unblamable for their situation. And it is old news that education is the key for helping developing regions. But a sustainable development starts only if there is enough work.

It is not the best solution for the local people, to bring them work through the big enterprises, with was common for production work in eastern Europe and China, moved through India and looks for its luck now in Indonesia and the Phillipines.

Much better for every country is, to enable a diverse and strong economy. This works not only with international teams, where workers of developing countries are part of the team, it works mostly through the huge number of better trained and experienced young people who will start new endeavours by their own. Remote work can be more sustainable than development aid in this way!

That all is not naturally given, so a stable, democratic political framework is important. An affordable, unrestricted access to an uncensored internet is crucial. A government, which thinks it is better to keep the people stupid, will not help itself in the long run, because a strong, independent economy is the better choice everytime.

Summing Up

Remote work creates exactly the opportunities, which were missing in the past. It gives well-paid work to so many disadvantaged groups of job seekers. Disabled, underprivileged, formerly undereducated, part-time, young mom, rural or remote living and relative caring people have much more possibilities these days. The worldwide inequality between poor and rich countries, between metropolitan and rural areas and between high and low educated people will be lowered dramatically by remote work!

Other opinions? Interesting additions? You know similar initiatives like the above mentioned? Please write that in the comments!

Want to be part of the movement? Want to do something good – better than development aid? Please contact me via the contact page.