The Evolving Definition of “Showing Up to Work”

By Patrick Kuhlen

Growing up, like most people, my vision of “work” was built around what I saw when I went to the office with my father: brick and mortar buildings, a maze of hallways leading to closed door offices with terrible fluorescent lighting. When I embarked on my own career, I found the closed offices traded for cubicles but, for the most part, work was still a “physical” place. Now, when I think of the careers my daughters might have, I wonder what “showing up to work” will mean to them.

Regular work-at-home, among the non-self-employed population, has grown by 103% since 2005 and 6.5% in 2014. This represents the largest year over year increase since before the recession.

American Community Survey (US Census Bureau)
In a recent article on, David Heinemeier Hansson laid out the benefits and challenges companies, managers and employees face when making the jump to a virtual office.

The Pros for Employees:

  • No soul-crushing commute
  • The freedom to live anywhere (small town, non-hub city)
  • The flexibility to follow a spouse to another city away from the company HQ
  • More time for family, friends and hobbies

The Pros for Employers:

  • Access to the best talent anywhere
  • Money saved on expensive office space
  • More productive workers who are less interrupted by meetings and office noise

The Cons:

  • You need a strong culture of managing work, not chairs to make it work
  • Some people might get cabin fever (though there are solutions for that)
  • Some prestige businesses need a busy-looking office to dazzle clients

The most talented people in the world don't all live in one place.

Turnkey, a relative newcomer to the virtual office game, is already reaping the rewards of virtual friendly office. The game-changing addition of Donte Scott to the Turnkey team is a case study in why organizations should be more open to the concept. “We couldn’t be happier to have Donté join our team,” said Turnkey Sports & Entertainment President & CEO Len Perna. “His reputation in the industry is unmatched, and his combination of analytical expertise and deep knowledge of the brand side of our business will enable him to take Turnkey’s custom research group to the next level.”

Donte’s office is about 600 miles from my desk. Yet, with the help of our awesome IT group, he’s never more than an intercom call or instant message away. He’s logged into our network, and collaborates on the same files he would access if he was down the hall. And, on the occasions when he’s in town for some face time, he slips in seamlessly as if he never left.

Face time is incredibly important. That’s why we at 37signals gather the whole company three times a year to see everyone and have a good time. Because that’s what it’s important for: Having a good time. It’s far less important as a tool of getting things done.

David Heinemeier Hansson,
As employees place more focus and work/life balance and managers increasingly embrace the concept of the virtual office, I’m looking forward to seeing the benefits in my own career, and those of my kids as well.

Does your company offer a virtual workspace? Tell Patrick!

American Community Survey (US Census Bureau)
Remote – Office Not Required



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