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Ask HN: Is any tool lacking for more companies embrace remote work?
6 points by soneca on Jan 11, 2017 | hide | past | web | favorite | 6 comments
I know there is a work culture in the way too, but aside from that, what kind of tool (if any) would make more companies decide to try remote work?

The first hurdle isn't tool or tech-related; it's management. They need to buy in. If they don't, remote work won't work.

About half my team is remote, and that's not uncommon for my division. We use Slack for collaboration. It was rolled out recently - prior to Slack, it a mix of (lots of) email and Skype. We use BlueJeans for larger meetings.

For day-to-day work, this all works well. But, it's also ingrained in the culture - we've had many remotes for a long time.

For new project kick-offs, especially greenfield dev, it makes sense to bring the remotes into the office for a week or more. I've done this three times now over the past 5 years. It fosters a sense of team and also allows easy white-boarding and fast/effective collaboration.

All my remotes are within an hour +/- time zone and a short flight away (office near DC, remotes in Carolinas and Mid-West). Teams spread across continents introduce more problems.

My companies biggest concern is ensuring that people are still working while at home, when in the office they have the ability to walk around and see that you are at your desk. While it is still possible to be working on other things besides work, they at least see you are in the office and in front of your computer. When at home they've said in the past "We dont know if you're really working". For my position remote work would work great, if I dont have code to show for, I'm getting fired, but other positions in the company have a problem "proving" work I guess. So it comes down to a lack of trust and guarantee that people are still working while outside the office.

That's another problem with cargo cult work today: Work is commonly measured in time wasted instead of value created.

The reason for this is that when it comes to work society is still largely caught in Taylorism / assembly line thinking. When you had to maximise the output of an assembly line measuring work in terms of time made sense. With office / white collar / knowledge work this management approach simply breaks and it has been broken for decades: Mock work, people pretending to "work" while in reality they're only butts in seats is a widespread phenomenon that not only impairs productivity but mental and physical health as well.

It shouldn't matter how much time you spend on a task as long as it gets done before the deadline and you're available for others to ask questions or give feedback. The current system favours those who are less productive. It also favours those who've learned to game the system.

There are saner, more reasonable approaches to assessing work such as results-only work environments and value-based pricing. It's about time we adopt approaches like these instead of relying on 200 year old cargo cult management methods.

Eye contact, Face-to-Face meetings, shared space, white boards. I think next generation VR will be a tipping point for remote work.

What exactly are we going to be seeing with VR that we can't see on a regular monitor now?

The success of the Microsoft Surface Hub shows that regular web meetings have a long way to go yet:


Comments here are enlightening:


Its a product that finally got almost everything right when it comes to a digital whiteboard. And yes to another point that was raised here certainly integration with Mircosoft services was a plus. Its great to have a computer interface that is remote on half the board and white board interface on the other. You can mock up while you have the specs inches away from your face on a huge screen so everyone in the room can read and interact. The skype integration kills it as well; there's been a number of times I've seen teams huddled around the board mocking things up with one or two people remote.

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