Using firefighting to prove that remote work works
I thoroughly enjoy remote work, after reading “Your Brain at Work” I learned that the human brain can only realistically make 3 or 4 big decisions in a day.
You read that right, that’s only 3 or 4 decisions in a day! After that, the quality of your decision making is drastically reduced.
A long or stressful commute means you deplete your brain’s energy before you even get to work, you use all your good decision making skills for things such as choosing the right time to leave to get the earlier bus, remembering not to forget your lunch, not crashing into the truck on your right, and finding a place to park because Karen from accounting took your place again.
With remote work you can wake up and start working whilst eating breakfast, and then go take a shower, or walk your dogs, and continue working again. This freedom increases the quality of work and severely increases your work/life balance.
At the end of a work day you don’t feel like I just sold a day of my life I’ll never get back for some lousy cash.
Common excuses bosses use for not allowing remote work:
- You’ll just get distracted
- Communication suffers
- You need to be in the same room to collaborate
- Teamwork requires close physical proximity
- You’ll just do other things instead of work
What they actually mean:
- They don’t trust you
- They don’t trust their own leadership skills(if they actually have any)
- They feel in control when you’re physically there
So basically, everyone is pretty sure that communication suffers when working remotely. Even though a majority of companies still don’t know to conduct meetings, and just because you’re talking for 5 hours doesn’t mean you’re communicating!
Back when I lived in a small town, I was part of the local volunteer firefighters.
Firefighting is a dangerous job and has to be choreographed to perfection in order to successfully put the fire(s) out.
Let’s imagine a medium sized fire like the ones we got nearly every summer:
Up to 200 men can be working together to put out the fire. some will be on foot.
Some are driving land vehicles.
others are flying helicopters and planes with fire retardant substances.
All teams have one team lead, and all team leads report to higher ranking members that call the shots.
All this is reported to the central radio station, that then updates neighboring councils and national services. All this happens in minutes, and all around there is nothing but smoke. And often it’s impossible to breathe without a breathing aid.
And the kicker? All this is done remotely, communicating with nothing but bad radios with terrible signal.
Up to 10 different regional, district, national and international entities stay up to date within minutes of each other, and a complex problem with hundreds of people involved gets resolved.
If this can be done in such conditions, I’m sure nearly all creative jobs can be done remotely with proper training.
Remote work can help employees communicate better than in person and more things will be documented. Reducing the bus factor.
There is no excuse to not let your employees work remotely, you’re hurting yourself more than them.
Psst: If you think I’m full of shit, tell me! I’m super open to feedback; if you like what you read, follow me for more, either on medium or twitter @mndflp :)