Categories
hybrid office

Why Hybrid Work Is Struggling & Why The Office Was & Is Far From Perfect 

2022 – The New And Old Dynamics Colliding

We are in a standoff, the conditioned ‘office is best’ versus the more modern approach of work is not location specific and you don’t need to physically together to work and collaborate. 

The easiest way to explain the office versus hybrid (and remote) is policing and boundaries and not being able to learn newer ways of working and making it work against your own biases (particularly those with proximity bias). 

The office had clear boundaries – workspaces, communal areas, and “meeting zones”.

Most knew when you were having private vs semi-private vs public conversations. You had a number of variables but most knew what these were: 

  • At your desk 
  • In an open booth
  • In a call booth
  • In a breakout space
  • In a conference room 
  • Outside of the office
  • Headphones vs no headphones. Headsets vs no headsets. Background vs no background 

Those who didn’t were often policed by colleagues (or then HR).

The Office Environment 

The office was noisy or quiet, it didn’t have a perfect balance and often the most political debates were about how to move teams away from Sales and Marketing departments. 

The decisions we made on the fly were complicated and required constant scanning in full offices, meeting zones free or full, what were the requirements was it a one-to-one, a breakout group, or a follow-up to the management meeting (where the best conversation leads to action), a team stand up, a weekly department meeting 

The surfacing of this is the Product and Engineering area or this is Marketing’s area – it made it easy for some, hard for others, it was like entering the lion’s den for some and others easily entered and exited unscathed. This happens in every business and it is down to work status, title status and knowing how to operate in work/social and work/work situations. 

Not to mention, the always bubbling beneath the surface, the air con wars, the ongoing conflicts of who ate my avocado, this is your seat (despite disliking those around you) and the constant social dynamics of where you sit and who you have to sit with or when you decided you had to work from home to get your work done. 

These cultural moments and company culture movements create subcultures, all combining into how colleagues consider what a toxic workplace is for them and if this is a workplace you want to work at for the mid to long term. 

The New Considerations: 

  • Where are people working from: Work — Home — Third space. What type of work are they doing there? 
  • Working in third space pros vs cons (the implications of having conversations that might include spending, budgets and company finances, firing and then attempting to interview in a coffee shop as its easier to navigate than the office) 
  • How are we going to manage and balance the requirements of a meeting in IRL aka In person vs URL (virtual) and what if its split down the middle, half in the office meeting room and then others outside it 
  • Habits die hard (habitual and routine) – it takes 88 days for complex habits to be forged and now in-frequency leads to fewer habits, leading to less footfall in the office. 
  • It is important to note bad practices and bad habits are easily picked back up, with poor meeting etiquette being the easiest. Examples are those with headphones versus those without. Those in the room (physically) versus those who dialled in 

The questions you should now answer to make the environments work

  • Did you change the office? 
  • Did you re-onboard your teams to the office?
    Without onboarding new colleagues and existing colleagues, how will you create a great and equal environment? 
  • Did you make the office less daunting or less chaotic?
    How have you adapted the office to pre-2020 feedback and more recent actionable feedback around the office set-up? 
  • Did you make the office more appealing? 
  • Did you introduce neighbours where colleagues would interact and collaborate and know it was safe to do so?
    How did you challenge the status quo and improve connection when many professionally unfollowed each other and unfollowed leaders
  • Did you reshuffle what the office meant and how you removed the chaos?
    Without change, you will be forcing employees back into a broken system
  • Did you improve the software and tech to improve when working hybrid?
    Force fitting zoom to every use case is hindering businesses.
  • Did you attempt to build less reliance on meeting and real time decision making?
    Have you looked at embracing async work and more in depth deliberate discussion in writing, audio and short form video?
  • Did you interview and continue to gain feedback from the teams? 
    Without feedback and discussing what feedback you received and the actions you take is removing all the hard work and hard decisions you made
  • Have you renamed working from home to – working from workplace home?
    The bias and conditioning can be removed with reframing. 
  • Have you created a decision document?
    Helping the whole company understand how and why decisions were made? 

There is an art and a science to the chaos of the office, many struggles to grasp the art and don’t understand its importance (many just do not understand PQ and are never taught office political intelligence). The chaos was deciding what’s important and what’s not and where to be and how to act as a constant test and challenge. 

The hybrid office and working style is something so many did not make a plan for, they didn’t create a deliberate working shift to improve the quality of work and consider how to improve company culture and company performance. 

How you and your fellow business leaders react now is going to set the tone for your next 12-24 months. 

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Now Listen To The Fixing The Broken World Of Work Podcast

Fixing The Broken World Of Work With Briony Gunson 🧘‍♀️ – Focus Podcast With Danny Denhard Fixing The Broken World Of Work Podcast

This episodes guest Briony Gunson (https://brionygunson.com/) is a business + mindset coach, meditation teacher + trauma-informed breathwork trainer, Briony helps individuals and businesses to improve.  Follow Briony across social – LinkedIn, Instagram, YouTube.  The Links:  Briony's Introduction Video On YouTube Podcast: Aubrey Marcus – not about the world of work but psychology, spirituality, human potential + behaviour Book: Breath: The New Science of a Lost Art  by James Nestor Newsletter: Brain pickings AKA The Marginalian has a free Sunday digest of the week’s most mind-broadening and hear Sign up to Briony's Friday Feels newsletter: https://bit.ly/3AiEOv9 – Briony archives them on her blog.  Listen to Briony's guided meditations on Insight Timer, e.g. this is a popular one: https://insighttimer.com/brionyg/guided-meditations/letting-go-meditation-12-minutes Briony also recommended Kirsty Hulse's work (Kirsty is great and gets my co-approval) Briony takes us on a journey of: Mental health and why it is so important to be aware of How mental health is evolving How your mental health can help to transform physical health Why early morning open-air swims have been so important Therapy and therapists role in peoples lives Why breathwork is so important Why our bodies are driven by our breath and controlling our breath Why Yoga is vital to so many of us Personal development starts with you Everyone is facing similar challenges – it's how you find the best course of action Why retreats are going to so popular and a necessary part of life and work You are the expert of yourself – why starting to listen to yourself and your body is so important
  1. Fixing The Broken World Of Work With Briony Gunson 🧘‍♀️ – Focus Podcast With Danny Denhard
  2. Fixing the broken world of work podcast with Colin Newlyn 🏴‍☠️
  3. Fixing The Broken World Of Work With Peter Hopwood
  4. Fixing The Broken World Of Work With Andy Reid
  5. Fixing The Broken World Of Work With Jo Twiselton
Categories
hybrid office

Why Hybrid Is Not Working For You

Many of us are twelve to eighteen months into Hybrid work

We have seen many thought leaders and business leaders have their say, whether it is good or bad for their business. 

For the most part, we have been working on a variety of “hybrid” since March 2020. It is not new and despite being frustrating at times, businesses just haven’t reshaped their own business to make this workplace environment work correctly. 

Some industries have fully embraced hybrid, invested in the right infostructure, the right tools, the right ‘in office’ cadence and been flexible to accommodate the new requirements during the pandemic. 

Others have defaulted back to full-time in the office, often stating culture and then performance as the main drivers for returning fully to the office. 

When questioned the move back to the office full time is about a control culture.

The hardest decision many leaders have had to make is what is right for this business and how can we shape the business to be performance first and many landing on pre-March 2020 setups. 

Why is hybrid not working? 

Software 

  • Many have forced fit the wrong software to attempt hybrid work 
  • Many companies are relying on software to make the hard decisions for them – software will never make the right decision for your specific business it builds for mass problems, not your business problems 
  • Businesses have replaced whiteboard sessions and idea sessions with Mural or Miro and the ideas still are not revisited and creating a worse experience
  • Poor software choice makes ‘time’ a more important factor and highlights when you feel like you are wasting time 
  • Businesses have moved to default chat rather than default work, a lot of chat happens and is signalling in chat apps (like slack and teams) but this often means context is lost, a lot of conversation requires translation and delivery slows 

Meetings 

  • We have relied too much on meetings and working in meetings in real-time, meaning there is no time for deep thought or intentional thought and analysis 
  • Meetings are often taking 60% or more of people’s work time, this is not allowing time for deep work or true collaboration 
  • Almost every business fails their teams by not allowing their teams to succeed with the right agenda templates, with the most efficient ways of communicating post meeting  
  • Many have not discussed or worked with those companies who made the decision to go hybrid or fully remote. Learning from others and hiring these as consultants will help to reshape your business 
  • The common complaint is decisions are only made in meetings and follow-up actions get lost 

Culture 

  • We have allowed managers to have their own rules and many middle management are used to policing in person and trust is secondary 
  • Lack of training for hybrid work and training managers who are used to in line of sight management 
  • There were limited workstreams to build intentional hybrid culture – more than just a few quizzes and getting everyone in the office on a specific date, culture requires dedicated workstreams, workshops, departmental principles created, what is good and bad hybrid behaviours. 
  • There has been a lack of reshaping of the HR team to accommodate hybrid, many not having the training or trust to help support and train managers in hybrid environments, all combining in culture taking a hit
  • The leadership team have struggled to designate one culture community manager to build a hybrid culture and reward away from department leads and traditional HR methodologies 

Workplaces / Environment 

  • The office was not reshaped and is not an environment helping to make work fair 
  • Home is still not considered by most as a workplace despite having worked from home for many years, often to get their head down. The definition of home should be replaced with workplace home and considered a place for deep work 
  • Many businesses have not enabled their workforce to understand if it is private, semi-private, semi-public or public work, meaning many are in the wrong locations for important fully private work. Private is financial work, important one to ones, layoffs, reshaping your department, and pitching to management. Many one-to-one’s took place in coffee shops were semi-public, and team meetings are often semi private as the content of the discussion or working session and should not be held in an open space or in open coworking spaces

Ways to address hybrid issues 

  • Have the courage to make important decisions in improving the core areas, software, meeting, culture and workplace. If it means running tests or trialling these, it important to build these muscles  
  • Build out the right hybrid software stack, create a list of requirements and why current tools do not work and what you require from specialist tools. Many tools will be low cost and reduce friction versus being seen as an additional cost 
  • Create pods to tackle these core issues, no leaders usually mean no action  
  • Use statuses to reduce interruptions, green, amber, red lights to encourage fewer interruptions and allow more focus 
  • Make the intentional shift to async work, embrace more thought-written debates – remove the need to quickly ping someone a brain dump of thoughts in mass groups 
  • Leverage new tech, offer the ability to use audio notes, to record a “Story” based on the spreadsheet to explain why it is formatted this way, embrace wiki’s and formats that encourage thoughtful comms 
  • Remove the real-time decision-making by creating one and two pagers to really inform and keep colleagues abreast of the most important information. The best companies have created templates and frameworks for their teams to use. Very often the best Product Teams have this already and could be tweaked for the other departments to adopt 
  • Always justify why this meeting wasn’t an email in the meeting request 
  • Build out the right frameworks and templates to improve meetings and making the decision does this need to be a meeting or a working group. Internal costs of meetings and meeting recovery syndrome are core problems within a business that many are overlooking or misunderstanding the knock-on effects of 
  • Remove proximity bias, in sight management is hard, hybrid is harder, bring in coaches and training companies to help retrain managers and improve the quality of management within your business  
  • Build out EQ frameworks, remove IQ and PQ as the main incentivise drivers within your business  
  • Make the office a workspace more equal (be inspired by LinkedIn hybrid approach to the office)
  • Ask for feedback from the team on how to improve core sticking points 
  • Rephrase working from home or working from anywhere to workplace home/workplace coworking / workplace satellite office.

Good luck creating the right environments for hybrid to succeed. Hybrid is more a choice, it is a working style that requires iteration and intentional leadership.

Resources To Support Your Move To Hybrid 

The free hybrid work guide

Designing the hybrid office guide  

Simple ways to improve company culture 

Ten misunderstandings of good company culture

How to connect with company leadership team

What makes great hybrid leaders and hybrid managers 

Categories
hybrid office Leadership Strategy

Free AOP and LRP Resources 

A dedicated list of free AOP and LRP resources from Focus.

Site data is a great indicator of what is happening in the market and how management teams are operating. From the focus data, it is clear to see what phase many companies are operating at and what activities they are undertaking. 

It is clear many businesses are in long-range planning or revisiting their annual company-wide strategy. 

Below are the most popular and most useful free resources to help you with your AOP’s (annual operating plan) and LRP’s (long-range planning).

Resource Link
(Click below to jump to the free resource)
Use Case / Why To Use
Annual Playbook Template For Company-Wide SuccessA free template to use to create your one company-wide strategy
The Difference Between Mission, Vision, Strategy & TacticsThe explainer behind why you need to understand the difference between mission, vision, strategy and tactics (and why you should concentrate on the flow of information)
The Focus Corporate Speak Bingo CardThe corporate buzzwords we overuse (this is extremely popular for LRP and creates fun moments when LRP are notoriously tense)
The Lessons From “Why Coinbase Shut Down Woke Activism”Lessons from Coinbase’s deliberate move to remove external political factors and focus on work. Great to understand if you want a top-down company culture or flowing culture
Andy Jassy’s Masterpiece MemoAmazon CEO’s comms masterpiece, a framework of how to use written communications to your whole company. 
Should Companies Remove Chat Apps Like Teams And Slack?A resource to help you understand if you removing instant messengers and chat apps like Teams and Slack will drive positive change within your business and remove the busy badge of honour
Hybrid Work GuideA free detailed hybrid work guide, 35 pages of actionable tips and tricks to make hybrid work for your business
Decision DocumentHow to improve communication within your organisation with an asynchronous document explaining key decisions and how the decisions were made and importantly why. 
Rethink The Leader – Manager – Coach – Mentor – Operator DynamicAn exercise to understand the different dynamics and a way to rethink if you need more managers or actually need to look for more coaches and external mentors
Free Internal Get To Know Each Other Profile TemplateSomething all businesses struggle with is getting to know colleagues and ways to formalise getting to know each other. This template is popular for new and promoted managers 
How To Fix A Toxic CultureSays exactly what it does on the tin, a guide on how to fix toxic and bad company culture

If you are looking to receive the best frameworks and insights on leadership, company performance and company culture, sign up below:

Categories
hybrid office

LinkedIn New Hybrid Office The New Office Standard?

Something that many companies are attempting is to reshape their work to enable hybrid work.

LinkedIn has been deliberate in their approach to reshaping their work for the hybrid office to leverage tech efficiently to encourage better hybrid working environments.

Having worked in small family businesses to large listed companies, the office is a workplace that can often be a competitive advantage and create environments of trust centred around people and performance.

LinkedIn’s reshape is one of the standard redesigns to be proudly shown and here is a great video (below) from the WSJ.

LinkedIn Hybrid Office – Workplace Design

The Breakdown:

The name: “Building 1”, it spreads across six floors and is designed for up to 1500 people.

What did they change?

  • Old: 1080 workstations – 1 employee 1 desk
  • New: 569 workstations with 75 different types of seating
  • Changing other workspaces into new spaces and a variety of spaces to encourage deep work and focus and quick collaborative meetings.
  • Desks turned into seats to encourage more flexible working styles and use cases (not just booths)
  • LinkedIn adopted to ‘Neighbourhoods’ – half alternative seating and work spaces and half traditional where teams can work (these are currently non-designated seats, not restricting collaboration and encouraging hotdesking).
  • Designed with people first in mind: their methodology was: the amount of time in the space x activity with ergonomics = output.
  • Unassigned decks so neighbourhoods are completely flexible
  • Meeting Rooms Reimagined
    • LinkedIn attempted to remove the formalities in formal meeting rooms to enable hybrid work (those working from home versus those sitting in the meeting room)
    • Hybrid collaboration is key, with the new tech built into the meetings room where cameras point at the whiteboard so it makes it a clear and collaborative experience is key to embracing hybrid work
  • Introduced new co-working spaces
    • One new space is the cafe, coffee space and co-working space (this is becoming more common and reducing the need for many 1-2-1’s from going out for coffee or having to meet in other locations)
    • Adding in more booths – smaller time periods and collaboration space
  • “Leading with trust”

One standout was the LinkedIn approach to the future of work being an opportunity to experiment and learn from the data.

Is this the future of the office? Right now it is the closest to companies really rethinking work and rethinking what workplaces should be.

Need More Helpful Resources?

Hybrid Work Tools & Hybrid Software Guide

The Hybrid Work & Hybrid Meetings Guide

How To Win At Hybrid Office Politics?

Leaders Letter 85 – The Only Way Non-Traditional Office Work Works Is If Leaders Lead

Categories
Company Culture hybrid office

Shopify Bursts 

In recent months there has been a lot made of rethinking what work looks like and how you balance remote, hybrid and full time in the office.

The demands are very different, some are taking steps like removing chat apps, we have seen slack take a digital first approach to presence, Dropbox and Front take different approaches and the big tech giants like Apple and Google fail in moving away from brand and perk based cultures, while Coinbase is struggling with top down driven culture.

Here is how Shopify are making deliberate steps in improving team work and collaboration in their remote first working environment.

What Are Shopify Bursts?

A fresh way to look at getting the remote teams together and focus on deep immersive teamwork. 

What Features Does It Have?

  • An internal web and internal app that books flights, Hotels, Food and even Experiences 
  • It has an automated check-in process and enables easy collaboration that works for the team or department looking to get in real life and connect or collaborate.
  • Choose what type of thing. Pure work and social activity. 
  • It is important to note this was all in-house built and really connects to the deliberate ways Shopify like to work. 

What About The Offices?

  • The offices were turned into “ports”, where group work and collective problem solving and connections are being made.
  • Access to old offices. Retrofitted community spaces for teams and departments to come together. 
  • The offices become locations and have a booking system – encouraging smart work and times for teams to come together or parts of the teams to come in and work on problem-solving

The data from bursts become available to the leads and prompts a burst over a set period of time and encourages connection and in-person collaboration.

The whole process has a rating system to keep score and ensures it connects to Shopify’s data-driven decision-making.

I personally can see why companies like Shopify have thought through the first to third-order effects of bursts and in-person collaboration. It takes on what the likes of Automattic have been praised for, for years and brings teams together when busyness gets in the way of thoughtful leadership.

The question to ask yourself moving forward: Could you adopt this approach? Or are there elements you could develop out to improve hybrid work and reduce the cognitive load on managers – I would hope so.

Want to know more, listen to:

Listen to Brandon Chu the VP of Product at Shopify explaining his take on product and how bursts work best:

& Shopify COO Harley Finkelstein’s discusses the new set-up and how Shopify & Amazon can play in the same space

Be inspired by Shopify in other smart ways

Leaders Letter 104 – If I Were To Take Over The Company Tomorrow What Would I Do? 

The Key To Winning Business – Be The Power P: The Partner, The Platform, The Piping

Categories
Business Performance hybrid office

Should Companies Remove Chat Apps Like Teams And Slack?

In recent weeks, we have seen numerous issues with internal conversations being shared and leaked to the press from internal slack and Teams chats.

Elon Musk Issues: One of the biggest examples was from Elon Musk’s company SpaceX, 2600 staff were concerned over their CEO’s tweets. An internal memo raised a number of concerns and a number were fired, with the SpaceX COO commenting:

“We have too much critical work to accomplish and no need for this kind of overreaching activism”

— Gwynne Shotwell. SpaceX COO

This is a pretty extreme take on genuine concerns raised.

Elon Musk’s recent town hall at Twitter was basically televised via slack and commented in real-time externally via journalists’ accounts. With Bloomberg sharing insights.

Brian Armstrong Issues: Coinbase is another large company example, with the staff concerned over the performance and misguidance from the Chief Operating Officer, Chief People Officer and Chief Product Officer, addressing concerns in their open letter. Coinbase also had issues with political issues throughout 2020 and 2021.

Many other companies have seen issues with tools like Slack and Teams where departments convene and raise concerns or create tribal movements to challenge the leadership’s direction or raise issues externally to force a conversation when ignored internally.

Social Networks Vs Work Communication Apps

These tools act like social networks with reactions, video and photo sharing and often groups forming around non-work-related topics, leading to internal debate and disconnect. When these actions occur, this often causes internal movements to apply pressure for the company to respond to external political topics that the company often never would have.

As we saw from the SpaceX example, we are seeing a lot of hard kick back (including firing) from large firms.

Much of the debate centres around a ‘them vs us‘ scenario, however, are the chat-based apps becoming less work-related and too centred around the private chatter.

A question to answer at a partical level and importantly an operational level? Can you focus work apps around work? Ask 25% of your workforce in an anonymous survey and it will surprise most c-suites.

Hybrid Work Not Hybird Chat?

Hybrid work relies on asynchronous and real-time conversation, many opting for real-time and long threads in slack or Teams, making this the centre point of work rather than software tools like Asana, Monday.com, Notion, Google Docs or Office products.

Remote companies have worked through specific guides and do’s and don’ts for chat-based tools. Without chat apps, these firms would greatly struggle.

Many departments and colleagues fail to remember the apps are there for work and developing out projects.

Teams sole focus is to connect the Microsoft suite in a team-centric environment. Enabling everyone theoretically to stay on the same page and get work done.

Slack is focused on bringing your digital presence to the workplace through API integration and quick decisions and cross-functional project hubs.

For many, chat apps were the saviour of forced work from home in the height of Covid, many relying on chat apps to stay connected, keep company culture flowing as best they could and be introduced to new colleagues via apps like donut.

Would there be a huge backlash if you decided to phase out your chat app?

Would Removing Non-Work-Related Chat Work?

An issue that has spanned over a decade, could you remove non work related chat from apps like Teams and Slack? Do colleagues simply move their conversations to group chats on their personal devices and over to apps like iMessage and WhatsApp?

Rightly or wrongly, we know a number of managers move to text messages when they need a quick answer and remove boundaries, is this where leaders need to really consider the work life blur and respect that email is for x, chat apps are for y and workspaces is for z (async and deep work)?

Could you remove Slack Or Teams tomorrow?

The likely answer in most execs head is a simple yes.

To most underneath the C suite or founder team it is a hard no.

A few years ago I had to put together a business case for Slack over Teams, the business was reliant on Slack for the integrations into automated reports, for alerts into news items and we were deeply invested in channel management for effective real time work.

Removing Slack would have meant a number of issues for the business and a wealth of knowledge (in conversations and workspaced) removed – this would have removed many different working styles and history of sales conversations, pitch decks and a huge number of celebrations of how we worked under pressure and numerous micromoments and micro events where we beat out competitors and achieved hyper growth through real time collaboration in our newsroom approach.

We were lucky to have a rigirous workspace async working principle that helped us to centralise the most important information.

Many do not have these style of work and struggle to keep up with email, chat apps, team hubs and workspaces. Removing the chat app over night would mean a huge change to the business and a loss of huge amounts of invaluable information that would not live anywhere else.

Removing chat apps sound good in theory but in principle, it will require a huge amount of planning, a huge shift for most working styles and force a step change in communication.

Is there better and more effective operational ways of working away from chat apps? Yes.

Is it worth removing chat apps and centralising conversation around more async documentation – likely but this won’t work for those untrained from this working style and in hybrid and remote work it could actually do more harm to performance and culture.

The Move To The Work Metaverse

When Microsoft, Slack and many other companies see themselves as the work metaverse, it is going to be a challenge to remove your companies and department’s reliance on Teams or Slack. Particualrly when the work metaverse promised more immersive settings and presence in remote and hybrid meetings.

The question for many to answer moving forward is – can we concentrate work on projects and campaigns and remove the tribal working nature enabling all colleagues forming together? Or is chat apps a vital part of modern day work and there will have to be more policing on usage and policy making around chat apps. Most likely.

All in all, removing chat apps will be a huge undertaking and will need such intentionality you may just push colleagues to email, private documents (like open Google Docs) and workspaces.

Categories
hybrid office

Future Of Work Inspiration – Farming

Why Farming Is Working From Home / Hybrid Go To Example We Should Be Using

Farmers were one of the first and only industries that worked from home and then adopted hybrid work.

For thousands of years, farmers have been effective and operating in hyper-competitive markets.  
Alongside this, farming is a seasonal business, that can wipe their business in days. There are many more comparisons.

Farming is comparable to most office work and office reliant companies. 

Why? 

  • Ever-changing workforce / staff 
    • Full time, Temp and remote workers all are commonplace in farming
  • Working with local and international suppliers
    – similar to most businesses, their produce has to be sold internationally and across multiple timezones
  • Offering samples of products – 
    either in person or sending out to potential partners and reviewing together online or remotely
  • Covers all business areas and often has to pivot based on seasonal changes and demands from suppliers (like supermarkets). Farming covers all business types including:
    • B2B  
    • Wholesale
    • B2C
    • B2B2C
    • DTC
  • Have to leverage network effects
  • Have to drive and build Product, Marketing, Ops and Logistics 
  • Hybrid has been a default for years  
    • Finance often managed hybrid 
    • Analysis and analysts off-site are essential to improving performance and selling the right product
    • Collaboration (in the cloud)  
    • Management team meetings are often hosted remotely, particularly when investors are involved or international family members are part of the SMT
    • Growth plans are often collaborated asynchronously and discussed across zoom and video calls
    • Working on the road – Farmers have often had to work on the road and from anywhere, especially when working on their land or when commuting to partners and suppliers
  • Bot and human collaboration – farmers have trusted robots and automation for a generation and this is an area to ensure operational effectiveness and drive business scale and growth
  • Working with and trusting new technologies before mass adoption
    – new automation, new equipment, new forms of delivery, adopting drones and software. All areas where farming evolves faster than what many consider more advanced industries

All of these factors have helped farming to evolve with and ahead of the times. Next time you and your leadership team misunderstand hybrid work and moving with the demand, embrace the way of the farmer.

Categories
hybrid office Leadership

The Future of Work – Is The Forced Return To The Office (3+ Days Per Week) A Modern Day Loyalty Test? 

Apple’s three day return to the office recently came under scrutiny when their Machine Learning lead Ian Goodfellow announced he was leaving Apple stating
“I believe strongly that more flexibility would have been the best policy for my team.”

The question many are not asking is, is this part of the company’s strategy to add control back or is it a test to work out whether hybrid can work?
Or is this part of a company-wide strategy to add more guardrails (less chance of interviewing, harder to organise interviews etc) to control the great resignation from impacting their business?

Apple is a notorious company for keeping projects secret and it is well documented their internal secrecy around new projects. Brand and products are a huge competitive advantage for Apple.

Is this really the reason for Apple’s non-flexible stance? Unlikely. 

There is often an argument and firm belief that the best talent leaves first, especially in a market that is weighted towards candidates. 

To be clear, this is not the first or last example of talented individuals leaving however it is the first that publicly suggested working styles and returning to the office is the main factor. 

We will see many more high calibre individuals leave for the same reason, whether they are in the same position to make this statement we will have to see. 

Loyalty Doesn’t Work Both Ways?  

Is this today’s CEO loyalty test, is it suggesting to employees this is the way you show your loyalty to the company by working within the office environment? 

Most likely yes, however, only certain companies would be brave enough to try this approach, Apple, Google and very few others have the brand equity, stock options and base salary to do this. 

Especially in a market where Uber, Meta and other previous powerhouses have hiring freezes and only backfilling essentials. 

With high wages being paid by cash-rich companies and from the web3 space, we are seeing a systemic shift towards flexible work and companies that understands the demands of modern work. 

Many businesses are allowing managers to set their own working schedules with their teams and in some rare situations at individual basis, this always comes under scrutiny, however, with most large businesses setting the tone for other businesses who blindly copy, the one rule of returning to the office three days per week, is likely causing cracks and creating sub cultures within your business. 

Google’s it’s ok manifesto received huge support across LinkedIn in 2021, however, Google has been clear about the move back to the office and its continued investment into the likes of London Kings Cross is clear their long term future is in person first. 

Rename Home To Workplace

Right now the best thing any business can do is rename home to workplace, remove the conditioned work that happens in the office and remove the pandemic PTSD around forced work from home is the same as working from home in a more open work world. 

The questions many are not answering: 

  • Is three days the right amount?
  • Why do we need teams in the office? 
  • How do we adapt our office for hybrid working?
  • Does collaboration actually happen effectively in person? 
  • When most work is in real-time (in meetings) and over zoom is being in the office offering the best work experience? 
  • How do we improve our hybrid tools
  • What is the best possible hybrid work experience? 

The other issue many are encountering has allowed poor management practices like internal policing from bad and middle management. Proximity bias is slowly killing companies inside out.   

Think Differently: 

Digital First & Work From Anywhere Movement

Airbnb has been bold to suggest in the US you can work from anywhere and your salary won’t be affected, is this a PR play or does the Airbnb management team truly believe they learnt enough and listened to feedback to suggest this is the best way to keep talent happy and attract talent. 

The answer is both, it is a PR play and it is a move the management team back, so the winners are those who want flexibility and those who believe in their vision of the future of work. 

In a recent Forbes interview, CEO Brian Chesky suggested Airbnb had over 800000 visitors to the career pages. Airbnb famously went over and above in 2020 for the teams they had to lay off and opened up their careers hub to help their employees find new work.   

Slack’s digital first approach is winning over many, it centre’s around enabling a change of thinking around what identity is within a business and in person is the old way of working. 

Twilio announced they are approaching work as a remote first company, potentially this way you can improve the way people interact and consider working from different workplaces like “home” and other offices.

Slack’s parent company Salesforce is now listing job roles by timezone, not by location emphasising the importance of flexible approaches. 

Dropbox has redesigned its offices and rethinking what in-person work looks like is a good reminder of what smaller companies are doing to improve work and stay competitive. 

Easy Question: Simply ask your teams why they used to work from home in 2018/2019/early 2020? 

It is most likely they worked from home to get their heads down and get their work done. 

If you couldn’t make the office environment work before 2020, you will struggle to make the office work in 2022 and beyond. 

It is time to rethink, reshape and rebalance the office/work environments. 

Other ways to consider reshaping work are to: consider satellite offices, hiring workspaces based on the commute of your employees, hiring workspaces based on the projects they are working on and moving to asynchronous work versus real-time work. 

Will 4 Days Per Week Work Better?

In the next hotly debated topic will a move to four day work weeks help? Unlikely, however, smart companies like front have tested and rethought what 4 days per week might look like and why flexible Fridays at Front are working.

4 days per week only work if you can work in a new constraint and have rethought what work works like and what success looks like in 4 days, not 5. 

Consider, is it 40 hours of work per week you can rethink rather than working a set 4 day week (like Wednesday are non-work days), as logistically this will be a much harder shift in mentality. 

The Future Of Work Is…

It is clear the future of work has evolved past even the smartest business operators and past the way many conditioned leaders can envision the future. The future of work is what we make of it, so make it better, make it flexible and create environments where output is valued more than location and hours worked. 

Supporting Resources To Help Make Smarter Decisions 

The A-Z Of Leadership in 2022

The importance of DNA documents and agreed principles

5 smart ways to rethink the work week 

Will a strict return to the office help my team get back together?  

How to handle back to back meetings?

How to rethink perks in hybrid work?

Categories
hybrid office

The Three Current States Of Work

There are three current states of work, the traditional, fully remote and hybrid.

The question is for many, will this stay and why they could or could not work for the business.

The three sections will help you shape your thoughts and understand if this could work for you or your business.

Existing / Traditional 

Office based 

“09.00 – 17.30” 

Ideal for: workers who like the only one way to do it, who like their desk, their mug, their routine. Understand that proximity bias is important and meeting culture is part of the game. Typically struggles to work from home. 

Implications: We will see a good % of employees move roles or move companies to find a better balance and working situation for them. Many large and existing businesses will welcome the turnover. If you are unsure of going back to the traditional set-up, consider how quickly you could change your current hybrid work patterns and how long it will take before old bad habits and behaviours creep in.

Will this last? Yes, in many traditional industries and many businesses trying to force change to their organisation after lockdowns and slow periods of productivity. 

Categories
Business Performance

The Best Business Podcasts in 2022

Podcasts had another big year in 2021 and with the huge number of business podcasts, it can be difficult to understand which is a good episode and what is a must subscribe and must-listen podcast series.

Below is the best podcast series to subscribe to (and why) alongside listening suggesting the best recent episode from the podcast series.

Invest Like The Best

Why Listen? Brilliant variety of guests with questions that really make what they actioned and achieved, actionable.

Land Of The Giants

Why Listen? Brilliant deep dives into verticals or companies that have changed the world. The Apple revolution is a must listen.

The Knowledge Project

Why Listen? Probably the most bang for your buck podcast, packed full of gems and brilliant questions.

Masters Of Scale

Why Listen? Constantly great guests telling their stories and their approaches, rapid response is a series on the feed which has been a brilliant series in the pandemic and helped understand how other businesses have approached it.

Starting Greatness

Why Listen? Brilliant short podcasts with incredible guests from all across different industries but one underlining theme, how did the guest become great.

How I Built This

Why Listen? Love stories about how companies started? And how they become successful? Guy Raz is the host and podcast series for you.

Danny In The Valley

Why Listen? Danny is a journalist who has covered tech and silicon valley for over a decade, Danny manages to have diverse guests who really want to answer big questions and inform you of their product usually linking to their mission of fixing something broken.

Recode Media

Why Listen? Peter Kafka is one of my favourite podcast hosts, an informed look at the media landscape with piercing questions and quite often challenges the guests to answer the questions they just won’t want to. Very informative with great guests.

Thinking Is Cool

Why Listen? Host Kinsey (and her cofounder Josh) are on a mission to explore important topics and themes and really help you think or reshape your thinking. This Web3 primer is essential listening for any business looking at the future in 2022.

My First Million (MFM)

Why Listen? MFM divides a lot of podcaster fans, if you like ideas aplenty and breaking down how some businesses have become successful this is for you. If you want inspiration on how new and smaller businesses will explode in the next few months then this is for you. Some business leaders will think this is “bro’s” together but many episodes give away absolute nuggets.

Remember you can listen to my podcast series

Fixing The Broken World Of Work

https://open.spotify.com/episode/734afnZBTpZiDjwB9bcXuX?si=qW_pMhMkT_ixDcTyITOL8Q

Or

The Future State Of Podcast

https://open.spotify.com/episode/3MsLK1GTRCJffpy4u85TuL?si=sVQn2Dw1QxuL0YNqXO8jgA