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We are squandering the greatest opportunity of remote work

We’ve taken the greatest opportunity in history to rewrite the rules of work, and twisted it into a dystopian Zoomscape where we’re stuck staring at our own faces all day. We can do better.

Growing up, I hated authority.

Freedom was my most important value.

That led to avoiding getting a real job as long as I could, because of the rules that were baked in — 9 to 5 hours, dress codes, and middle management.  

Instead, I spent a decade building internet businesses. I built and launched dozens of products — from fertilizer made from coffee grounds to a resume building website used by millions of people.

At some point I accomplished my goal of freedom — avoiding the job market, the 9–5, and writing my own ticket. It wasn’t what it was cracked up to be.

Truthfully, I struggled through most of it.

I was focused on the outcome, and lost touch with what mattered.

I felt the constant need to be working as much as possible. Available. Sending emails. Checking messages. At my desk by 8am. Going through the motions.

For someone who wanted to avoid getting a job, it sure felt like I had a job.

I had no energy. No motivation.

I sold my business last year, and started Holopod to avoid making those mistakes again. My goal is to answer what I believe is the most important question every individual can ask:

How can I create a day that I love?

How we spend our days is how we spend our lives; and we spend most of our time at work. It’s about time we spend those hours in a way that inspires us.

In 2020, the world of work changed.

When the COVID Pandemic hit, every technology company moved to a distributed or hybrid model — and there’s no going back.

The problem is that most teams haphazardly adopted practices that are toxic to top performers:

  • Dozens of recurring meetings.
  • 7 hours of Zoom/day.
  • Scheduled (forced) happy hours and virtual team building
  • Expectations of instant response times
  • Incessant notifications
  • Lack of separation from work

We’ve replaced a commute with a forced working style that is even more unnatural. Humans aren’t designed to sit behind screens all day, and definitely not designed to talk to other humans behind screens all day.

It’s a shame.

We’ve taken the greatest opportunity in history to rewrite the rules of work, and twisted it into a dystopian Zoomscape where we’re stuck staring at our own faces all day.

For all the talk about “flexible hours, work-life balance, and employee empowerment” — we’re still closer to Henry Ford’s assembly line than we’d like to admit. Our days are consumed by unnecessary calls, constant notifications, and the feeling that work never ends.

Things can be different.

Let’s assume everyone has 8 hours of “work” in them a day.

Optimistically, that’s 4 hours of really great work.

Every process, system, and best practice should be designed around helping people optimize for that 4 hours of really great work.

The best way to do that is to give every individual the autonomy to design a day that works for them.

This means giving people control of their schedules. Let them slice that 8 hours in a way that inspires them. Motivates them. Energizes them.

Some will immediately sit down and get in the flow from 7am to 11am.

Others might spend the morning exercising, meditating, or walking the dog.

Some might flitter their day away until the evening, and then code until 3am.

Embrace it.

Given freedom, great people will default to productivity.

Given time, great people will produce exceptional work.

Forcing people to adopt a set of arbitrary rules will result in burnout, mediocre output, and boredom.

Every effort should be spent to empower the individuals on your team to design their optimal work day.

Give power back to your people. Trust they will make the most of it.

Let them choose their office hours.

Encourage scheduling focus time. Exercise. Lunch. Walks.

Audit your recurring meetings.

Make it ok to say “I’m done for the day.”

Help identify the patterns that lead to those inspired days.

The days when the day flows, inspiration strikes.

Those days that make you say “wow, I wish every day was like this.”

That’s the world I want to work in.

I hope you do, too.

- James, Founder

Take back control of your day with Holopod.