I just spent a week in Dubai, the legendary international city with islands in the shape of palm trees, indoor ski slopes a few blocks off the beach, 7-star hotels, underwater zoos, the tallest building in the world, and the list goes on.
If you have never been, imagine a cross between Las Vegas and Disney World then multiply it by 10 and you will be in the ballpark. There is certainly nothing else like it in the world, as this is a city whose goal for over a decade has been to create extraordinary sights and experiences that surpass anything else on the planet.
I was not there “for work”, meaning that I did not have any conferences to attend, in-person meetings or anything else that required my physical presence. Nor was I there “on vacation” which would mean a complete break from work. Rather, this was a “remote work location”, a concept that is at the core of “lifestyle design” for entrepreneurs. In this post I will discuss how Maverick uses remote work locations and how you can too, even if you are in a business space like real estate that is not traditionally virtual.
The Premise of the Remote Work Location:
In Dubai I was “working” but, for me, that meant I was corresponding with clients from rooftop pool decks, interviewing job applicants from the beach, and strategizing with my business partner in exclusive sky-view lounges overlooking the city. I am now writing this blog post on the plane, 30,000 feet above the Indian Ocean. All the work is getting done, but from some of the most extraordinary places in the world instead of the confines of a traditional office.
Be Intentional about Institutionalizing a Remote Work Culture:
Maverick, as the name implies, was founded upon completely not-traditional and anti-establishment principles. One of those principles was maximizing the freedom of mobility for both the Maverick Partners and the staff. Our CPA, bookkeeper, contract-to-close coordinator, social media community manager, as well each of the Maverick Partners, all live in different cities. This is by design and we find it to be dramatically more beneficial than traditional in-office employees for a number of reasons.
The Advantages of Having a Remote Work Culture:
- It Creates Happiness. First and foremost it creates happiness, which is the single most important factor. Would you rather be doing your work from a cubicle inside an office or on a rooftop pool deck? With smartphones and laptops, the reality is that most staff can perform the same work whether in the office or working remotely. But the freedom and empowerment to create your own virtual office, and to continually change that virtual office location over time, is a game-changer in terms of employee happiness. We have found that this has a substantially positive effect on both motivation and work product. Particularly important at Maverick is that the company owners and managers are not the only beneficiaries. Rather, the whole team is encouraged and supported in creating their ideal remote work locations and designing their dream lifestyles. This is thoroughly engrained in the core of our company culture and ethos.
- It Enhances Efficiency. By institutionalizing a company culture based on remote work locations, both managers and staff immediately have major traditional barriers to efficiency removed. Maverick does not operate in the “time and labor” economy, we operate in the “results and deliverables” economy. That means that our staff is paid not based on how many hours they work, but by how they perform and what they deliver. Real estate salespeople and brokers will find this concept familiar because it is the premise of the real estate commission structure. But the same concept applies to all other positions at Maverick as well, including our staff that have non-transaction-based compensation. Everyone can work where they want, when they want, and the number of hours doesn’t matter as long as they complete the agreed upon deliverables on time. This structure eliminates the company downside risk of paying people an hourly wage for work they are not doing. And reciprocally it eliminates the staff being micro-management and monitored in a traditional 9 to 5 office setting, wasting time commuting to work, being interrupted by traditional office distractions and drama, and being restricted on how often they can travel or be out of the office. Managers will teach, inspire, guide, provide constructive feedback, and evaluate, but will not be looking over people’s shoulders and worrying about lost employee time spent gossiping at the water cooler. It is a win-win situation based on mutual respect, empowerment and mutually agreed upon fair compensation for work performed. And the time everyone saves can be re-directed into being more productive at work and creating a better work-life balance. Plus, it enables companies to hire the best talent in the world and not be geographically restricted to people who live in commuting distance from the office.
- It Forces the Company to have Effective Systems and Processes. The key to having a remote work culture is effective systems and processes for managing people and projects. The irony is that all successful companies need effective systems and processes, but traditional office settings provide a crutch where business owners and managers increasingly slack in this area (to the company’s detriment). With all staff being remote, there is absolutely no choice but to have clear, replicable systems, with defined deliverables, performance expectations, communication channels and evaluation mechanisms. The staff is extremely clear on what they need to do, the standard to which they need to do it, when the work is due, and how they will be evaluated. Interaction and communication between staff and management is also clearly defined. This allows systems and processes to be effectively implemented, overseen, and tweaked as needed.
There is a lot of deeply ingrained conventional dogma that encourages business owners feel they “need” to have a traditional office, but if they really reflect critically and think creatively, most businesses can operate using remote work locations. Maverick is in the real estate investing space, and our clients are primarily buying residential investment property, but the principles here apply to traditional real estate brokerages and most other business spaces as well. If you are an entrepreneur who thinks this will not work for you, make a list of the biggest obstacles, and then take some focused time and use your entrepreneurial creativity to strategize on how you could overcome those obstacles to use remote work locations based on the principles above to maximize the freedom of mobility (and all the other benefits that go along with it) for both you and your staff. If you want to study this concept more in depth, check out the book, Remote: Office Not Required by Jason Fried.
In the comments below, let us know how you have utilized remote work locations and what your results have been. Feel free to ask any questions as well!