Matt Mullenweg of WordPress first introduced me to the concept of distributed work a few years back.
My first impression was it was another way of describing work from home. You know, new terminology, same old concept.
Then, I encountered a separate article in WordPress with an interactive worldmap showing locations of their people working in different parts of the globe. Curious, I zoomed in the Philippines and found a couple of folks located in different cities in the country.
I remember being amazed, inspired, and curious.
I’m amazed that there were WordPress employees or workers in the Philippines. It is, after all, a great company. Unlike Google or Facebook however, there is no presence of WordPress in the country. (If they somehow decide to operate in the PH, sign me up.)
I’m inspired of the autonomy and trust given to these employees. That requires a lot of maturity on individuals to do one’s work responsibilities knowing no one is looking over your shoulders. It requires discipline, a lot of it, to be able to perform and deliver in the age of social media and on demand entertainment. For WordPress to give their employees the benefit of the doubt is inspiring.
I’m curious thus how or why local companies in the country have not picked up distributed work. Strangely, it has been years when many companies have pushed for telecommuting or work from home, particularly in Metro Manila where slow traffic wears down even the most enthusiastic employee. Thus, when the Telecommuting Law was passed last year, it was met with a lot of resistance. It wasn’t helpful that the law merely made it optional on the employer to adapt telecommuting policies.
It thus feeds into one’s curiosity… why?
Maturity is not a one-way street. You may have employees who are mature enought to manage distributed work or telecommuting. It won’t matter if the management itself is not mature.
There is the prevalent thinking that work is only done in the office.
If you are not in the office, you are not working.
If the boss does not see you on a desk, you are not using Company time productively.
I initially thought that the lack of trust of the management is the major obstacle to telecommuting. When Covid-19 happened resulting in work from home for months due to quarantine, many companies were constrained to shift to work from home, whether they liked it or not.
For businesses who were able to overcome the incorrect thinking, they were able to manage and thrive. Even if employees were out of sight, work continued thanks to the direction of leaders who stepped up in their organizations.
Maturity benefits both the management and the workforce. That leadership is shown by example, people will follow business leaders who are able to think correctly in their approach to distributed work.