A New Era of Remote Work

The extraordinary trajectory of the tech giants has a core message:  Data matter.  That’s a business understatement commensurate with pointing out how valuable oxygen is to breath.  It’s not new; just scaled.  Read this snippet from The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes and you might think it’s a TED Talk:  It is a capital mistake to theorize before one has data. Insensibly one begins to twist facts to suit theories, instead of theories to suit facts.

Staying with the theme of oversimplification … the challenge of business is to know what is effective and to do more of it.  Break the emotional bonds to cherished past practices when they can’t stand scrutiny.  You don’t often tell the market but the market will always tell you.  You need data. 

Oddly, one resource decision often made as has always-been-done is human.  It’s an expense of such magnitude that it deserves to be data-centric. To be sustainable, the employment bargain needs to work for both the enterprise and the talent.  The possibilities are myriad but fall somewhere on a continuum between assuming productivity and measuring outcomes.  We can:

  • Assume Productivity from measurements not supported by data like hours spent in an office or before a screen.  Someone’s presence, digital or otherwise, does not correlate productivity.  Even so, we use it as its surrogate.
  • Measure Outcomes from knowing the talent needs of our enterprise and the investment that can supported … all based on analysis.  Outcomes don’t rely on surrogate measurements.  The very bargain is what gets measured.  Give it an incentive.

Of course, it’s not that simple.  An enterprise needs executive corps as leadership, professional expertise, and to be the face of the organization.  Trained operators are needed for crucial ongoing tasks that can be measured in time, place, and production.  But a growing segment of work only needs a task brief and a deadline.  Nothing else.

Management of the remote workforce needs tooling. HR tools now concerned with time and productivity won’t work.  Let’s measure and incent task and outcome.

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