When it comes to working remotely, I have pushed for it since 2000. My main limitation was the mindset of the people I worked for who often cling to an increasingly packed workspace. As if we needed to justify the commercial real estate spend of employers while everyone gets less desk space and less floor space each year. I fail to see the value of that space even if we are “together”.
If there were no more commercial offices, smart companies would figure out how to survive and thrive. If they did not, maybe the market did not need them to continue existing. If the market needed their products or services to exist without offices, simply switch out any of their leadership or management that cling to the self-limiting beliefs like “must work in an office together” and other such fallacies. Working together has nothing to do with sitting near each other.
Enter COVID-19. Ready or not, if you are not moving physical objects for your work, you will work remotely until further notice. Get used to it. Become effective, then efficient, and find the benefits in doing so. Otherwise, goodbye. Time to find someone else who is flexible and can adapt quickly to VUCA.
Employer and employee locations are no longer relevant
Notice I did not say work from home #WFH, but rather work remotely or work anywhere. Location is now almost irrelevant. You choose where you live and you choose whom you work for. Break the mindset of believing where your employer is located matters. It does not. Work is not a location, but rather an activity. Where you are located is your choice. Not an employers’ choice if you don’t move physical objects for your work. Let us be very clear about that. Let that sink in. You choose the location with a good internet connection to continue getting the work done. No one in their right mind is running back to a packed office simply to have a desk.
Time zones matter more than location
Since location is almost irrelevant, taking virtual meetings and calls is as simple as scheduling them based on calendar availability and time zones. No wasted travel time. No commuting. If the online calendar invite is accepted, it is assumed that at the scheduled date and time on a specific means of communication, we are available to discuss the said topics on the agenda. The calendar should adjust for any time zone differences between parties so it is a reasonable time for everyone regardless of location.
Digital asset management work
Months later, we still are working remotely and we are adapting. Some adapt faster than others.
During a webinar, I spoke about the fact that digital asset management can perfectly be done as remote work. Most of us do not have a choice of working in an office any more. Yes, there is an emphasis on the fact that all that work is digital since we seem to forget what those three words (Digital Asset Management) mean and what they stand for since we say it so often, but miss the point that digital has no borders. Even more so now. Those 1s and 0s don’t typically sit in a cubicle either, so why should you?
New DAM Job Applicants
If you are applying to a DAM position and you are not explicitly provided in writing that your position will be remote, ask “why not?” and listen to their [outdated factory worker mentality] excuses. Ask why you can’t work remotely without returning often or ever to the office if you continue to provide your employer the proper work, input, output, support, and value that you ‘normally’ would as if you were an if provided the necessary tools that you should be provided anyhow to do your job.
Water cooler talk
What about water cooler talk or conversations in the hallway or around the coffee machine or office kitchen? Really? In case you have not been paying attention for the past few months (and before), this is what 1 on 1 video calls are for. Whether it is with your co-worker, supervisor, management, leadership or external partners, it does not matter. Those can be scheduled. Try a 15-minute call for efficiency and effectiveness in one of those types of convos.
Face to face communication will be virtual for the foreseeable future.
Seeing the person is not really necessary, even by video call.
Verbal communication by using our words with the right tone to communicate is crucial. Being seen virtually or in-person is not as important to communicate properly. Think phone call and less video chat.
Since we are still not reading minds, clear verbal communication still matters a lot.
It can not be garbled without restating it. It can not be assumed without confirmation. It should not be implied. It should be clear, confirmed, and understood. When it is not, ask.
Conversations should be framed with the context of a specific topic.
Communication with explicit intent and specificity can be received clearly and confirmed by the receiving party.
We should continually work on our smart communication.
If your communication skills are lacking, it is high time to work on those skills and practice exercising them regularly (even virtually), regardless of our age, experience, role, or title.
Collaboration online only
If you have not figured it out yet in the past few months, you don’t need to be physically together in order to collaborate over concepts, electronics documents, ideas, innovations, skills or anything that does not involve moving physical objects for your own work. You won’t be shaking hands anytime soon and HR frowns on any other forms of touching each other since close proximity is not a good idea. Working physically together is now over. Collaborate online or don’t collaborate at all. You can manage workflows and people remotely. In case you needed someone to tell you, the days of running to an office only to crowd into a meeting room are now over. If you need help figuring it out, I may be able to help you as a consultant. This is not free advice. There are solutions to anything regardless of the challenge, big or small. Sometimes, those solutions are not technology, but rather communication.
Manage your time
You are either available based on your up to date online calendar for your co-workers to know when you are available or in a state of deep work (by setting “do not disturb until [YY:YY] time” on your messaging app). You should set clear hours for work with very few pre-scheduled exceptions when your work hours need to shift, not increase.
Manage your technology
Do you have a poorly evolved IT infrastructure that is not cloud-based or has a limited VPN? If your ISP bandwidth where you are at that time is too low, improve your Internet Service Plan and ask your employer if they will pay for your internet service like some (Google) do. I have an ISP at home as well as one internet hotspot on my smartphone as a backup. I also have several other locations I go regularly for other wifi hotspots and most of them are not indoors. Some are available 24/7.
If you have self-limiting IT management and leadership, maybe it is time to evolve beyond them if they can not adapt to the new IT needs of the company.
Issue the tools to get the work done
Employees should be issued a laptop with needed software licenses and tools. If you need a mouse, a headset for calls, a second monitor or something else, Ask for it. Some companies issue a specific standard of equipment based on the different roles within the companies by buying them in volume. Otherwise, some companies give employees an allotted amount of money each year to spend on such things including coffee (or tea) to remain welcome in that coffee shop with wifi.
Hiring DAM Professionals now
Hiring the right people for the work is a challenge at any time. Not just now. Quickly evolving to the needs of the company is still a necessity. Poorly evolved HR practices and mostly obsolete business cultures are often poorly defined and outright meaningless since the same organizations wish to survive and keep hiring viable candidates regardless of their location. Work is not a location anymore, but rather a function, a role, and a series of tasks.
I spoke with several DAM Professionals hired during the first wave of COVID-19 (between March 2020 and June 2020) and they are expected to work remotely without the need to come to any office. Ever.
How did they get to work remotely from day one on the job? They simple asked to. It is really that simple. And it should not take a pandemic to get digital knowledge workers to work from home or work anywhere as long as the work gets done.
Some people report being more productive than ever before. It helps to not run a daycare and school within your household at the same time. Now that they don’t have to waste time commuting or running around an office hunting for people in person. Everyone is one call, email, or message away as they have been in the past. Instantaneous responses are still not to be expected though. Prescribed response times should be set as a standard such as within X number of business hours, just like in a SLA.
Interestingly enough, remote work or work anywhere policies are still missing in more than half of the companies in order to set some ground rules for safety, productivity, maintain connectivity, provide access, provide needed tools (such as a laptop with software), maintain security, maintain continuity (for people, process, information, and technology) and stay within needed regulations. Companies should not need a pandemic to plan ahead with some guidelines for everyone. We wish common sense was widely available, but guidelines can help since it is not.
The way this evolves is that we set the ground rules before day 1 of any person working anywhere (Ask why or why not questions) and/or justify how you wish to continue working going forward. Either way, you continue to prove that you can be as productive, efficient, and effective as part of a distributed workforce without the need for space in a crowded office.
Where are all the remote DAM jobs?
As I review DAM jobs weekly as I have for the past decade (not because I want any full time position as a consultant, but rather studying the DAM job market), I would expect all open positions to be remote DAM positions. I would expect companies and HR to have evolved during the past several months of the pandemic. I should in fact stop hoping for logic to kick in and write about it instead. Digital Asset Management is a digital job, not a physical job requiring the person to be onsite for anything. DAM jobs can and should be done from anywhere (especially remotely) since DAM professionals are not moving any physical objects around for their own work. Location is almost irrelevant and if companies can’t figure out the tax code for that, they should hire new HR people and accountants who can. All Digital Asset Management professional positions should be able to work from anywhere with a good internet connection, not just from an office nor just from their home. Digital Asset Management should not be limited nor confined to any location and neither should anyone working with DAM. Location should be the workers’ choice if the companies want to hire and retain the best people. Maybe those companies want to stay relevant and survive too. Offering remote positions is one step companies can take towards retaining their own relevancy and continuity plans.