We’re well and truly over the lock down period now and I know a lot of organisations are in discussions with their teams about how they’d like to move forward in terms of creating a balance between working from home and working from the office. It’s not as straight forward as you might think because before the lock down the majority of people were working from the office and working from home, for most people, was only an exception. Of course, during the lock down everyone was working from home and so we were all in the same boat. This new dynamic introduces an additional complication because, going forward, it’s likely that a lot of teams will frequently have a combination of people working from the office while others will be working from home. How can we strike the right balance to maintain that “sense of team” and ensure the level of productivity is not compromised? How can we redesign teams for the future?
The first step, if you haven’t already taken it, is to ask your team what they want. I know a lot of people are looking to spend more time at home and want to enjoy a more flexible work arrangement. What would this look like for your team? Do they even want change? The worst thing we can do is to make assumptions about what you think is best for everyone with consultation. Every change process must engage with those it’s likely to impact, this is no different. If your team decides they would like a more flexible arrangement, here are a couple of tips to guide those conversations and, ultimately, agreements.
Every team should already have a firm set of values. Although each team should be aligned to the organisational values, the development team are going to operate differently to the finance team, who will operate differently to human resources; therefore, team values highlight those things that are important to each team and provide guidance to how they will operate. If a new way of working is required, a new set of values will also be required. How are you, as a team, going to work together knowing that not everyone will be physically present at the same time?
The next thing to consider is how can the team maintain (or even improve) their level of communication. Because not everyone will be in the same location, extra effort will be required to ensure everyone feels part of any discussions that are going on and kept informed of key decisions made. “Out of ‘site’, out of mind” can be problematic and may lead to conflict further down the track unless a clear communication strategy is discussed and followed through.
Lastly, how can you, as a leader, have the comfort that everyone who is working from home is continuing to be as productive as they would be if they were in the office? If you sense someone is slacking off, checking up on them and making accusations never goes down well. I don’t recommend it. Some people are naturally motivated and will always produce a good days work regardless of where they are; others might need a little more focus. So what can you do? Helping people get clear about their workload and encouraging them to set goals will go a long way to achieve greater focus and enhance productivity. Team goals that filter down into individual goals that are decided by the team and made visible aids in building a sense of accountability. Publicly setting up these goals and publicly reviewing them at the end of the week is a great way to ensure people stay on track. Some teams even do this daily at morning stand up meetings. This simply act of publicly declaring your goals and reviewing them after a period can go a long way in building focus and accountability.
There you have it! Don’t wait for one of your team to bring up the idea of more flexible working, face into it head on and create another great reason why people want to come and work for you and for your organisation.
If you’d like to know more about how to achieve more in life or business, or if you’d like to explore how coaching can help you become a better leader (of others or yourself!), or even if you’re just generally curious about what professional coaching can offer you, please contact us at any time for a free consultation.
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