Please Stop Telling Me Where and How to Work

Survey Says

Your opinion is essentially derived from nothing more than a Family Feud survey.

Long before there was a global pandemic, I worked with companies to develop strategies concerning the digital workplace. I advised that workplace strategies were important to the extent they allowed individual leaders to work with their teams and people.

Working from home, working from here or there is not a science experiment. Your opinion doesn’t matter. What does matter?

Leadership

Setting reasonable and honest expectations.

If you tell people, they need to come to work 3 days a week because you read a book about “collisions” that’s ridiculous. If you require people to come to work for a valid reason, be open and honest about it. If you expect them to come in because you want them there (nothing more), be open and honest about it. If they don’t like it, they will leave. If you play this bullshit game about how it is good for productivity, they will leave. Yes, before the “great resignation” people were leaving because leadership was telling bologna stories about productivity, they read from some professor of ding dong diddly doo at Big Bird University.

The truth about productivity and happiness in the workplace has more to do with respecting people and being honest. Corporate bullshit is the true reason companies struggle with productivity. Tell the truth, treat your people like adults, let them make decisions on what works for them and their teams.

Setting Conditions

Honestly, I was prompted to write this post by so very many frankly stupid posts over the past few weeks on working from home. I’ll also share that very recently; I have seen trends (personally) where companies are monitoring every aspect of employees’ work. If you want to erode the extraordinarily little trust and loyalty you have left with the employees, this is the best way to achieve that goal.

People services and leadership when it comes to taking care of people in large companies has gone the way of the chat bot. It’s canned answers with canned questions and the companies are trading out people like Pokémon cards. The worst part of it is that when people come into the organization after they hear all the wonderful things, they are disappointed by reality. The reality is that companies don’t know what they are doing when it comes to taking care of people. The first and most visible issue is working from home. If you are being monitored in your own home, the company may have the ability and right to do it, but this doesn’t demonstrate trust.

If you are worried about how much time a person puts into work, you are worried about the wrong thing. What outcome are you looking to achieve? This is different from the time a person sits in front of a computer at their designated workstation.

I am also curious as to how people have forgotten what happened to the planet when everyone stopped moving like ants on the hill. Less consumption of resources, less pollution, more time at home, and the list goes on and on. It is absolutely true that there are good reasons to get people together, but it is also true that forcing everyone to travel into an office is flat out dumb. Not clear enough?

If you want better productivity, better outcomes, and happier employees, be honest and create policies and guidance which outline what the organization is looking to achieve.

If you tell people what you are looking to accomplish and give them goals and objectives, they will exceed expectations.

Empowered people make things happen.

The other thing you must do is to make technologies available to them for communication, collaboration, and productivity.

Working from home or the office should be between two people not an organization. The organization can and should set the standard and expectations but that is it.

The frame for communication should be expressed clearly.

Mission, Vision, Scope of work, and the expressed clear view of the digital workplace along with the available tools for people to use.

If you can’t express this information you will fail. You will lose people. If you don’t trust people, you will fail. If you pressure the whole workforce to work in a specific way without a valid logical reason, you will fail.

If you want to be successful, express trust, develop a respectful relationship, be open and honest about your needs and expectations. Stop with the bullshit studies, they don’t matter. Allow direct line leaders to work with their people individually and develop patterns that work for them.

You want to get the best from people, be the best to people.

2 Replies to “Please Stop Telling Me Where and How to Work”

  1. This all comes down to lazy and/or inexperienced management. They’re focused on managing “time” instead of “outcomes” because it’s easier to monitor when someone is keeping a chair warm than it is to manage engagement and delivery.

    Successful managers recognize that their role is to enable the people under them to be successful, to align those people towards a common goal and then to provide them with the support and tools that they need to get the job done. The old adage is “Lead, follow or get out of the way”. Nowhere in there is “monitor attendance” or “time bathroom breaks”

    If you set realistic goals for your people and provide the support to help achieve them, what does it matter when, where or how they did the work? The value to the company is the same. The only difference is that, as a manager, you’re forced to truly do your job instead of just taking up space and claiming that presence is a substitute for actual business value delivery.

    IMO, companies should start questioning the managers who are insisting on physical presence in the office. To me, it’s a sign of weak leadership and an inability to either 1) Stay motivated themselves or 2) to manage a remote workforce. In either case, the weak link isn’t with the workers. When it is, you coach and/or replace the individual worker. You don’t throw out the entire concept of a geographically diverse workforce.

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  2. Of course, the one reason that I’ve seen for this is companies that have a large investment in real estate that’s sitting empty. They’d rather kill productivity and morale by forcing people to fill those seats than to have to explain why they’re pissing away money on space that they can’t use.

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