Archive for the ‘Motivation’ Category
Back in December, I tweeted this photo of my empty filing cabinet…
Much the same as any other filing cabinet, you might think….and of course you’d be right! The difference is though, that this empty filing cabinet symbolised a bold move to a wholly different way of working and the start of a genuinely exciting journey for my workplace, the creation of a truly digital hub to coincide with our office move. I am belatedly making good on my promise to blog about it.
The premise was simple. A small number of functions were designated as ‘fixed desk’ workers, for example the telesales teams, who clearly benefit from being office based in a competitive, encouraging environment and enjoy doing so and they moved ‘as is’ with no issues. Other than these functions, anyone could become a homeworker if they wished to and we had around 80 individuals opting to take this choice. All other staff, became by default flexible workers, meaning that they could work from home, from the new office or another alternative location, whenever they chose to, with no requirement of management approval or agreeing working patterns. We very deliberately chose to trust people and treat them as the adults they are.
Let me tell you first what there wasn’t: there were no weighty policies, there was simply a principles document, outlining what I have described above. There was no requirement for management and HR approval or consent, for either homeworking or flexible working: there were simply some basic technical requirements to become a homeworker, for example a minimum broadband speed and health and safety assessment and a clear message that all staff were able to work flexibly. There were no designated offices for anyone at all in the new building, there were no specific desks for individuals, there were no pedestals at the desks, no vast storage capabilities available on site.
But there was investment: investment in laptops, so that staff could work flexibly in the way that we had promised them and investment in digital archiving and online tools to help people communicate more effectively and share documents as needed. There was a system put in place so that people could book desks online, up to a week in advance and plenty of meeting rooms that could be booked and informal meeting spaces, for more ad hoc conversations. There were lockers made available for personal belongings and broad ‘neighbourhoods’ created so that teams could choose to sit with others in their division if they wished to. There was a simple process to access a net payment for those individuals setting themselves up as homeworkers. There was lots of training for managers and for staff on why we were implementing these changes, what the new environment would be like, how to manage in periods of change and uncertainty, what the new parameters were. There was a huge amount of hard work, commitment, enthusiasm and willingness to change, to give something different a try, to trust, to empower.
There have been bumps along the way on this journey, of course there have. But actually, those bumps have been surprisingly few and far between. We have been in our new digital hub and operating our new way of working for over six months now, and the feedback from staff has been overwhelmingly positive. The open plan environment has energised people, the opportunity to work in a truly flexible way and to be trusted is highly prized and valued. The hard and fast metrics will become clearer over time but so far turnover is down, productivity remains good and people are far happier. For us, it is the first step, but undoubtedly a hugely significant one, which is likely to change how we perceive the working environment and our approach to flexible working for good.
Businesses talk a lot about making changes to how people work, to empowering and trusting staff. It has been an absolute pleasure and a privilege to be part of the team that has led the transformation to a completely different way of working and challenged the existing norms. Why is it that we assume people are working harder if we can see them sitting at a desk? That if they are empowered to manage their own time, they will skive off? Do we really need to resort to command and control to get the best out of people? And if we can change how people work and interact with each other, what else can we do and let go of to make work even better? Now that really is food for thought!
Questions? Comments? I’d love to know what you think :).
In advance of the management training for HR that will be delivered over the next couple of months, the team have completed 360 feedback questionnaires and the effect is already transformational. The conversations that it has opened, the reflection and self-awareness that it has brought, the willingness to accept feedback, adapt behaviours and to allow others the space to change and move forward have all been fantastic. It’s very early days, but the seeds have been sown for this to be a very powerful intervention indeed.
It’s easy to overlook the effectiveness of 360 feedback – in many ways, we ought to be able to provide feedback in a more regular way without requiring the formal framework. The fact is that sometimes we all need a bit of a nudge to articulate what we think is fantastic and less endearing about our colleagues…and that experiencing it together as a group seems to have created a huge amount of positive energy and goodwill. The timing of any 360 feedback exercise is undoubtedly critical to its success and it seems we have embarked on this at the right moment, where things are starting to come together and behaviours have not yet become ingrained. Fingers crossed!
I’d love to know what your experience of team 360s is and how you have energised your team…let me know 😉
So, I am now in my lovely clean, tidy, new office and I am resolving like mad to keep it that way – to stay on top of the piles of paper, to file things as I go and to be far neater, tidier and better organised in future. And who knows, I may even manage it ;).
Having a spring clean and regaining the environment you value is definitely good for the soul and an excellent reason to be cheerful. There are plenty of other things making me cheerful today too
- Spring sunshine, however chilly
- Lighter mornings – I thought I had overslept when I woke up today
- Best of all…..it’s pancake day!
Today is definitely a good day for sharing…so tell me, what are your reasons to be cheerful?
How many ways do you make things hard on yourself? What pushes your buttons to make you feel that the responsibility for certain things is yours and yours alone?
So, this may be the most blindingly obvious post I’ve ever written, but I’m not sure I mind much ;). Since writing about my ‘bloggers rut’ on Thursday, I have received so many supportive and genuinely helpful comments, that my heart feels about ten times lighter and creative inspiration is flowing once again. All of the comments have been hugely helpful and the ones that have resonated with me most deeply are the advice that I write for me alone and that I should not feel compelled to blog without inspiration or set myself ‘rules’ to stick to. Without realising it, I had been making things very hard on myself!
I have had a number of other realisations over this weekend about the fact that I tend to insist on taking sole responsibility for things, thereby making myself rather hard to help when I am under pressure. Both at home and work this can be equally true.
So this afternoon, when Mr C offered to help with the housework, instead of saying no, I accepted (I would love to say gracefully but it wasn’t really!). And we tried something different – he and our girls tidied, I cleaned. I am now the sum total of 40p poorer, as small bribes have a transformational effect on a 5 year olds efforts, but wow! – what a difference! So much quicker, more fun and much more achievable – a clean and tidy house, ready to start the new week. It won’t stay that way for long, but that really isn’t the point.
Also our daughters are starting swimming lessons next week and Mr C will be regularly taking them…the little things make a huge difference to creating more time.
I am my own worst enemy as I know I can be hard to help and thereby put extra pressure on myself. But I am quite inspired to explore this more in a work context and accept help and support when offered there too…and push that ‘stop’ button, when I need to!
What do you make hard on yourself? What buttons do you need to push to change things for the better? I’d love to know!
Every year Informa holds a Christmas party for the children and grandchildren of its employees. I went for the first time last weekend with Mr C and our twin girls who are almost 5 and was genuinely amazed at the scale and success of the event. A few things struck me about the experience, which I wanted to share.
Firstly, what a fantastically nice thing for a company to organise and put on for its employees. No cost for tickets, no charge for anything inside the venue and a fabulous afternoon aimed at entertaining children of all ages: face painting, balloon modelling, clowns, professional entertainers, Father Christmas, bouncy castles, scaletrix…it was really impressive and great fun. I didn’t realise until later that Informa’s CEO was dressed up as one of the clowns!
Secondly, although it was a little strange seeing work colleagues on a Sunday, the fact that everyone had their children and partners with them made it a totally different experience. Children are a great leveller and there was no ‘hierarchy’ of roles which you would often experience at a work social gathering, and certainly no work-related conversations that I overheard. Just people, chatting and laughing and getting to know each other better.
My children loved it and were singing all the way home about how fantastic it was and how much they loved Informa. And I loved it and felt valued and appreciated as an employee. I have written an email to the Informa Group CEO to say thank you…which in itself is a first and perhaps a sign that this type of event really does increase employee engagement and make organisations more social.
Does your company do anything similar? I’d love to hear about it if so