Q: Dear Tristan, I'm CEO of a fast growing business and I've heard that you work from home, is that true? If so, why do you do it? How do you do it? And what impact do you think it has on your team? I'd love to work from home but I've no idea how to do it. Please fill me in - EK
A: Dear EK,
Yep, I sure do work from home 3-4 days every week and have been for the past 18 months. It's one of the best decisions I've ever made. Here's how I've made it happen..
For the first five years of running The Physio Co I thought that I needed to be in the office every single day. I thought I needed to be there earlier than everyone else and I thought I needed to stay later. I was the leader. I needed to be there. My team needed me to be there. So I spent almost every waking hour either in our support office or on the road with team members and clients. The result: I was exhausted and I was stuck. I'd built myself a job that wasn't fun anymore. I'd even recruited my sister, my best mate and my fiance to help me handle the amazing complexity that I'd created! Something had to change.
Culture is the Key
In 2009, I stumbled upon the idea of creating a 'values-based business'. That moment changed my life and was the start of my journey to working from home.
A values-based business is one that focuses on continually building a stronger culture by obsessing over a small set of core values. By building a stronger culture I have been able to share the leadership load with many other people and create a sustainable business that could exist without me. Our core purpose & core values are the basis for how we all now run The Physio Co.
My journey to working from home has been a gradual one. In 2009 & 2010, I worked from home 1 day per week. For most of 2011, it was 2-3 days a week. In 2012 I work from home 3-4 days every week (which means I get to see KW and Little Alex for lunch almost every day).
One of the biggest challenges for all businesses is communication. This is the case whether the CEO works from home or from the office. To overcome this challenge, I communicate with The Physio Co team both in our support office and in the field many times every day. We use the phone, Skype, FaceTime, Google Apps & sometimes email. We have a disciplined meeting rhythm with clear agendas. We also schedule 'incidental communication' to happen regularly. Communication is the key to successfully creating a values-based business and being able to work from home.
Enjoy the Benefits
The result of me working from home is that The Physio Co is a stronger, more sustainable and more successful business. There is no longer one person getting in the way and making every decision. There is a committed family of people all doing fantastic work that fulfils our core purpose 'to help oldies stay mobile, safe & happy' (in 2012 we will deliver 100,000 unique & memorable physiotherapy visits to Australian aged care residents). Personally, I'm happier, healthier, more inspired and more creative than I've ever been. And I get to spend much more time with my family, which makes the hard work even more worthwhile.
Not convinced? Here are a few more reasons to consider:
5 reasons why entrepreneurs, CEO's & business owners should work from home..
- Creates a sustainable business. As a leader, it's your job to create an environment where great things can happen. That environment needs to exist whether you're there or not. When managers get out of the way and trust their team to make decisions as if they own the business, that's when great things really happen.
- Improves focus. The CEO's job, is on vision, values and alignment. Not operations. Passionate entrepreneurial CEO's care about every team member and every client - sometimes we care too much! Working from home helps you focus on the your job and stops you from interfering.
- Improves creativity. Entrepreneurs combine art with science to create opportunities. Solitude can be a great environment for learning & creating. The distraction of the day-to-day operations in your office: not so creative.
- Improves your work/life balance. No commute, lunch with your family, leave the office and be on your bike or out for a run in minutes. You will add years to your life and a smile to your face.
- Works for Branson. Richard Branson has been working from home for years and he swears by it. He loves the time for himself, time with his family & he reckons it helps him delegate more.
What do you think? Are you willing to commit to creating a business that can exist when you're not around? I'd love to read your ideas. Please leave a quick comment below.
**Btw, this post is part of the 'Ask Tristan' series. If you have a question, please email me: firstname.lastname@example.org