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Company Culture Leadership

Lessons From Apple’s 3 Day A Week Return To The Office Situation

Apple recently wrote to their employees and suggested they were going to be rolling out a three day work from the office rule to start in September.

Tim Cook (the Apple CEO) suggested in an internal memo that most employees will be asked to come into the office on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays.

Many tech firms have landed at three days per week back in the office. This shows how important to the business that internal collaboration, proximity and secrecy plays vital roles to the business.

Apple’s Past Leading The Future?

Apple is a product company and is notorious for secrecy, keeping their tech projects top secret and reducing any leaks is their primary objective.

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Anonymous Career Advice

Will An Off-Site Help My Team Connect?

This week, we have had a couple of questions around how will team and business leaders get their teams to collaborate together or will specific activities help bring teams more closely together. 

Dear Focus, my team haven’t spent any time together for over a year, will an offset help them to connect? 

For many, the last year has been a year where many have struggled to keep in touch with their colleagues and connect at a deeper level vs when in person.

As humans we are built to connect at a deeper level, small talk and social cues are essential to us to understand where we are and if we are safe. 

Knowing how you connect peer to peer helps bonds form, herding to happen around collective goals and then tribes to form.

What we lost when remote is the connective layers of relationships, we need to start repairing this, creating events where we can connect firstly as people, but then importantly as teams, departments and companies.

For the most part of the last twelve to fifteen months: survival and sanity have been the name of the game. 

High performing teams can take up to and over six months to connect without any changes. We have a year of change to address.

We have had to put ourselves first and ensure we have a job, we have some security and we get through 2020 and 2021 as safely as possible. 

Off-sites are often a brilliant way to connect a small group of people, typically a quarterly event is a great way to organise and create alignment around common goals and important bonds you wouldn’t get to know outside of an organised event. 

Unfortunately, the side many do not talk about is some offsites can be challenging, often hard work and many around the table will not want to open up and trust can be lost, all of these things need to considered and engineered to encourage openness, airing issues and talking through issues. 

There are obviously a few questions you will have to answer: 

  1. Is this going to be safe? 
  2. I haven’t been around a group of people in a year, can you ease teams into this? 
  3. I don’t want to time with these people, why should we?  
  4. Can we not do this remotely?
    Or in hybrid? 

It is important you answer the first three directly, I will help to guide you with 4.

Be Deliberate: Being hybrid will be challenging, you will always seem like a B team player when remote, technology is still not ideal for remote people in offsites, it can however be done by ensuring you have the best tech available, they are asked their opinion and you have signs and a chair to help guide the hybrid event. 

Two More Factors: There are two core factors you should consider when looking at off-site or on-site. 

The first is to connect the team first and then let work talk take over, you will need a schedule but allow it to be more flexible than previous off-sites and have an agenda and pre-reading everyone reads and provides feedback on. 

The second factor is connecting teams around delivering a dedicated workstream that is just for that group. The project is important to achieve a sense of achievement together and build a connection to winning something as a group. 

Wider Company Connections: An off-site or series of off-sites will help form a company subculture, a team bond or leadership team bond, it won’t answer the bigger issue of addressing a company-wide cultural connection issue.

Doing something grand and reviewing strategy will be essential however these have long lead and success time and connecting to a project that you can win around will be key to connecting.

So the TLDR answer is an offsite will be essential when safe to reconnect in person and it will provide you with a way to connect colleagues together.

The important element to success is being able to connect around the campfire, around food, stories and experiences.

Good luck and enjoy planning those on-site and off-sites.

Remember the office as an arena is a way to think about organisational design and success.

Here’s how we can help you.

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Friday Focus

Friday Focus – 26th February

This week’s Friday Focus are five text messages you will have to think about when planning your return to the office or planning the Hybrid Office.

These questions will help you improve your working environment and build a better hybrid workforce.

1/ Fears around returning the office and not liking their colleagues .
Action: think about how you make the office more inviting and applicable to everyone.

2/ Your team’s not wanting to return to a soulless co-working space.
Action: Think about how you reduce the stress of co-working spaces, how you enable better conversation and more deliberate work.

3/ Many colleagues will not want to return to the office.
Action: The office for many builds anxiety and causes stress, how will you be able to improve their experiences and build spaces for better concentration and deep work.

4/ Expecting your team members to come into the office as some managers do not know how to use certain software.
Action: Think about how you will be able to collect training requirements and reduce stresses for colleagues who could have worked remotely or from home to get more work done.

5/ WFH was much easier for some individuals, how are you doing to enable those who found it easier to work from home vs asking them to work back in the office?
Action: Consider how you enable booking in and booking out of the office, how you encourage those who work better remotely to stay connected.

Remote & Distributed Work Resources

For some ways to shape your thinking, we have two dedicated posts that will help and guide you through some of these struggles

Categories
Leadership

Proven Tips To Reduce Working From Home Stresses

Here are five proven tips that I have found that reduces working from home stresses for me and Focus’ clients.

Walk And Talk Meetings

Meeting dictates our mood, our delivery and our flow throughout the day. Get vitamin D, fresh air and new views to reduce down MRS and meeting anxieties.

Walk and talk meetings, turn one to ones into walk and talk meetings. These were great in the office and great out of the office. I personally like these when no one has to present. If you need to switch on the camera and have an iPhone leverage FaceTime audio and this enables you to switch on the camera.

In our leader’s letter newsletter; optimise your meetings, we touch upon meeting recovery syndrome (MRS) and why it is so important to vary and improve your meetings.

Schedule Pro

Communication fatigue is a battle we have always faced, never as challenging as with our remote-first, forced working-from-home situation we find ourselves in across the global. Scheduling will be a bit step to winning.

Use scheduling email features to clear 30 minutes of your day.
Emails take up hours per day, scheduling emails to send at the end of the day or the next morning will free up your time of unwanted responses or late pings.
If you are a leader you can leverage the internal out of office settings to notify those around you of your working hours.
Use scheduling in apps to prevent notifications from work apps.

Daily 30:15 Time Blocking

Time is the battle ground that everyone fights to win. Win by owning your time and using calendar blocking.

Block out the first 30 mins and last 15 mins of your day to plan and debrief your day.
The 30-minute morning session: Write a quick five most important actions to complete for the day ahead. This helps to clarify what is most important and a guide throughout the day.

Clients have said over the recent months that these 30-minute sessions help to structure writing a letter to their team.

In the evening, write down five points that are occupying your thoughts. These can be the most important projects, the people you want to pick projects up with, the people you want to proactively reach out to or the essential communications you need to send.

Remove Camera View

Being on camera remotely is a performance. It is challenging and a battle, reduce this stress down.

Hide your own camera/view on video calls and hide all non-video views. This will prevent you from looking at yourself and being interrupted by those who have called in and flashing through video calls.

When you run your own working from home retrospective, these are all tips that will help guide you forward as a team, a department or as the company as a whole.

Leave The Home Office

Working from home is new to so many professionals, it has become challenging to leave work. Learn to draw a line and create deliberate boundaries.

Block out the area of your living for work and close the station down, shut down the laptop, place on the chair out of view, place notepads, coasters, post-it notes etc on top of the laptop.
Clear divide helps to shut off and a clear space = clear mind.

In the very near future, in the future of work and the workplace we will likely see working from home (or remotely) take up 70% of your working and knowing how to draw the professional and personal line will be imperative.

Setting ourselves up for success in the Hybrid Office aka the Future.

If you would like to understand and plan for the future of work and the hybrid workplace, download our Hybrid Workplace Ebook Here.