For decades, many organizations – if not all – prioritized showing up no matter what for their employees. So, the employee knew what they were expected to do and how to achieve this, so they went to the office, and many of them took pride on their early starts and late finishes on their desks, even when they have been sick, some of them still showed up in their office. And for their managers it was an easy way to glance their timecards to know how much “work” they have done.
But last year, things have changed dramatically. When we were struck by the pandemic, as there was a spontaneous and obligatory shift from going to the office to working remotely. And many of them have continued this way ever since.
Without visibility into attendance, People’s reliance on time has faltered. Managers cannot control their direct reports anymore, as their team members are scattered across millions of home offices all over the world.
Many generations like mine have relied on attendance. If you showed up on time, you knew you were good. But now as you cannot show in the workplace, so this simply does not work anymore.
There was a commercial a few years ago where you saw the CEO of a company who used to arrive to the office incredibly early in the morning, and leaving extremely late, and it was mentioned by the narrator that there was only one employee who was already on his desk when he came in and was still there when he left late in the night. And that put a smile to the CEO’s face and he even acknowledged it with a nod.
But now times are changing – what really matters now?
According to a study by the Economist Intelligence Unit (https://lostfocus.eiu.com) the average office worker lost almost a third of his/her productive working time to manyfold distractions.
Because, working in open-plan offices and open-space workplaces, the disturbances and distractions became greater.
And we all know, based on our own experience, and supported by many studies, that after a distraction you need time to refocus and concentrate again on your current work.
The Economist Intelligence Unit reported that the main source of distraction among office workers in their office is the face-to-face interruptions from colleagues about work-related-tasks and responding to work-related emails.
To summarize it: Distraction comes from other people.
But this is not new to anyone who has worked in an office. We all have more and less productive working days with more or less distractions. But we have to be aware that the outcome of these circumstances means that we look more productive rather than we actually are. Surprising? Not really.
This has an enormous impact on the company’s performance, because the hours spent at work but not productively working add up. And lost productivities costs companies billions every year.
As the pandemic and its effects on our working environment started last year, remote working (home office) was quite rare. Estimated figures show less than 7 % of office workers stated that their company is offering them telework benefits or flexible hours and these figures changed with the start of the pandemic to 42 %.
So, for millions of office workers around the globe there was an abrupt change – from going to the office every day to staying at home and working remotely overnight and often without adequate preparation.
So, while attendance was a part of their performance rating during their annual review conversation with their managers, this is not applicable anymore. Moreover, they received regular feedback on their performance and team contribution.
Managers now can only focus on output. Many of them wonder what their employees are doing all day alone at home. Mistrust of the team can be a great hindrance in this process as well. But I strongly believe that the cultural shift towards output and away from working-hours worked will be very beneficial for everyone – companies, teams and individuals.
Especially considering that more and more Gen Y and millennials are entering or have already entered the workforce. For this group, free time management, in addition to meaningful activity, is not an insignificant criterion. Managers have to understand that your main job now is to encourage and inspire their employees to work smarter and find new ways to work more efficiently and be more productive. Trust and support them.
But they have to be aware that the shift from time-focused way of work towards result-oriented is not always easy for everyone.
This means that managers are now more challenged to develop their people by communicating their expectations much more clearly and also making sure that each individual has understood exactly what is expected of him/her and how they will achieve it.
Individual one-to-one feedback sessions and discussing required skills, goals and strategies should be an essential part of remote working. Managers should encourage people to lean into self-evaluation. Coaching the team properly becomes more and more critical. Coaching towards setting day-to-day goals, and also to check if the individual goals are aligned with team and company goals to improve the work performance. More time and focus on team and individual coaching rather than just managing the team or the individual employee.
As many organizations with older executive and management teams were and many still are very skeptical of remote working, they will be challenged in the next months and are well advised to adapt quickly to the new situation, because there will be no turning back, even if many don’t want to admit it just yet.
A great chance for both – management and team – to learn and grow.
There is an excellent opportunity with remote working for both sides to re-define work itself and re-think the focus in the workplace. It is time to decouple time and productivity and we have to re-orient our thinking that can lead us to more empowerment of all roles. Focus on the improvement and optimization of progress, change and achievement.
It’s time to reinvent your leadership approach, and along with your new leadership style maybe re-invent the whole structure of your organization as well.
Pinnacle has been supporting people who are willing to become leaders, through one-to-one coaching sessions, workshops, trainings and working on the mindset. We have several programs and flexible designs for leadership.
Pinnacle® is a multi-country consultancy firm. Our consultants are spread around the world; with 70% of our consultants are women. We have built our organization on modern business model with agility, diversity, and resilience to the business dynamics. We have chosen our technology platform to support our modern mindset thus we work from anywhere …. As work is not a place anymore. We implement Lean Six Sigma in everything we do whether internally or externally at our client sites.