In this episode I talk about the four A's of Remote Work. Most everything we do as we scale an organization should support the four A's. If they do you will find that your organization can operate at a higher level than if they don't IMHO.
The Four A's of Remote Work are the ability to work from anywhere, work on anything, work with anyone at any time.
By embracing the Four A's of Working Remote you can add rocket fuel to your organization.
Be sure to hit me up on LinkedIn, Twitter, or on the VirBELA.com Open Campus.
Glenn Sanford: 0:00
Hi, this is Glenn Sanford, and I'm your host for the Working Remote podcast. Over the last 11 years, approximately, I've built an organization in an entirely remote way to over 28,000 people and into four different countries. And we've done it with a really unique way of looking at building an organization and embracing remote work. Oh, in this episode, which is Episode four of the podcast, we're going to talk about concept I alluded to in a previous podcast called the Four A's. And the 4 A's are really this concept of how do you work from anywhere? How do you work on anything? How do you work with anyone? And how do you work at any time? And what are the things that you might want to think about? And what are the tool set you might want to adopt? We've done a phenomenal job building an organization using the four A's as a backdrop. And I think it could be really helpful for you. So if you haven't already hit the subscribe button here on the podcast so that you can get more of these podcasts as we continue to do them. And I'm really glad that you've joined us on this journey of working remote Hi, Glenn Sanford here and today I want to talk a little bit about the four A's of working remote, and you've probably heard me talk a little bit about this in maybe a previous podcast. Or if you've seen some of the interviews that I've done with different folks talking about working remote.. But the four A's, in my opinion, and I'll go through some historical context of why these four A's. But the four A's are really the ability to work from anywhere, work on anything, work with anyone and work at any time. And they're really a powerful set of paradigms and maybe you could think about them as business constraints that, as you build your remote workforce, as you build your team to be more effective in working remote. If you use these as sort of the basis of your organization, it can really help you figure out what tools, what technologies, how to engage, how to get things done. And so the 1st 1 is really this concept of work from anywhere. Now in in the mid 2000's 2004 '5 '6 '7 '8 and actually, all the way through 2009. I actually ran a couple different offices in a physical sense in the residential real estate space. So I actually got up to six different offices. And so I was in Bellingham, Washington. Seattle, Phoenix, Las Vegas, Nashville, Tennessee, and Portland, Oregon. Where I primarily spent. My time was in Bellingham, Washington, and in Phoenix, Arizona. And I liked Phoenix in the winter, for for obvious reasons. And I really liked Bellingham Washington in the in the summer because it was just It's just absolutely beautiful in this part of the world during that time of year. And so I had heard a phrase years ago. It's actually Don Hobbs and and Greg Herder at Hobbs's Herder Conference. They mentioned this phrase, which was actually asked a question, which is What's the purpose of a business? And if you sit back, most people will say wants to make a profit. It's to generate income. It's to create a lifestyle. It's somehow it's income related. But the purpose of a business is to serve the needs of the owner and whether you're on owner of an enterprise or you're running a team that's part of a larger enterprise or you're working on a project of some nature. You have to think about what purpose doesn't serve for you. What what is it that ultimately you want to get out of this? This thing, this whatever it is that you're building. And so when I heard that phrase, I really took it to heart, and I started to think about the ideas of what? What if I want? And certainly there's an income component that goes along with most business endeavors. It's the reason why we generally goto work is to get either a paycheck or an opportunity to earn more or what have you? But it's not the only driver. There's a lot of different professions that pay similar amounts of comp, but they're certain endeavors that lots of people want to do. And so you can think about the idea that those things that pay a similar amount of comp as something else has some sort of intrinsic value over and above the comp, which is one of the reasons why people gravitate toward that. So you could think about that as the needs of the owner, because even if you're an employee, you are the owner of your hourly enterprise. And so what ultimately, do you want to your job, your role, your business, your project to serve for you as an individual? And so I think about this from the perspective. As a business leader, as a business owner, what did I want my my business to do? And one of things I noted when I was running my real estate teams is that the teams that I that I spent time with did way better than the teams that I didn't. Make sense. You know what you focus on expands.. So from that perspective, if you're spending time with people and you're helping build those people and you're helping sort of stay engaged with them and you're kind moving them up the ladder in terms of your ability to execute, Of course, they're going to do better than those that you aren't spending time with. And so Phoenix. I spent a lot of time in Bellingham. I spent a lot of time in, and both those teams did really, really well. But so I started to kind of think about the the idea that when we started go toward a non bricks and border mortar based business, what ultimately were some of those constraints? So one of them was I need to be able to work from anywhere. And in one of the things that once you start to embrace working remote, you start to realize that you can work from anywhere, and you can also work on anything, work with anyone. And then the last one, of course, is work at any time.. So when you think about working from anywhere, there's some constraints around working from anywhere. If you're working collaboratively with your team in real time, then generally speaking, you're gonna have to have some sort of real time connection to the Internet. Now 2007, 2008 Ever since, really, the first iPhone came up with 3G since that period of time, and even I think my TREO even had 3G connection back in the day. But once you had a 3G or better on your your phones, you started be able to tether those to your computers, your devices. And so as long as you had cellular service generally speaking, you had high speed Internet. In the same period of time in around the 2007 2008 range, cable Internet had got to most homes in America and probably most developed parts of the world. You had high speed cable Internet coming into your home, not just your place of business. And then, in addition of that, the places like Starbucks and other places started to put in, WiFi hot spots. So high speed Internet, in my opinion, is one of the great enablers of remote work. Had we've been having this conversation back in 2002 or 2000 or in the in the nineties, we wouldn't be talking about it in as an enabled technology that truly allowed for organizations that be geographically dispersed. But ever since, really the late 2007, 2008 2009 because of high speed Internet, the underlying technology that would allow you to effectively work from anywhere now existed relatively ubiquitously everywhere that you wanted to be. So if you were a city if you're in a community and unless you were really remote in a farm setting. But even even there, there's some workarounds for a lot of places that are fairly remote. But generally speaking today, high speed Internet is pretty much everywhere, and so that really has enabled us to kind of play with this idea of work from anywhere. So one time it was either work from the office because that's again where the high speed Internet was or if you were in a hotel and that hotel had high speed Internet, and they piped it to the hotel rooms. Of course, you have to pay out the nose for that technology at that time. But $20 a day for Internet for high speed and you're in your hotel room. Those were the places where you might get high speed Internet when you're on the road. But even at home in the 2002 to 2003 we were on dial up Internet, so that's really only 18 years ago. So not that long ago. 18 17 16 years ago, a lot of the country. A lot of the world was still dial up Internet still better than what we had even before that. And we run 28 8 or 56 K baud modems, which was decent for doing some light surfing of the Internet. But it wasn't really quite to the point where you could actually use it as a true analog for the office. So working from anywhere is one of the one of the four A's of remote work, and I've been one that literally has pushed the envelope on this concept of work from anywhere. First, I live in a relatively low population part of the United States Whatcom County, which is where the city of Bellingham is. And then I actually live in a community, even further out from there. But in the whole county, there's 150,000 people. Bellingham has 80,000 folks, and where I'm at, there's probably, 5 or 6000 people in a four mile, five mile radius, so it's not a huge population center. But I like that partially because I was always experimenting with how far; how remote can I work? And I've always thought about the idea of how can I go super remote? So one things that we did,, Debbie and I did, back in 2015 we had a place looking out over the over the ocean and that lease came up. It was a great place. But the owners wanted to actually start to move back in, and so we were kind of thinking about Okay, where we go? Do we go and maybe we could buy a place or what have you and came up with this crazy idea of actually getting a motor coach. So for 10 months, we literally worked from a motor coach driving around the country. Two, I think. I'm not sure how many states we went to 30 or 40 states. 25-30,000 miles over those 10 months that we drove place to place to place to place. And at the same time, we were connected 90% of the time to high speed Internet via our LTE connections on Verizon. And so our ability to be a fully connected to what was going on was actually not that difficult. Are LTE, our Internet charges tend to be a little high, especially when at that point time we streamed the entire, I don't know, five or six seasons of Breaking Bad while we were in the in the Motor Coach, which was kind of interesting. So at $15 a gigabyte and it turns out that every episode almost was a full gigabyte. We certainly had some pretty big overcharges. But that being said the ability to work fully remote, we proved it. In fact, it was one of the things that I when we did do that and keep in mind, we were a smaller company at that point than we are today. But we were fully engaged with our team from wherever we were at. So I was able to jump in our our cloud campus office. I was able to to work with the team. I was able to spend time coaching them on the various parts of the business and we didn't miss a beat. It was nice to get off the road the following in 2016 because the motor coach got a little old. But the concept of being a little work from anywhere. We really pushed that envelope, and and then in 2017 I think we we ended up getting getting a boat, and so in the Pacific Northwest in the San Juan Islands, we would take the boat out and go to some different harbors. And as long as we had a good LTE connection, there's a lot of places in the San Juan Islands where you do have that we could be as fully engaged, working from from our boat as we would from our home or from a physical office or a a coffee shop, what have-you. So the concept of really working from anywhere for me was a really again, a really powerful business constraint to to this whole concept of working remote. The next one is work on anything, and when I talk about anything, a lot of times again forms what technologies you ultimately use. So work on anything is really related to are you using collaborative technologies that you and your team can fully engage with? So I'll talk about it in another podcast, which I'm thinking about would be called tools for remote work. But I'll just touch on a few of these just so that you've got some some concepts and we'll go into deeper detail on these. But I've been a huge Trello, fan. It's one of the things that we use for a daily stand ups. Also a big fan of Mindmeister for laying out organically what an organization or a project looks like. Also GSuite, we talked a little bit about Workplace by Facebook and then the last one. And of course I'll talk about this quite a bit is the VirBELA platform which is of course, where we go to work every day, inside of a virtual world for business. So, you know, by picking the right collaborative technologies for your business, for your team, for your project, you all of a sudden I can work on anything. So if you're not working, one things that I do still struggle with from time to time are people that use Microsoft Word, Excel, Power point, and then and then they expect to send them to me, and then me, to edit them and then send them back. And certainly Microsoft has done a lot better with the Microsoft office that's accessible via the Web. So they do have collaborative technologies, but there's still a number of people that hold onto still doing it on their desktop. I remember you a few years ago. We brought on a director to the company and we were working in a Google doc and he complained almost from the day he started started for a period of time that he didn't think it made sense for everybody to have access the document. Well, fast forward a couple of years and all of a sudden every document that we we created together as a team which, if he was involved, it was all that way. And chances are, is even though he's not with us anymore, my guess is, is that he's probably still now using collaborative technologies as his baseline of technology for how he's working with other teams that he might be working with. So so this idea of collaborative technologies, first and foremost, being a really key element of being able to work remote, so work on anything is another concept. Another one, of course, is work with anyone, so if you're using the right technology stack for your team, you should be able to collaborate with virtually anybody you want to work with. And so some of that obviously, is gonna be your specific team. And there may be certain types of documents or certain type of work that really has is high security, so I don't want to get into that portion of it. I think that's where you think about the idea of virtual private networks and and private and figuring out ways to lock down portions of your computer or having specific company based computers. But there's also another concept will talk about again in the future podcast, which is bring your own device, which is a way to think about using your phone and using your own computer to actually engage with your company. So that's sort of bring your own device. But outside of that, there are ways to sort of lock down and work with your team in a way that you keeps your stuff safe. But once you once you figure that out, you should be able to work with anybody that you need to work with from anywhere. And so the idea of anywhere, work on anything, work with anyone and then the last one is really the idea of being able to work at any time. So other than your standing meetings that you have with your team and hopefully you got a little bit from an earlier podcast, we talked about having the daily stand ups, which I think a really key to having high performance organization. But other than your standing meetings with your team, you should be able to develop a schedule that works for you. So working at any time is this idea that, you know, because of remote work, you know, the idea of when do you start work and when do you end work tends to be a bit of a blur, because you literally, when you wake up in the morning, you can sit down and from your laptop, and you can work on part of the business that you want to work on. So it may be advertising might be marketing. It might be, strategy. It might be finance. It might be whatever that is, But generally speaking, you should be able to work on it at any time. So if you're a morning person, then knocking out those activities in the morning. And a lot of people, you know, and and I see this all the time in our organization. A lot of times we have team members that literally start at four or five or six in the morning, and that's their key time to getting things done. And so later on in the day, we've learned that some of those same people we don't see him after you know, 2-3-4 in the afternoon. And I'm thinking about their local time zone and that's okay because we've got our standing meetings and we still know how to connect with each other at any time, even outside of those meetings. So you are salary based employees. They're all using collaborative technologies that's available 24/7 and they've got them installed on their their personal devices, whether it be their phones or obviously their computers. And so the ability to be able to be connected at at any time and work at any time is again a really important part of the four A's. So again, the four A's are the ability to work from anywhere, the ability to work on anything,, the ability to work with anyone, and last but not least, it's the ability to work at any time. So I hope these four tips or these four A's of working remote have been helpful. For me they're really a powerful paradigm for how we work as an organization. And if you embrace them and you think about them and you look through the lands of does what we're doing or what we're about to do fit the four A's of remote work. And if it does or it checks off the boxes well enough, then you've got something that hopefully can help you scale and stay engaged as you continue to work in this new way. So with that, I'm going to sign off. Have an awesome day. Talk to you soon.. Hey, thanks again for listening to this episode of working remote. I hope. You've got a lot out of this. The four A's of remote work is something I've developed for myself and the organization over a number of years, and I think it's something that could be really helpful as you think about your paradigm for working remote. So hit me up on LinkedIn. Find me on the VirBELA open campus. Let me know what you think of this podcast. Also, be sure to hit that subscribe button and talk to you soon. Thanks.