Guest Post by Cristian Rennella
When we launch a new project, we are hardly focused on the organizational structure that we will form in the future. First there is a long list of pressing challenges, from laying out a plan for obtaining new clients and sustained monthly growth to developing a strategy to create new avenues for investing.
Nevertheless, these first steps taken will be the foundation which will forever define our structure and more importantly, our work environment. The earlier we make these decisions, the better the results will be. What if we could work without bosses, meetings, or offices?
Based on our experience over the past 8 years, we can.
Work without bosses
Define a work environment that does not depend on the need for project managers. In other words, there is no one who will make the decisions of “what” to do and “how” to do it for us. Each of the members of our business has absolute responsibility for all of their actions.
The goal here is to create a business in the age of participation, not one based on the industrial age. Team members will not need bosses to lead them according to their assigned titles (Vice-president of payments, Manager of new business, etc.). Instead, they will want to follow leaders and help them with their vision.
Leaders have the responsibility of finding people with technical skills that can do the work. Then we must delegate and get out of their way, giving them the freedom to go forward.
There is no longer a need for a project manager that is constantly controlling each step. On the contrary, it is us that should make this mental shift and begin to measure not the number of hours spent sitting in a chair, but the results achieved. At the end of the day, a boss define procedures, while a leader delegates responsibility and focuses on results.
As the famous American professor and writer Ordway Tead said: “The art of leadership is in making fewer decisions each day.”
The way to implement this first foundation with success is to put in place three pillars:
This boils down to hiring only those employees that do not need constant supervision. They should naturally carry out their work on their own. The best way to find programmers, is to look for individuals who contribute constantly to Open Source initiatives, without receiving any economic benefits.
Results only measurement
Learn as leaders to delegate and focus on the results achieved. We should not be involved in all the minor day-to-day details.
Hire new owners
In order for this way of working to have success, we do not set out to simply hire employees, but we should search for new owners of our project. The only way someone will feel part of our vision is if we make them an owner. This is why vesting exists.
Work without meetings
From my own personal point of view, this was the best decision that we made in our business venture MT, over four years.
In the industrial age, the idea was that the employees gave their time in exchange for money. But this has changed radically. Leaders must give their teams time to help generate even more earnings. Many work hours are lost without purpose in millions of meetings each day around the world. As one can see in this article in The Economist, a manufacturing company was able to save the equivalent of 200 job positions just by reducing meetings to a maximum of 30 minutes and seven people.
Historically, meetings were implemented in order to control the progress of the projects, but as we’ve seen, they are no longer necessary when there are no longer bosses in the organization.
Forming a culture where meetings are not a viable option opens new doors of efficiency for everyone. For example, in a technological business venture such as ours, a programmer needs a minimum of four hours of uninterrupted time to achieve their highest work production level. If we force them to attend a meeting in the middle of this period, we destroy their productivity.
Something that we should understand is that in the current times, people should be paid for doing an excellent job and not just for simply coming to the office, answering emails, talking with workmates, complying with their fixed work hours and then leaving at the appointed time.
The people that we should look to add to our team are those that seek to achieve goals in order to generate a sense of accomplishment and not just to earn a paycheck. A commitment to the vision and values that we have as a business should be the main reason why they want to work for us.
Work without offices
Lastly, the two previous points led us to the possibility of doing our work from the place of our choice. As Matt Mullenweg, creator of WordPress, shared on various occasions: “The best office is not to have one.”
In the beginning, we did not have an office because we did not have the economic resources to have one. However, after two years we had the capital and decided to build a beautiful office. It included all the amenities that one could wish for: from a playroom (ping pong, PlayStation, etc.) to a chef. But, this only lasted for ten months, and we decided to go back to each person working from their home or the place of their choice.
The time and effort needed to travel to and from the office each day did not justify the change. With the technology that exists today, it is not necessary that we all work in the same physical space.
We also decided to work four days a week. By working from home, with no bosses or meetings, we were able to increase efficiency and dedicate 50% more time to our families — not just Saturday and Sunday, but Friday as well. I can assure you, we have concrete data proving that our level of productivity remained the same going from five to four work days per week (from 40 to 32 hours).
When one has less time to achieve the same results, they concentrate more and take more advantage of their time. They eliminate distractions like reading the paper or checking social media. In a study by Captivate Network, it is shown that 45% of employees have a habit of going to the doctor during work hours and that 52% frequently use work time to buy gifts and do home chores.
Even though we may have thousands of priorities for our businesses that seem more important than our work environment, it is of utmost importance to pay attention to it as soon as possible. Getting rid of bosses, meetings, and dedicated workspaces will be pillars that will help build a small business venture into a large company.
Cristian Rennella, PHP and SQL programmer for the business venture MejorTrato, focused on comparison of services for Latin America. Angel investor for artificial intelligence projects for mobile devices and adjunct professor at the Universidad Nacional de Córdoba (Argentina).