Two dispatches from the radically and rapidly evolving world of work:
1. “If I didn’t leave that job right then and there, I was going to be that dude for the rest of my life . . .” AJ Leon seemingly had it all. Having graduated Summa Cum Laude with three degrees from a prestigious east coast college, Leon landed a job on Wall Street with a top firm, making the big bucks.
But there was one problem. “I was living someone else’s life.”
As he told me, “It was never the life I actually wanted. And finally it occurred to me one day – I didn’t have to live that life; I could live the one I was destined to live. So I up and quit and walked out.”
AJ Leon started over with a radical new business model: His business would have no home office whatsoever. No office at all. He would travel and work and find people to help him on “projects that matter.” Now, a few years later, he does just that with a remote team across four continents and a company he dubbed Misfit.
With employees on different continents, and projects on still others, you might wonder how he does it. Answer: The cloud. Working with his team via the cloud allowed AJ Leon to create what he calls “my very own emancipation.”
People today expect to work when, where and how they want. And they do that by utilizing the right tools. Check it out:
2. “Microsoft is giving nearly 30% of its New York employees WeWork memberships.” (Inc.) WeWork, in case you don’t know, is a new concept in how, well, we work. These co-working spaces offer creatives, entrepreneurs, startups, and freelancers alike the ability to work in a laid-back, plugged-in, flexible, sharable, co-working space. Stocked with a kitchen full of healthy food, coffee and tea; worktables, powers station with cords, recessed lighting, recliners, and everything else you need to be comfortable, effective, and mobile, co-working stations like WeWork are re-inventing the workplace.
So maybe it really isn’t a surprise that Microsoft has bought in. The company, after all, is at the forefront of empowering people with all sorts of new ways to get work done. In the case of WeWork, according to Matt Donovan, Microsoft’s Office general manager, “Productivity is something that Microsoft has been deeply passionate about.”
That’s for sure. The latest proof is a cool new product recently launched called Microsoft Teams. If you are like many of us, heck, if you are like me, one of the banes of your existence is the email chain. You know what I am talking about: Those endless loops where people in remote places chime in on an important topic and we are left sorting out who is doing what, when.
There has to be a better way, right?
That’s what Teams is all about. For a while now, my pals at Microsoft have been creating products that offer solutions for how we work now, not then – things like Office 365, with its online collaboration, cloud solutions, and the like. Teams is their latest offering. I love it.
Essentially, Teams is a hub for your remote online team. It is a central place to store and access all of your content, tools, and best of all, conversations. Indeed, my favorite part about Teams is that it (em)powers remote collaboration – the type AJ Leon engages in daily and the type you and I do too.
With Teams, you can engage in, store, and access online communication in a central hub. You can see content and chat history anytime, including team chats with Skype. Private group chats are also available. Soon to be integrated into Office 365, Teams is fast, safe, customizable, and 100% secure. Email chain be gone!
So yes, work is changing rapidly, begging the question: Are you? Is your business?
I hope so, because new tools like Teams are here, now, to help you take advantage of these changes. That they free you up and make you and your team more effective is all the better. And that, in turn, offers you even one more additional benefit:
You won’t have to up and quit in order to do work when, where and how you want.
Steve Strauss is a Senior small business columnist at USA TODAY and author of 15 books, including The Small Business Bible.