ROWE or the lack thereof

A close friend of mine is an oil and gas attorney. Almost every email I’ve sent to him has been answered in less than 10 minutes. This got to a point where I found it very disturbing, so I recommended the ‘The 4-Hour Work Week‘ to him in hopes that he’d shed his compulsive email checking habit.

But he argued that part of the reason he checks email so frequently is because he’s in a service industry where people pay him and expect prompt responses. Fair enough. You can treat your most profitable customers with that kind of service, but it’s extremely inefficient to be constantly checking email. It sidetracks you from other tasks then you have to mentally re-coordinate later on. Email is taken way too seriously in the business world and is an overly abused form of communication.

Anyways, I suggested (since he works 11 hour days) that he look into hiring a virtual assistant. The benefits to this are enormous: you have access to brilliant, hardworking Indian (or Canadian, Vietnamese, etc.) minds that will work cheaply, and they free up a lot of your time by taking care of both menial and time-consuming tasks. They can even take care of tasks requiring “expertise,” if you have the guts to let them. In my mind, if you feel like you’re working too much, it seems like a no-brainer to hire a V.A.

“I’d get fired if I outsourced my work to some Indian guy. Everyone at the law firm would be disgusted by that.” I don’t necessarily disagree with this sentiment. In fact, I can see where he’s coming from. But the problem lies with the mindset of everyone at the law firm. If you have a client paying you $300/hour for personal, face-to-face service, that’s one thing. But if a client is paying you to scour through lengthy articles on the Internet for certain information, what does he care (as long as you find that info) if you’re the one doing it or not? Have a virtual assistant read the articles for you and get the information you need. It frees up your time, allowing you to get more done and/or go home early.

Results Oriented Work Environment. This is a policy that more companies need to implement, and more clients ought to appreciate. Who cares how the work is done, who it’s done by, or where it’s done? As long as the person who’s working for you gets results, what’s the difference?

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