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کتاب: هفته کاری 4 ساعته / فصل 16

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Step IV:

L is for Liberation

It is far better for a man to go wrong in freedom than to go right in chains.

—THOMAS H. HUXLEY,

English biologist; known as “Darwin’s Bulldog”

12.Disappearing Act

HOW TO ESCAPE THE OFFICE

By working faithfully eight hours a day, you may eventually get to be a boss and work twelve hours a day.

—ROBERT FROST, American poet and winner of four Pulitzer Prizes

On this path, it is only the first step that counts.

—ST. JEAN–BAPTISTE–MARIE VIANNEY, Catholic saint, “Curé d’Ars”

PALO ALTO, CALIFORNIA

“We’re not going to expense the phone.”

“I’m not asking you to.”

Silence. Then a nod, a laugh, and a crooked smile of resignation.

“OK, then—it’s fine.”

And that was that, lickity-split. Forty-four-year old Dave Camarillo, lifelong employee, had cracked the code and started his second life.

He hadn’t been fired; he hadn’t been yelled at. His boss seemed to be handling the whole situation quite well. Granted, Dave delivered the goods on the job, and it wasn’t like he was doing naked snow angels in client meetings, but still—he had just spent 30 days in China without telling anyone.

“It wasn’t half as hard as I thought it would be.”

Dave works among more than 10,000 employees at Hewlett- Packard (HP), and—against all odds—he actually likes it. He has no desire to start his own company and has spent the last seven years doing tech support for customers in 45 states and 22 countries. Six months ago, however, he had a small problem.

She measured 5′2″ and weighed 110 pounds.

Was he, like most men, afraid of commitment, unwilling to stop running around the house in Spider-Man underoos, or inseparable from the last refuge of any self-respecting man, the PlayStation? No, he was past all that. In fact, Dave was locked and loaded, ready to pop the big question, but he was short on vacation days and his girlfriend lived out of town. Waaaaay out of town—5,913 miles out of town.

He had met her on a client visit to Shenzhen, China, and it was now time to meet the parents, logistics be damned.

Dave had only recently begun to take tech calls at home, and, well, isn’t home where the heart is? One plane ticket and one T-Mobile GSM tri-band phone later, he was somewhere over the Pacific en route to his first seven-day experiment. Twelve time zones hence, he proposed, she accepted, and no one was the wiser stateside.

The second field trip was a 30-day tour of Chinese family and food (pig face, anyone?), ending with Shumei Wu becoming Shumei Camarillo. Back in Palo Alto, HP continued its quest for world domination, neither knowing nor caring where Dave was. He had his calls forwarded to his newly begotten wife’s cell phone and all was right in the world.

Now back in the U.S. after hoping for the best and preparing for the worst, Dave had earned his Eagle Scout mobility badge. The future looks flexible, indeed. He is going to start by spending two months in China every summer and then move to Australia and Europe to make up for lost time, all with the full support of his boss.

The key to cutting the leash was simple—he asked for forgiveness instead of permission.

“I didn’t travel for 30 years of my life—so why not?”

THAT’S PRECISELY THE question everyone should be asking—why the hell not?

From Caste to Castaway

The old rich, the upper class of yore with castles and ascots and irritating little lapdogs, are characterized as being well-established in one place. The Schwarzes of Nantucket and the McDonnells of Charlottesville. Blech. Summers in the Hamptons is sooooo 1990s.

The guard is changing. Being bound to one place will be the new defining feature of middle class. The New Rich are defined by a more elusive power than simple cash—unrestricted mobility. This jet-setting is not limited to start-up owners or freelancers. Employees can pull it off, too.58 Not only can they pull it off, but more and more companies want them to pull it off. BestBuy, the consumer electronics giant, is now sending thousands of employees home from their HQ in Minnesota and claims not only lowered costs, but also a 10–20% increase in results. The new mantra is this: Work wherever and whenever you want, but get your work done.

In Japan, a three-piece zombie who joins the 9–5 grind each morning is called a sarari-man—salaryman—and, in the last few years, a new verb has emerged: datsu-sara suru, to escape (datsu) the salaryman (sara) lifestyle.

It’s your turn to learn the datsu-sara dance.59

Trading Bosses for Beer: An Oktoberfest Case Study

To create the proper leverage to be unshackled, we’ll do two things: demonstrate the business benefit of remote working and make it too expensive or excruciating to refuse a request for it.

Remember Sherwood?

His French shirts are beginning to move and he is itching to ditch the U.S. for a global walkabout. He has more than enough cash now but needs to escape constant supervision in the office before he can implement all the timesaving tools from Elimination and travel.

He is a mechanical engineer and is producing twice as many designs in half the time since erasing 90% of his time-wasters and interruptions. This quantum leap in performance has been noticed by his supervisors and his value to the company has increased, making it more expensive to lose him. More value means more leverage for negotiations. Sherwood has been sure to hold back some of his productivity and efficiency so that he can highlight a sudden jump in both during a remote work trial period.

Since eliminating most of his meetings and in-person discussions, he has naturally moved about 80% of all communication with his boss and colleagues to e-mail and the remaining 20% to phone. Not only this, but he has used tips from chapter 7, “Interrupting Interruption and the Art of Refusal,” to cut unimportant and repetitive e-mail volume in half. This will make the move to remote less noticeable, if at all noticeable, from a managerial standpoint. Sherwood is running at full speed with less and less supervision.

Sherwood implements his escape in five steps, beginning on July 12 during the slow business season and lasting two months, ending with a trip to Oktoberfest in Munich, Germany, for two weeks as a final test before bigger and bolder vagabonding plans.

Step 1: Increase Investment

First, he speaks with his boss on July 12 about additional training that might be available to employees. He proposes having the company pay for a four-week industrial design class to help him better interface with clients, being sure to mention the benefit to the boss and business (i.e., he’ll decrease intradepartmental back-and-forth and increase both client results and billable time). Sherwood wants the company to invest as much as possible in him so that the loss is greater if he quits.

Step 2: Prove Increased Output Offsite

Second, he calls in sick the next Tuesday and Wednesday, July 18 and 19, to showcase his remote working productivity.60 He decides to call in sick between Tuesday and Thursday for two reasons: It looks less like a lie for a three-day weekend and it also enables him to see how well he functions in social isolation without the imminent reprieve of the weekend. He ensures that he doubles his work output on both days, leaves an e-mail trail of some sort for his boss to notice, and keeps quantifiable records of what he accomplished for reference during later negotiations. Since he uses expensive CAD software that is only licensed on his office desktop, Sherwood installs a free trial of GoToMyPC remote access software so that he can pilot his office computer from home.

Step 3: Prepare the Quantifiable Business Benefit

Third, Sherwood creates a bullet-point list of how much more he achieved outside the office with explanations. He realizes that he needs to present remote working as a good business decision and not a personal perk. The quantifiable end result was three more designs per day than his usual average and three total hours of additional billable client time. For explanations, he identifies removal of commute and fewer distractions from office noise.

Step 4: Propose a Revocable Trial Period

Fourth, fresh off completing the comfort challenges from previous chapters, Sherwood confidently proposes an innocent one-day-per-week remote work trial period for two weeks. He plans a script in advance but does not make it a PowerPoint presentation or otherwise give it the appearance of something serious or irreversible.61 Sherwood knocks on his boss’s office door around 3 P.M. on a relatively relaxed Thursday, July 27, the week after his absence, and his script looks like the following. Stock phrases are underlined and footnotes explain negotiating points.

Sherwood: Hi, Bill. Do you have a quick second?

Bill: Sure. What’s up?

Sherwood: I just wanted to bounce an idea off of you that’s been on my mind. Two minutes should be plenty.

Bill: OK. Shoot.

Sherwood: Last week, as you know, I was sick. Long story short, I decided to work at home despite feeling terrible. So here’s the funny part. I thought I would get nothing done, but ended up finishing three more designs than usual on both days. Plus, I put in three more billable hours than usual without the commute, office noise, distractions, etc. OK, so here’s where I’m going. Just as a trial, I’d like to propose working from home Mondays and Tuesdays for just two weeks. You can veto it whenever you want, and I’ll come in if we need to do meetings, but I’d like to try it for just two weeks and review the results. I’m 100% confident that I’ll get twice as much done. Does that seem reasonable?

Bill: Hmm … What if we need to share client designs?

Sherwood: There’s a program called GoToMyPC that I used to access the office computer when I was sick. I can view everything remotely, and I’ll have my cell phone on me 24/7. Sooooo … What do you think? Test it out starting next Monday and see how much more I get done? 62 Bill: Ummm … OK, fine. But it’s just a test. I have a meeting in five and have to run, but let’s talk soon.

Sherwood: Great. Thanks for the time. I’ll keep you posted on it all. I’m sure you’ll be pleasantly surprised.

Sherwood didn’t expect to get two days per week approved. He asked for two so that, in the case his boss refused, he could ask for just one as a fallback position (bracketing). Why didn’t Sherwood go for five days remote per week? Two reasons. First, it’s a lot for management to accept off the bat. We need to ask for an inch and turn it into a foot without setting off panic alarms. Second, it is a good idea to hone your remote-working abilities—rehearse a bit—before shooting for the big time, as it decreases the likelihood of crises and screwups that will get remote rights revoked.

Step 5: Expand Remote Time

Sherwood ensures that his days outside of the office are his most productive to date, even minimally dropping in-office production to heighten the contrast. He sets a meeting to discuss the results with his boss on August 15 and prepares a bullet-point page detailing increased results and items completed compared to in-office time. He suggests upping the ante to four days per week remote for a two-week trial, fully prepared to concede to three days if need be.

Sherwood: It really turned out even better than I expected. If you look at the numbers, it makes a lot of business sense, and I’m enjoying work a lot more now. So, here we are. I’d like to suggest, if you think it makes sense, that I try four days a week for another two-week trial. I was thinking that coming in Friday63would make sense to prepare for the coming week, but we could do whichever day you prefer.

Bill: Sherwood, I’m really not sure we can do that.

Sherwood: What’s your main concern? 64

Bill: It seems like you’re on your way out. I mean, are you going to quit on us? Second, what if everyone wants to do the same?

Sherwood: Fair enough. Good points.65 First, to be honest, I was close to quitting before, with all the interruptions and commute and whatnot, but I’m actually feeling great now with the change in routine.66 I’m doing more and feel relaxed for a change. Second, no one should be allowed to work remotely unless they can show increased productivity, and I’m the perfect experiment. If they can show it, however, why not let them do it on a trial basis? It lowers costs for the office, increases productivity, and makes employees happier. So, what do you say? Can I test it out for two weeks and come in Fridays to take care of the office stuff? I’ll still document everything, and you, of course, have the right to change your mind at any point.

Bill: Man, you are an insistent one. OK, we’ll give it a shot, but don’t go blabbing about it.

Sherwood: Of course. Thanks, Bill. I appreciate the trust. Talk to you soon.

Sherwood continues to be productive at home and maintains his lower in-office performance. He reviews the results with his boss after two weeks and continues with four remote days per week for an additional two weeks until Tuesday, September 19, when he requests a full-time remote trial of two weeks while he is visiting relatives out of state.67 Sherwood’s team is in the middle of a project that requires his expertise, and he is prepared to quit if his boss refuses. He realizes that, just as you want to negotiate ad pricing close to deadlines, getting what you want often depends more on when you ask for it than how you ask for it. Though he would prefer not to quit, his income from shirts is more than enough to fund his dream-lines of Oktoberfest and beyond.

His boss acquiesces and Sherwood doesn’t have to use his threat of quitting. He goes home that evening and buys a $524 round-trip ticket, less than one week’s shirt sales, to Munich for Oktoberfest.

Now he can implement all the time-savers possible and hack out the inessentials. Somewhere between drinking wheat beer and dancing in lederhosen, Sherwood will get his work done in fine form, leaving his company better off than prior to 80/20 and leaving himself all the time in the world.

But hold on a second … What if your boss still refuses? Hmm … Then they force your hand. If upper management won’t see the light, you’ll just have to use the next chapter to fire their asses.

An Alternative: The Hourglass Approach

It can be effective to take a longer period of absence up front in what some NR have termed the “hourglass” approach, so named because you use a long proof-of-concept up front to get a short remote agreement and then negotiate back up to full-time out of the office. Here’s what it looks like.

Use a preplanned project or emergency (family issue, personal issue, relocation, home repairs, whatever) that requires you to take one or two weeks out of the office.

Say that you recognize you can’t just stop working and that you would prefer to work instead of taking vacation days.

Propose how you can work remotely and offer, if necessary, to take a pay cut for that period (and that period only) if performance isn’t up to par upon returning.

Allow the boss to collaborate on how to do it so that he or she is invested in the process.

Make the two weeks “off” the most productive period you’ve ever had at work.

Show your boss the quantifiable results upon returning, and tell him or her that—without all the distractions, commute, etc.—you can get twice as much done. Suggest two or three days at home per week as a trial for two weeks.

Make those remote days ultraproductive.

Suggest only one or two days in the office per week.

Make those days the least productive of the week.

Suggest complete mobility—the boss will go for it.

Q&A: QUESTIONS AND ACTIONS

Recently, I was asked if I was going to fire an employee who made a mistake that cost the company $600,000. No, I replied, I just spent $600,000 training him.

—THOMAS J. WATSON, founder of IBM

Liberty means responsibility. That is why most men dread it.

—GEORGE BERNARD SHAW

While entrepreneurs have the most trouble with Automation, since they fear giving up control, employees get stuck on Liberation because they fear taking control. Resolve to grab the reins—the rest of your life depends on it.

The following questions and actions will help you to replace presence-based work with performance-based freedom.

If you had a heart attack, and assuming your boss were sympathetic, how could you work remotely for four weeks?

If you hit a brick wall with a task that doesn’t seem remote-compatible or if you predict resistance from your boss, ask the following:

What are you accomplishing with this task—what is the purpose?

If you had to find other ways to accomplish the same—if your life depended on it—how would you do it? Remote conferencing? Video conferencing? GoToMeeting, GoToMyPC, DimDim.com (Mac), or related services?

Why would your boss resist remote work? What is the immediate negative effect it would have on the company and what could you do to prevent or minimize it?

Put yourself in your boss’s shoes. Based on your work history, would you trust yourself to work outside of the office?

If you wouldn’t, reread Elimination to improve production and consider the hourglass option.

Practice environment-free productivity.

Attempt to work for two to three hours in a café for two Saturdays prior to proposing a remote trial. If you exercise in a gym, attempt to exercise for those two weeks at home or otherwise outside of the gym environment. The purpose here is to separate your activities from a single environment and ensure that you have the discipline to work solo.

Quantify current productivity.

If you have applied the 80/20 Principle, set the rules of interrupting interruption, and completed related groundwork, your performance should be at an all-time high in quantifiable terms, whether customers served, revenue generated, pages produced, speed of accounts receivable, or otherwise. Document this.

Create an opportunity to demonstrate remote work productivity before asking for it as a policy.

This is to test your ability to work outside of an office environment and rack up some proof that you can kick ass without constant supervision.

Practice the art of getting past “no” before proposing.

Go to farmers’ markets to negotiate prices, ask for free first-class upgrades, ask for compensation if you encounter poor service in restaurants, and otherwise ask for the world and practice using the following magic questions when people refuse to give it to you.

“What would I need to do to [desired outcome]?”

“Under what circumstances would you [desired outcome]?”

“Have you ever made an exception?”

“I’m sure you’ve made an exception before, haven’t you?”

(If no for either of the last two, ask, “Why not?” If yes, ask, “Why?”)

Put your employer on remote training wheels—propose Monday or Friday at home.

Consider doing this, or the following step, during a period when it would be too disruptive to fire you, even if you were marginally less productive while remote.

If your employer refuses, it’s time to get a new boss or become an entrepreneur. The job will never give you the requisite time freedom. If you decide to jump ship, consider letting them make you walk the plank—quitting is often less appealing than tactfully getting fired and using severance or unemployment to take a long vacation.

Extend each successful trial period until you reach full-time or your desired level of mobility.

Don’t underestimate how much your company needs you. Perform well and ask for what you want. If you don’t get it over time, leave. It’s too big a world to spend most of life in a cubicle.

LIFESTYLE DESIGN IN ACTION

Consider trying Earth Class Mail, a service that you can reroute all your mail to, at which point they scan and e-mail you everything that comes in, giving you the option of recycling/shredding junk, getting a scan of the contents, or having specific items forwarded to you or someone you designate. I have not personally used it yet (will be testing it out this month in preparation for an upcoming trip in May), but a friend and author in Portland swears by them and knows the CEO. Seems they’ve gotten good press and the idea seems far better than relying on friends/family who, if they’re anything like my friends/family … will surely drop the ball at some point:-).

—NATHALIE

I also use GreenByPhone.com to process checks electronically that come in through my Earth Class Mail account—they charge $5 a check, but I live in San Diego, my Earth Class Mail office address is in Seattle, and I bank in Ohio. It works great!

—ANDREW

To add to your excellent list (we’ve traveled just like that for several years SWEET!), I’d like to add my modifications as a female traveler and a new mom (16-month-old baby). Personal favorites: (1) Athleta carries excellent, light, quick-dry clothing that hold up well to sports but still look very fashionable. Skorts are a must for looking feminine but being fully covered for hiking and steep pyramid steps—you know what I mean, ladies! Just a note, a slightly longer length will serve you well in a lot of countries, as well as tankini tops and swim skirts for swimming. (2) Fresh & Go toothbrush is simple to use. (3) Marsona sound machine for drowning out unfamiliar noises is a must (regularly use with baby at home too so when they hear the sound they know it’s sleep time!). This has been a lifesaver for us on many trips, and we now use it regularly at home for better sleep. No more changing hotels midtrip to avoid noise. AND, I know we have to travel light, but with baby a lot of things are nonnegotiable. These make for smoother sailing: (1) Peanut shell sling in black fleece—it’s more comfy than the cotton and you can pop baby in and out wherever you are, from birth to 35 lbs. I never take mine off, it’s part of my outfit; (2) Peapod plus portable tent—this is baby’s main bed at home and travel so baby has the same sleep place everywhere we go, and the flaps give all travel parties privacy—great from small babies to five-year-olds. I can still jam this onto a little wheeled carry-on and pack mine and baby’s minimal clothing around it; (3) Go Go Kidz TravelMate (great for wheeling car seat up to the gate for gate check or use on plane); (4) Britax Diplomat car seat is small but kids can use it from birth to approx. four years old.

Make sure the wheeled carry-on bag you get is one size smaller than the allowed carry-on size so you don’t get bumped to check the bag in if the plane is full. You can always nicely argue/reason/bat your eyelashes that you will put the bag in your foot space. Also, very helpful to give baby something to sip or munch on during take off and landing so yours isn’t the baby screaming from ear pain. Happy travels!

—KARYL

PRE-EMPTING THE BOSS: COMMON CONCERNS ABOUT REMOTE WORK

In the linked article, Cisco acknowledges that remote work arrangements are “here to stay” yet lists a set of security issues. It makes sense to preemptively research solutions so that you are armed and ready if your employer raises these concerns. http://newsroom.cisco.com/dlls/2008/prod_020508.html.

—Contributed by RAINA

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