Are you caught up in the debate about the merits of returning to the office?
There are plenty of differing opinions out there about what is the best choice to be making.
Now, people do jobs for which the only option is to be in an office, warehouse, or other location.
The weird thing is that I’ve seen these types of jobs used as a reason why everyone should return to the office.
I don’t accept this reason.
I’ve been reading arguments for why returning to the office is right, as it will help promote innovation and productivity.
I reject these arguments and, at the same time, understand why managers might think they’re true.
To start, the business world spent decades advocating for how teams collaborate more effectively when they’re in the same room.
To be honest, I was caught up in spouting the same types of beliefs.
Now, I do believe there’s some truth in how collaboration is more effective when people are face-to-face. Despite that, during the pandemic, we’ve proven working from home can be equally as effective.
Here are three things to consider when wanting to ensure productivity and innovation remain high while allowing people to continue to work from home:
- What are you worried about?
If you’re paranoid that people working from home aren’t productive, your problem isn’t with productivity.
Your problem is that you need to trust your team members.
This lack of trust could occur for numerous reasons.
And there are better solutions for building trust than installing monitoring software. I guarantee monitoring software will only destroy any trust that may exist.
What’s the answer?
As a leader, trust starts with you.
If you wonder something like, “But how can I trust them if I can’t see them.”
Tweak your thinking to, “How can I trust my leadership when I can’t see them.”
Think about it. The ability to see them is a superficial measurement of trust between you and the team. After all, you could see someone, and they might be failing to produce any outcomes.
Rather than worrying about whether you can see them, pay attention to the outcomes you expect them to produce.
If they are producing the outcomes, then why are you so focused on your ability to see them?
To build trust, start with a conversation with the team. Be a little vulnerable and tell them it’s unsettling for you and that you want their help in making a work-from-home or hybrid arrangement work.
Then, work with your team to identify the measures and symptoms you will all be looking at as a way to know that working from home is working fine.
Finally, set a date in the future to revisit this discussion and re-examine how working from home is working and ways to make it even better.
- Become a master at forming great teams
Telling a group of people they’re a team doesn’t make it so.
There are some specific steps involved in building great teams.
One of the biggest challenges I’ve encountered with distributed teams is time zones.
From my experience, when you have team members more than a few time zones apart, you will experience problems.
Take, for example, if you have members in the UK and others in Eastern time. These team members have four to five hours difference in the time of day.
This means either one group starts at a crazy early hour, the other works late into the evening, or they only get 4-5 hours per day to collaborate.
Let’s go more extreme. What if you have a team member in a time zone with a twelve-hour difference?
People will accommodate this for a while, but eventually, team members are reduced to collaborating only a couple hours a day at best.
From what I’ve observed, teams with a three-hour or less time zone difference need help accommodating the gap without impacting their collaboration ability.
Next, great teams don’t happen accidentally or because you had a social time.
Great teams happen because of the science of teamwork.
To build a great team, there are several steps you must follow to support them.
A. Align them to a common purpose.
B. Help them get to know each other better.
C. Have them build a working agreement to define how they will be together.
Hint: None of these steps will be completed during a social event.
Do you remember 2020 when we all suddenly had to learn what it means to work remotely?
Returning to the office won’t be any easier.
Maybe. Just maybe. You should also be talking about whether it makes sense to return to the office.
In life there’s no moving back to the past. There’s only moving forward to your new reality.
You’ve got this.