In the last week or so we’ve seen reports that Google is expecting their staff to return to their offices in the coming weeks, not full time but certainly it seems regularly. It’s got us thinking what is the right approach to ensure that our colleagues are happy but they also have the best possible opportunity to help our customers.
I know from personal experience that not having the ability to work from home, either due to having to travel for work or a rigid corporate environment has left me physically and emotionally tired and probably at times, not at my most effective. I have also spoken to other business owners and understand their concerns about staff morale and the potential to abuse trust of working from home such as;
- ‘Slacking off’, or,
- more seriously, misusing data etc.
For the latter, I have the upmost trust in @howe in implementing controls internally to protect internal commercial sensitive data and customer sensitive data absolutely.
For the former, I have found the people most concerned about it are those that are possibly projecting their own values on others and tend to be more target orientated than outcome orientated. These are not the same thing.
We will be working hard in the coming months to give every colleague the ability and the opportunity to work from home regularly and although patterns will be different for individuals it will not purely be based on role or level. Along with the technical challenge of making sure physical tech works and the infrastructure allows it to connect wherever colleagues are working from there are some cultural challenges too, such as;
- Placing trust in the individual. There may well be cases we are let down but we would rather start from a position of trust rather than inconvenience everyone because you may end up with a few bad eggs.
- Understanding that flexibility is ok. That applies to WFH as well as being in the office, but you don’t have to be chained to your desk from 9am-5pm, it could be the perfect opportunity to do the school run, make dinner for your family or meet a friend for lunch.
- Creating a culture of greater good. Oftentimes people that ‘slack off’ are disconnected from the organisation they are a part of or the colleagues they work with because they haven’t been invested in and they aren’t invested in, we want to make sure from day 1 everyone understands their role in the company and how it impacts the success of themselves, their colleagues and the company.
We recently reviewed our own working patterns and was pleased to see that they reflected the pattern of key deliverables, I.e., when things were critical, we worked harder and longer to get the right results but when we had fewer pressing deliverables our output was lower. These troughs, are required to recharge and produce new ideas.
I am expecting lots of comments on this one with lots of opposing views, and I don’t underestimate the challenges we will face in implementing this. I have already had several peers tell me that it should be a future aspiration, but I also truly believe it’s a lot harder turning a culture around than starting off with the right one.