My posts (Mario Cameo)

Remote work: Core hours, private investigators, and the war that is just beginning

My friend Gonzalo Martín has sent me this WSJ article (sorry, it´s paywalled) about companies setting “core hours” when employees must be online and available for meetings. Any other time is a meeting-free zone.

This is a very interesting tactic, not only to preserve the work-life balance as they say in the article, but also as a necessary condition to take advantage of the real potential of remote work: asynchrony.

Asynchronous work and communication can bring flexibility, better focus, more inclusive collaboration, better thought-out and higher quality solutions, more productivity, better health, more transparency, less hidden talent, less people who do not contribute, …

It is summarized very well by Calendly’s CEO, Tope Awotona:

‘All we care about is that you get your job done from anywhere, you hit your goals, and you make yourself available during what we call our core hours.’

I think that building these new ways of working is complex, and requires us to define much more than just the schedule.

In fact, the really important question is: How do we organize collaboration in this hybrid environment? What will we go to the office for? What work is better done remotely and asynchronously? What channels or tools will we use for each type of activity: sharing information with the team, feedback interviews, explaining a process, giving news, agreeing on decisions, resolving incidents, documenting relevant procedures, etc.? How do we adapt Talent policies removing the location from the equation?

Each organization must define its own tailored Remote Collaboration Map, with its criteria for applying it. It is a huge transformation, especially a culture transformation. And we must give it the importance and attention it requires.

The Core Hours practice is a good step (although it will be necessary to experiment, correct, improve,…) and shows that these companies are aware of the importance of the challenge and are working on it.

Comic by @_workchronicles

Meanwhile, in Spain, this weekend on prime time TV News, it has been highlighted the increase in the hiring of private investigators by companies, to monitor their remote employees.

“They caught him playing sports in the morning,” they say (apparently during his work-from-home hours).

I think this news shows a lot of things:

  • Culture of control and lack of trust.
  • The belief that if you are not sitting at your computer at certain hours, you are not doing your job.
  • Measurement of hours of presence, vs. results and work done. What if after the padel match the employee returns to his tasks, with more energy and motivation and healthier, and generates more added value? What if at the end he had worked even more hours, but adapting them to his rhythm and preferences?

By the way, Could this be part of a campaign/lobby to generate favorable opinions about returning to the office?

We will see. I think it is a great battle that has already begun, and we will be following it closely….

So far, it seems that too many employers have not yet understood that Talent (the one who can choose: in full employment markets or industries such as USA or IT in Spain) asks for flexibility and an important % of remote work.

And most importantly, they have not understood that it is not only about the Where, but also and especially about the How…. I will write in detail about this How in the following posts, very soon. Because what I am interested in is not to persuade anyone, but to work in a hands-on way to build these new ways of working.

My first contribution has been a Remote-First People&Culture Guide, and I will continue to share some ideas and methodologies on the web


Mario Cameo