Changes In Latitudes…

Last week was a good week. Given that I was on vacation with my family in Florida, that statement is pretty much a given, but it was still of note. This vacation was our annual week in South Florida at a timeshare we’ve had for years. I have often worked some portion of the week when we’ve gone and I did the same this time. Since I’ve been doing independent consulting, I tend to be hyper-vigilant about time off versus time working. I can’t spend hours on end at the beach without turning into a lobster, so I got in some work during my time back at the room.

I have worked from home for seven years, but have recently gotten more in touch with the value of a periodic change of venue – whether that’s going to a WeWork up in the city or a coffee shop closer to home. It’s a good mental jolt to change my surroundings and have a little background noise. In our post-pandemic world, I think a hybrid work arrangement would be ideal for me. Last week helped solidify that.

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Geography Matters Less

For a long time now, I have tried to take a holistic approach to my day. I long ago seized upon the idea that time is the primary resource to manage and that all others, including money, are secondary. Show me a person who says “Time is money” and I will show you someone who devalues their time by orders of magnitude.

As a person with a career in the information industry, I have the luxury of a great deal of latitude in how I structure my day. I no longer have a job with requirement to physically be in a location. That wasn’t the case at the start of my career as I was running restaurants while trying to land my first programming job, or mid-career supporting government customers. That’s also not the case for many workers today – teachers, tradespeople, many service-industry workers – for whom place is a central part of their work. It is ironic that I work in a field that preaches how much “geography matters” while I have been able to minimize the impact of geography in my daily work.

The current debate over work-from-home (WFH) vice return-to-office (RTO) vice hybrid is interesting because it is not a debate about geography but about time. By necessity, those who could work from home during the pandemic did so. As a result, they achieved a time dividend at scale. As someone who had been working from home for a few years prior to the pandemic, I was already aware of this benefit. But many people still held on to the tropes of office culture until they were forced to do it differently.

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In Praise of Process

stack of books in shelf

“Ops” is all the rage these days – DevOps, RevOps, FinOps, PeopleOps. I’m surprised I haven’t seen a mention of “GeoOps” yet, given the propensity of our corner of the world to attach the “geo” prefix to what ever the current hotness may be.

“Ops” is, of course, short for “operations” and “operations” is a euphemism for “process.” If you feel the hives beginning to form on your body at the mention of the word “process,” then you have been in the large part of the tech industry that has at least come in contact with those who worship at the altar of the “Netflix Culture Deck.” This 2009 declaration of the culture of Netflix covers a lot of ground. There’s a lot in it I don’t agree with and there’s a lot that I do agree with.

Thomas Claveirole, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

I agree that “brilliant jerks” should not be tolerated. I agree that the values of every organization are manifested in their actions: “who gets rewarded, promoted, or let go.” Published mission, vision, and values statements are meaningless unless the organization’s everyday actions match them.

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On Meetings

Since everyone works from home now, I hear a lot of the same complaint about the proliferation of online meetings. A lot of people I know seem to have their calendars overwhelmed by one kind of meeting or another. This situation is invariably described as preventing them from getting work done. Let’s be clear about one thing:

Meetings count as “work.”

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