How Many In Office Days vs Remote Days?

As the Easter break finishes many people are starting to go back into the office.  The fear of COVID and isolation is becoming a distant memory as Australia and many parts of the world have high vaccination rates and we head into herd immunity into the future.

I spoke with a supervisor who mentioned her people were coming back into the office and they were struggling with how to get the balance right for how many days in the office vs at home.  This is a complex question to be solved because each organisation will have different needs.  With staff wanting the flexibility of the workplace this is something that needs to be considered carefully.

According to the Steelcase Global Report, the majority of people expected to work at least one day a week remotely.  In Australia the research showed:

59% expect to work 1 day a week remotely

30% expect to work 2-3 days per week remotely

11% expect to work 4-5 days per week remotely

So what approach are you taking in your organisation?  Are you taking a fixed or flexible approach to your people’s working location and the number of days at each?

If you would like to gather some insights from the research of my next book and can’t wait for it, click here and we will find a time for me to share a few strategies with you that can assist you in making the successful transition to a hybrid workplace.

If you would like to see some amazing women (& men) speakers at the Future of Leadership and support Hands Across the Water, please click here to find out more and join us at one of the events across Australia occurring in May.  I will be speaking in Adelaide and Perth so it will be great to see some of my clients and friends that I have missed during the lockdowns.  Use the Promo code GETINEARLY to receive 10% off.

Is your workplace fixed or flexible?

I was speaking with a leader who commented about how difficult it was to retain and attract good staff.  When I asked him what their approach was to flexible work policy, he hesitated and mentioned, ‘We have not yet decided what our approach will be, but some of the executives are pushing to have everyone come back into the office.’

When I hear this, I get very nervous.  Many leaders have not developed their strategy for how to transition to a hybrid workplace that will get the best out of their people and offer the flexibility that people are looking for.  It’s not an easy task!

Although Apple is one of the most admired companies in the world, they are still working out how to make this transition.  In June last year, CEO Tim Cook announced Apple staff would work in the office for three days a week (Monday, Tuesday & Thursday).  The reaction?  Staff were pissed off!  Many employees pushed back strongly against this fixed model and wrote an internal letter demanding a more flexible policy (which of course was leaked to the media!)

There are 2 approaches that can be taken in how you determine your workplace transition moving forward:  Fixed or Flexible.

The Fixed Model.   This is when a group of Senior Executives and HR meet and determine what days staff will work in the office and what days they will work remotely (if any).  It usually is done to try to find a way to minimise disruption and simplify the approach.  Unfortunately this will only work if there are very high levels of trust and strong communication, otherwise it can come across as dictatorial and old school.

The Flexible Model.  The flexible model allows staff to have much more influence in the way they work.  This usually involves the Departmental Leaders working with their teams to identify the best days to work in the office as well as work processes used to meet these requirements.  A big advantage of the flexible approach is that staff have been involved in the decision-making process and feel appreciated and listened to.

So what approach are you taking in your organisation?  What would get the best engagement from your people and help to keep and attract the best talent?

If you would like to gather some insights from the research of my next book and can’t wait for it, click here and we will find a time for me to share a few strategies with you that can assist you in making the successful transition to a hybrid workplace.

If you would like to see some amazing women (& men) speakers at the Future of Leadership and support Hands Across the Water, please click here to find out more and join us at one of the events across Australia occurring in May.  I will be speaking in Adelaide and Perth so it will be great to see some of my clients and friends that I have missed during the lockdowns.  Use the Promo code GETINEARLY to receive 10% off.

Are you leveraging remote work to help your customers?

As many of you know I am a very loyal Qantas frequent flyer.  I normally spend many days flying around Australia, Asia-Pacific and the world speaking at conferences and working with leading companies to help leaders mobilise their people faster.  

I had a very interesting thing happen last week.  A Qantas flight that I was booked on to fly from Perth back to Sydney had been cancelled and they automatically put me on an earlier flight.  Unfortunately, this wasn’t going to  work for me as the conference I am speaking at would still be happening, so I needed to change the flight.

When I went onto the Qantas website, it would not allow me to change and instructed me to contact a call centre.  Normally, as a Platinum frequent flyer I have priority access and the most time I have only spent around 20 minutes on hold (of course spending about $100k per year on flights helps!)

What has changed?  I had to wait almost 4 hours on hold!  Wow, what a painful experience.  As I waited I received numerous calls from clients that I could not take in fear of being disconnected.

I know that the pandemic has been very difficult on airlines around the world, and I have now experienced first hand the impact.  It got me thinking of creative solutions.  With more and more people working remotely this creates an amazing opportunity for Qantas (and others) to go beyond the physical limitations of their call centre.  Technology now allows staff to work from home and fulfil their job by working remotely and dialling into the software needed to assist customers.  Phones can be routed to peoples remote locations and allow customers to get the assistance they need in a shorter time-frame.  Also this allows us to find and secure staff in different locations increasing the size of the workforce to help focus on the customer need, ultimately leading to more retained customers and more profit!

Of course getting a hybrid or remote workforce to be effective takes more than a few redirected phone lines, but it shows what is possible.  If you would like to gather some insights from the research of my next book and can’t wait for it, click here and we will find a time for me to share a few strategies with you that can assist you in making the successful transition to a hybrid workplace.

If you would like to see some amazing women (& men) speakers at the Future of Leadership and support Hands Across the Water, please click here to find out more and join us at one of the events across Australia occurring in May.  I will be speaking in Adelaide and Perth so it will be great to see some of my clients and friends that I have missed during the lockdowns.  Use the Promo code GETINEARLY to receive 10% off.

Choosing to work in the office or remotely

I had a great conversation with a leader last week who was struggling with how to balance their staff working in the office or remotely.  Her challenge was she had many customer-facing roles that required them to be available to clients in person whilst having other staff that were in roles that did not require them to be in the office.

When the global pandemic hit, some futurists predicted that this would be the end of work as we know it and that offices in the cities would be closed and everyone would work from home.  Of course, that is not what is happening now.  Many leaders are looking at how to make the transition back to the office and find out how to enable a flexible workplace to allow for some remote work as well.

Whilst researching the 2nd edition of my Leadership Hacks book I found that some industries were not suited for remote work.  These included work function roles in the following areas:

  • Customer facing roles including:
  • retail sales & services (providing goods and services to customers) 
  • leisure and travel (restaurants, airline counters, hotels)
  • personal care (hair salons, gyms, physiotherapists)
  • Patient facing roles
  • Production, manufacturing and warehousing
  • Transportation (air, sea, rail, trucking)
  • Mechanical repair and maintenance
  • Building and construction
  • Farming & agriculture
  • Education & schooling

So what industries are suited for Remote work?  Primarily Computer-based office work which could include:

  • Administration and back-office functions
  • Scientific and environmental research services
  • Architectural and surveying services
  • Engineering consulting services
  • Financial and investment services
  • Insurance services
  • Legal services
  • Accounting services
  • IT Services
  • Management consulting services
  • Advertising and market research services
  • Call centres
  • Government agencies

The research (& most employees) tell us that they do prefer to spend time in the office as well to increase collaboration and teamwork as well as experience the sense of belonging.  What they want is the flexibility to work from home in a remote fashion at other times. 

If you would like to gather some insights from the research of my next book and can’t wait for it, click here and we will find a time for me to share a few strategies with you that can assist you in making the successful transition to a hybrid workplace.

If you would like to see some amazing women (& men) speakers at the Future of Leadership and support Hands Across the Water, please click here to find out more and join us at one of the events across Australia occurring in May.  I will be speaking in Adelaide and Perth so it will be great to see some of my clients and friends that I have missed during the lockdowns.  Use the Promo code GETINEARLY to receive 10% off.

Navigating your way back to the office & hybrid?

With people back in the full swing at work, many leaders have had their staff start coming back to the office.  This has created a bit of a buzz and people are starting to enjoy the company of other people and the collaboration that it brings.

I spoke with an Executive Leader who was surprised that so many of their staff wanted to continue working in a remote way 2-3 days per week.  They are in the process of trying to find the best way to shift to a flexible hybrid workforce.

For most leaders when everyone is together it is normal, when everyone is remote, they can make this work fine, but the challenge is when most of their staff are in the office and others are remote.  According to a recent Steelcase Global report, the majority of people in most countries, including Australia, expect to work remotely.  Their study found that 59% expect to work at least 1 day a week remotely, 30% expect to work 2-3 days per week remotely and 12% expect to work 4-5 days per week.

So what do your people want?  Leaders are struggling, staff are trying to get re-motivated and balance the commute to the office with the freedom of working from home.  It is an amazing experiment for many organisations, with some of them achieving great things and others struggling and losing top talent in the great resignation (and companies throwing money at staff to get them to join their flexible workplace!)

Given all the work I have done with leaders in this space over the past 2 years, I am finishing the 2nd edition of my book, which includes Hybrid Workplace Hacks which will come out into bookstores in 2-3 months.

It has been a great project and the countless hours that I put in researching fast track methods to help leaders get this right has paid off.  I am starting to speak to many leaders about how to find the flexibility and correct balance of a hybrid workforce. It is full of great strategies that people can use.

I will be sharing some of these strategies in my posts and looking forward to helping leaders and their staff achieve more in less time, regardless of where they are located!  If you can’t wait for the book to come out, click here and I will make time to share a few strategies with you.

If you would like to see some amazing women (& men) speakers at the Future of Leadership and support Hands Across the Water, please click here to find out more and join us at one of the events across Australia occurring in May.  I will be speaking in Adelaide and Perth so it will be great to see some of my clients and friends that I have missed during the lockdowns.  Use the Promo code GETINEARLY to receive 10% off.

 

March Madness

I had an interesting session with a Senior Leader this past week.  She was talking about the challenge that she has dealing with a lot of issues across her organisation.  Her staff are pushing to get more flexible work from home time, some of the younger staff have resigned because they were offered jobs with competitors offering them more money and she still has targets that her organisation needs to meet.  On top of this, they are preparing budgets, developing their strategy for the next financial year and trying to develop the next generation of leaders.  She mentioned it feels like I am stuck in ‘March Madness’.

For many leaders that I have been talking to they have mentioned that they are experiencing a similar thing.  The workload feels like it has increased and trying to motivate and focus their people has become more of a challenge.  I am finding that this is even more the case for many organisations that have staff still working remotely as their leaders struggle with how to lead when they have people in the office and working at home.

So what can you do to try and stay in front of the ‘March Madness’ that many people are experiencing?  I don’t think that there is any one thing that you can do, but here are a few ideas:

  • Stay Focused & Active.  When leaders feel a bit overwhelmed, they can often lose focus on what the important tasks are.  Make sure that the increase in activity around you does not get you to get sidetracked with small tasks.  
  • Check-in More Often.  With people working in the office and remotely, it is important for leaders to check in more often.  Take 5 minutes to check in with one of your people and ask them what they think is going well and what could be improved.  Also ask them about their workload and what strategies they are using to help stay in front of all of the tasks on their plate.
  • Delegate to Future Leaders.  Another great strategy when you are feeling overloaded is to delegate tasks to up and coming high potentials that will be the future leaders.  Make sure you delegate in a way that allows them to understand what the task is, how to do it and the time-frames and check-ins are clear to help them be successful.

We know that things are cyclical and for many leaders March is a very busy month.  The key is to keep working strategically and engage your people in the way to move forward.

I have a new book coming out in July, actually it is the 2nd edition of Leadership Hacks and I have added an entirely new section that provides hybrid workforce hacks, practical strategies for when you have some people in the office and others working from home.  I will be providing some of the practical hacks that you can use in the near future, so stay tuned!

If you are looking forward to attending a conference where you can be inspired as well as meet other people, please check out the Future of Leadershipplease click here to find out more and join us at one of the events across Australia occurring in May that helps to support Hands Across the Water.  Use the Promo code GETINEARLY to receive 10% off.

International Women’s Day: From feminism to removing bias

With the rain was pelting down this morning across Sydney, we braved the weather to head to the International Women’s Day Breakfast sponsored by Hands Group. I was looking forward to being back at a live event that had people in the audience and speakers on the stage, which was wonderful to be at! With Peter Baines as the incredible MC, he shared the story of Hands Across the Water and Edwina McCann, the editor-in-chief of Vogue Australia was inspirational. Her approach and story were authentic, and she talked about the changes that have occurred in the media industry since she started.

To be honest, I was also excited about something else. Sitting beside me was my wife and my 2 daughters, Jasmine, 20 and Isabella 18. I watched as they participated in discussions with people that they had just met (as well as with a few that they have known for years). As I watched them interact with others, I realised that this is what International Women’s Day is trying to inspire, the future women of Australia and the world. I was thrilled to hear about the initiatives that Vogue Australia is doing to highlight different women and the positive stories that they can bring that go beyond fashion. Edwina made a very interesting statement in her presentation this morning, she said that today was not about feminism, but about eliminating any bias that can occur within our society. This made me smile.

I believe the next generation of women are also showing their unique abilities and stepping up like no previous generation. My daughter Jasmine in in her 3rd year of university, has just started a professional practice role as an employee starting to make her influence in the product design industry. 

My youngest daughter Isabella just returned from a trip to the US looking at different universities to play women’s soccer and get her degree. She is aware of the pay gap in women’s sport and as an elite soccer player she plans on showing the world how women deserve equal representation with men (although if you ask her, she believes both the Aussie Matildas and US Women’s soccer team should be paid more than the men due to their World Class ranking and results!) Yes, I have to say I am proud of the women in my household and look forward to them shifting people’s perspective around equality.

So, what can we do to create the equality that women deserve? I believe we all need to be more aware and have conversations and speak out when we see something that is not fair. We also need to celebrate and recognise the wonderful women in our lives and not forget to let them know how much we appreciate them and how much better our lives and society are because of them!

If you would like to see some amazing women (& men) speakers at the Future of Leadership and support Hands Across the Water, please click here to find out more and join us at one of the events across Australia occurring in May. Use the Promo code GETINEARLY to receive 10% off.

How do you get new staff to perform faster?

My eldest daughter is in her 3rd year of University and just recently started an internship.  It has been wonderful to watch her excitement and joy about taking what she has been learning and apply it in the workforce.  One of the challenges that she faced in her first week was having to work remotely.  This made it a bit more challenging to get to meet others and feel supported as she was new into the role.  She has just started her second week and she went into the office and absolutely loves the culture and the people.

This got me thinking about how we bring new staff into our teams.  If they are remote it can be very challenging to fit in.  Being given tasks that may occur in the morning and then left alone until the next day is something that happens too often.  Recently I asked a Senior Manager about their new staff member and what they had done to get them up to speed.  His response was very interesting.  Because he had been so busy the previous week he had not had much time to work with the new hire.  Instead he just had them have video calls and when in the office watch a couple of other staff.  What a terrible start to a new company!

Too often I hear a leader complain about a new hire after a month or two in the role.  When I ask what they had done to get them up to speed the first couple weeks, they very rarely have a good response.  Every leader knows that they should be investing this time at the beginning of the relationship with a new hire, they just fail to prioritise their time to make it happen.  

Here are a few ideas that you can use to help get your next new hire up to speed faster:

Map their First Week

Before they start, map what they will be doing every hour for the very first week.  Ideally you will have a number of different activities for them including:  you teaching them specific processes/skills, them watching and learning from other departments, observing colleagues to learn processes, etc.  Block out 1-2 hour blocks for each of these areas.  Also ensure that you meet with them at the beginning and end of each day, to set the scene and debrief their experience.  This sets them up for success and makes you look like an organised rock star (given most other leaders are hopeless at it!)

Turn boring observation sessions into leveraged learning

The most common thing managers do with new staff is have them observe a more experienced person to learn specific processes.  This often leads to boredom and most of the time they will not be able to duplicate the process on their own (a massive loss of performance opportunity!)  A better approach is to let them know a bit about who they will be observing and give them 3-5 questions that they will need to observe/gather and report back to you.  This ensures that they are switched on and actively learning, rather than just going through the motions.

Get them to Mystery Shop the Competition

Once your staff get introduced to your processes, have them mystery shop the competition.  Give them a list of questions that they need to find out which may include:  What do they do better than us?  What do we do better than them?  How do our products/services compare?  What recommendations would they give to improve?  This will engage them and fast track them to learn how you compare in the marketplace, which can also harness some insights from their fresh eyes.

If we just took the time to plan out what we will do with new staff to get them engaged and up to speed faster we would be creating organisations worth belonging to (not to mention setting up a high performance culture!)

Next week, the 8th of March is International Women’s Day and Hands Across the Water has an amazing breakfast event planned featuring the inspirational Edwina McCann, editor-in-chief of Vogue Australia.  There are still tickets left and it would be great to see you there (and you are supporting a wonderful charity!)  Click here to find out more.

It’s the Little things that Count

I recently was working with the staff at a car dealership when the temperature soared to almost 40 degrees (104 degrees F to the Americans reading).  

It was hot, damn hot.  As I walked from the front office to the workshop where the mechanics were sweating as they worked on repairing cars, something caught my eye.  One of the office staff had gone to the grocery during her break and bought 2 large boxes of ice creams for the staff.  As she walked around and passed them out you could feel the buzz spread across the building and the smiles across staff faces.  By spending $25-30 they probably increased productivity (& morale) instantly on the spot.  

This is such a simple thing to do, unfortunately most leaders overlook the positive impact they could be making to their people because they just get too busy at work.

It is the little things that really count.  So what can you do to make a difference to your people?  Here are a few ideas:

  • Plan Some Things Ahead. To make it easier, take the time to plan some things ahead that can help boost morale and not take a lot of time or money.  It could be something around the seasons or holidays (i.e. cupcakes for morning tea on valentine’s day or momentous staff birthdays – 21st, 30, 40, etc).  Years ago in my first Australian business we had a fortnightly Friday morning at the beach during the summer months that staff loved, it was a great way to build our team.
  • Be Spontaneous.  Look for spontaneous things that you could do to make things fun.  This could be giving a staff member that has gone above and beyond an early finish or a gift voucher for the movies.  It could be bringing in pizzas for lunch when everyone has been putting in massive hours to get a project over the line.  Mix up what you do to show your appreciation to your people and they will look forward to coming to work.
  • Get Staff Involved.  Ask staff what fun things they would like to have happen to help build a positive workplace.  It may be a Slurpee run where someone goes and gets frozen drinks for everyone or a Red Frog afternoon tea where you get the staff to give red frogs or some type of lolly to other staff to say thanks.   

It really is the little things that count.  By taking a few minutes to get creative and let your people know that you care and appreciate them you can create positive engagement and put a fun vibe on your workplace.

Can you create Olympic moments?

The Winter Olympics have started and I’m always interested to watch the athletes that are stepping on to the world stage to compete.  I’m amazed at their abilities and often find myself watching on and cheering loudly at the tv.

The interesting thing that I keep coming back to is, what did the Olympic athletes need to do to get to this point?  They would have spent months if not years perfecting their technique, practicing their approach and learning new skills.  They would have had to have gone through moments of self doubt, frustration at plateauing at a particular level and often wondering if all the training was worth it along the way.

I’m sure that once they arrived at the Olympics and walked around the stadium during the opening ceremonies, they would have remembered why they were there.  When they come first in their heat or if they may not have won but they achieved a personal best they would have had that Olympic Moment.

It makes me think about what it is that we do at work to create these incredible Olympic Moments?  When we’re at work we go through a tremendous amount of activity and preparation.  We spend long, and sometimes, difficult hours trying new approaches and learning new things.  This often leads to a specific moment in time where we break through to a new level or achieve something that we may not have thought possible.  In business it could be achieving a new sales target or overcoming difficult conditions with a new IT system that staff were able to work around to still deliver to customers needs.

So what do we do to celebrate or create an Olympic Moment?  Quite often nothing.  We keep working away and after a while it becomes the new routine.  Leaders need to find ways to create some short term celebrations or capture those Olympic Moments for their people.  

I was working with a client recently that sold a product that required a national recall.  This took a significant effort for all of their head office staff as well as all the staff that were located around the country in numerous cities.  They were able to achieve this recall in record time, unfortunately it also completely exhausted all of their team.  In speaking with one of the Senior Leaders I was asking him if they did anything with their staff to celebrate their Olympic Moment.  He realised that he didn’t and that became a massive missed opportunity.  Many of their frontline staff were still exhausted and not feeling the support any longer.  

Start Creating Your Olympic Moments:

  1. At Work.  Look for moments or achievements that you can turn into Olympic Moments.  Given the Olympics are fresh in many people’s minds, use an Olympic theme.  This could be special awards in a number of areas to staff that achieve a new “department record” or something as simple as providing an Olympic themed breakfast or lunch that is a bit of fun (think food from different countries, think different flags that you could put around to help make it stand out)
  2. At Home.  Get your family involved in Olympic Moments.  Once again you can leverage the current Winter Olympics and look at ways to celebrate your children’s new achievements.  This could be an Olympic record in an English assignment or a Personal Best with a math test.  Turn it into a celebration.  Watch an event with the family and make (or go out for) food from the Olympic Champion’s country.  This will be something that your kids remember for years to come.

Remember not to get back on the typical treadmill of work or life.  Create Olympic Moments to recognise some of the achievements that your people or family have and make it a celebration.