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[Editorial notes : The new age startups are rethinking work culture. Right from Buffer’s transparency to ‘4-days week working culture’ by some. Entrepreneur Hernán Amiune shares the new new work culture he is setting up at his startup.]
The main reason is because the most important way to reach the best efficiency possible is allowing us to work without a boss, only 4 days a week and spend 50% more of our time with our families.
Each of these 3 factors working altogether in an office communicating mainly by e-mails and being constantly interrupted by meetings where the habits that we decided to change since the beginning of our working method 8 years ago.
Previously we have worked for big companies like IBM, HP and Intel where we learned exactly what things we shouldn’t do if we wanted to add value and work together with the best engineers in our technological entrepreneurship.
Why should we eliminate meetings?
One of the most important aspects in order to achieve our objective is to understand that we shouldn’t interrupt a programmer’s work so we can attend to a meeting.
The reason is that this kind of job demands an average of 4 hours of hard work in order to achieve good results.
As computing engineers we knew the importance of this habit and that’s why we decided to eliminate meetings, in this way each engineer could work in 2 shifts free from interruptions for example from nine to thirteen and then fourteen to eighteen.
There’s a clear concept that Paul Graham, the creator of Startup School states: ”the cost that represents a programmer assists to a meeting is always going to be more expensive than staying at his workplace” that is to say a project manager’s agenda is never going to be compatible with a developer’s agenda.
Why should we eliminate e-mails?
The second aspect that we consider fundamental is to eliminate the bad use of e-mails as task lists. When the reality is that the communication convention known as e-mail born in 1993 wasn’t conceived and is completely ineffective for developing this kind of task.
It is on this basis that we decided as an internal policy in eMT to eliminate communication via e-mail .In my particular case for example I received 5 emails instead of 55 per day .This 5 e-mails are only external communications with our clients and suppliers.
Why should we eliminate the office?
Finally the truth is that at the beginning of our startup we didn’t had the economic capacity to rent an office, and this working habit we found it by chance, and not by analysis. Then we took a proactive decision as in the previous two aspects.
After 2 years and with the economic capacity to rent an office we decided to do so with 14 other people that who conformed to be part of our team.
After a year in this office we decided to proactively work on a remote basis. Currently we are a team of 35 people in our startup distributed around 5 countries (Argentina, Brasil, Chile, Colombia, Mexico) and each of us works from our respective homes.
Why is the reason of this? The time that you waste going and coming from the office represents an extra 20% time that you have to dedicate to work, instead of dedicating that time to our families or personal hobbies .In addition, to that you have to consider the stress caused by driving or using the public transportation, apart from that you should take into account the cost that this implies as you can see all of these are clearly negative connotations.
And this is nothing new as you can see in this Forbes article with more than 100 important companies that are currently using it.
Working 4 days a week and without a boss
By means of using the 3 aspects mentioned before we are enabled to live in a reality that’s completely differs from other companies .The level of effectiveness achieved by suppressing hundreds of e-mails and without moving to an office every day allows us to work 4 days instead of 5 and without the need of having a boss to inform constantly of our advances.
In order to implement this successfully we implemented 2 important measures that you could also apply to achieve this new working method:
- Include exclusively proactive engineers: This means that we only hire programmers who are able to manage their time and tasks on their own without the need of a project manager .Its not an easy thing to find programmers fitting this description but with some time and effort to it is possible.
Even though we made the mistake of hiring the wrong engineers we immediately decided to take a different path regardless of how difficult it might be.
- Internal control panel: On the other side we designed a simple panel in which you can see which projects we are working as a company and each engineer (employee) can attach himself to. This way each one in a proactive way decides in which task they desire to take part and by taking this responsibility he or she focuses on programming.
In this panel that works as an SAAS tool we all posses a 360-degree view of what each of us is doing in real time given that we are all programmers. It’s very simple to know when someone is doing his job right or not.
Why should we implement this new working method?
In fact there may be plenty of reasons that make this working method a great choice .We also may have millions of reasons not to do it! However if we want to get the most talented people this is definitely the best option.
Over the years we realized that we could draw and, more important retain A+ level employees.
This provides a spectacular competitive advantage. Take into account that a B level programmer will be 5 times less productive than a high level experienced and proactive programmer.
Working with a high level team 4 days a week and without a boss we managed to grow in a 204% in the last year and as we all know the reason behind this is our great team.
The business that manages to adapt to this changes possible through technology will be able to form the best working group and s a major competitive advantage that will allow them to gain long term success.
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