Love him or hate him, Michael Scott—that quirky manager of Dunder Mifflin, the struggling paper company from The Office — would’ve probably been very excited to be working in today’s remote economy.
And, despite the fact that he’s narcissistic, politically incorrect, and somewhat delusional, I think that he loved to have fun and desperately tried to make work more exciting for his staff. His efforts included strange role-playing games and training sessions, awkward meetings, and endless, often embarrassing, attempts at jokes. He just wanted people to like him. As the seasons progressed, you could see that Michael actually really cared about his team, especially as he became a little bit more self-aware of his own actions.
It’s no surprise that The Office, which ran from 2005 to 2013, is likely the
most-watched show on Netflix. Now, just imagine what the Michael Scott of 2005 might do today if he was aware of all the toys and technology needed to keep teammates connected. Remember, he wanted to stay close to them—with the exception of Toby.
Keep in mind that when he started his job at Dunder Mifflin, it was before the iPhone was even released (it was unheard of to watch a video on your phone, let alone play a game on it). In fact, in 2005 broadband technology
had just been in use for a few years, replacing slow dial-up technologies. So, Michael couldn’t have even dreamed at that time how it would be possible to run a remote team without the physical ability to drop in on them and interrupt their conversations with his latest skits, comments, or questions.
Let’s flash forward to 2020 to consider the possibilities. Dunder Mifflin has
closed its doors, because most of its clients are conducting their business digitally. Michael Scott in 2020 still has the same enthusiasm and desire to build and motivate teams. He just needs to find the right place that can take advantage of his extreme enthusiasm. He’s contacted by a recruiter, who wants him to manage remote virtual teams. When they meet over Zoom, the conversation might go something like this:
Recruiter: Hi, so are you Michael Scott?
Michael: Yes. Wasss upppp?
Recruiter: Well, I saw that YouTube video you did where you talked about how you are a great manager. You said that you enjoy motivating people, and are a champion at virtual reality games. You were also highly recommended to me for your management skills. Would you be interested in leading a global team of remote workers for our software company? They are mostly people in working sales, customer support, and development.
Michael: Hmm. I love YouTube. I’m glad you liked the video. I used to think YouTube was a news media organization, but now I know it’s not. Hey, did you say global? I’m in Colorado. And let’s face it, we’re not going to be doing much travelling these days. I’m not ready to get on plane anytime soon.
Recruiter: It’s no problem, you can connect with them virtually.
Michael: Can I work in my pajamas? If not, I can always wear my Levi’s jeans.
Recruiter: I think jeans and a regular shirt would be best.
Michael: They’re really great-looking pajamas, but tell me more about the job.
Recruiter: We’re looking for someone who likes to connect with people virtually—who can build a great culture to motivate them with team meetings, make them feel wanted, and be able to supervise their work from afar.
Michael: Can we play games while we’re working? Work has to be fun, right? I’ve said this before, and I’ll say it again, “Work should be a place where your dreams come true.”
Recruiter: Can you describe these dreams?
Michael: Well, I really want to make people who work for me feel comfortable. That capability didn’t happen overnight, but I know how to get results. So, my dream would be to set up periodic meetings in a virtual room. I’d get everyone in the same room, have avatars, and just catch up
on business. My avatar would be extremely good-looking, of course. And, sometimes I might play a virtual sports game or two with the really exceptional workers—we could also talk business during those meetings. How am I doing so far?
Recruiter: It sounds like you’ve got the skills we’re looking for. We want someone who can make work fun.
Michael: Awesome! At Dunder Mifflin, I would just pop in on people to manage their work. The meetings are great, but if I can’t see these people all the time, how do I know when they’re really working when I’m not
Recruiter: It’s no problem. We have time-tracking technology and reporting that gives you visibility into whatever projects your teams are working on.
Michael: That sounds good. That’s even better than looking over their shoulders to see what they’re doing. This whole global thing seems interesting.
Recruiter: You were highly recommended by Dwight.
Michael: Well, he knows me best. He saw the cup I had that says, “World’s Greatest Boss.” I won’t tell you who gave it to me—that’s a secret. However, I’m ready to enter this brave new world of managing virtual teams.
Recruiter: That sounds like a plan. You’ll be reporting to Dwight. He’ll take it from here.