This is something I’ve been thinking about for over a year (long before I became a nomad myself). I went so far as to say that the 9 to 5 work day doesn’t make sense (which pissed some people off). It’s funny because in response to an email, my buddy Mike started his reply with “Don’t pretend you’re not sitting on the beach drinking Margaritas.” Well yes I could very well be doing that but I’m actually at a nice apartment about 15 minutes away from the beach still doing work because I don’t like the idea of mixing work and leisure. As much as I’d love to be working from the beach, I’m usually not in a position to do work when I’m at the beach and I wouldn’t want to either.
But all this raises a more important question for me? Are the digital nomads, netsetters, and jet-setters just the start of a complete change in the way we work? Isn’t it more cost effective to have your workers virtual in the age of information? Considering the costs of utilities, office buildings and more, how much does having an office space eat into your bottom line? 37 Signals has figured this out, and while they have an office space (which apparently is world class), there’s no requirement to be there. Netflix has a vacation policy that lets you take as much time off as you want. What’s really important here? Do you need to give your sense a false sense of security that people are doing work just because they’re in you’re office? I hate to burst your bubble, but I have had plenty of friends tell me they aren’t doing shit at work and getting paid handsomely to sit on their asses, not learn a thing, not challenge the status quo, and not push organizations forward. Every now and then somebody bothers them so they reply to an email or do a menial task. At least that way people around them (who are probably not doing shit either) are fooled into thinking they are hard at work. It’s like the guy in Office Space said “My only real motivation is not to get hassled, and that makes people do just enough not to get fired.”
I read an article that said in person meetings are more effective at the Harvard Business review and in that moment I thought “well who am I to question the Harvard Business Review.” Personally I think almost all meetings are a waste of time. One of the things I love about my job is that we only have one meeting a week. Jason Fried even said that the reason nothing gets done in offices is because of meetings and managers. Wouldn’t you be better off getting all your virtual workers together once a year at beautiful destination for an off site to plan your business goals and then go out and execute them over the course of a year? I worked a big company once where I needed the approval of a higher up to do something. The only problem was that there was only a once a month meeting with the higher up, so it never got approved. Is the CEO of an organization really effective by distancing himself from the front lines through layers and layers of bureaucracy? It’s clear that what has worked for decades needs to change. It’s clearly broken. Maybe we should start to examine this, experiment with it, and embrace a cultural shift that is happening before employees decide they’ve had enough and start to revolt.