Marchetti’s constant is not a well-known principle…but it should be. That’s because we have lived it, in one way or another, most of our adult lives. This is the concept that the daily commute, from antiquity until now, will take half an hour. Unbeknownst to most of us, every major city in the world has been planned out using some form or another of this principle.
The overall result? The vast majority of working people have been sitting in rush hour traffic heading to and from work, drinking their coffees under Marchetti’s invisible spell. And that simple sounding principle has shaped the way we work and do business around the world for many millennia.
But not for everyone. If you had been working at Troon Technologies for the last decade there would be very few days that required a car. Right from inception, Troon staff worked from home in different parts of the world, outside of Marchetti’s prescriptive radius and dressed comfortably from the waist down. Troon’s business evolution quietly turned the rush-hour paradigm on its head, but we were outliers from the norm.
This year, the world dramatically, suddenly, and irrevocably changed the way we work and do business. The question is, what new principles can guide us successfully in this brave world of remote work? At Troon, we have some ideas…
The Troon Constant
Although remote-work culture has been technically possible for many, many years, the vast majority of companies are only now making the gigantic shift from the daily commute and office building model.
It’s fair to say there used to be significant stigma related to #WFH companies. Maybe the concept evoked multi-level marketing images from Tupperware parties of yore or frustration from the early days of internationally outsourced support calls. The legacy of some of those early pioneers (who doesn’t love Tupperware?) is the stigma that only companies with weaker business models and thinner margins would galvanize remote workers to use their own resources to benefit the group. With the world embracing remote work this could not be farther from today’s reality
According to a recent article in Computerworld, “the pandemic has challenged the status quo and reduced the stigma of work-from-home designed companies.” And it’s not just a trendy blip on the radar, more like a “WFH Wave” rolling out around the globe. The World Economic Forum predicts the number of workers will double in 2021. That is a lot of people skipping the early morning drive-through coffee line up.
But can it last and does it work? According to a September survey from U.S.-based Enterprise Technology Research (ETR), the percentage of permanent remote IT workers will rise from 16.4% to 34.4% this year. Additionally, of more than 1,000 CIOs interviewed, 48.6% reported that productivity has improved since workers began working remotely, with only 28.7% of respondents indicating a decline in productivity. By all accounts it’s working, very well indeed.
Apple CEO Tim Cook, who steers the ship for a company that lives and dies by a collaborative model, recently had this to say, “I don’t believe that we will return to the way we were, because we found that there are some things that actually work really well virtually.” But is it really that different? Some of us are only at the ZOOM jedi stage, but many companies are finding other unique ways to empower employees. It’s not the same as an office…in fact it may be better!
The idea of being “camera on” may be new to you, but early tech pioneers have been connecting with always on video feeds for a decade. But why? Being able to see each other, even remotely, can reduce isolation, create those “watercooler” moments silicon valley thrives on and allow business cultures to evolve and thrive. Either you or your avatar may be coming to your all-day work screen soon. Virtual offices, “create a feeling of togetherness by showing colleagues in tiles with periodically updated snapshots, so they know who is at their desk, on a call, or drinking a coffee and perhaps up for a chat.”
There is also unimagined power in taking traditional practices and moving them online. Virtual focus groups are gaining a lot of traction by leveraging the power of the group outside of a physical conference room. They can, “tap into the kinds of insights gleaned from small focus groups but at the scale of massive digital surveys, without the drawback of only capturing one-way feedback…facilitators can also react and adapt the discussion in real time to explore ideas as they arise.”
Virtual Water Cooler
Early adopters and those comfortable with technology ease into virtual environments in a way that seems enviable to others. How can remote-working technology support collaboration and help people feel like they are still part of a team and not an outsider trying to join a foreign club? As one Troon newcomer noticed, “When I first joined Troon I found the informal banter at the beginning of meetings kind of surprising. It seemed inefficient compared to my idea of meetings that took place in an office environment. It didn’t take me long to realize this was as critical as the rest of the call.” Virtual teams come from virtually anywhere. How to create and strengthen a culture of virtual corporate insiders is a key priority
In Forbes’ recent article about distributed companies, the CEO of Siemens says, “These changes will also be associated with a different leadership style, one that focuses on outcomes rather than on time spent at the office. We trust our employees and empower them to shape their work themselves so that they can achieve the best possible results.” Working from home has a different set of requirements and challenges, “Empowering employees and being flexible is monumental right now”. Says Dell’s CEO.
At Troon, our success comes from our ability to build strong, genuine relationships from opposite sides of the world. As Natalie Stillwell summed up, “I can’t believe there is trust built in here (at Troon), almost as family, with people we have never met face to face.”
Marchetti would be spinning! While the change to remote work may have come as a big surprise to much of the world, at Troon we’ve never worked any other way…by design (the partners didn’t live in the same cities), by necessity (our clients and staff are all around the globe) and by desire (we like it…it’s fun). We know what it takes to stickhandle a company and client relationships that are structured almost entirely by distance-based solutions, and new technologies are making it even better…