10 Jun Another massive leap forward into the future of work
The future is now, via a bat and a cough. We don’t engage with “work” now like we did three months ago. We didn’t engage with “work” three months ago like we did three years ago. If there has ever been the opportunity to take another massive leap forward into the future of work, now is the time! Be bold. Take all those ideas you have read about in the books you’ve won at business lunches. Brainstorm them as leaders. Play out how they would work in your business to see if they could work in your business.
Hundreds of thousands of Australians have been working from home for the last few months. And whilst it’s tough with kids out of school and daycare, when they return to out-of-home care, home could be the right place for distraction-fee productivity. And we are well over the novelty of working from home. It’s been common commentary that people who are working from home without caring responsibilities are being super-productive. That is, after realising through this international econo-pathological clusterfuck of the Corona Crisis that we’re not going to launch a podcast, paint the interiors, cook every recipe in Ottolenghi’s “Simple” and get that Brad Pitt-Fight Club-bod (or #BPFCbod as I poke my tum-tum). Two of our clients who made this commentary are suggesting their childless 20-somethings keep this practice up. The non-distracted will only come in a couple days per week to connect.
NAB raced to the front of the pack as an institution, scaling their remote worker tally from about a thousand to 15,000 in the space of three weeks. It’s important to note that they have received a threefold increase in customer enquiries during this time. Workload has gone through the roof, in particular the customer care staff.
One would imagine that with significantly more remote workers, there will increasingly be a glutton of office space*. This provides opportunity for businesses to scale down their square-metre footprint. Save some cash on rent, which could potentially be put into connectivity tools. Setting up shared workstations, collaboration tables, window benches for people to stand and work at is becoming increasingly popular over the traditional desk cubicle. Just make sure your ergonomics are in check.
Invest in systems and technology that keeps you connected. I mean, if the last few months haven’t highlighted the importance of this, then I imagine you are seeing some real communications issues. So, make sure you are prepped beyond just having the Zoom app on your mobile. This also includes tooling up your staff to ensure they have the capabilities at home to take advantage of the connectivity and technologies. This may be as simple as providing tips on getting the most out of their WIFI.
Local legend, Holly Martin of The Marketing GP, uses Google Meet for their daily morning toolbox talk, and WhatsApp group chat to stay connected and spread a bit of banter throughout the day. Paymo is an online project management app that they use specifically for task management. And, Gmail is their primary source of communication to clients (as well as the good ol’ dog-and-bone, of course).
Dave Eddy, another local legend and Director of Redback Solutions here in Newcastle has just moved to a 4-day week (with each and every Hump Day off). Having been working towards this for a few months and recognising that now’s a really good time to make the transition. People have developed different expectations and allow different sorts of arrangements regarding work, both employees and clients.
Role requires intermittent travel
Remember when you started in the corporate world and the opportunity to travel for work? Be it a day/night in the big smoke or another capital, or a week at the German HQ was cool and exciting. Made you feel like a high-flyer, literally. Then, as the years went on, the lifestyle settled and the family took over, it became a lot less glamourous. Tedious even. But accepted as the norm to fly someone from Sydney to Dallas for a 3-day meeting. With travel off the cards and us all being used to video conferencing; you can guarantee expenditure of future work travel will be scrutinised through fresh eyes. And, less air travel good for the planet.
Trust your team
The biggest hurdle to overcome isn’t technology, isn’t connectivity, isn’t even the well-being of staff… it’s trust. For your business to get off on the right foot, to be bold, to change how you all work for the better, consider the following:
- Set expectations on productivity, work hours, breaks, response time
- Discuss respect and trust in each other in not taking the piss
- Offer and expect trust until such is broken
- Address immediately, directly and subjectively when trust or expectations aren’t equally met, as to not derail the objective for all
- Check in, measure productivity against how it was prior to the changes in the workplace and economy
Looking into the future is, of course, speculative. Don’t feel obliged to adopt specific practices based on someone else’s business, or some article (even this one). Brainstorm, prepare, be creative, and work out how to take another massive leap forward into the future of work, as presented itself via a bat and a cough.
* I rode my pushy around the office whilst on a call yesterday.