Focus News hybrid office

The Future State Of Work Podcast

This week Nick and I discussed the future state of work, obviously, this is very topical with the return to the office and the chatter around how Basecamp has changed their policy and saw backlash, how Google are not giving clear communication to their employees and how the likes of Twitter, IBM and Slack are suggesting you can work from wherever you like vs having to be in one HQ or a satellite office.

With so much of this discussion being relevant to Focus, I wanted to share this specific episode for you to read and share with your executive team.

On the podcast we discuss:

  • The hybrid office and why it is the future
  • The relationship with Company culture and why hybrid is going to be a gift and a challenge for so many HR teams and poor managers
  • How company performance is going to thrive or drop depending on how good your management skills are
  • Why company strategy, is essential to making work work, and hybrid being a driver for positive change in strategy

The future can be hard to predict, however, Nick and I have broken down what and how as much as possible for businesses of all sizes.

This podcast helps you understand how you can overcome some challenges, how to be smarter with hybrid, what your options might be and how to learn from big companies like Salesforces approach to feedback loops and maybe on the other side, Coinbase and their move to close their HQ.

If podcasts are not your thing, happily read the full transcript below.

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Business Performance

25 Meeting Recommendations


Meetings take up to 15% of all time within work. In very few organisations they teach you how to run successful meetings, how attendees are supposed to participate and what success looks like at the end of each meetings.

Company success is often shaped as much by meetings as their company strategy. 

Bad meetings impact company culture and often are the causes of teams misaligning and interpersonal conflict. 

With the number of meetings increasing, the lengths of meetings reducing but the frequency of repeat meetings, it is essential we reduce the friction of meetings and help to structure, optimise and improve meetings. 

On our mission to fix the broken world of work, we collated our 25 most suggested meeting recommendations to help your organisation to succeed. 

  1. Ask the question: does this have to be a meeting?
  2. Answer: Could this be a memo? 
  3. Whole company agreement: No meetings to have another meeting 
  4. AHA: Always Have Agenda’s 
  5. Keep track of ‚Äėmeeting moments and movements‚Äô – centralise all notes, decisions and actions and share across to all invitees and if open allow all to view
  6. Always answer what is the objective of this meeting
  7. Agendas are great for meetings that require structure 
  8. Always have refresh agendas Рwith 50% of meetings repeat and agendas recycled you are fighting against yourself 
  9. No agenda = No attendance can work if enforce top to bottom 
  10. Agendas remove creativity Рthink of this when brainstorming and problem-solving 
  11. Always explain to each attendee why they are attending, what their expected role is and how they can help move the meeting forward 
  12. HiPPO’s have to encourage and support employee first engagement 
  13. Have no spectators rules РSteve Jobs would remove people who did not contribute to meetings 
  14. Remove awkward starts to meetings 
  15. If the meeting fails quickly gift people their time back 
  16. Feedback is a gift, survey attendees and asks for feedback sessions in the last five minutes of meetings (open documents for open feedback) 
  17. Always have a social element to meetings, never dive straight in, scientific studies and cultural differences have proven no social elements break social bonds and trust in the work environment 
  18. Meeting recovery syndrome is a hugely under-recognised issue within businesses, reduce the number of meetings and 
  19. Employees need help to manage calendars especially in hybrid environments, help to manage and have a meeting champion to share tips and best practices and offer training 
  20. Hybrid meetings are challenging, applying the same attention to those remote as those in the office, you must follow the no a team (in office) and b team (working remotely). Checking on remote attendees and asking for their opinions will be equalisers. Reviewing meeting notes and document updates will be important 
  21. Have meeting attendance guidelines. The quality of meetings drop the more that attend
    1. Other companies rules:
      1. 10 people (Google)
      2. 6 people (Apple)
      3. 2 pizza rule (Amazon) & 7 people + approval by senior meeting
  22. Remove meetings after 16.00 – least productive and often rushed.
    1. If you are an international or tri-time zone company consider how you can rotate these meetings  
  23. Silent start meetings are great for longer-form meetings requiring insights, discussion and alignment. 
  24. Keep and update your decision document to keep clear communications and a canonical home of decisions 
  25. Remember how we are engineered, information architecture is essential, an easy way to find out information and find relevant historical notes for those who were not at the company helps understand how to be successful.
    Meeting name > Date > Project > Department often works best  

Important Related Reading To Improve Business Performance:

Business Performance hybrid office

Designing The Hybrid Office Guide

It Is Time To Reshape Your Office & Default To Hybrid Thinking

This is a long form guide. If you would like to download as a PDF, select download below

It’s time, time to rethink how you reshape your office to improve your business.

Over the last year, the office for most has been empty, it has the traditional lines and banks of desks, it has the kitchen in the middle of the office and numerous meeting rooms with the management offices at the top of the office overlooking the empty banks of desks.

The Opportunity For Positive Change, It’s Not A Threat

This traditional model has to change, the banks of desks will have to be remodelled, more distance between the desks and people will have to be put in place, many meeting rooms will have to be reshaped, rethought and will require more space and fewer chairs.

The concept of it being all in the office has now gone, it will be a book in and book out, banks of desks per department is now going to be hotdesks and many departments will have to come to agreements on when it might be the tech day or could be the marketing day or the sales team on-site.

The office will have to be hybrid first, fully considered, the office will likely have to be shaped into an arena to cater to in person and on-screen performances for your teams to watch and participate via floating heads, audio, video, typed out Q&A.

Intentionality Is Key

The case for deliberate action has never been so clear, from owning communications channels, internal connections being built via specialist culture community management and crafted principles that are followed company-wide.

At focus, while our miss is to fix the broken world of work, we help companies with office and environment design and we have created a checklist to help guide you through reshaping your office.

Jump To Topic Areas

No More ‚ÄėMy Desks‚Äô 

Less personal desks – the end of having a desk per person for the midterm future has to be removed, this will mean:

  • fewer departmental banks of desks,
  • it will reduce the requirement for cabinets
  • Reducing clutter within the office

Booking in system
People are creatures of habit, booking in systems will have to be rolled out and spaces or specific desks will be reserved

All defaults to hot desks 
That is right this means colleagues will be mixing more and required to hot desk, this will see many departmental changes and businesses deliberately looking at how they can mix different teams who struggle to interact cross-functionally

New Rooms

Zoom rooms – all rooms will have to equipped with the best connections, microphones and acoustics clearly considered. Laptops will become the canonical source of communication with investments into headsets and headphones with microphones a basic requirement. There will be a place for telephone conferencing however we have to consider how we enable hard of hearing and deaf colleagues to be able to interact and be on the same playing field as everyone else.

Camera first rooms
The majority of rooms will need to have camera’s added and easily sync with your internal network to enable more interactive sessions, there will be more arguments and fights over large meetings rooms and the conference room.

Conference Room Amendments 

Multiple screens vs one screen 
Typically most meetings rooms only have one screen, in the hybrid world this potentially will have to increase to multi-screen rooms or multiple inputs into multiple screens, this will enable more interaction, more interactive presentations and more collaborative efforts

Interactive panels and boards 
Despite the raise of whiteboard features and tools like Muro, there will need to be more interactive panels, more boards and better surfaces to have more open problem solving and sketching sessions. Product and Marketing teams will be requesting this currently

Holographic presentations 
Yes holograms will become a staple in in-office presentations and stand-ups.
Being able to present as if you were in person is going to incredibly important and something businesses of all sizes will have to plan for. AR will be the best way of researching and offering holograms currently.

360-degree cameras 
There are many products on the market that offer voice tracking and speaker tracking, being able to track someone walking or pacing and presenting is going to be essential, considering investing in a number of these for large conferences or for all hands, townhalls and product demos.

Best in class microphones 
A hugely important takeaway since working remote-first is:
Audio is vitally important for attention, being heard and getting the message across.
Businesses should invest in high-quality microphones, audio continues to be vitally important alongside video and connectivity quality.

New Tech

More Tablets – Tablets will likely see another resurgence in popularity, this is down to the better quality camera, headphone jack and the portability of tablets, alongside being able to use iPads as a second screen or a dedicated conferencing tool. Consider how you leverage tablets and how you can create better interactions between colleagues when on video calls and presenting.

Self-cleaning Tech
We have seen large leaps in self-cleaning tech over the last twelve months, with the importance of clean and sanitised workspaces there will be a requirement to ensure areas are cleaner, sanitised more often and some emphasis should be placed back on the employees to clean as they go. Employee cleanliness and hygrine have never been so important to the health of the organisation.

Reducing Crowding 

Dedicated systems to remove crowding 
Bringing awareness of the density of people and groups forming safely is of the highest importance for safety and awareness. Investing in dedicated systems to remove crowding and built-up areas of staff is critical to your staff’s health but also their wellness and welfare. This will also reduce anxiety levels and fear around returning to the office safely.

Shift patterns 
This is an area many leaders have not fully considered and is an area where there is opportunity. With improved asynchronous communications, there should be less reliance on every staff member having to work at the same time. We have seen more flexibility can work and shift patterns allow more flexibility in travelling, in completing work and being a parent. If someone is a morning person enable these colleagues to start earlier and finish earlier, if others perform better in the afternoon or evenings, offer a way for more flexible patterns. Teams will have to be responsible to own this by team or by department however guidance from the leadership functions will add weight and importance to offering more flexible work patterns.

Team and department areas
There are going to be important sessions where teams will want to be in the same location at the same time, we will see that this instantly increases footfall into the office for on-sites, this also sees footfall increase for off-sites. This will have to be managed and organised by the booking system and be discussed for specific days for x or y department. This is not an easy negotiation however a vital one to plan for.  


Mobile apps purpose-built for brainstorming and ideation – There are many elements of work that are traditionally in person, brainstorming and ideation has a buzz and feeling connected to it, connecting the hybrid workforce is going to be essential particularly with apps and software enabling better brainstorming and ideation.

Connected whiteboards 
Whiteboards are typically dumb, they are written on and wipe off, requiring to take a picture, upload and often redesign or type up will not be optimal in the hybrid workplace, investing in connected whiteboards will help improve teamwork and reduce friction between projects.

Best connecting WiFi and 5G 
The office is going to have far more devices connected to the network than before, despite an estimated 40% returning to the office, there will be more devices connecting and taking up more bandwidth and sharing more video and audio, it is important to improve your connectivity and consider if 5G is an option where WiFi can be challenging to install.

Kitchen Remodelled 

The kitchen is a key component to the success of an office, the kitchen is a meeting area, a quick catch up and connection area and often important discussion stations. With fewer people in the office, this will mean you will be ordering less milk, fewer caffeinated beverages and reducing waste, this all has an impact on the way the office environment feels and will require better management.

Screens in the kitchen?
There is a school of thought that screens will have to be placed everywhere to enable spontaneous conversation, this could be true however more screens will mean trust will be lowered as surveillance will seem higher. Consider how you encourage and enable the kitchen to be reshaped to encourage safe conversation and bringing in other colleagues where applicable. The kitchen will be a vital open space where colleagues can reconnect, while we will be in phase one of returning to the office it is essential to manage flow in and around the kitchen with safe distancing. There is an opportunity to learn from companies such as Pixar who opened up and expanded their kitchen and dining areas to encourage more moments of connection and areas to break out in.

Interactive Spaces

Less private phone booths more video conferencing breakouts – dedicated private phone booths were installed in many businesses to enable private calls and head down work to happen, we are likely to have to rethink this space and add in more video-based conferencing into these booths. This is an additional investment however with many businesses going to have to rely on video-based chat this is an area to consider for space and for productivity.

Is there still room for in-house coffee baristas?
For many businesses, co-working spaces and agencies this will mean the barista will likely have to reduce hours or be on strict management of crowding and introduce an ordering system.
Despite the role and the importance of connecting over hot beverages, this is one of the organisation’s perks that might have to sacrifice.

The Need For More

More mobile apps – Mobile apps are the ultimate convenience. Simple to learn, simple to use, simple to update will be key to win. It is likely businesses will need to be on more devices with better apps to enable quick interactions, quick requests, booking in and booking out of the office. WeWork and other co-working and building management did a good job with their apps, it will be good to map out all requests and the elements raised in this guide and hiring a developer to be able to connect into your main software to help to provide an employee view, a manager view, a department view and a company view.

More in-floor sensors 
We should be clear the in-floor sensors are to improve knowledge around density, reduce crowding and understand if there are times or parts of the office that have more footfall than there should be. In-floor sensors should be clearly called out to staff to make them aware of this change and be clear for the reasons why.

Operated Turnstiles 
If you have an office of over 15 people it can be difficult to manage flow in between the office and into the office, while apps and management software will help with understanding how many people are in the office if you have couriers, guests and small events happening, an operated turnstile will help control this and reduce any risk of too many people in the office or in lifts etc.

Foot-controlled lifts / elevators 
Buttons are over-rated, right? Foot controls are going to be important to reduce the surfaces touched by hands. Adding a foot control will likely be costly however many landlords will be making plans to roll these out. Be proactive and reduce the friction as early as possible.

Health Consciousness 

Well-Being First – Whilst we have lived through the last twelve to fifteen months in many locations across the world, we have seen the common cold and seasonal flu reduce down. Density and people connecting spreads gems, it is essential to consider how you have a well-being first environment. This means anyone who is feeling unwell, from a cold to having a higher temperature to having other symptoms they have to work from home. Likewise, mental health days will be vitally important to be called out and actually used without any sigma.

Any sniffles or sneezes will be treated differently than before, it is important to address early on and talk through why it is important to use the hybrid model if you have anything that resembles a cold. Many may consider this a step too far, however, for everyone’s peace of mind and to reduce any peer to peer friction there should be guidelines put in place.

More UV lights – UV lights have been used to combat numerous issues and bugs, there will be a demand for UV lightening and UV cleaning materials, it should be an area you research and then potentially invest in. A number of cleaning firms have started to invest heavily in UV lights and specific UV lights for high duty cleaning.

Real Estate Demands

AKA Outdoor Space A Premium 

More outdoor space – Many countries are taking different approach however outdoor spaces and meeting areas will be prime real estate if your lease is coming to an end it will be important to look for an office or offices that include more open and outdoor spaces. One perk many offices may find is that the office is close to parks and will see the benefit of outdoor meetings, walk and talk meetings and a chance for more outdoor sessions. If you are in a position to consider a new office there are a number of new real estate demands to consider:

  • Roof terraces 
  • Courtyards
  • Gardens
  • Large balconies
  • Outside coffee and food carts

Good luck with remodelling your office and preparing your team for this essential move for your business. Refocusing the office as a safer, more open space will help your business to win.

Want to download and share? Download below

The office as an arena concept is going to be an important read.

Another important follow-up read is reducing anxiety returning to the office

This guide will be updated over time to consider new guidelines and studies, however, it is important to note you should follow local and national legal guidelines as these vary from town to town, city to city, state to state.

Business Performance

Reducing Anxiety & Returning To The Office Checklist

We are about to see many companies ask their teams to start planning for the return to the office.

Some large banks and institutions have already asked for their teams to be back in the office full time. In many businesses, a return to the office is something many teams are dreading and have had many personal changes since March 2020.

There is a high percentage of anxious people who have fear about returning to the office or actually want to stay working at home or move to a flexible and the next normal, the hybrid office (our free hybrid office ebook is a must-read).

It is now time for businesses to become flexible and ensure work works for everyone and more flexibly.

If you are anxious or feeling concerned about this, there are a number of steps you (as an employee) can take & questions to ask. 

Managers and senior leaders will have concerns and be nervous, particularly with the extra responsibility they would have had to take on and now understand how they manage a team in a hybrid set up.

At Focus as we are on a mission to fix the broken world of work, it is essential we break our recommendations down for both leaders of a business and the staff members who may be nervous and have anxiety about returning to the office and how to get the best for both parties.

For Leaders For Staff 
Have a detailed plan to share for the return to the office plan If you have not received a plan, ask for the work in progress plan and timeline of when you are likely to have to return
Demonstrate with imagery and videos of how the office has been amended to include more space and how you are limiting the attendance in the office.

Include capacity numbers and links to the software you will be using for booking in and booking to work remotely
Ask how the business has taken the steps to make the office have more space, more distance and more protection, alongside how to liaise with your manager to enable remote work
Have a dedicated HR stream for those who require more specific requests or have had their commitments change or been impacted by COVIDLiaise directly with HR on how they are going to support you in your personal situation, especially if you have been disconnected from your manager or team
Prepare to offer a dedicated long term mental health and mental wellbeing helpline(s) and support groups Ask for details of mental wellbeing support being offered by your firm.

If this is not yet an option ask HR how you could go about claiming sessions back until there is a formal policy  
Have one policy for why certain people or teams are returning to the office Ask for the workings out around the staggered return to the office policy and why you and your team need to return
Show how you have invested and improved the technology set up, more connective equipment, better audio and more camera’s to connect in the hybrid office.

The office as an arena is an important concept to consider and share internally.
Ask questions to understand the steps taken to improve technology to help remote and in-office teams to be one team, not have an a team (in office team) & b team (those working remotely)
Set up regular Q&A sessions to keep teams up to date with changes and reduce stressKeep a track of important follow-up milestones and questions and ask for regular updates from the management team
Show the hybrid guidelines and the principles for communications and how to be successful in the new hybrid office.

Have principles around informing colleagues that you will be in the office or working remotely  
Ask to understand if there is a way to book in and out of the office and software. Many software still do not talk to each other have an agreed status on instant messenger tools to enable colleagues to know you will be in or out of the office

Ask if there are a minimum or maximum you can work from home or work from the office
Have a decision document to show how decision were made and offer transparency to discuss through Ask questions at the decision level and ask questions to calm down your fears.

If you are a people manager look to collate questions from the team and answer with fellow decision-makers
Offer back to the office training sessions online before the return to the office.

Many system and processes will have changed and it is important to align everyone
Ask what has changed and what are the requirements for training sessions.

How long they will be and the benefit of these sessions.

Online training and online zoom sessions have caused fatigue, explaining the why is really important here
Reduce anxiety by having a traffic light system of those who have reservations or commitments and treat as a way to help manage anxiety and flow into the office. Ask what the requirements are for:

– Red (highly concerned). Requires one to one discussions. Will require a personalised run-through of the amendments, the process that will be followed and discussions with the department lead to reduce fears and consider how highly anxious people can return in the near future.

– Amber (concerned), what would the requirements be and how can your manager or department lead (alongside HR) help to reduce any concerns

– Green (ready to return)

Best of luck with your return to the office plan. Happily get in touch directly if you need consultancy.

Important Related Reads

  1. Will an off-site reconnect my team?
  2. Planning the post pandemic return to the office
  3. The culture as a service movement
  4. Recording micro moments and micro-events
  5. It is time for management pods to improve leadership teams
Business Performance Trust

The 5 TikToks You Need To Answer

Over the last two years, the influence of TikTok on everyday life has increased, over the last twelve months we have seen a shift in social media to more focus on entertainment.

Over the past six months we have seen the number of work-related TikTok’s increase and many of them are actually what our teams and colleagues are thinking. Unfortunately, many are not in a place to be able to raise internally and is impacting your company culture.

Yes, they may appear parody, however, these five TikTok videos are all insights businesses need to prepare for, address poor team behaviour and develop plans for over the next couple of months.

Mental Health Concerns Ignored By HR


*HR sends an email about the EAP* #wfh #corporate #joblife #workfromhome #millennial #office #mentalhealth #foryou

‚ô¨ original sound – Laura

Bad Lunch Zoom Etiquette


Show off that lunch😉Use code NATALIELUNCH to get a free @elpolloloco lunch box (first 500 ppl only- link in bio) #NoSadLunches #elpolloloco #ad #fyp

‚ô¨ original sound – CorporateNatalie

No Thanks To Returning To The Office


Thanks but I’m good! #backtowork #wfh #office #introvert #remotework #workfromhome #2021 #kuwtk

‚ô¨ Kris Will Not Be Treated Like This from KUWTK – E! Entertainment

The Frustration Of Virtual Meetings


End of every zoom call, am I right?! #funny #fyp #2021 #lockdown

‚ô¨ original sound – Laura

Never On Mute


YOU CAN DO THIS, BRAD. I know you can. #wfh #corporate #zoom #meeting #9to5 #millennial #relatable

‚ô¨ original sound – Nathanael Parker

As per the five text messages you need to answer, these are all areas of the workday and future workday you need to prepare and address.

Are You Ready For The Future?
Are you and your business prepared for The Hybrid Office movement and creating your next office as the arena?

An important and actionable read: Here are the five questions you will need to answer.

Join Focus On The Future Of Work

If you would like a free conference that will prepare you for the future of work?
Join me for the future of work conference please join me in June.

Business Performance Leadership

Decision Document

In today’s broken world of work, we have never had the access to so many tools, to so many free resources to help us progress, or access to the best talent available, yet we are no closer to answering one of the fundamental issues in the business world.

In a recent and brilliant article, Eugene Wei really hit the nail on the head:

One of the most common weaknesses among managers and leaders is the illusion of transparency, though it is a problem for most people. It is the tendency to overestimate how much people know what you’re thinking.”
— Eugene Wei.

Thinking and communicating are two of the most important parts of being a leader and holding a leadership role, unfortunately thinking => discussing issues => communicating what, why and allowing others to build the how causes more problems often than competitors do.

Hard To Be A Manager – Harder To Be A Leader

Management has never been so hard, leadership is even harder, you have many challenges, you have faced 2020 and 2021 you were never prepared for or trained for and rather than communicating becoming easier it has become harder, we have too many communication channels and so little time to articulate clearly.

What makes a great leader is an essential read for the move to the office 3.0 – the arena and the move to full-time Hybrid Office. Being a leader now means being deliberate, clear and communicating in an inspiring way.

One of the reasons why managers fall short is thinking they have communicated to those around them and to their department or teams.
The likelihood is, you didn’t and if it is important you should bring it up regularly.

As a leader you are busy, you have many of the same conversations with those around you (management teams, leadership teams, board meetings etc) you fail to relay the message to your own team.
Your department then feels disconnected from you and core business decisions feel like you have bypassed your team.

I would estimate 80% of the time, poor or lack of communication costs Department heads their people and then their role.

Solution: The Decision Document

One solution Focus has created is to build an open decision document – this doesn’t have to be a document in format, this can be a notion page, a dedicated page on the internal wiki or it could even be a Trello board (I recommend against a kanban style board as people read them differently and is done actually done and completed?)

The decision calls out what the important decision was, what steps were taken and the date. The how has to be completed by the responsible team however it is essential any important business-wide decision is listed and these steps are followed.

Communication is still key to winning, explaining in the same format to the impacted teams is as important, but showing the chain of decisions and the process will help the company understand how you got there and the timeline connected.

As a leader, it is important to know when to take action and now is the time, if you are in the position, create the document and introduce it to the business, if not co-create with someone who is operationally strong.

Template Available Upon Request

email us for a copy of this template

When Knowing The Importance & Managing The Messaging

Bob Iger (the Disney Chairman wrote in his book Ride of a Lifetime) took to leading by press release as everyone internally realised the importance of the decision and they had to make it work, at a company of the size it is likely important however none of the decisions should be a surprise or surprising. The decision document will help you with this issue.

Reconnect Around A Canonical

If you feel disconnected as a leadership team, the decision document can act as the canonical place you reconnect and build as the rock of your company.

Opportunity For One Internally Champion

This is where the culture community manager can own and work with leaders to improve internal communications and centralise information flow into the centre of the truth within an organisation, a knowledge centre.

Introduce The Decision Document This Week

Be proactive and roll out the decision document in the upcoming week and introduce it to the business, you will be surprised by the impact.

Business Performance

The Focus Corporate Speak Bingo Card

The business world is full of corporate buzzwords, they are typically shared on a Forbes or HBR article and make way into the boardrooms and creep into email chains, slack chats and teams channels.

There are 100’s of examples but here at Focus, we have collated our personal favourites and put into a handy corporate buzzword bingo card.

Business Buzzwords From 2021

Below is a more detailed list you have likely heard each one this week

Bang for buck
Blue sky thinking
Break bread
Bring to the table
Buy in
Circle back
Closing the loop
Deep dive
Game plan
Get ducks in a row
Get shit done
Hack hit the ground running
Hard stop
In the pipeline
Lean in
lets circle back
Let’s take this offline
Low hanging fruit
Lunch and learn
Move the needle
Moving parts
No brainer
On the radar
Open door policy
Pain point
Put on the record
Reach out
reinvent the wheel
Signing from the same hymn sheet
Special sauce
The bottom line
There seems to be a disconnect
Thinking outside the box
Under the bonnet
Up the ladder
We are like family here

Turn Buzzwords Into A Game

If you wanted to create a game with your leadership team, you could treat it like a swear jar for every mention of the buzzword you could donate the money to charity or put it towards a team meeting for when you can safely meet up or have a working from home remote lunch together.

Sign Up

If you would like weekly suggestions for you and your leadership team sign up for our weekly leadership newsletter in the form of an emailed letter.

Business Performance

Why No Meeting Days Need Transition Plans

I think it is safe to say, meetings have always considered an essential part of the working day.

Meetings have however become one of the main factors of the broken world of work.

I believe I can safely speak on behalf of almost all of us, lockdowns (and quarantines) have made back to back meetings feel like it is the only way we can do our daily work.

This is definitely dangerous and a broken way of thinking and a broken way of work.

Deliberate With Meetings

In most organisations, they have not defined when, why or how to host or have meetings. This is causing stress, burnout and meeting fatigue.

If you have worked in a fully remote or fully distributed team, you know meetings are essential parts of projects and campaigns but will often slow down important work. So deliberate reasons for meetings, brainstorms and quick asynchronous standup have been vital and calculated to get the most out of “meetings”. If you have ever spoken to someone who has worked fully remotely, they will tell you deep work is essential and arranging your days around meetings slow’s the flow and projects right down.

Meetings = Burnout?

At the end of 2020, Google introduced no meetings week, as I wrote then, this move would have from the outside seemed a good idea to prevent burnout but internally the anxiety levels would have increased and many businesses are not set up to align, agree on progress or make important decisions on email threads and instant messengers like Teams or Slack.

Many organisations I have spoken to over the last nine months have suggested meetings in person moved online and onto video as default, with the same structure of meetings, the same decision process is happening, now just more slowly or with more but shorter meetings to gain alignment.

More meetings do not help, they take more time, add more opinions and add more complexity to your workday, this is actually causing more fatigue and potential burnout.

Back To Backs – The Exec Problem

Even the most senior and well-supported company executives burnout from back to back meetings, if you speak to anyone at a mid to large-sized business in a leadership role, their calendars are back to back to back. For some this is the way they have learnt, others this is the way they are expected to lead. For most this is a choice and ripples through businesses.

This back to back theme became the norm in the early 2000’s and has plagued organisations since, this is where a HiPPO should lead and ensure the company knows this is bad practise and does not enable productive or positive working environments.

A Dive Into Meeting Stats

  • With the move to forced working from home, we now average 6.9 meetings per day
  • That’s a 13.5% increase YoY
  • Meeting lengths
    • 31% of meetings were 15 minute meetings long
    • 36% of meetings were 30-minute
    • 20% of meetings ran for 60 minutes
  • Studies found that staff attend on average 62 meetings per month, where ~50% of the meetings were considered a complete waste of time.
  • 50% of meeting agendas are recycled – this can help and hinder

These many meetings mean we do not have time to recover from meetings and digest what was said and the actions that need to happen. Frustrations with meetings, the time it takes away from you and the feelings it creates are known as Meeting Recovery Syndrome. MRS is an important component of your workday and is one of the most misunderstood parts of the day.

Running late on video calls on the surface seems to waste more people’s time, with six or more people staring at pixels and inspecting the backgrounds of their colleagues, a meeting overrunning also brings more stress and anxiety, this zaps more energy from meeting attendee’s meaning MRS is heightened and tension builds from meeting to meeting. MRS is taken from one meeting to the next.

Unfortunately just not having meetings or reducing down meetings with bad habits, is not going to positively change how your company or agency operates, it will reduce some stress but will apply more pressure on the meetings that take place and will see more internal communications that has not been planned for.

Meeting Design

Meeting design is a whole category business should dedicate an owner to, research, adopt and introduce company-wide.
Learning how to craft meetings, being thoughtful of those who need to attend, why they should attend, what time they should attend, the work required pre-meeting, the reading materials supplied, the crafted vs recycled agenda are all essential parts of making one meeting a success.

Fewer Meetings Vs No Meetings

Trying to turn this off and reduce meetings down when we are having more meetings on the surface seems a good idea but second-order thinking will allow you understand this is a bandaid approach that many businesses will struggle to help their teams adopt.

No meetings will help reduce a day to two of stress providing it is planned for and the campaign, project or product leads understand how they are critical parts of reducing stress and organising around previous poor workflows could and should work.

Are No Meeting Days Possible?

No meeting days is not a new concept, the concept has been around for a number of years and has enabled a number of people to get their head down and get their work done.

Company-wide no meeting days has been an answer many businesses have tried but has failed for mass adoption or success, this is typically down to organisations who rely on meetings to make decisions, relying on meetings to keep management up to date with what is happening and misalignment on work being mixed up with meetings.

No meeting days will be possible if you build-up muscle memory up towards no meetings, you have to remove the friction points (for example decision making only happening meetings) and then enable them to happen over email, project tools or instant messenger. Having a company-wide agreement that is followed by the most junior to most senior is essential.

No Meeting Days Plan For Success

Meeting free days actually take a number of months to transition to, there are many reasons but the most important to note are

  • To build a company-wide agreement of what a meeting is and is not
  • To build confidence no meeting days can work
  • To enable teams to move away from meetings, stand-ups and in-person and hybrid status updates
  • To replace the reliance on meetings to make decisions
  • To replace decision making in meetings with an agree process, whether this is on email, on chat, on a dedicated document or on a project management tool.
    • A decision document will be an important step to increase awareness of decisions and why these take place.
  • To build a new way of asynchronous communications.

The way the world is changing and the way many have already embraced working remotely and from home, we will see meetings play an essential part of the hybrid office, this will however require work, investment into people, tools and processes and agreed to company-wide principles to follow these, even when projects go off schedule, things hit the fan or the HiPPO demands a meeting.

The ways to win:

  • Reducing down meetings is being more deliberate with what a meeting is, is not and what you have to achieve from the meeting
  • It is knowing what the outcome of the meetings are and then giving the company and teams a chance to create more deliberate and considered communications asynchronously.
  • This methodology reduces the requirements for meetings, you build up muscle for making decisions away from meetings and ensure the company know when they are deliberate, they win vs requiring a meeting to make progress.
  • Remove the busy badge of honour and replace it with deliberate communications and thoughtful work wins and knowing that they can trust each other and no meetings days to win.

Recommended Reading

Stats Source – Otter

Business Performance Company Culture

The New Hybrid Office – The Arena

At the start of the year, I spoke at a number of virtual events, at The Future Of Work & Workforce presentation I introduced the concept of the next office, the arena. Although the office had performance based work and many performed for their audience at work, we are seeing the shift to the hybrid workplace.

The hybrid future is going to be a forcing function to revamp the office, changing the HQ from a traditional office, to the office 3.0 – the arena.

The Office Was:

The agreed place to perform a series of work tasks. 
To improve the performance and revenues of the company.
A place to develop and advance your career. 

The Arena Is:

The place to bring people together with a shared connection or love for something. 

A place: 

  • To connect 
  • To collaborate 
  • To guide 
  • To perform  
  • To entertain 
  • To put on a show  
  • Enable (safe) collaboration  

These are essential elements of contrast but also of similarity, many of these elements were seen in the office, they were not clear elements of the office much thought of or understand.
These elements are going to essential parts of embracing the hybrid future and enabling success for all staff whether they are working in the office, a designated satellite office or working remotely or working from home.

Why The Shift From Office To Arena 

  • We will need to be able to collaborate in small groups in bigger spaces 
  • Mandatory based trust 
  • We have seen remote & WFH work & be productive 
  • There will be a demand to offer flexibility 
  • We will need to be able to create presentations that are interactive, enables in-person and remote presentations with the same experience & interaction 
  • Enable shows like in an arena meaning tribal surroundings of safety alongside ensuring you have the best equipment for streaming high-quality audio and high-quality video – for live broadcasts and on-demand replays. This is close to live concerts streamed or sporting events broadcasted 

In the rest of the actionable presentation, I discuss the importance of the office, the importance of the hybrid workplace and how you build for the future by amending the office into an office as an arena for people and business successes.

I include tools to use, ways to think and concepts to consider when approaching the office as an arena and building for future successes.

The Actions To Take:

  • Adapt your office into an arena, build-out safer larger spaces in existing or new offices, invest in technology; video, audio, connectivity and purpose-built software not just forcing the current software to do the job¬†
  • Invest in better IT software and hardware, invest in to better microphones, better webcams or connecting smartphones to work laptops¬†
  • Value others time – be deliberate in reducing grabbing or stealing others time¬†
  • Adopt principles, write internal memos, share & explain interactively i.e screen records etc¬†
  • If you are large enough consider building satellite offices to enable onsite, not offsites¬†
  • Build out hybrid offices and look at membership to offices so it is flexible and safe, that offers choices to your teams¬†
  • Invest in tools developed for hybrid offices, virtual HQ‚Äôs, project and campaign based tools that enable video recordings, screen recordings via tools like Loom¬†
  • It is essential to bring teams together by building stronger bonds and connections¬†
  • Help departments connect internally through better relationship building and being more deliberate with asynchronous communications – deliberate > over-communicating
  • Help cross-functional teams understand objectives & create the right kick-off meetings and engaging updates

If you would help redesigning your office or converting your office into an arena and develop your environment, happily get in touch.

Want A Copy Of The Office As An Arena Presentation?

For a copy of the Office 3.0 Office As An Arena PDF please click the button below to request a copy.

Welcome to building the future, The Hybrid Future.

Danny Denhard

Business Performance

Why over-communication is a bad recommendation when working remotely

You have likely read and heard that you should over-communicate when working remotely.

Over-communication is a terrible recommendation for the remote workplace. 

Communication has to be thought through, deliberate and timely. 

Taking time and flow from others is similar to stealing valuable time and energy. 

Deliberate communication is far more important and far better advice. 

A quick update is rarely quick if the update is not thought through and concise.

Communicate often but be more deliberate. 

Think communicate often vs over communicate. Clarity over having to work through the confusion. 

Create milestones where you will need to communicate.
Understand who needs the update, when and how you will deliver it. 

Channels Are Important 

Communication takes time for both parties, the receiver often has to decode what the sender means, you will be stuck in slack or teams for much longer than you need to be. 

Understand what channels and delivery methods are going to work most efficiently for you and your business. Every business ultimately works differently. 

Not everyone is built for video updates, however, adding audio over a spreadsheet or a document (presentation etc), allows for a richer experience and less need real-time conversations. 

Connect The Dots 

Communication is supposed to connect important dots – connect the dots on projects, campaigns and performance.
If you would like to update on personal situations or would like some help, don’t be put off Рchoose who can help.
It is important to understand that grabbing a few minutes to discuss remotely tends to be harder and more time consuming than quickly in person.   

Communication Principles

Create a set of principles you and your colleagues will follow. What channels work, what times work, what your expectations are. 
Communication principles will enable everyone to follow the same rules on the same tools.

Different Timing

Understanding how, when & to take the opportunity to communicate is harder remotely but can be worked out. Grabbing someone coming out of a meeting, returning to their desk, bumping into them in the hallway or kitchen doesn‚Äôt really happen, there are ways to help with this, by adding statuses on internal chat tools, enabling calendar views and having open rooms where you pop in for virtual HQ chats. 

It is also important to know having your own time for your own thoughts and deep work is important, keeping those around you updated will be important, a reminder or blocking time out will work. 

Internal Comms Battle

On many occasions, internal comms is often harder than external comms. Internal comms has to answer many more questions. Internal FAQ‚Äôs or project hubs will help improve this and keep everyone updated simply. There are plenty of tools available to help with this. 

Decision Document

Create a decision document or centralised document to have a timeline of updates, if you miss one update or miss a link in the chain, the wheels should not come off.

Leverage Tech 

Use spreadsheets, words, pictures and record video explainers were required. 

Tools like mmhmm, loom, canva & even instagram all make it free or low cost and possible to create explainers. You can also create this style of internal update on Macs or your smart phone.  

Five Quick Fire Tips 

  • Secret no-one wants to offer up: Save time for you, colleagues, your team &/or your boss, this feels obvious but time remotely is priceless 
  • Have communication hubs, have internal wiki‚Äôs, shared knowledge centres you keep up to date. This will reduce quick questions and long email threads 
  • Always question: Can I remove meetings and write a concise update or update the project overview and send a link instead? 
  • Consider the RACI (responsible, accountable, consulted, and informed) model of updates 
  • Can you use BLUF? BLUF is a military communications short for bottom line up front, it is essentially communicating with the most important details first, with clear tone and a clearer ask. 

Recommended Reading