As technology and business cultures have evolved together, new models for work have emerged beyond the usual office-based, 9-to-5 grind. It started with flex time and the occasional work-from-home day. But for me, the most compelling of these models is working remotely. Here's why:
As a creative person (I am an Interaction Designer and Product Manager), my workflow tends toward long blocks of deeply focused hands-on design, interspersed with collaboration and planning sessions.
As an adult who has been working for 30+ years, I have long since developed the discipline to just sit down and get things done.
Time is our most valuable and finite resource, so whenever I can obviate the need for the time hog known as commuting, I do.
But remote work has its downsides as well:
social isolation (as anyone who has worked remotely for a long time will confirm, this is a big issue)
a sense of being out of the loop, or missing out on promotion opportunities (most prevalent in mixed remote/in-person teams)
challenging collaboration due to a lack of colocation
In order to address these issues, we need an organization and culture that is specifically designed to maximize the efficiency and social connectedness of remote workers. Enter Toptal, a company that comprises a fully remote workforce of technology pros at the top of their game. For me, the Toptal Freelance UX Designers group is of specific interest.
Toptal seems unique in that they espouse a philosophy of getting the best work from their employees by embracing the differences in how people work. Differences in workflow, geography, and time are readily catered to, which makes everyone happy. People like me don't have to waste gargantuan amounts of time commuting and can work where and when we like (as long as we show up to meetings on time!). And in return, Toptal can hire the best people from around the globe and get the best work from them.
As I embark on potentially working with Toptal, what I am most interested in learning is how they tackle the issues of social isolation and collaboration with a fully remote workforce. Remote white boarding and other technologies should be involved in that, but more challenging are the cultural aspects. I will be intrigued to learn more about how this company of remote high-end tech workers stays connected on a human level. This goes beyond IM, emails, and video conferences. It's human. It's visceral. And as we are intensely social animals, it's crucial to our happiness.