People want three things from their work.
Today, I’m going to add an essential fourth thing: Work from Home.
Post-pandemic, when my company was forcing us to come back three days a week, I rebelled. I mean, I started publishing my updated resume and applying for jobs. I was not all that interested in going back into their offices, as nice as they were, and sitting in a cube, as nice as they were, and doing my zoom calls within view of my micro-manager. Nope.
Here’s Daniel Pink on the surprising truth about our motivation.
* watch this video on YouTube.
It’s not hard to figure out, but seems to be very hard for corporations to figure out. If Steve Jobs leaves us with some legacy, let it be that design ultimately drives product success, and motivating people comes from creating cool things, not necessarily giving your employees incentives or innovation bonuses.
What I didn’t care about was my corporate kitchen with great snacks and fair coffee. I didn’t care that my cubicle had a nice view of downtown Austin. I didn’t really care that my manager sat in her office, behind a huge window, and watched us work. None of that mattered. Well, not directly.
What mattered is this:
- We were getting our work done from our home offices (as you asked us to do)
- Corporate fed us some *bs* line about culture and “water cooler” opportunities
- The executive leadership team made a big show that first month (in their glass box offices, more like exotic animals)
- The *reason* they needed us back was TAX BREAKS
- While the tax breaks only related to our HQ in another state, their “butts in seats” meant we had to go back
First the lies.
They had gotten a ton of incentives to build their new building. (Not unlike Apple’s RING in California.) But, those tax breaks were going to expire if they didn’t get the required, agreed upon, number of butts in seats. Our company was making us ALL come back because of a tax break they needed in the home state of the HQ. Maybe they should’ve started with the truth.
Then, the all-hands meeting on that first day back was horrific. All the rah-rah boom-bah, we’ve had such a great year, and we’re making so much money, and we’re all so happy to “finally be back.” Except, we weren’t all happy. You could even see it on the executives faces, they weren’t thrilled to be back at all. This one VP of Marketing, a woman in her late thirties, was perched in a glass box right near the reception and elevator banks. She had a ring-lite for her Zoom calls. She truly looked like a bird perched and singing for the camera. It was silly. It was unnecessary. It was based on the lie that work in the office was more productive (wrong), more fun (double wrong), and more culturally connective (not a chance).
By the third week of being “back” the offices started getting sparce again. At least, the executives were no longer perching in their nice offices, or around their nice conference room tables. It really was a nice office. So what. So, a ton of us left.
It took about three months, but I made the leap from my controlling manager to a more globally-aware manager with a team based all over the world. A global company can exemplify how well remote work can perform. We’re in Zoom meetings all the time, and outside of that time, we’re on our own to get our work done.
Just get your work done. Management should not be micro-managing where or how you get it done. If you hit your milestones, everyone should be happy.
No one was happy at the company I left. Even my micro-manager was struggling under her own personal strain with a young family and a husband with health problems. I think she screengrabbed her office background, so she could Zoom in without some of the bigger corporate heads knowing she was remote. Lies, lies, and more lies.
The corporate lie is alive and well. Companies and executives have had enough of us workers, productive or not, getting to slack off at home and eat bon bons. The real reason they need you to come back to the cube farm is taxes. If that’s okay with you, go back. If you love to be in the office with your mates, also, go back. If you’re like me, enjoying the freedom of windows that open, pets that brush across your leg during a zoom call, and getting your work done, well, keep focused on finding a fully-remote job. Probably a global team.
What coders have known for 15+ years the rest of us are just being allowed to plugin to. Asynchronous work is great. Meetings become less needed and less wasteful. Do what works for you, personally. And work for a company that tells the truth.
REF: This lively RSAnimate, adapted from Daniel Pink’s talk at the RSA, illustrates the hidden truths behind what really motivates us at home and in the workplace. www.theRSA.org
- Antibodies and Positrons: Project Management & Leadership by Consensus
- How To Fix Dell.com – And Dell’s Branding Crisis (Un-concreting the Cow Path – Revisited
- DELL GREEN? How Dell Dropped Their Biggest Green Initiative
Here’s the book I wrote about/to/for my micro-manager in the process of finding a new job: HELLo MGMT.
Please check out a few of my books on AMAZON.
Especially this one, about living a creative life of intention and joy.