WFH: “Working From Home” is here to stay! We say that because research and our collective 2.5 years of COVID experience clearly demonstrate it. In our family, both of our children are working fully remotely, with no intention of ever commuting to an office. The percentage of the U.S. workforce WFH tripled between 2005 and 2020 but was still only 15% at most. Here in Massachusetts, we are currently at nearly 25%. During the height of the pandemic, it was closer to 50%. This is the new normal!
The 3 Leadership Challenges of WFH!
“Working From Home” (WFH,) driven by the pandemic, has not led to as much loss of productivity as the experience of other significant changes led many of us to fear it may. However, the 600 employees surveyed in the HBR articles (in particular at Microsoft) are reporting two intriguing phenomena: an extension of the working day by some 10% to 15% and the rise of the 30-minute meeting.
Here at PBC, we would love to hear your WFH stories. Call us and let us know if you see these kinds of changes to the work patterns of your folks.
For business leaders, WFH brings 3 new challenges according to the HBR surveys…
1. Virtual onboarding.
How are you exposing new hires to your business ethos virtually? OK, pushing your vision and values in words and pictures is relatively easy, but facilitating the high number of interactions with sufficient depth for people to internalize your way of doing things is problematic. We would love to know your ideas on best practice in this area.
2. How to create “informal organization ties.”
Before WFH, our businesses benefitted enormously from all the tenuous informal connections people naturally build between one another. As leaders, we need to find a way to replicate this stuff prophylactically or virtually. We are envisioning planned intra-business virtual networking session. In these spaces, your employees can share thoughts, feelings, ideas, and best practices with others outside of their usual team. They can also build and practice their “Zoom” skills.
Several of our clients have implemented “3 @ 3 for 15.” It’s a 15-minute coffee break with a randomly assigned trio of employees that changes every day. The only rule is no work can be discussed, just personal information shared. If a work topic comes up, it needs to be scheduled for another meeting.
3. How to orchestrate relationships for talent.
It is evident that managing by email and IM is a poor substitute for “managing by walking around.” We all feel the pressure to cultivate connections between and within workgroups, because the fear is that our productive long-term relationships will wither on the virtual vine.
In the future, we may want to return to pre-COVID working patterns, but a hybrid of WFH and socially distanced/masked get-togethers is much more likely. But how do we make the best of both worlds? Here at PBC, we are sure the answer is to involve ALL our employees in an “IMPROVEment process,” described in our white paper, “Thriving in a Matrix World.”
Are You More Integrator than Segmenter?
Adapting successfully to WFH is a personal thing. Each of us is somewhere on the spectrum of integrated home and work at one end to rigidly segmented home and work at the other. The “Integrators” among us are more comfortable with fewer spatial boundaries. We revel in the death of the commute and don’t miss the office at all. At the same time, the “segmentors” among us will want to reestablish some forms of clear work-life boundaries. To better understand your own style and that of others, our clients use the Everything DiSC tools from Wiley. This improves our Emotional Intelligence so that we are better able to treat others as they wish to be treated.
As business leaders, our WFH mantra has to be “whatever works for you!” and our new role is neatly summed up by Heather Brunner, CEO of WP engine: “You must invest in clarity and become a chief repetition officer. Don’t stop until everyone can repeat exactly what you are doing, why you are doing it, and what success looks like.”
The workplace is constantly changing and evolving, and these past 2 years have been just a rapid phase of what has been for decades a slow trend. So please, call PBC for a free consultation and share in our WFH ideas pool. We’re only too glad to help.
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