Work from home

Three tricky words.

Tricky because home used to be a refuge from work. Home is safe, work brings tension. Home is long-term, work might not be.

But mostly because the industrial, cog-oriented mindset of work is that you should keep your head down, avoid responsibility and look busy! The factory owner seeks productivity, which equals more, which means pushing people to go faster. The natural response is to hold a little bit back, because if you don’t then you’ll just have to do more anyway.

Some might wonder about kids who are homeschooled, because they haven’t been processed by the compliance-focused industrial schooling system. Can they really be trusted in a factory environment, they ask.

An aside about the clickers: Large universities now require undergraduates in lecture classes to bring a clicker with them to class. The clicker confirms their attendance. The clicker can be used throughout by the professor to ensure that students are paying attention. The clicker can easily lead to better training. Sort of the way it works on dogs, but backwards.

Click training is not going to create the sort of professional who can work from home. It simply pushes us to comply even more closely with a system that monitors us as we work to find an answer that the boss knew all along.

And when Harvard sends every student home to take virtual classes after spring break, they give up the social dynamic that is Harvard, but are they also going to learn anything, really?

They will if they want to.

That’s the key to the whole thing. Unless you’re doing easily measured piecework in the old-fashioned cottage industry mindset (the original work from home job), then the opportunity is to raise your hand, not keep your head down.

Some jobs and some schools reward people who lead, connect and volunteer.

Slack and other distributed online systems make it easier than ever to build a flat organization. Which makes it more likely that people who want to lead can lead.

When you work from home, you can sit back and wait for assignments and hope you won’t get picked. You can be sure to click the clicker when required.

Or can you decide to change your posture. With all the time you save by not going to meetings and not commuting, you can run with the opportunity. Turn the freedom into responsibility instead of fearing or hoping for authority.

Some jobs don’t lend themselves to this opportunity. If that’s true, you could figure out how to change the organization or go find one that deserves you and your commitment to the work.

The best way to work from home is to plan your own agenda, organize your peers, make bigger promises, show up often, lead, connect, innovate and ask hard questions. And then do it all again.

You will if you want to.

Stay home.

Stay home, it’s a good idea. It’s a generous way to help people stay safe. Stay home and lead.

In the long run, which is getting shorter all the time, people with a linchpin mindset are valued more highly, given more opportunities and make a bigger impact. This is a chance to enroll in the journey of making a difference.

From wherever you’re working.