This morning I made my pilgrimage to the local coffee van in the park, my journey there is adjacent to a number of bike paths and walking trails. For the past 7 weeks my well trod journey has presented young & old out riding bikes, walking, Mum & Dad and the 2.5 kids out living their best lives in the sun & soaking up nature.
The global pandemic has seen the best and worst of humanity, amongst the stories of dust ups in the Woolies loo paper isle are stories of bike sales going through the roof as people step away from their smartphones and endless social commentary about the future of work.
Nationwide lockdowns and directives from all levels of Government to stay home has opened the door to many employees having a work from home conversation with their bosses.
If the past 7 weeks have taught us anything, for many employees having to continue to structure their work around traditional office hours, in a traditional office building, dealing with traditional office politics is an outdated, and unwanted mechanism.
See, the thing with employees is they have lives outside of work. They have children and elderly parents, friends and pets they’d prefer to spend a lot more time with. Big, big lives that don’t always fit into the neatly compartmentalised structure of the daily grind we have been conditioned to accept.
What happy, productive employees need is flexibility. The freedom to structure their workday around the other demands in their life.
COVID-19 gave parents the ability to work from home and spend a lot more time involved in their kids lives, lots of very confused (but happy) dogs were going for lots of walks and trips to the park as more and more people grabbed any opportunity to get outside and soak up the sun & fresh air. For many, our lives simplified and became a whole lot more free, quite literally overnight.
People found that with out the constant interruptions and frustrations of office politics they got so much more work done.
But, as with everything what works for some won’t resonate with everyone.
Recently Mark Bouris interviewed Georgia Vidler, Director of Product at Canva on his podcast The Mentor. Understandably their conversation quickly turned towards the changes Canva had implemented to continue being a productive organisation in the face of the lockdown & social distancing requirements in Sydney. Mark admitted that prior to this period he always thought people requesting the flexibility to work from home were having a lend of him, what he found was he had a much, much more productive workforce.
While employees were positive about the changes made, there was a good percentage who indicated they liked working from home but also craved the social interaction that working in the office gave. They didn’t want to be back in the office full time though, they wanted a blend of both. This lead to Mark looking at creating 2 teams and having them in the office a week about, of course this means going forward he needs less office space, giving up a whole floor in the Sydney CBD will offer considerable cost savings.
But more importantly to the sustainability of the business, Mark was able to see a different – a better way – of working and ran with it.
I’m not pollyanna, I am aware that not everyone working from home will do the right thing, but chances are if they are that way inclined they probably aren’t working to full capacity in the office either. A line manager who has an understanding of each job role and the expected outputs will pick up on this pretty quickly and effective performance management processes will address the shortfall in achieving the expectations of the organisation.
Given that you pay people to do a job, not sit in a chair, if the job isn’t 100% customer facing does it really matter where the employee works from? And if they are achieving their outputs does it really matter if they only work for 7 hours on the odd day here and there instead of sitting on Facebook for the last hour of the day because people can’t get past the concept that unless they are “at work” for 8 hours then they aren’t getting full value from their employees.
I know I’d rather an absolute star who applies themselves and gets their work done in a 4 day week than pay someone to fluff around for the majority of the day and be under the pump to meet deadlines.
Quality over quantity baby…….. Quality over Quantity.
What changes do you hope to come out of the global pandemic? Have you made any lifestyle changes that improves the quality of your life?
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