At Otonomee, our Mission is to unlock growth potential in scaling business. Our Vision to unlock uncompromised growth potential in our Partners and our People. For those who haven’t got the play on words, Otonomee was born from the word Autonomy, which means self-directed freedom. Autonomy is at the core of what we believe in. Everything about Otonomee has been carefully considered.
Just as we have chosen the company name with thought and consideration, we have also considered the words we use to describe what we do. It is important to us that we convey our purpose with razor sharp clarity, as it allows our People to hear, live and breath the ethos of what Otonomee stands for and allows us to deliver the best digital outsourcing solutions to our clients.
Otonomee was conceived in March 2020, as a response to an opportunity that the pandemic laid bare. The team behind Otonomee had scaled many of the worlds most iconic tech brands however they also knew from experience, that the outsourcing model was strained and broken in places.
Otonomee was created to solve problems that were evident in the traditional BPO model where thousands of employees, had to move location from their home country to work from large centralised facilities for language support, technical support and sales development roles. Otonomee took the decision to work outside an office environment at a very early stage in it’s conception. When Otonomee was still just a thought, and idea, an aspiration, this factor was its’ differentiator.
It was part of the strategy of the company and how it would approach its’ future. By removing the challenges of finding talent, asking them to move country and setting them up in a new location of residence, we could react quickly, lesson onboarding times for customers and allow freedom for our employees to choose where they would do their best work.
While we have all become very familiar with working outside the office, we can’t convey strongly enough the reaction that we would have received in April and May of 2020, (just as the world was in the deathly grip of the pandemic), when we spoke of a future company, that would retain this way of working (as opposed to it being mandated by the government). Rather than be a reaction forced by the pandemic, Otonomee would harness it, as a forward motion.
Fast forward and the concept of ‘remote working’, once shocking most especially to the BPO industry, has now suddenly become the norm. All arguments against it were overnight proven baseless. However, surely just because a word or a concept has become mainstream or normalised does not mean that it should be adopt without question or thought?Our struggle was not in any way with the concept, we embraced it, our struggle was with the word itself. By describing ourselves as a remote company, we felt that this negated everything we stood for.
Remote means distant, having little connection with, or relationship to, isolated, secluded, lonely or cut off, unapproachable, aloof, detached, unfriendly and introverted. When we used the word ‘remote’ more negative connotations surfaced than positive. It did not fit with an engaged company which was growth and solution focused, energised and service driven, or one that had at its core an engaged progressive company culture.
The word “Remote” sat with us and we considered. A lot. The word ‘remote’ derives its origins from 1973 when a NASA Engineer, Jack Nilles, coined the phrase in his book called ‘Telecommunications Transportation Trade off’. Then in 1979, five IBM employees were allowed to work from home as an experiment. It seems that IBM installed boxy, green-screened terminals in the homes of the five employees allowing them to work from home in Silicon Valley.
By 1983, about 2,000 IBM’rs were working remotely. By 2009, IBM report that 40 percent of its 386, 000 million employees in 173 countries had ‘no office at all’. More than 58 million square feet of office space had been unloaded at a gain of $2 billion. Yahoo followed a similar remote working track but by 2013 it had reversed its remote working or work-from-home policy, citing that productivity follows proximity. In March 2017, IBM fully reversed its remote working model calling all staff back to the office.
It could therefore be said that the term ‘remote’ derived its origins as the anthesis’s of the traditional office. The concept based on it being the opposite of the localised office centred location as opposed to looking at what possibilities working in this manner can bring. We challenged why this term should be a reference or reaction to something, instead of being a proactive positive movement in its own right? It is said that remote working has increased 400% since 2010, however even within the era of ‘remote working’ there is a distinction. There are remote-first companies like Zapier, Gitlab, and Toptal, and remote-friendly companies like Microsoft and Google. So, what’s the main difference between remote-first and remote-friendly companies?
A remote-first company runs its operations on a fully remote set up. The work culture is more intentional, and employee wellness is weaved into the core. Teams can work from anywhere and carry out any service, from registering the business to launching products to the market.A remote-friendly company, however, is one that enourages remote work but also have has physical offices in different locations , allowing its workforce to work remotely according to company policy, as well as individual preferences. Now that we emerge from the depths of the pandemic, all companys’ will have to review their working strategies. It seems clear that a hybrid working model will most likely be adopted by many companies, although it could be said that straddling dual working models associated with the hybrid approach will cause more pain than embracing one model over the over and moving forward.
If this new era of working is the dawn of a new era of growth and innovation backed by technology then why should we not be the protagonists in changing the language of how we work, not just merely adopting what was there before? We deserve language that is both that is authentic and audacious……right now we deliver the best customer management from our homes, but we have a work from anywhere future. We are solution friendly, growth friendly, geographically friendly… nothing about us is remote.