Leave Homework to Children and Home Work to Adults

This is a post written about me by the CEO of mondora.com. I thought it would make a great first post for my personal blog!

At mondora, Kirsten Ruffoni is working as communication facilitator and coach between people internally and externally. She’s really passionate and she loves giving her expertise and knowledge in digital communication. Travelling to the head office takes her about 40 minutes of driving down mountain roads, so we decided to open a home office for her. The approach is quite similar to hoffice.nu, so Kirsten can work from home when she feels it is right to stay there, and she comes to the main office when it’s required (for physical meetings, brainstorming, etc.)

In her private life, Kirsten is doing lots of interesting things. She is a certified ski instructor and she loves horses. She is one that knows how to practice horse whispering. I think horse whispering is the same ability as telling people all the hidden things about a specific topic.

One day we were in the office and, while chatting about our future projects, she observed that winter is coming and the hours of light are decreasing. Her words were full of sadness and, after a few minutes, the problem came out: she will be unable to ride her horse after work because it will soon be dark at 5pm.

I have noticed that Kirsten usually takes her work home, as well as having a home office there, where she occasionally works during the day. In her case, and — I think — in every company’s case, she is taking her work at home without respecting a formal time schedule. So no Friday night, no Saturday or Sunday for her if there is something to do. And this is happening for real. I see she sometimes sends calendar invitations on a Sunday or late at night. This means that she is working outside of work hours too.

Kirsten wanted to ask for permission to ride her horse during a longer lunch break in autumn and winter, and she was worried about it. For my part, I was worried about the fact that Kirsten was asking permission to go riding and not asking permission to work on Saturday or Sunday or even during the night.

I know we’re influenced by our Western culture and I know how work is thought to be in Europe and in Northern Italy. Most of the companies I know apply control with very strict rules. It’s as if the company was full of people that are not capable of being responsible for their tasks.

That’s not true, companies are full of adults that, in their private life, live without many restrictions and do lots of complex things. More complex than in their daily jobs. Like whispering to horses for example.

So I have to consider the fact that I manage a company where we are all adults and we know what to do. Mondora is not an organisation of adolescents. There are no rules that must be respected and people can behave in the same way at work and at home.

In fact, in mondora we are all adults and we know that we have responsibilities, goals and a community to nurture with the benefit we create. We have meetings with customers, appointments and we know what “be on time” means. Meanwhile, we are also this respectful towards our colleagues. If we know someone is struggling with something, we organise to help. It happens that my colleagues schedule my time and my customers’ trips according to their own requests. If a problem or even a mistake happens, we take it as a lesson to learn or a lesson learned, and do not consider it as a punishment for the worker.

Kirsten’s worries reflect questions that some of my colleagues may ask too. How can we demonstrate that in 8 fixed hours Kirsten will be reaching goals with full commitment and great enjoyment? When working in an unfriendly context, I am sure that her thoughts are mostly at home. Whilst riding her horse, her mind will be open to new and fresh ideas, and she will experience renewed energy which she won’t get by sitting in front of a computer in an office for a fixed number of hours. That just creates boredom and damages both concentration and creativity.

So, the number of hours we work can be questioned too.

In mondora we like to work on the value the company is giving to Customers and on the value that each team players is giving to the Company. So I have to convert hours spent into value given. After thinking and trying to jot down my hypothesis on spreadsheets, I figured out that it is simply impossible. There is no equation that can map hours and value produced. It’s not impossible because most of what we do implies the brain, emotions, feelings and willpower, but it is impossible because, even when we are doing something with our hands, it is always something more than just willpower.

I am giving my best when I am totally present with my mind. This is mindfulness and to be present here I must be away from other places.

At the end when an adult is taking care of a horse (Rocky, in this case), the horse is in the “company-family” and the horse is renewing thoughts, feelings and empowering the will for the person.

As a company CEO I have to take the company to the next level of courage, and then switch even more to the idea of an extended company of adults instead of a ruled and structured organisation.

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