These last two weeks have been very exciting for Modern Workplace enthusiasts. Microsoft launched Microsoft Teams and at Web Summit there were many topics related with the impact of technologies in the worplace and work-life balance. At the summit, Sean Ryan’s had a very exciting presentation of Workplace by Facebook and Bill Brigs (CTO, Deloitte) debated with Charles Manning (CEO, Kocahava) on whether “Technology has destroyed work-life balance” or not.
Although you can safely assume that I’m incredibly biased towards the positive side of the debate (just take a peak at my taskbar in the picture below), I will still share my opinion with you: “Modern Workplaces are here to stay and it’s up to you to make your life better with it”
As an early millennial, born in 1982, I’ve had the opportunity to witness firsthand the transition to a fast-developing information era in the context of my social, student and professional life. In little more than 30 years we’ve passed from patiently waiting for someone to call us on the home landline to the exasperation of waiting for an instant message reply for more than 30 seconds. We’ve passed from getting the phone of our teacher for scheduling a prep-exam class to studying online with our colleagues. We substituted the reading of an encyclopedia for an era of abundance at the distance of a mouse click.
Alongside with this development, we’ve witnessed how geeks can change the world. We’ve seen how easy it is to collaborate with someone that we found across the ocean and shares our interests. We’ve seen regular people going viral on Youtube. We followed their success stories and recreated our own heroes. As a result, now we are always on. We value mobility and believe that we can change the world if we find the wright people and the wright tools.
So, what could you expect when people like these enter your organizations? What can you do about it?
- Stay updated. If your people don’t get the tools they need, they will get the tools they need.
Let’s put it this way “If your people don’t get the tools they need, they will get the tools they need”. Meaning, if you don’t empower your people with right tools within your company’s ecosystem, they will move your company’s work and knowledge to somewhere more useful where they will be able to achieve their purposes. They will do it just because they can do it and because they are used to doing it for so long in so many different ways. This is the fundamental reason behind the growth of Shadow IT as one of the most relevant threats to company’s safety.
Almost every day a new tool gets out on the market, are you still using the right tools? Most of the time the answer to this question is inside the organization. Promote the sharing of experiences in groups or in small presentation sessions and discuss the alignment between the possibilities of a tool and your team’s purpose. At Create IT we promote internal DemoShots which are 10min of a fully functional demonstration of a tool or feature that someone finds that could be of use to the company followed by 15 min of discussion around the pros and cons of adopting that tool or feature in our day to day work. Anyone can scheduled a DemoShot.
- Respect personal space. You have the best team, and they are the best because they are who they are.
Every once in while (let’s keep it this way…) you have a productivity desire or a very tough deadline that gets in your extra time and most of the times, when you love your job, you feel good about it. That’s great, but that’s your own personal choice and you can’t expect the same from your team just because you made that choice. Don’t put expectations about contacting them or getting that email response during the night or weekends unless you have seriously and freely talked about it. Of course, there is the Virgin way of doing it but you might not need to go that far.
- Every team is a team
Every team has its own micro culture. Its own challenges and its own business cases. There is no universal solution for team work. Don’t get stressed if one team uses an online group and another is still using email. Just make sure that they know the pros and cons of their option and that everyone on the team is comfortable with that option (even if they still use email for discussing a subject). Again, talk about it.
- Teamwork is sharing
Stop downloading every single version of your documents to your laptop. You will only need one final version, which is the sum of your contributions and your team contributions. Do you really want your work to be spread among several desktops? Are you going to merge every single contribution? What if you lose your laptop somewhere in the process? Don’t take these chances when you can have your work on the cloud with version control and can sync it with any of your devices.
- Every work is work in progress
Share it from the beginning. Our sales team at Create IT deals with many PowerPoint files that are shared between people in different locations. We found out that during the writing of proposals our team members never shared a document before they finished it, so when they finally were ready to ask for feedback it often was too late ask for asking or too late for replying. To overcome this problem, we decided to adopt a shared from the beginning policy, meaning that we create our documents directly in a shared workspace right from the beginning. Thus, we are always open to feedback and ready to give it, always aware that the document is in progress until someone says that it is finished. Don’t wait for the wright moment to share your work. Share it from the beginning.
- Finally, say yes and build on it
Don’t be a show stopper! Be a builder. Receive what the team proposes to you as a challenge to build upon. You might be comfortable with whatever you’re doing and don’t see the need for the change that your colleague is proposing. Ask yourself “Is there something that I do today that I could improve with this change? Is there something that I would not be able to do?” Share it.
As Bob Dylan once wrote “There’s nothing so stable as change” as soon as we integrate this reality in our workplace we will be more ready face changes and adapt to them and as consequence we will improve our work-life balance and happiness.