Book: No Office » Part 2 - What if there was no office? » Chapter 31 - Become transparent |

Chapter 31 - Become transparent

Your team will be more transparent than ever, even if it's spread geographically!

New, modern and more sustainable future is ahead of us!

With so many new concepts I presented in this book, I thought it’d be great to finish it off on a more philosophical note.

As you can see, #NoOffice doesn’t just mean “work from home”. It’s also not just about working better, smarter and simply being different or more modern.

It’s much more than that!

It’s about switching to a more sustainable lifestyle. For everyone. Not just the bosses or managers. But also for each and everyone we employ and work with. And for everyone around them. For the entire community.

It’s about large cities not getting larger and small cities getting more diverse. It’s about equalizing access to opportunities and services for everyone. It’s about treating the environment as something that is part of us and just a thing to abuse and destroy for personal gain. I believe it’s about re-shaping what we consider capitalism today.

Capitalism needs some serious reconsideration

Don’t get me wrong. There are many things I love about capitalism. It enabled me to build my Nozbe company, to live the way I love1.

However, there’s a dark side of the modern capitalism, which is going for growth no matter the costs. It’s also treating people who work with you as your resources that should just shut up and do the work, it’s treating them as interchangable cogs in the system.

To me, forcing people to work from a physical office all the time, even though these fine folks could be doing their work from anywhere, is a symbol of a capitalistic oppression.

On one hand the CEOs brag how they hire only the best and the brightest, when on the other they tell the same people to just obey the orders and get back to the office.2

It’s also the income inequality where in the pandemic times many people lost their jobs and homes, while the richest people and companies got substantially richer.

This ain’t right.

What #NoOffice lifestyle proposes is that we work together for the greater good. Not just for ourselves, but for everyone around us. And we have fun doing it. And we all are loving it!

But how to make it happen in practice? How to combine working better together while at the same time enjoying full flexibility about the where, the when and the how?

Everything has to be increasingly transparent

I must say that for me the concept of transparency was hard to embrace at first. I was raised in an environment where you shouldn’t share too much. Not how much you make. Not how you decide things. Not how you get stuff done. Keep the secret sauce. Keep your cards close to your chest.

However, as I’ve been running my “No Office” company, I realized that the more I share with my team, the better. It’s because we don’t see each other every day, by sharing things behind the scenes we keep building trust.

Turns out with more transparency there’s more trust.

And as we’ve already mentioned in Chapter 18:

Control is good, but TRUST is so much better!

The company that I consider a trailblazer in transparency is Buffer. They’re very successful at creating tools for social media, but their second and to me the most important product is their culture of full transparency3. This way not only their team members trust their leadership. Their customers trust them even more, too.

Transparency in a #NoOffice company

Over the course of this book you might have noticed that in the end transparency is a common theme in most of the chapters of this book:

  • In chapters about focus, writing and email we’re being transparent with the team, by showing them how we really work. All the tasks that need to get done are in shared projects with the team. All the documents are shared as they’re being worked on. All the code and reasoning behind it is shared, too. Most of our work is shared with the team in real time. There are hardly any secrets. It’s easy to see who’s working on what and how. This creates a sense of camaraderie among everyone involved.
  • In chapters about meetings, fighting, vlogging, pyramid, decisions and kaizen we’re being transparent about the whole decision-making process. We only meet when we’re prepared, and everyone can see that. We respect each others’ points of view. We don’t take mistakes or errors personally but together we’re joining forces to get rid of them. We don’t play the blame game. We learn from each others’ mistakes and make each other a better person in the process. We openly communicate both the failures and the successes of our work.
  • In chapters about salaries and perks we’re being transparent about how and why we pay for work the way we do. We create a transparent and fair culture where everyone know what’s going on and can focus on work without thinking how much the other guy is earning on the same position, doing similar work. We eliminate tough one-on-one negotiations and invite an open discussion about how we want everyone to be rewarded for their hard work.
  • In chapters about workweek, reviews and fridays we’re being transparent about the true flexibility of time in the workplace. We are giving people full ownership of time they spend on work and they can adopt it to their particular circumstances. And they can then all transparently communicate it to the rest of the team and learn from each other. Everyone gets to choose their optimum time for work.
  • The chapters about trust and asynchronous work are just reaffirming the importance of relying on each other and creating a culture of trustworthiness and transparency.
  • In chapters about mobile work, home office, changing offices and work-life balance we are being transparent about the influence of personal and work life on each other. We recognize this constant tension and help everyone on the team figure out their way of dealing with it. This way they can find out the best lifestyle for each and everyone of them. If work is not a place to go, it’s important to figure out how, where and when you do this work.
  • In the chapter on hiring it’s just obvious that without a very thorough, fair and increasingly transparent hiring process we won’t be able to attract the best talent to our team.
  • In chapters about connecting with the team and the customers as well as reuniting and socializing we’re being transparent about how often and when to talk to one another to maintain and improve the human connection. These processes are increasingly important in a dispersed team but need to be agreed upon transparently by both parties.
  • In the chapter about vacations we are transparent about the fact that life is not just about work. We promote a healthy lifestyle where everyone’s encouraged to take time off and disconnect from work completely.
  • Finally, in the chapter about security we are very transparent about the importance of common safety checklists for the entire team. As we’re not going to the same office but we enable work from anywhere, we cannot neglect security of our data and protect ourselves from the bad actors out there. Transparency doesn’t mean opening up your computer systems for everyone to access them.

Transparency is a process

The most important thing is to start becoming much more transparent to our team members. Later on we can also start choosing how transparent we want to be with the world. It’s a process and it takes time to learn to start revealing something that until now secret for no other reason than just because it’s always been done this way.

One can argue that too much transparency with the world and sharing behind-the-scenes processes can expose you to the competition, but in most cases it’s still worth it anyway. It not only creates trust and happiness among your customers, but it builds a community of true fans which is something that no money can buy.

Sharing how you build your product, which tools you use, how the processes inside your company look like can serve as the best marketing tool ever.4

The one thing: let’s default to transparency!

Let’s redefine capitalism and the future of business where instead of holding off on one another we create transparent and open rules about how things are done. Let’s share, inspire and learn from each other. Let’s work together in an increasingly transparent and fair work environment. When in doubt, let’s default to transparency.

P.S. This book is written completely transparently!

I chose to write this book in the open and you can find the source code and all of the versions of the drafts of each of the chapters on GitHub5. I decided to do it for many reasons, but the most important is that I want to be able to keep improving this book with the community of readers. Ultimately I’m hoping that together we’ll make it the definite #NoOffice guide book. Thanks for being a part of it!

  1. I wrote years ago on my blog that I have these 5 loves: (1) I love what I do (my job), (2) I love people I work for (my customers), (3) I love people I work with (my team), (4) I love how I work (working from home) and (5) I love that it brings me enough money to be financially stable: 

  2. This is what before the summer of 2021 the CEO of Apple, Tim Cook, did to his team and I criticized it on my blog: 

  3. They share almost everything about the way they work, their revenues, their salaries, almost everything. They default to transparency and I love it: NoOffice.Link/buffer 

  4. Just look at Nozbe’s contact page. Over there not only do we share all the ways you can contact our customer support, but we actually explain how we process each support request and that I as the CEO also meet clients regularly: 

  5. It’s all there. All the iterations, all my really bad early drafts, outlines… everything. The entire process: NoOffice.Link/github 

Next: Outro - Office or no office?

Back to the Table of Contents

Read this chapter in:

Copy & share: