Celebrate the Bedouin

Curtis Franklin Jr., Executive Editor | 2/18/2011 | 24 comments

Curtis Franklin Jr.
How did your celebration go? You did celebrate National Telecommuting Week, didn't you?

Here at Enterprise Efficiency, we've had a number of discussions about mobile workers, but perhaps it's time to look at optimizing the effectiveness of a telecommuting work force by looking at the habits of people sometimes looked at as models for the tele-working tribe: the Bedouin.

I first read about so-called "high-tech Bedouin" back in 2007. The notion that people were carrying laptop computers to places like Starbucks and working from the tables there wasn't new even then, but there was a flurry of articles and books studying these mobile workers in a sociology-based way. The analogy frequently used then was the Bedouin of the Arabian peninsula. In the years since that wave of coverage, the terms have changed, but it's worth considering whether there are management lessons that can be taken from the Bedouin label.

Agility: The Bedouin have long been admired for their mobility. In the 20th and 21st centuries satellite phones and Land Cruisers have supplanted the traditional camels, horses, and shouted greetings for transportation and communications. If you have work teams that are tele-working, take advantage of the mobility this offers and bring them together in different places, and different combinations of people, to get projects completed faster and more effectively. The combinations of individuals are probably more important than the specific locations, but pulling the people together effectively requires the next lesson...

Communication: When one group of Bedouin approaches another's camp, they'll fire a shot in the air. It lets the visited group know that they're not being snuck up upon, and sets the stage for hospitality. I don't recommend touching off a 12-gauge load outside your local Starbucks, but letting the people working remotely know what's going on is a solid idea. Much has been made of the difficulty in developing a culture among remote workers, but much of that difficulty boils down to trouble with communications. Use any medium that makes sense, whether email, Twitter, instant messages, or wikis, to keep the most remote workers as much "in the loop" as those in the corporate headquarters. Then, you can insist that they return the favor with...

Transparency: The point behind the Bedouin shot in the air is that the approaching group is transparent about its proximity to another group. When working to gain trust among mobile workers, or between mobile workers and those who work in a traditional office, transparency is a key virtue. In an organization of any size, it's far too easy to develop cliques and sub-cultures that define other groups as enemies. Transparency -- of motives, operations, plans, and results -- will go a long way toward removing barriers between groups and may well result in more creative solutions to issues that are now widely known. Who knows? More transparency could even lead to greater...

Hospitality: One of the hallmarks of the Bedouin culture is hospitality. In a hostile environment, guests are treated well by social contract, even if there is natural distrust or even enmity between the groups. In an enterprise, hospitality can take the form of discussions to fully explain the reason behind policies, taking the time to talk about the changes in an employee's family, or including those outside the core group in project work so that job skills can be transferred and mentoring can begin. We often talk in terms of succession and politics, but simple courtesy and hospitality can go a long way toward building the sort of culture that is both effective and pleasant.

If you missed National Telework Week don't be discouraged. I'd bet that you could head down to the local coffee shop Monday morning and find plenty of folks willing to help you with a belated celebration. I might even be one of them.

View Comments: Newest First | Oldest First | Threaded View
Page 1 / 3   >   >>
Technocrat   Celebrate the Bedouin   3/1/2011 12:33:15 AM
Re: Going Bedouin

@ Curtis This is a great topic sorry I was late to the party!  Anyhow, I have lived the life of a Bedouin and probably will again some time, but I love your point of Agility, I love to be on the go, I would love a position that would let me do that effectively, unfortunately or fortunately I do not work remotely now.

But I do miss the “absolute freedom”(puts a smile on my face just thinking about it) that only the life of a true Bedouin can provide.

And I must say I don’t like StarBUCKS all that much but I agree with @identity when she says, “I sure do miss that extra 20mins of sleep!”   

CurtisFranklin   Celebrate the Bedouin   3/1/2011 12:12:06 AM
Re: Going Bedouin
You know, @Z., a good and wise friend of mine once told me, "We're all self-employed; some people just choose to have a single, large client." Keeping that client happy is critical -- as is making sure that you stay happy with your client. It's a different way of thinking about the job to go along with a different way of thinking about how to work.

There are a lot of differences in work and relationships being worked out right now, and the urban high-tech Bedouin tribe is part of that.
sechristiansen   Celebrate the Bedouin   2/28/2011 11:54:11 PM
Re; Celebrate the Bedouin
There is a culture for everyone these days.  :-)

SC.
Zentropist   Celebrate the Bedouin   2/24/2011 10:08:35 PM
Re: Going Bedouin
Ultimately it's my belief that with the de facto shifts in the "social contract," everybody is a Bedouin and a hired gun regardless of their official employment classification (i.e. an employee versus a freelancer). As such, it's best to understand that you are of value to your employer/client so long as you can produce tangible results and demonstrate an ROI sufficient to justify the expenses associated with utilizing your services. If you can't, you can bet that your employment/contract will be terminated at the company's earliest convenience. 

In my view, it's less about the notion of loyalty (since that presumably has to be a two-way street) and more about maintaining both a tacit and overt understanding that so long as the two parties derive benefit from the association, it will likely continue, but once that is no longer the case, either party may elect to move on. 

People that have grown accustomed to relying on a single employer to take care of their financial needs and career progression for extended periods of time are increasingly in for a rude surprise, thanks in part to advances in technology and the commoditization of many jobs and professions...

Z.
Terry Sweeney   Celebrate the Bedouin   2/24/2011 11:15:04 AM
Re: I hadn't thought of brandishing a firearm
My last response to a heavy sigher: "First time here? Welcome!"

That sort of gushiness is usually enough to defuse any issue and has even been known to clear the immediate vicinity ;->
Steel2179   Celebrate the Bedouin   2/24/2011 11:07:30 AM
Re: I hadn't thought of brandishing a firearm
The heavy sighers don't make it too far anyway!  In general, I find that most people are very kind and thoughtful.  Sitting in coffee shop for hours at some point you'll need a restroom break.  I am always pleasantly surprised when I ask people to watch my netbook and it is actually still there when I return!  There are good folks out there.
nimanthad   Celebrate the Bedouin   2/24/2011 3:42:39 AM
Re: I hadn't thought of brandishing a firearm
This really is a good post mate.... Theres fun, stuff to learn and soo much moe to talk about. Good stuff being pointed out. I also like the stabucks incident... Would love to read more if there are any.. Just keep on posting if u have stuff like this 
Terry Sweeney   Celebrate the Bedouin   2/23/2011 11:23:06 AM
I hadn't thought of brandishing a firearm
Fun post, Curt... I could probably write a blog-length reply on the etiquette of asking another tele-worker at Starbucks to share their booth or table when there are no other empty seats available. I've been greeted with a full spectrum of responses from the eye-rolling heavy sighers to gracious folks who are kind enough to make room.
CurtisFranklin   Celebrate the Bedouin   2/22/2011 1:45:05 PM
Re: Going Bedouin
...it does take some focus to be productive especially when no one is there to watch you and make sure your're working. It really depends on the individual and even more so, the type of work they do.

That's absolutely correct. Since I'm a fairly talkative person by nature, I find that I'm more productive when I'm a bit more isolated. When there are people around, I'm going to talk to them.

When I'm working by myself, I still find distractions but I get to control what those distractions are. As for productivity, it's simple: Either I get work in on time, or I don't. If I do, it doesn't really matter if I did all the work in the two hours right before deadline after doing research for a day, or if I wrote 1/10 of the words each hour before.

The worker productivity is one thing; the manager's ability to trust the worker to be productive is quite another. You really need both to make tele-working possible, and too many companies end up with one, but not the other.
identity   Celebrate the Bedouin   2/22/2011 11:29:54 AM
Re: Going Bedouin
But hell, I still want to check my personal e-mail, grab a cup of coffee, ect while at home. In my world the dishwasher is 5-10 minutes above and beyond the normal workday breaks.

Though I completely agree with you and I've mentioned in other posts how important I think the proper working environment is while working from home in order to maintain focus and be comfortable but productive. At one point, I found myself without a proper desk to work at which forced me to sit on my couch or the kitchen table all day. Let me tell you, I was getting up to stretch, rearrange my stuff, ect, far more often.
Page 1 / 3   >   >>


The blogs and comments posted on EnterpriseEfficiency.com do not reflect the views of TechWeb, EnterpriseEfficiency.com, or its sponsors. EnterpriseEfficiency.com, TechWeb, and its sponsors do not assume responsibility for any comments, claims, or opinions made by authors and bloggers. They are no substitute for your own research and should not be relied upon for trading or any other purpose.

More Blogs from Curtis Franklin Jr.
Curtis Franklin Jr.   5/30/2014   10 comments
A good community can teach you a lot. And Enterprise Efficiency has been one of the best.
Curtis Franklin Jr.   5/26/2014   41 comments
Today is Memorial Day in the US, a day for remembering those who gave, in the words of Abraham Lincoln, "the last full measure of devotion" for their country and its citizens. It is a ...
Curtis Franklin Jr.   5/22/2014   35 comments
You're about to know precisely where your customers are and what they're doing. Are you ready for Big Data Advertising Everywhere?
Curtis Franklin Jr.   5/6/2014   19 comments
PHP is a great tool for building web pages that access databases. It's pretty nifty for pwning an enterprise site, too.
Curtis Franklin Jr.   4/30/2014   36 comments
BASIC turns 50 this year. Many IT pros wrote their first line of code in the venerable language, but is the ability to write code even important at the top of the IT ladder?
Latest Archived Broadcast
We talk with Bernard Golden about accelerating application delivery in the cloud.
On-demand Video with Chat
Register for this video discussion to learn how tablets can provide true business usability and productivity.
E2 IT Migration Zones
IT Migration Zone - UK
Why PowerShell Is Important
Reduce the Windows 8 Footprint for VDI
Rethinking Storage Management
IT Migration Zone - FR
SQL Server : 240 To de mémoire flash pour votre data warehouse
Quand Office vient booster les revenus Cloud et Android de Microsoft
Windows Phone : Nokia veut davantage d'applications (et les utilisateurs aussi)
IT Migration Zone - DE
Cloud Computing: Warum Unternehmen trotz NSA auf die „private“ Wolke setzen sollten
Cloud Computing bleibt Wachstumsmarkt – Windows Azure ist Vorreiter
Like Us on Facebook
Twitter Feed
Enterprise Efficiency Twitter Feed
Site Moderators Wanted
Enterprise Efficiency is looking for engaged readers to moderate the message boards on this site. Engage in high-IQ conversations with IT industry leaders; earn kudos and perks. Interested? E-mail:
[email protected]
Dell's Efficiency Modeling Tool
The major problem facing the CIO is how to measure the effectiveness of the IT department. Learn how Dell’s Efficiency Modeling Tool gives the CIO two clear, powerful numbers: Efficiency Quotient and Impact Quotient. These numbers can be transforma¬tive not only to the department, but to the entire enterprise.

Read the full report
The State of Enterprise Efficiency in the Virtual Era: Virtualization – Smart Approaches to Maximize Gains
Virtualization is a presence in nearly all enterprise data centers. But not all companies are using it to its best effect. Learn the common characteristics of success, what barriers companies face, and how to get the most from your efforts.

Read the full report
Informed CIO: Dollars & Sense: Virtual Desktop Infrastructure
Cut through the VDI hype and get the full picture -- including ROI and the impact on your Data Center -- to make an informed decision about your virtual desktop infrastructure deployments.

Read the full report
SPONSORED BY DELL
CASE STUDIES
EBOOKS
PUBLIC SECTOR RESOURCES
VIDEOS
WHITE PAPERS
WINDOWS SERVER 2012 RESOURCES
A Video Case Study – Translational Genomics Research Institute
e2 Video


On the Case
TGen IT: Where We're Going Next

7|11|12   |   08:12   |   10 comments


Now that TGen has broken new ground in genomic research by using Dell's storage, cloud, and high-performance computing solutions, the company discusses what will come next for it and for personalized medicine.
On the Case
Better Care Through Better Communications

6|6|12   |   02:24   |   11 comments


The achievements of the TGen/Dell project could improve how all people receive healthcare, because they are creating ways to improve end-to-end communication of medical data.
On the Case
TGen IT: Where We Are Now

5|15|12   |   06:58   |   6 comments


TGen is breaking new ground in genomic research by using Dell's storage, cloud, and high-performance computing solutions.
On the Case
TGen IT: Where We Were

4|27|12   |   06:45   |   10 comments


The Translational Genomics Research Institute wanted to save lives, but its efforts were hobbled by immense computing challenges related to collecting, processing, sharing, and storing enormous amounts of data.
On the Case
1,200% Faster

4|18|12   |   02:27   |   12 comments


Through their partnership, Dell and TGen have increased the speed of TGen’s medical research by 1,200 percent.
On the Case
IT May Improve Children's Chances of Survival

4|17|12   |   02:12   |   8 comments


IT is helping medical researchers reach breakthroughs in a way and pace never seen before.
On the Case
Medical Advances in the Cloud

4|10|12   |   1:25   |   5 comments


TGen and Dell are pushing the boundaries of computing, and harnessing the power of the cloud to improve healthcare.
On the Case
TGen: Living the Mission

4|9|12   |   2:25   |   3 comments


TGen's CIO puts the organizational mission at the heart of everything the IT staff does.
On the Case
TGen Speeding Up Biomedical Research to Save More Lives

4|5|12   |   1:59   |   6 comments


The Translational Genomics Research Institute is revamping its computing to improve speed, storage, and collaboration – and, most importantly, to save lives.
On the Case
Computing Power Helping to Save Children's Lives

3|28|12   |   2:13   |   3 comments


The Translational Genomics Institute’s partnership with Dell is enabling them to treat kids with neuroblastoma more quickly and save more lives.
Tom Nolle
The Big Reason to Use Office

3|18|14   |   02:24   |   46 comments


Office and personal productivity tools come in a first-class and coach flavor set, but what makes the difference is primarily little things that most users won't encounter. What's the big issue in using something other than Office, and can you get around it?
E2 Editors
SPONSORED: Mobile Security — A Use Case

3|4|14   |   04:27   |   16 comments


New mobile security solutions can accommodate a wide array of needs, including those of a complex university environment.
Tom Nolle
Killing Net Neutrality Might Save You Money

1|16|14   |   2:13   |   16 comments


The DC Court of Appeals voided most of the Neutrality Order, and whatever it might mean for the Internet overall, it might mean better and cheaper Internet VPNs for businesses.
Tom Nolle
The Internet of Everythinguseful

1|10|14   |   2:18   |   19 comments


We really don't want an "Internet of Everything" but even building an Internet of Everythinguseful means setting some ground rules to insure there's value in the process and that costs and risks are minimized.
Tom Nolle
Maturing Google Chrome

12|30|13   |   2.18   |   25 comments


Google's Chrome OS has a lot of potential value and a lot of recent press, but it still needs something to make it more than a thin client. It needs cloud integration, it needs extended APIs via web services, and it needs to suck it up and support a hard drive.
Sara Peters
No More Cookie-Cutter IT

12|23|13   |   03.58   |   21 comments


Creating the right combination of technology, people, and processes for your IT organization is a lot like baking Christmas cookies.
Sara Peters
Smart Wigs Not a Smart Idea

12|5|13   |   3:01   |   46 comments


Sony is seeking a patent for wigs that contain computing devices.
Tom Nolle
Cloud in the Wild

12|4|13   |   02:23   |   15 comments


On a recent African trip I saw examples of the value of the cloud in developing nations, for educational and community development programs. We could build on this, but not only in developing economies, because these same programs are often under-supported even in first-world countries.
E2 Editors
SPONSORED: Is Malware Evading Your IPS?

11|18|13   |   03:16   |   4 comments


Intrusion prevention software is supposed to detect and block malware intrusions, but clever malware authors can evade your IPS in these five main ways.
Sara Peters
Where Have All the Mentors Gone?

9|27|13   |   3:15   |   38 comments


A good professional mentor can change your life for the better... but where do you find one?
Tom Nolle
SDN Wars & You Could Win

9|17|13   |   2:10   |   5 comments


VMware's debate with Cisco on SDN might finally create a fusion between an SDN view that's all about software and another that's all about network equipment. That would be good for every enterprise considering the cloud and SDN.
Ivan Schneider
The Future of the Smart Watch

9|12|13   |   3:19   |   39 comments


Wearing a bulky, oversized watch is good training for the next phase in wristwatches: the Internet-enabled, connected watch. Why the smartphone-tethered connected watch makes sense, plus Ivan demos an entirely new concept for the "smart watch."
Tom Nolle
Cutting Your Cloud Storage Costs

9|4|13   |   2:06   |   3 comments


Cloud storage costs are determined primarily by the rate at which files are changed and the possibility of concurrent access/update. If you can structure your storage use to optimize these factors you can cut costs, perhaps to zero.
Sara Peters
Do CIOs Need an IT Background?

8|29|13   |   2:11   |   23 comments


Most of the CIOs interviewed in the How to Become a CIO series did not start their careers as IT professionals. So is an IT background essential?
Ivan Schneider
The Internet Loves Birthdays

8|27|13   |   3:25   |   69 comments


The Internet has evolved into a machine for drumming up a chorus of "Happy Birthday" messages, from family, friends, friends of friends who you added on Facebook, random people that you circled on G+, and increasingly, automated bots. Enough already.