As some companies are returning to their offices, post COVID-19 lockdown measures, I’m beginning to realize some things.
The smart companies are thinking, ‘Can my office connection handle simultaneous video meetings? Are these meetings here to stay?’ The answer is yes, they can and yes, they are.
I am speaking regularly with many clients and companies in the collaboration space, and now is the time to reflect on where we are.
But first, some news on remote working & collaboration:
- Atlassian joins Twitter and other companies telling employees they can work from home indefinitely. The company hasn’t announced plans of adjusting pay if employees move to another region, but I expect other companies to follow Facebook in announcing reduced pay if employees relocate to less expensive locations.
- The majority of tech companies in San Francisco are announcing Work From Home plans until mid 2021. This likely allows for workers to move for a year to save money, causing rent drops and sparking a potential “Tech Exodus” in Silicon Valley
- Work From Home culture is here to stay, so it's time to start planning long-term. Well-being, mental health, focus time, and work overload are an important focus for companies who want to stay in the game. Check out professor Nilli Lavie’s comment on “Load Theory”
The most absurd corporate practices from the remote work era
- “Let’s turn off cameras to save the internet”
Corporations sometimes recommend that cameras be turned on, to support a cultural shift when working from home. There is an argument for camera off when you are a passive participant / listen-only / briefing. But if you are an active participant? Video should be the norm.
- “Lets ban Wednesday meetings”
This is my personal favorite, one which we help a lot of clients with. This policy just doesn’t work. People will meet anyway, it only leads to an overloaded Tuesday & Thursday, as well as increasing overtime. Don’t bother.
- “Always use corporate VPN”
This one can be detrimental to digital collaboration. Many have a lousy connection to MS Teams and bad connection is disruptive and a waste of time. Turn off your VPN when video conferencing, to prevent overloading the end-point.
- Excessive micromanagement
Increased emails and increased supervision is not the answer. You can read in our past newsletters that managers joined more meetings than ever before during work from home. If one manager joins, the others are inclined to do the same, and how much time is wasted on supervision? Do more 1:1 meetings instead.
- “Start sharing docs, ban PPT in meetings”
An oft-touted Amazon recommendation is not to use Powerpoint. But this is coming from a company that is only just migrating to Slack and figuring out cloud file sharing - maybe their advice should not be heeded!
- “We’ll make meetings short, like Google”
We generally recommend making meetings shorter, yes. But this should not be an steadfast aim, at the cost of quality discussion and real focus. Meeting lengths depend on context, and a good balance of smart meetings, smart briefings, and time efficiency is the best.
- “No devices allowed when in a meeting”
What does this mean for the person doing a write-up? What about when someone is 10 minutes late? Do you still adhere to the same? We found that people email quite a lot in meetings, and this often adds to productivity, rather than decreases it.
The most important point is (always!) to look at the data. Analyze how your company runs meetings differently before, during, and after you return to the offices. Try to fix any misconceptions about your time management and adjust accordingly.
A modern organization doesn’t limit its modern tools, this way of thinking is backwards. Imagine getting people an iPhone and banning using the browser because it’s too fast for your corporate Wifi to handle. The same goes for your internet connection. It's akin to limiting attachments in email, or banning corporate file sharing apps, or restricting Software as a Service apps. It's crazy.
Luckily, the pandemic awakened the world to cloud tools. But the work isn’t finished there - you need data to identify how your organization is integrating them into everyday activities and alter behavior to fit your needs.
At Time is Ltd., we measure digital collaboration and productivity, without ever sacrificing employee privacy. We provide an advanced analytical SaaS platform that delivers a holistic view of an organization collaboration patterns. We measure your team’s digital footprint to improve communication, productivity as well as save precious time. Our approach only aggregates meta-data from a variety of data sources, to show how your teams work with your collaboration tools so you can get them more productive and motivated.