The Trouble With Managing Presence

This clip from the delightful film “Office Space”, illustrates the fundamental issue with managing presence (“face-time”). The biggest obstacle to remote (and flexible) working has been the lack of management skills in companies to effectively manage outcomes. So managing activity has been seen as the next best thing. Well, actually, as the clip illustrates, they’re really just “managing” presence. “Presence” might be correlated with “activity” (ie. if you are there you might as well do something), and “activity” might be correlated with “outcome”, if you’re lucky. But in many situations, you’re most likely to get “15 minutes of actual work.”

The inflection point in remote/flexible working that the pandemic lock-downs precipitated forced companies to take on the difficult challenge of figuring out how to manage outcomes. And now that is done, they are find remote worker much more productive than in-office workers ever were. Part of this increase is the productivity enhancements of avoiding energy depleting commutes, the availability of the ergonomic comforts of home, etc. But probably the biggest contributor is finally getting companies to manage by outcome.