By Owen Phelps, Ph.D.
Director, Yeshua Institute
Surely John Quinlan is spinning in his grave.
John was the general manager of our publishing company in Denmark, WI, back in the 1970s and 80s. John had a gruff exterior. Very gruff. Although, fortunately, it was mostly an act. Mostly.
But there’s no denying one thing about John’s management style: He wanted to keep an eye on everybody.
When we moved into remodeled office space, John put his desk at the head of the office, looking out – and down, we thought – on everyone.
We could all see him. And he could see all of us.
In John’s mind, the latter fact was a necessity. The former was a deterrent.
Anybody with a lick of brains wouldn’t goof off in full view of the boss.
But just in case we hired someone without a lick of brains – it could happen – John could see what he or she was doing and take immediate remedial action.
The new normal
So as I was recently reading what 19 CEOs of some of the worlds biggest companies had to say about the pluses and minuses of working remotely, John came to mind.
No way in hell would he pay anyone who didn’t show up for the day – much less for months. John would have had a fit if anyone had brought up the idea of working from home.
Now that working remotely is the “new normal,” John has to be spinning in his grave.
The CEOs referenced in The Wall Street Journal article aren’t all on board with the notion of working from home either. Some are. Some are not. Some see advantages and disadvantages.
I’ll let them speak for themselves in a moment.
But their story reminded me of a recent phone call I had with a former business owner who sold his business a little more than a year ago and retired. I brought up how revolutionary it was for so many people to be working remotely.
How, I asked him, would he have liked his whole workforce to be working from home when he owned and ran his business?
He confessed that it would have made him uncomfortable. But, he added, he was very impressed with how well the arrangement seemed to be working out on such a vast scale with so little preparation for the transition.
I expressed the exact same sentiment. Businesses adjusted quickly, some on a global scale. And the people I know who hold leadership positions in large national and international companies seem to think that overall the transition has gone pretty well.
As someone who has run operations while working at home at least part of the time for more than 50 years, the success that companies have had with remote working arrangements warms the cockles of my heart. I’m convinced that even when this pandemic passes, organizations of all kinds and all sizes will be much more flexible than they were before the virus.
I think that will be especially true in the most successful ones.
We’ll see. Meanwhile, here’s what 19 CEOs of major corporations think about working remotely.