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Why organizations don’t want to accept flexible hours and remote working and why they really should

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I always thought that employers are afraid of remote working, because their full time employees would work less. There’s no trust in self-organization and the fact that we cannot see what they are doing form 9 to 5. (What if they are sleeping or doing laundry?! A nightmare!)Image

There is that of course, but more than that, employers are afraid that employees won’t work more. Companies are afraid that if we don’t have to work from 9 to 5, we will have more incentive to be efficient and achieve the same result in less hours. Because then we can spend remaining hours doing something else. 
 
What happens if you do your work in less time while in the office? Leave early? Not really, because that would mean you “don’t have enough work”. If you do your work too fast, you’ll get more work, because you show your potential of being able to do it. Of course, there are people who enjoy doing what they do and would love to work more. But wouldn’t they enjoy more work regardless of where they are? Most likely, even in the home office they will make sure to be visible for their results and be awarded with more work. 
 
And then there are others, who would enjoy having some free time to pursue other life goals and finally achieve a bit balance in this work/life challenge. They don’t want to escape recognition for actual results, but not necessarily want to fill all their remaining free time with more work either. Maybe they can take on more work and still finish earlier, then don’t they deserve the hours they saved?
 
So while employers dont want to give people freedom to work less hours than they could, what they achieve is people not having motivation to fully use their potential.
 
You might think I am talking about lazy low performers. “This is not the kind of people we need!” you would say. Maybe not, but face this – people more than ever want to make sure they don’t miss out on life outside of work. They want to try different things, learn new skills, travel the world, spend more time with loved ones. A lot of them happen to be also very talented at what they do. They just don’t want to work for the sake of more work. More interesting work, maybe. In the organizations however, following multiple restructurings, employees are already doing the job of two (at least). As we know, to get promoted we ask them to take on additional responsibilities to see if they can cope. The raise? The raise will come with the promotion. Soon, they say. Employees are overworked and under-trusting. It’s time to re-think the way we treat them or we risk losing the most innovative, passionate, curious and efficient employees.
 
How does organization need to change to adjust*?
 
– Award for results and not time spent in office. Make your office a hub, not a day-time prison. Give employees freedom to have flexible hours, be able to work remotely, as long as they keep up the results.
– Set realistic goals. The worst you can do it throw at employees more than they can handle in hope that they’ll do most of it. You think you’re ‘challenging’ them, when in fact you exhaust them of work that is never done and no free time to live. Give them incentive – if they do work faster, they can enjoy their free time.
– Rethink your promotion techniques. Keep your promises, if you want to throw more work at someone ‘to test’ – make sure it is time bound, agreed and followed upon.
– Redefine High-Potentials and High-Performers in your company. Not only people who spend nights at the office deserve promotions. In fact, while you’ll get more done on short-term by promoting overworked people, it’ll be a wrong message and a culture to promote.
 
It’s a culture change, but if you want to succeed – it’s time to be relevant for the new generation of work force. Besides, wouldn’t you want to spend more time on life outside of work? 
 
And here’s the life proof of how it happens in real life Because Dilbert never lies.Image
 
 
*Yes, adjust. This is no time for rebelling and enforcing policies or you’ll lose your best people.
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Get efficient, prioritise and dont be afraid to work less

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Remember last time you were trying to get off a conference call you knew would be a waste of your time? What was the excuse that you used? Or did you just suck it up and tried to multi task during the muted call instead?
 
Often when giving a reason to avoid being involved in unwanted meetings or calls, we have to say we’re too busy, we have other arrangements or something urgent came up. Why do we have to justify freeing our schedule by being “busy”? Why “being busy” is something people eagerly understand? Of course because often its true. But if we say its an acceptable reason, means we’re cultivating certain respect to being busy and having a busy schedule.
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What we really want say often is “I’m trying to be efficient and participating in this call has no added value to me, I’d rather go home and spend time with my family”. 
 
Prioritizing. 
 
But not in a way that you use all the time available for work and prioritize within it. Throw your personal life in a mix and prioritize that as well. Consider value of every activity on a larger scale of your life. You got 24 hours a day, how do you spend it? Do you really have to be on that call? Or can someone summarize 2 hours of talking in a brief email? Or maybe even that has no value to you at all. Don’t even read it then. As long as it doesn’t effect your short-term and long-term results – be efficient to work less. And maybe do something else more. Its your choice, but its good to have that choice. 
 
Where to start? Stop drowning in unnecessary calls and meeting.
 
– Rethink you being present at meetings and calls: 
     – If its just about listening in, maybe someone can summarize the output of it in a brief message afterwards
     – If you need to contribute – ask about specific time when you need to dial in
     – If you a part of discussion – request the objective, the input information, so you come prepared and make it short
 
– Stop mute-multitasking while being on the call. If you are doing that – means you don’t need to be on that call. Either be present or hang up.
 
– Look at your schedule, what is the % of conference calls and meetings in your day? How can you decrease it?
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Cultivate efficiency instead of a culture of being-busy. Make sure its clear what is valued more.  Let people around you be efficient in work to be able to prioritize other things too.

Great things you realise once you lose your job

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When I lost my last job and didn’t find myself diving into a new one straight away, I spent few months “in between” and promised myself that once its over I’ll write about it, so i don’t forget what this time meant to me.

Not having an employment contract, monthly salary and daily routine is only one side of losing your job. Finding yourself on the edge of vulnerability, learning how to ask for and accept the help of others, having to deal with change, expectations, uncertainty, reinventing yourself and going far outside your comfort zone is what you really get. Here are few things I’ve (re)learned during this time and why it was worth not having a job to do so.

Building relationships by letting go

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How to retain people through learning to let go and why company-centric cultures are not any longer working.

In between restructurings, talent upgrading and performance management we seems to have lost the art of building long-lasting relationships – although it is so simple and all it needs is a little bit of an attitude change.

When I was in the University I was involved in an amazing non-for-profit organization. I was engaged, committed, worked day and nights simply because I believed in my work and shared the values of the organization. In fact, 5 years later, I still feel I am a part of it – because it united more than people currently working there – it united people sharing the same values and vision. 5 years after my last project with them, I would still gladly support, help and get involved if needed. How many people would gladly do that with the past companies on their CV? That is when the concept of “loyalty” takes the whole new meaning.

There are few lessons I believe companies can learn here about building long-lasting relationships with their current/past employees:

  • Build organization seen as community of shared values, vision, principles rather than an “employer”. Employers come and go.  Values stay for a lifetime.
  • Value employees for what they are and what they want to achieve in life, not only in your company. Allowing them to be honest and driven by their true passion, might cost you an employee in a short term (it would anyway), but would earn a future customer and informal promoter.
  •  Take pride in being a part of someone’s career on the way of unleashing their greatness. Of course you want talented people to stay and become the next CEO. But let’s be honest there’s only few roles of that level in the company, and we still want ambitious people with us – so maybe we should be ok with letting them continue reaching their ambition somewhere else.
  • Be ok with people not staying with one company forever. It is not even healthy – we all need diverse experiences, different perspectives, change to continue growing. Since we love hiring externally, maybe we should be ok with people consciously deciding to leave.
  • When employees leave  – don’t slam the door in their faces, keep it open. Regardless of whether they decide to go or their manager decided to let them go, keep the good relationship, celebrate what they did while being here, wish them good luck in whatever they decide to do.

There are already quite a few organizations in the world that have Alumni networks. Just by having one companies state that they appreciate people that were there at some point of their careers, regardless how long they stayed, they were part of a shared experience. These companies recognize the changing world and celebrate themselves as those who were and keep attracting the brightest minds and support those in their aspirations.

Many companies see this change of attitude as a risky encouragement of people leaving and failing making a long-term talent investments. But in reality, treating and appreciating people in this way would result in higher engagement, increased retention, better reputation on the market and would attract diverse ambitious talented people you always wanted to hire.

It’s time to realize that organizations on their own are not the centre of the universe. We are: the people regardless of the position or role. Because we change working places, we grow, we have our reasons to engage, and if we decide, the organization would cease to exist and something new would be created.

We all have our own paths and our greatness to achieve. All the roles and positions are simply the steps and tools to deliver the greatness. Organizations should understand that and change. As so should we by consciously  taking charge of our careers.

Post #1: the one about Great Jobs

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As organizations we all want to have people on board who believe they have a great job. Those are most motivated, committed, creative, productive people at work. As individuals we all wish we had a great job, as it would make us happier and more excited human beings. So what is a great job?

We learnt to believe that it’s not about only about the job content; that people don’t leave companies – they leave managers. I believe while bad managers can be a trigger for a final decision, there is more to work that makes it “great”, and not just “ok”. Here are some of the key parts of a Great Job:

  1. Job itself: what we do on every day basis, how much meaning we see in it and how much it inspires us. Let’s say, if it were your own business and if you didn’t need money, – would you still be doing this?
  2. The journey: are you supported in your journey with knowledge and development you need to be successful in your job? Do you know what ‘success’ means in your job? Are you clear on the direction you’re moving in? Are you recognised and appreciated for your work?
  3. Leadership: do you in heart support leadership decisions; do you feel ‘on board’ with the company’s direction? In day-to-day life, are you supported with the right type of leadership that helps you to be successful?
  4. Team environment: team spirit, team culture, team dynamics. If you could choose your own team, – would these be the people you’d surround yourself with?
  5. Working environment: does office culture encourage you to be yourself and appreciates your uniqueness? Are office traditions aligned with who you are and what you value?
  6. Working space: does your office physical space encourage development, innovation, exchange of ideas? Do you feel it’s a ‘playground’ for your every day work? Do you feel excited coming to office every day?
  7. The role of work in life: is your work an organic part of your life? Or does it stand on the way of living your life outside of office? Are conditions of your work flexible enough to accommodate your lifestyle and changes that might happen in your life?

Consciously or subconsciously, these are the key things that make you happy, excited about your work, motivated every morning to kick off yet another working day. And at some point these will be pros or cons for “should I stay or should I go” decision.

So these are the things I’m excited to explore further, write about, reflect on or challenge on! All with the belief that there’s a better way to work, and it is in our interest to find it.