In a new article from Berlin’s excellent ESMT, Konstantin Korotov states that “What the crisis has revealed is how very dependent our work is on other people.” Initially, you want to agree with the statement, but the more you think about it, the less it makes sense.
You have been working remotely for almost 5 years now. Your experience as a remote worker taught you that you have to be extra open and welcoming and…well…nice to your colleagues and forge relationships through common projects, goals and opportunities. Physical proximity is a nice way to accelerate such bonds, but these can be done remotely just as well if you are cognizant enough to the challenges of being remote.
So now that everyone is remote, and new employees are not being physically introduced to their new colleagues by their manager, we have to collectively be more cognizant and spend the extra time to virtually meet our peers and colleagues. In fact, unlike dating, the smell of your colleagues or the way they look should play a small role on how much you like them so everyone being forced to work remotely might actually bring more teams together. The office could be saved for those team building exercises that will happen again once we can all travel again.
We will have a vaccine and we will be able to meet our colleagues again. Let’s not wait until that happens to build teams and relationships.
As part of the daily routine you start by a quick ride to the office. The commute to the home office, part of the “Bookend your Day” rule (see this post), often also involve running one or two errands. It is pretty useful to have shoes that are not only clipless, a confusing term which actually means “attach to your pedals”, but also feature a wonderful capability called walking.
There are not too many such shoes as it turns out. The absolute market leader used to be Chrome Industries, but they are currently updating their SPD shoes offering so alternatives are needed.
The list below is by no mean complete, but these are great options to consider. Some might be hard to get in Europe, but at least the Quoc and Pedaled are brands associated with Europe so getting them might be easier. DZR are San Francisco based.
You return home one day earlier than originally planned from a bike tour in Northern Germany. BEST.DECISION.EVER. You did everything right, yet, during the morning of the second day, as you were rushing to make your destination, a hotel that was still 100km away, you realized that you are missing the whole point.
Originally, you wanted to see the Lüneburger Heath (Heide) which is a beautiful nature reserve somewhere north of Hanover and south of Hamburg. Plans were made to spend the weekend with the misses in Lübeck and then ride to the Heide and then ride back home.
The goal was to see the Heide. Collection kilometers was of course an added bonus, but this year, with SARS-CoV-2 grounding sensible air travel, you see the opportunity to explore your backyard. You spent most of your vacation time flying places so actually taking the opportunity to explore Germany seemed like a sensible thing to do. The pictures of the Heath looked amazing and it was within “cycling distance.”
How often do we embark on a project, dig deep into the details, identify all the trees, the roots, the leafs and forget that the goal was at the other end of the forest? It happens a lot. This was exactly the experience you were having on day 2. After 3 hours of riding off road, on mostly horse trails, getting lost numerous times (Garmin be damned), having experienced a pretty weird dehydration situation the previous day, and being cold non-stop, you figure a lunch break was in order. With that break also came the realization that you were only focusing on one Key Performance Indicator (KPI): Distance Left.
The goal of the tour was to see the Heide. And here you were in the middle of the Heide, yet, you were only looking at the 100km left to ride to get to the next hotel and was completely ignoring nature that was all around you.
In an instance you changed direction. You replanned a route through the Heide, with one click (albeit deep in the app) you cancel the hotel, you roughly get an idea of where the train lines were hiding, and you update the misses to the new plans.
Everybody wins (apart from the hotel….sorry). You enjoy the beauty of the Heath, you have time to take pictures, you greet other travelers, you smell the flowers.
Keeping your goal front and center is key to happiness and success. If the goal was to ride a lot of kilometers, you would have failed. But the goal was to visit a beautiful area and in that you totally succeeded.
Since pretty much the invention of modern computing, we always swang between the cost of communication and the cost of computing. From the perspective of communication, one of the Internet’s design guideline is the end-to-end principle. A good discussion on the topic is nicely laid out here. The end-to-end principle, simply stated, advocates keeping the nodes on the network smart and the network dumb. In other words, the network is generic and meant for all traffic while the edges know what to do with the traffic. Compute was too expensive at the time the principle was created, so the thinking was that it is easier to provide CPU cycles at the edges.
Fast forward to today where Apple just announced that they will be making their own silicon for their laptops (they already make their own chips for all their mobile and wearable devices) and where more and more specialized CPUs are coming to the market. Pensando is one such example with an interesting SmartNIC design and the tune of $278m in funding as well as top Cisco veterans in its ranks. Ampere is another good example of a company looking to add value to the edges. This all plays to the narrative that the edge of the network is where the processing of data is happening.
But…with 5G (the real one, not that bad marketing joke from AT&T) and edge/cloud computing everywhere, both communication and compute cost are approaching zero. Why? 5G offers 100 times faster speeds than today’s LTE technologies (it will take some time) but the cost that your carrier can charge you for that speed is not 100x, but rather around 10 Euro extra per month. It is already happening in Korea. Hence, the cost per bit is quickly approaching the fraction of a cent which means it is “free”.
The hyperscalers are looking to provide massive “cheap compute” capabilities in the cloud and in their edge offerings:
So what does it all mean? Compute is getting more powerful and plentiful at the edge and in your rectangle pocket Internet device. Communication cost is approaching zero. What can we expect from a world in which the pendulum stopped swinging?
You wake up in the morning, go through your morning routine, check your email and find out that your business leader/CEO/head of people operations have set a company-wide policy of Working from Home. You work for a Technology company which actually means that you are perfectly set for a Working from Home type of a situation, but within two days you hear all your colleagues that are used to going to the office complain about their new state of working from home.
You can help. You have experience. You spent the last 4 years working from home. When you go into the office there is typically a 14 hours flight involved and at least one border control. You have advice to offer. You also know that for some people, those who are always late by just a few minutes to any meeting, those who will “send by the end of the day” but often do not, working from home will be a tough challenge.
Any challenge is an opportunity to grow. Working from home and minimizing social contact is imperative at the time of the SARS-CoV-2 outbreak. If you want to understand why it is important to minimize social contact now, you should spend the 25 minutes needed to read this excellent article. But even if you don’t read the lengthy article, you have no choice. No one will go to the office and most customers will not take that face to face meeting, so you better figure out how to effectively work from home.
At this point no one knows how long it will take before you’re allowed to go back to the office. You are likely to be staying at home for at least 4 weeks now. Get comfortable with it.
Use the technology we now all have.