What if… Remote Officing?


The Ziglar, Inc., offices have been run traditionally for over 30 years now.


What if we started remote officing?


Our current lease is up in December.


What if we cut our space needs by 50% or 75%?


What if, when you called the office, the phone rang in the right person’s home office?  Would you care?


What if people came into the office one or two times a week instead of five?


What if we had more company meetings and social gatherings, not fewer? What if people came to the office only to work together and share updates and critical information?


What if there were standard “office days” and everyone scheduled their smaller team meetings on these days?


What if we were very purposeful and strategic about company communication? 


What if we created a company social network with a common place for people to share updates and news and ideas?


What if our team members saved 50% on gas and enjoyed an extra three hours a week because of no longer commuting?


What if people who didn’t have the discipline to work this way just were not a fit for the company anymore?


What if going to the office was a rare treat rather than a Monday morning have-to?


What are the downsides?


Please leave your comments, short or long!  I am especially interested to know if you are currently home officing and what pitfalls you can advise us to avoid.  We know it’s not possible for every person to remote office, but what if…


(Check out The Great Shift for more thoughts)




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8 Comments on “What if… Remote Officing?”

  1. klemons Says:

    I think this is a phenomenal idea! Being able to work from home makes time in the office more of a pleasure rather than a drudgery. Everyone is different but I think having a dedicated office space at home is important to being efficient and productive, while avoiding distractions. It also allows people to feel more connected with home, family, and their personal lives. Having a little freedom, in my opinion, makes me much more willing to check e-mail in the evening, answer phone calls after hours and take a less traditional approach than the 9-5 working hours.

  2. Archie Says:

    This is a wonderfully creative idea and clearly devised as a benefit to the workers. Having worked at home for a year within an organisation that was home based I have some thoughts on it.

    The single biggest challenge that people would face is the isolation of being at home.

    Being at home is lovely but being at home AND working is psychologically quite strange. It requires a huge amount of discipline due to the lack of direct observation and management. When the discipline is maintained the other peril due to the isolation is the lack of face to face contact with your colleagues. The company I worked for employed a therapist who was on call to address this feeling of isolation.

    Flexible working rather than an entire company based from home is more viable. The bulk of a workers time should be in the office I beleive. Pyschologically it works better.

    For those workers who are extensively at home klemons is right that dedicated work space is essential. Some thought should also be given to the amount of noise generated by the home or the worker to ensure that practically the mini office at home isn’t impacting on the household. For example my wife and I had a small baby at the time I was working at home – the baby was capable of making noise that clearly travelled through the bedroom door to my work space!

  3. Kama Titus Says:

    I worked from home as well for over five and one half years. I found it was very wonderful for my family life to be able to be “on call” when necessary but it was also very difficult because there was never a time when it “shut off”. – Unfortunately I had a boss who was more interested in the bottom line than the total effects on my family. I was finally let go when I sat down with my boss and informed him that while I loved my job, I needed some down time. I wanted to set up some ground rules of 1. NO Sundays. 2. No calls after 9 pm or before 6:30 am. 3. A dedicated work phone line so when it rang my kids knew they were not to answer the phone and that it was for work purposes only. 4. A computer to work from so I could effectively communicate with him and do my job from the work office as well as home efficiently. (I was using my personal computer to get work done from home which was really difficult when my son had a school report to do and I was trying to work at the same time). Anyway, the boss said no he couldn’t accept those changes and he would find someone who would be willing to make money not excuses… It turned out that he replaced me with someone else who he then gave all those concessions to. I thanked the Lord that the boss must have needed someone better for the job than me and God must have been leading me in a different direction. I am now back in an office space but my weekends and nights are my own. When I leave work… I leave my job at work and I am okay with that.
    I think Ziglar Corporation is much more understanding and aware of the human aspect than my boss was and I am glad to see you are looking for the pitfalls that will come from working at home.
    I hope that you also set up some ground rules for both the company and the employee. If working from home maybe a set schedule of what is expected to be done in a specific time frame so the employee doesn’t feel like they are being set up to fail. If a person is given a goal to strive toward- they will usually surpass it. The jobs need to be done, but please recognize some people will need to have set down time to shut if off and that should be accepted and perhaps even mandated by the company so the employee feels they can let it go. It is very hard as an employee who wants to do their best for the company to be able to say- okay this will be there tomorrow. I can let this go for now.
    Okay so hopefully this didn’t ramble too much and you have a little bit better understanding of my experience. I think you can be more productive working from home – if self disciplined- but you HAVE to have an understanding and listening boss who appreciates the intricacies of working from home.

    Good Luck!

  4. Jon Says:

    Our business is home based. First off, realize it is TOTALLY DIFFERENT than an office setting. You can not run it the same way. You can not just do dismantle the office and expect the same results with everyone scattered around working from home.

    My business partner and I are in different states. All our employees work from home. You have to plan for the “out of sight out of mind” side of things.

    In the office setting “face time” is a form of accountability. Normally people don’t just show up and do nothing, they feel peer pressure to look busy at least. You don’t have that in the home office. So the partners and the employees need another system for accountability.

    Another thing is rewards. We are a sales organization. In an office when a sales person comes back with a big order there is lots of hype, high-fives and your names goes up on a board or something. IN a home office, you come home to none of that. So you have to replace it. Also, you have the rejection issue and the getting down issue. Isolation can be a bad thing. I find I need to get out of the home office for meetings over coffee someplace just to get human interaction.

    Also you can not look over the wall of a cube and talk to your co-worker about an idea that just came to mind. So we use instant messages to help compensate for that.

    Be aware that for most people they work hardest when someone is watching them, either to perform or to avoid criticism. Also many top sales people like to “show off” or “one up” the others and when they are at home they don’t get that chance because on-one can see them operate.

    So you really have to make sure you compensate, or even over compensate for these issues.

    We have found that conference calls, instant messages, webinars, and video conferencing are ways to help overcome these things. You also have to use your goal planner with all employees and “coach” them at least weekly. I think managers must be much, much, much more verbally connected to a home office employee than an on-site employee. Daily or multiple times a day type stuff. Even if it is just a quick chat. They need to hear words of encouragement from the boss so they feel like someone is “watching” and caring even if it is from a distance.


  5. Dan Says:

    On one hand I would love to be able to work from home but there are several drawbacks. I personally haven’t worked from home except for when I had my own business and I was the only employee 🙂 I have worked for several companies that did have telecommuting. The pluses are time, gas, employee satisfaction and maybe productivity. The minuses are productivity spending too much time doing work, no clear separation between work and home life, lack of recognition from superiors due to less visibility and the loss of the team atmosphere. I think that it needs to be everyone or no-one since that creates a team as oppose to setting people apart because they get to work from home. There needs to be a clear time that people are available for work so that they don’t burn out from spending day and night working and there needs to be appropriate goals. The big problem is that it is hard to work with kids especially little ones running around since they don’t understand that you are at work and not available. There are some people that just aren’t organized enough to work from home. It doesn’t mean that they aren’t great workers and a credit to the organization it just means that they need the framework of the office to help them focus. You can lose some good people because of it. But if it is decided to eliminate the brick and mortar and work from home for everyone I think over time it will work out with patience and training.

  6. Tom Ziglar Says:

    Dan – thanks for you ideas on remote officing. Let me know what you think about this email I sent to our staff. I think I covered most of the bases.

    Remote Officing

    As most of you know, we are going to move to a blended Remote Officing environment. Is this a great idea? If it works, it is genius. If it doesn’t work, we can always return to the standard office environment. So how do we know if it works? Pretty simple really – revenue targets are hit and projects get done on time and the benefits of remote officing (reduced fuel costs and travel time, more flexibility) outweigh the costs (potential for poor communication and loss of team energy).

    Remote Officing Facts:

    1. Everyone who lives in the Dallas area will have an office space when we move locations. Remote officing is not required at all – so if you work better at the office, no problem, we will have a space for you.
    2. If you want to work from home some days, get your manager’s approval and go for it.
    3. Working from home means just that, working from home. You will need to be reachable by phone and email during business hours just like you are now.
    4. Job requirements will not change. Project deadlines, workflow, meeting attendance, quota, customer response, timely communication with team members, whatever your case may be, your responsibility does not change.
    5. Your manager or the company may call a mandatory in-office meeting on short notice at any 1time. If you had planned on remote officing during that time you are still required to attend the meeting in person.

    Remote Officing Benefits:

    1. You will have more flexibility. My most productive days are when I start work at 5:30 a.m. and work straight through to 9:30 a.m. I will often get a quick workout in at 9:30 and go back to work. Still, I can be reached by email and phone within an hour. If you decide to get a project done by staying up all night, more power to you! However, you will still need to be just as reachable to customers and staff the next day as if you were in the office from 8 to 5.
    2. Most people will save a substantial amount of time and gas money by remote officing several days a week.
    3. The company will benefit as well. We will understand better the needs of clients who also remote office. Remote officing requires more creative thinking from team members and out-of-the-box solutions. It’s a great benefit that should generate more job satisfaction. It will be easier to offer greater response coverage to our customers – your home office will be an exact mirror of your work office, which means that you can respond to a customer in the early a.m. or late p.m. much more easily.

    Remote Officing Responsibilities:

    1. Communication. We will have at least two days each week that will be mandatory in-office days for team meetings, etc.
    2. Communication. Every Thursday at 10:00 a.m. will be a mandatory in-office company communication meeting. It will last no longer than 45 minutes and its purpose will be for leadership to report to the team on the major initiatives and happenings of the company.
    3. Communication. Email and voicemail response to team members will be a #1 priority. A response to an email or voicemail should be given to a team member within four hours 99% of the time. It is ok if the response is simply – “I got your email, I will get you the answer by the end of the day tomorrow.”
    4. Communication. If you send an email or voicemail and don’t get a response within four hours, it will be perfectly acceptable to send the request again. We must as a team hold each other accountable.
    5. Communication. Instead of email, it is awesome if you pick up the phone. Think relationship.
    6. Communication. Think “campfire.” We need to be purposeful and intentional in our communications. We will have less of the water cooler talk, but this can be replaced by phone, IM, email, and just good relationship skills when we are together.

    Remote Officing Technologies:

    1. We are looking at several solutions that will make remote officing much easier.
    2. Our goal is to find a phone system that will ring in your home office just like your work office.
    3. Your computer and phone access at home will look just like in the office.
    4. Your work activity in your home office will be recorded into our systems as seamlessly as possible. Our goal is no double work. If you call a customer from home, the technology will record into our system the call number, the length of call, etc.
    5. Until we get the technologies in place, you can still work remotely with your manager’s approval.

    The Spirit of Remote Officing

    I see remote officing as a big opportunity for us to be more efficient, have more flexibility, and to serve our customers and each other better. It comes with a heavy responsibility as well. We will need to trust each other. As you can tell, I think our biggest challenge will be communication. We will have to be purposeful in our communications with each other and hold each other to a high standard. There are things we don’t know yet, and things we will have to grow through together. I don’t believe remote officing is the perfect solution for everyone, just like I don’t believe a traditional office is the perfect solution for everyone. What I know for sure is this – the more we know and understand what each of us are doing on a day to day basis, the more we tend to respect and admire each other. That is why communication is so important. When we sit next to someone each day, we know better what someone is doing. Being remote means we need to share in different and more purposeful ways what each of us are doing.

  7. Tom Ziglar Says:

    Jon – your comments are right on! Thanks for sharing them.

  8. Neil (NS) Says:

    I guess there are no options! It would be wise to move as much work home rather than moving oneself to office to execute them. Why – Increasing Fuel Prices, packed roads, high running cost of office and more than anything increased peer pressure to pretend being ‘effective’ at work, all this can just be avoided!

    Being a ‘Lean’ expert, i view travelling as a ‘MUDA’, meaning non-value added activity. No one gains when you carry along a laptop all the way, connect it to office network (which can be made available at your doorstep) and then check those mails which can be done from home….


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