Lab Notes
Working From Home Experiment

Working From Home Experiment Fails Epicly

According to a recent research report published by the process efficiency experts at The Onion, 89 percent of the American workforce simply wants to go home right now.

GoKart Labs, already with a ‘when it makes sense’ working from home policy, decided to test a week of a more lenient approach.

Building a remote workforce might frighten some organizations, but new Director of Technology Eric Johnson showcases how technology makes everything better, always, without exception.

‘You look at Google Hangouts, Skype, Basecamp, E-mail. With these tools, teams can easily stay connected. But we’re even experimenting with how to take it further. Which is why we’re building a robot with an iPad duct taped to its head. We don’t know how we’ll use it yet, but I mean, robots, right? So far it just brings us snacks.’

‘We pay close attention to process,’ said CEO and Co-Founder Don Smithmier. ‘We’ve found tremendous success with our open warehouse space, small teams, tight communication. But we’re talking about talented adults who handle themselves with integrity and professionalism.

The Day Before

Before the experiment began, GoKart team members were given only one condition: If you’re working from home, send an e-mail to let everyone know when and why.

‘Early signs were all very positive,’ Smithmier said. ‘Communication was flowing, spirits were high, efficiency was up.’

Monday

Hey everyone,

Love working at a place willing to try new things. No commute, no interruptions, gonna get into a zone and just crank code! – Kevin

Tuesday 

Didn’t know half the stuff you can do with Skype. Amazing how small the world has become. Being in the office really doesn’t matter anymore. #wfhRules – Chris

Wednesday

‘By midweek, momentum had slowed a little. That’s probably fair to say,’ said Account Strategist Elli Rader.

‘It might be fair to say that,’ Front-end developer Dustin Lundebrek replied, ‘It might also be fair to say that everybody just started lying to avoid having to work.’

‘Yes, that’s probably fair,’ Rader continued. ‘But in everyone’s defense, it was beautiful outside—and some of the lies were really creative.’

Team,

Have to bring my cats to the vet for an annual teeth cleaning. See you ’round noon, dudes. – AdRam

Hi all,So last night my dog ate a power ranger AND an entire captain america comic book. Also part of a bathroom mat. Going to take him to the vet and will hopefully be back online sometime later on. All channels open. – Elli

Thursday

Hey gang,

Just remembered I have a package coming from Amazon today–so I’ll be WFH. Contact me through all channels, if I’m not available, I’m probably signing for the package. –l’Adam

Hey everyone,

Feeling guilty because I’ve been watching a lot of TV with the dog. The cat is getting resentful of the dog. Need to set this right.  Need to work from home today to spend more time with the cat. She likes to sit on my lap when I’m at my desk and watch me work. When I take breaks, I pet her or play with her string. Available through normal channels, unless me and the cat are playing with the string. – Tate

Friday

By Friday, all bets were off. Excuses for ‘working from home’ ranged from sloppy to unpleasant, eventually devolving into downright fireable offenses.

You know when you sleep so well you’re just not right for activity the next day? I got like 14 hours of sleep last night and I’m just an overrested mess today. WFH all day, channels open, but gonna try to sleep this off. – Paul

Hey all,

Feeling more ornery than usual, so I’ll save you the trouble of putting up with my grumpiness. You know how to find me, but I’ll make you regret it – Rob

Team, Got some freelance work I’m late on. WFH all day, if I get my freelance stuff done. – Dan

Even Smithmier lost focus and decided to just go on vacation.

Hi everyone,

I’m in a Winston Churchill type of mood, so I’m going to have a brandy or two and work from London. You know how to reach me, but please resist. – Don

In summary

‘I wouldn’t say the test was a complete failure,’ Smithmier remarked on the week. ‘We validated our current process, that being together in the same space enables you to accomplish quite a deal more. So that was definitely a positive. But we did also have to fire almost everyone. So we do have some open positions.’

 

Paul writes about modern marketing practices for today's fragmented digital world.