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Embracing Teleworking: Pros and Cons of the Virtual Office (Sam Foster)

Embracing Teleworking: Pros and Cons of the Virtual Office (Sam Foster)



The challenges and opportunities presented by a fully virtual office, and what can make this an all-around win-win arrangement for employer, employee and the team as a whole



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  • ~20 FT employees, of which 75% are web-focussed software engineers CEO splits time btw. London, Arizona + biz travel/talks Span time-zones, bigger window for meeting support response time promises
  • Most of our work is team work: we work in small teams of 2-5 people, and we’re a collective resource for any individual member. Not just umbrella organization
  • There are some compelling logistical advantages. Note overheads are reduced overall, but some are just shifted to employee
  • But the most compelling reasons are about people Mid-career, geographic ties
  • We do have notion of “blue zone” to ensure there’s minimum 4 hour overlap In practice, for me, this means some late nights. But I enjoy my mornings
  • Some practical items: no IT (hardware) support. We all own and are responsible for our own kit.
  • Lynch-pin is good communication And good communicators
  • Trust between manager and staff, between peers
  • We constantly evolve the infrastructure Technical/logistical challenges And human challenges
  • Document updates, discussions, announcements Checkins, task/issue notifications
  • [
  • We use skype for 1:1 and conference calls, occasional screen sharing And fallback for chat in event of service outage
  • Everything has a ticket We use Redmine for issue tracking Email updates from subversion and redmine provide the pulse
  • Meet up at conferences, workshops. A lot of misunderstandings go away when you meet in person. Irony, enthusiasm, despair - don’t travel well over wires
  • Management lacks cues, FUD can ensue Attempts to micro-manage backfire We’re back to trust, and effective infrastructure to provide (unobtrusive) visibility into activity
  • Transparency and accountability Trust on both sides Self-motivation, time management. Judge by results
  • (answering loss of comraderie, atmosphere) Home/office Life is not work Work is a time, state of mind as well as a place. Work is what you produce, not where Your office is not your social life (could go either way)

Embracing Teleworking: Pros and Cons of the Virtual Office (Sam Foster) Embracing Teleworking: Pros and Cons of the Virtual Office (Sam Foster) Presentation Transcript

  • Why/Not Virtual Office? Sam Foster @samfosteriam
  • A Distributed Team
  • Most of what we do is done as a team
  • Opportunities
    • Staggered, extended work day
    • Less time wasted
    • Reduced overheads
  • Bigger Talent Pool
    • Cast a much wider net
    • Relocation not necessary
  • Quality of Life
    • Pick your own work environment
    • Choose your hours
    • See your family!
  • Challenges
    • IT support?
    • Large file exchange
  • Communication
  • Trust
  • To make it work...
  • Activity Feeds
  • Chat = Presence
    • Secured Jabber Network
    • “ rooms” per project/team
    • 1:1 chat
  • SVN & Redmine
  • Pitfalls
  • Being grownup
  • The work place
  • IMHO... Sam Foster @samfosteriam