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Has the CEO Position Evolved to a Two-Person Job?

When Netflix announced this summer that it was elevating Chief Content Officer Ted Sarandos to co-CEO, sharing the title with founder Reed Hastings, the move cut against conventional wisdom. Salesforce.com, SAP, and Oracle all had abandoned co-CEO structures within the last year, leading The Wall Street Journal to ask: “Co-CEOs Are Out of Style. Why Is Netflix Resurrecting the Management Model?”

In the hierarchies of corporate America, there’s nothing ambiguous about the position of “chief executive officer.” Whoever holds the CEO title sits at the tip-top of the org chart; it’s right there in the capital C. But what happens when that designation—and the power it implies—is shared? 

That’s the unusual experiment that several companies have undertaken in the past few months, splitting the role of CEO between two executives. In September, WeWork’s parent named two interim CEOs, Sebastian Gunningham and Artie Minson, to replace founder and spiritual guru Adam Neumann, who stepped down as the embattled shared-office giant postponed its IPO. (The pair will be replaced in February by a single new CEO, Sandeep Mathrani.) Software giant SAP in October named Jennifer Morgan and Christian Klein co-CEOs—the third time the German company has opted for the dual-leader arrangement. And in January, luggage startup Away wound up with two CEOs after former chief Steph Korey returned to cohead the company just weeks after reports of toxic work behaviour prompted her to step down. She’s now splitting the position with Stuart Haselden, the former Lululemon executive whom Away had initially tapped as Korey’s lone replacement.

The truth is the archetype of the omnipotent CEO — the lone commander atop the corporate pyramid — is increasingly a relic of 20th century management thinking. There are some notable exceptions: Founders like Jeff Bezos, Elon Musk, and Mark Zuckerberg still command and control. But in our research with the American Psychological Association, we’ve found that for most mere mortals, it’s simply too hard to go it alone. The modern business landscape is too fast-moving and the demands on a CEO have become too innumerable for a single person to set an organization’s strategic direction and oversee a multitude of internal decisions, all while acting as its public face to stakeholders.

Tellingly, while executive teams have doubled in size over the last three decades as different corporate functions have gained importance (human resources) or have come into existence (digital strategy and data security), the top job has largely remained a solitary grind. As entrepreneur Joe Procopio has observed, “The math on giving 110% usually breaks down to giving 10% across 11 different priorities.”

At the same time, the expectations of modern leadership have evolved. Organisations are more agile, less hierarchical, and must adapt quickly to the sudden dislocations we have today. Generational shifts in the workforce and society bring rising social consciousness of inequalities and a mandate for including others with different experiences into decision-making. These exigencies have made non-traditional soft skills essential additives to leadership.

There are four basic rules on how to 2 CEOs should cooperate when they both are running the company.

1. Pick the right partner. Co-CEOs are in a very real sense professionally married. The foundational qualities of such an enduring personal relationship also apply in a shared C-suite: a common vision, clear communication, and most important, deep trust. This sustains the partnership when, inevitably, there is a disagreement. Each must remember the other’s talents and make decisions knowing it’s still one P&L both must own. You cannot go into this arrangement without believing in the character of the other and vice-versa.

2. Set expectations. Critics of dual CEOs argue that shared accountability amounts to no accountability at all — if two are in charge, no one is. But properly managed, the opposite is true. The idea of joint accountability means setting performance standards that put each partner in the position of having to live up to the other. Ideally, this creates a healthy competition. Would-be CEOs are typically high-performing individuals, so clear lanes help each partner drive improvements in the other. Indeed, a 2011 paper published in Financial Review found that co-CEOs’ mutual monitoring can generate enough accountability to substitute for board supervision.

3. Define roles and responsibilities. The organization must understand who is in charge of which aspects of the company and where decision-making authority lies. We have a highly decentralized workforce — the two of us live in different cities — yet our managers intersect with us with a clear understanding of what types of decisions we are each responsible for. This is liberating in that it takes some daily responsibilities off each CEO’s plate. It also frees up time for skill-building around one’s dedicated areas, yielding more focused mentorship. And one leader can come into another’s problem from a fresh outside perspective. Clearly delineating areas of responsibility also mitigates another common criticism — that co-CEOs are a bottleneck. In fact, the structure often facilitates a quicker response because one individual has authority to make a decision from a greater depth of experience and knowledge.

4. Distribute authority but not responsibility. While each partner has individual duties, both must fundamentally remain a leadership unit, one in which successes and setbacks alike are owned together. These successes and setbacks should be reflected in short- and long-term compensation. They must be prepared to be rewarded or penalized as a unit and accept the consequences. With the right chemistry and trust, it incentivizes both healthy competition and having each other’s back. Another benefit of this conjoined career planning is that it can both temporary or long term. Some companies may see a co-CEO arrangement as a grooming opportunity for a junior leader.

Let’s be honest: The modern CEO is often overwhelmed by unrealistic demands. Netflix’s move to co-CEOs says less about the limitations of individual leaders than about a system that sets them up to fail. We believe business pyramids are stifling innovation, when a division of authority can unleash it. In unprecedented times like these, more companies should rethink their structures and embrace co-CEOs, putting their leaders in positions to succeed.

Given our current situation knowing that your colleagues or employees are best suited for this new scenario we find ourselves in. Finding the right talent, the best fit for the job and your organisation can be a very challenging task. It is now important to find out whether your managers or your team is well-equipped of working together from various locations. It requires deep knowledge of their personalities, strengths, weaknesses, interests, work style and other characteristics. Our technology and solutions will do the work for you, helping you discover if your people are resilient during times of hardship, if they are autonomous, if they are team players, without actual human contact. Given that our platform is cloud-based, everyone can use it from home as well. Humanity finds itself at a crossroad for various reasons now, why not help people discover and develop themselves from the comfort of their own homes?

Request a free demo:

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Sources:

https://hbr.org/2020/09/is-ceo-a-two-person-job?ab=hero-main-text
https://marker.medium.com/heres-when-it-actually-makes-sense-to-have-2ceos-64827d0ddb5c
https://fortune.com/2020/02/17/co-ceos-model-companies/

What to Do When Your Boss Doesn’t Respect Your Working Schedule

When trying to balance your work and family commitments, it helps to have a boss who is understanding and supportive: someone who doesn’t raise an eyebrow when you sign off early to attend a school event or take a personal day to accompany one of your parents to a doctor’s appointment.

But what if your manager isn’t sympathetic to your familial responsibilities? Or worse, your boss is outright dismissive or even hostile toward your obligations? This is particularly challenging during the pandemic when many people’s work and home lives have collided. How should you handle a boss who refuses to acknowledge the other demands on your time? How can you find room for flexibility? What should you say about your family commitments? And who should you turn to for moral and professional support?

Career coaches at Work It Daily have discovered certain patterns. At this moment, employee frustration is at an all-time high. Workers are feeling fed up with their employers and wondering if the grass could be greener elsewhere.

While pay and opportunity for growth remain the top two reasons people claim they want to find a new job, the research done by Work It Daily shows that what ultimately pushes a person to seek a new job is feeling disrespected by their boss. Think of it this way: most professionals enjoy a job search about as much as they enjoy having an invasive dental operation. In order to put in the extra time and energy to switch jobs, the pain has to be really bad. When job seekers have gone the Work It Daily coaches they have complained about their manager’s lack of respect. If you don’t have the respect you want, it’s because you allowed your boss to treat you a certain way. From your first interaction with your boss until now, you have set the tone for how you’re perceived in the role. The good news is, you can change this. But to do so, you have to recognise the signs that your manager doesn’t respect you.

Know your rights

First things first, “know your rights” and understand what you’re entitled to in terms of paid leave and care options, says Thompson. Do some research into your company’s policies and whether there are alternative work arrangements on offer. Long before the pandemic hit, an increasing number of organisations instituted flexible work plans for employees, and many states have flex-work policies in place for their government workers.

Find out, too, if your situation qualifies you for the federal Families First Coronavirus Response Act. The law requires some employers to provide paid leave to workers who must care for someone subject to quarantine or a child whose day care or school is closed. Washington recommends talking to your company’s HR person, if you have one, to learn what options and accommodations are available to you. “Knowledge is power,” she says.

Exhibit empathy

Next, summon compassion. It’s not easy to be a boss, especially right now. Many managers are under pressure. “They’re stressed, anxious, and struggling to do more with less,” says Washington. Consider the situation from their perspective.

Thompson says your empathy should be both “genuine and strategic.” Ask your manager about their pain points. Find out where their worries lie. Be sincere — show you care about them as a human being — and be tactical. Ask about their “objectives and the metrics they need to hit,” she says. “You’ll get important information about what they’re concerned about” which will help you sharpen your focus in terms of the work you prioritise.

Develop more than one plan

Once you “understand what’s top of mind” for your manager, you can frame your plans for getting your job done in a way helps them achieve their goals and objectives, says Thompson. Focus on results. When you’re a caregiver, your schedule can often be unpredictable so it’s important to make a plan as well as several contingency ones. Address your manager’s “insecurities about you not pulling your weight” by demonstrating that you’re “making arrangements to get your work done.” You want your manager to come away from your conversations thinking, “They’ve got this.”

Don’t be shy about reminding your manager of your track record for delivering on expectations, adds Washington. “Your past performance is the strongest indicator of your future performance,” she says. Hopefully, your manager will come to see “that what’s most important is not how the job gets done, but that it gets done.”

Articulate boundaries

If your boss is a face time tyrant, it can be tough to establish boundaries, but it’s still important to do. We all need time in our day that’s off-limits for work, says Washington. “If 6 pm is when you have dinner and put the kids down,” so be it. “Have those boundaries — and let your boss know that you will be unavailable then.”

But if your manager continues to be disrespectful of your family time, you need to have a conversation. Frame the discussion around you — how you prefer to structure your workday and how and when you perform best. Explain that you need your non-work hours to regroup and take care of your family commitments. Without that time away from work, you will not be able to fully devote yourself to your job.

Take care of yourself

Working for someone who doesn’t respect your life outside of work can be exhausting so make sure you’re taking time for yourself. Be purposeful about giving yourself “a forced mental break,” says Thompson. Make time to read, cook, dance, run, meditate — or any other activity that you enjoy or helps you relax. “Schedule joy,” she says.

And even if exercise isn’t usually your thing, Thompson suggests finding time for it every day, especially during this difficult period. “Don’t underestimate the power of 20-30 minutes of daily physical activity,” she says. At a time when your boss is being difficult and “nothing feels in your control,” getting your endorphins pumping should be a priority.

Don’t let a lack of respect from your boss hold you back from achieving your goals. Learn how to interact better so you can get what you need to succeed!

Given our current situation knowing that your colleagues or employees are best suited for this new scenario we find ourselves in. Finding the right talent, the best fit for the job and your organisation can be a very challenging task. It is now important to find out whether your managers or your team is well-equipped of working together from various locations. It requires deep knowledge of their personalities, strengths, weaknesses, interests, work style and other characteristics. Our technology and solutions will do the work for you, helping you discover if your people are resilient during times of hardship, if they are autonomous, if they are team players, without actual human contact. Given that our platform is cloud-based, everyone can use it from home as well. Humanity finds itself at a crossroad for various reasons now, why not help people discover and develop themselves from the comfort of their own homes?

Request a free demo:

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Sources:

https://www.inc.com/jt-odonnell/7-warning-signs-your-boss-disrespects-you.html
https://hbr.org/2020/09/when-your-boss-doesnt-respect-your-family-commitments
https://www.drcaitlinfaas.com/blog/how-to-get-your-boss-to-respect-your-boundaries

Does Productivity Soar by Working from Home?

Amid the Covid-19 crisis, working from home has become the norm for many. But even as remote work has normalised, it’s a recent development: doing your job from your couch was less mainstream before the coronavirus – and even stigmatised.

“Have you punched into Google image search, ‘working from home’, and looked at the top 20 images? They’re basically naked people, a guy drinking champagne in what looks like a jacuzzi. I mean, almost none of them are positive images,” says Nicholas Bloom, a professor at Stanford University in California. He’s made a career out of studying work practices, including remote work. And he thinks the attitudes around working from home are finally changing.

“One silver lining with the Covid pandemic: it’s going to kickstart working from home [moving from the] fringe to a mainstream technology that is commonly used across the country,” he says. That process is already under way; firms including Fujitsu and Twitter have already announced plans to make remote work a permanent option, even after the pandemic.

A study done by Nicholas Bloom, professor at Stanford University, back in 2013 somewhat forecast this trend: in his experiment, Bloom worked with a Chinese company to study remote-work productivity. Somewhat to Bloom’s surprise, the company’s staff became notably more productive by working from home four days a week.

Now, six months into the global pandemic, an increasing number of companies are asking: should we work from home indefinitely? And if they do decide to make major organisational changes about remote work, could they see similar leaps in productivity?

How Do Knowledge Workers Spend Their Time?

In 2013, knowledge workers spent two-thirds of their time either “managing across” in meetings, often with many colleagues, or doing “desk-based work” on their own. Externally focused work (e.g. talking to customers), managing down (coaching and supporting subordinates) and managing up (interacting with the boss and other senior people) all got very little time, while training and personal development got almost none.

How has this picture changed during lockdown? There were two significant shifts: 12% less time managing across through meetings and 9% more time doing externally focused work. Desk-based work continues to take a third of our time. Other changes — a little less time managing up and a little more time on training and development — were not statistically significant.

Standing back, the evidence suggests lockdown has helped us more effectively prioritize our work. We still need to get through our emails and report-writing. But we are significantly less likely to get drawn into large meetings, and this leaves us more time for client or customer work and for training and development, which most people would argue is a good thing. However, lockdown doesn’t seem to have helped with hierarchy-spanning activities (managing up and down), presumably because it’s impossible to have the short, spontaneous meetings that used to be possible.

How Do Knowledge Workers Decide What to Do? 

While most knowledge workers have a written job description somewhere, it is well understood that they take responsibility for choosing what to do and when to do it based on a variety of factors, including tasks outside of their formal role when it appears sensible to do so.

To get a sense for how these decisions are made, we asked study subjects to choose among four options for every activity: It’s a standard part of my job/my boss asked, a peer or colleagues asked me, I did it spontaneously, or it was important and I found time. In 2013, respondents said 52% of their activities were standard, 18% requested by a peer , 24% independent but important, and 3% independent and spontaneous. In 2020, we are still spending half our time on standard activities, but we are doing only 8% because a colleague asked, and a full 35% because we thought the activity was critical.  Both these differences were statistically significant. Spontaneity rose to 6% but this difference was not statistically significant.

What’s going on here?  It seems we have been taking more direct charge of our time during lockdown. Working from home gives us a bit of breathing space: We don’t have colleagues or bosses badgering us, and we don’t get drawn into meetings by force of habit, just because we happen to be around. The result is a reassuring increase in us making time for work that matters most to us.

Concerns and Challenges

Working in lockdown has helped us to focus and to take responsibility. But that’s not the whole story. Follow-up interviews revealed some of the areas of concern that we as individuals — and as leaders of others — need to understand.

Some respondents cited the potential for shirking: “I am worried there is some slackening of effort. People are starting to get a bit too comfortable working from home,” said one. In our view, this is not a huge problem: There are many ways of informally monitoring how much time your colleagues are putting in via Outlook, Slack and other tools, and we should really be evaluating knowledge workers on their outputs not their inputs anyway.

The bigger areas of concern were around the things people couldn’t do well in a virtual environment. Take managing across first: It’s not so hard for an existing working group to stay on course when working remotely, but the challenges of getting started on something new (the forming/storming stages of team development) or resolving internal conflicts are enormous. Of course, these activities can be done over Zoom – just not as well. Few people are energized by informal online get-togethers. As one person said, “We are slowly losing the social glue that holds us together.”

Managing up and down are no less tricky under lockdown. Most respondents had instituted regular one-on-one catch-ups with their teams and bosses, but they usually focused on immediate task and personal well-being issues, rather than longer-term development. They missed the opportunity to bottom out difficult issues: “You cannot challenge a person quite so well over Zoom. You tend to hold back,” said one. They also lamented the loss of growth opportunities for their teams: “I used to throw people into new assignments, where they learned on the job, watching and learning from experienced colleagues. That’s almost impossible to do in a virtual setting.”

Finally, some people worried about their own development. While time spent on self-education went up during lockdown, this was mostly due to online webinar and course attendance — which helps build knowledge but doesn’t encourage the active experimentation and personal reflection that help us really grow.

For many of us, the new socially distanced mode of working may continue for some time.  The good news for knowledge workers from the first phase of this experiment is that lockdown has helped us better manage and prioritize our schedules to favor the most value-added work. The challenge — as we move into the next phase where some face-to-face meetings are allowed — will be to bring back the informal and social elements of office life that are so vital to organizational and individual success.

Given our current situation knowing that your colleagues or employees are best suited for this new scenario we find ourselves in. Finding the right talent, the best fit for the job and your organisation can be a very challenging task. It is now important to find out whether your managers or your team is well-equipped of working together from various locations. It requires deep knowledge of their personalities, strengths, weaknesses, interests, work style and other characteristics. Our technology and solutions will do the work for you, helping you discover if your people are resilient during times of hardship, if they are autonomous, if they are team players, without actual human contact. Given that our platform is cloud-based, everyone can use it from home as well. Humanity finds itself at a crossroad for various reasons now, why not help people discover and develop themselves from the comfort of their own homes?

Request a free demo:

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Sources:

https://www.bbc.com/worklife/article/20200710-the-remote-work-experiment-that-made-staff-more-productive
https://www.techrepublic.com/article/study-working-from-home-means-more-time-on-computers-but-workers-arent-more-productive/
https://hbr.org/2020/08/research-knowledge-workers-are-more-productive-from-home?ab=hero-main-text

Should Entrepreneurship Be Taught in Schools?

Our education system is responsible for preparing young people to build successful lives. They should be ready for the wide range of possibilities ahead of them, including working for others, entrepreneurship, and contributing to their communities. All of these options require a depth of knowledge in their chosen discipline, as well as creative problem-solving skills, leadership abilities, experience working on effective teams, and adaptability in an ever-changing environment. It’s no coincidence that these are the same capabilities that employers say they want in college graduates.

These skills are the cornerstones of entrepreneurship education, which explicitly prepares students to identify and address challenges and opportunities. Therefore, along with teaching traditional subjects, such as science, grammar, and history, that provide foundational knowledge, it’s imperative that we teach students to be entrepreneurial.

Entrepreneurship education prepares students to identify and address challenges and opportunities. There are many who believe that entrepreneurship is an inborn trait that can’t be taught. This is simply not true. As with all skills, from math to music, learning to be entrepreneurial builds upon inborn traits. For example, learning to read and write taps in a baby’s natural ability to babble. Each baby learns to harness those noises to form words, connect words to compose sentences, and combine sentences to craft stories.

Entrepreneurship can be taught using a similar scaffolding of skills, building upon our natural ability to imagine:

  • Imagination is envisioning things that don’t exist.
  • Creativity is applying imagination to address a challenge.
  • Innovation is applying creativity to generate unique solutions.
  • Entrepreneurship is applying innovations, scaling the ideas by inspiring others’ imagination.

Using this framework, educators at all levels can help young people engage with the world around them and envision what might be different; experiment with creative solutions to the problems they encounter; hone their ability to reframe problems in order to come up with unique ideas; and then work persistently to scale their ideas by inspiring others to support their effort.

Also, if there is no space to allot entrepreneurship as a separate paper, then it can be merged with subjects like economics, history, technical n, comparative studies, business education or psychology. Integrating entrepreneurship in these main stream subjects will allow students to understand the same and take up later in life.

Learning entrepreneurship from school level will allow students also instil the following traits at a young stage:

Patience

Business is not a one-day phenomenon. It happens over time, grows over decades or more. The entrepreneur needs to hold on their patience and be with the business all throughout. Learning entrepreneurship from school, will allow one to get accustomed to the long time span that one requires to invest to establish a business.

Flexibility & Adaptability

Running business is not a smooth flow of events. It has good times, bad phases and so on. How to survive at the best and worst of business can also be learnt from an early stage, if entrepreneurship is introduced in school.

Desire to Achieve

As school is too nascent a stage, students might change their decision of being an entrepreneur and opt for some other profession. But, it’s the ‘hunger to achieve’, the take away from entrepreneurial classes that will help them earn success in any other profession. 

Entrepreneurship education does not just benefit those entering the fields of science, technology, and business. Students of art, music, and humanities can develop their imagination and learn how to apply creative thinking skills to real-world problems.

Given our current situation knowing that your colleagues or employees are best suited for this new scenario we find ourselves in. Finding the right talent, the best fit for the job and your organisation can be a very challenging task. It is now important to find out whether your managers or your team is well-equipped of working together from various locations. It requires deep knowledge of their personalities, strengths, weaknesses, interests, work style and other characteristics. Our technology and solutions will do the work for you, helping you discover if your people are resilient during times of hardship, if they are autonomous, if they are team players, without actual human contact. Given that our platform is cloud-based, everyone can use it from home as well. Humanity finds itself at a crossroad for various reasons now, why not help people discover and develop themselves from the comfort of their own homes?

Request a free demo:

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Sources:

https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/287310
https://www.marlborough.org/news/~board/stem/post/five-benefits-of-entrepreneurship-education-to-students
https://www.aspeninstitute.org/blog-posts/schools-teach-entrepreneurship/

Employee Harassment Online – How to Combat It

Harassment at work is prevalent and can be tough to combat. Being informed and prepared can help employees dealing with harassment recognise their rights and take action when needed. In some work environments, harassment may seem easy to brush off as playful camaraderie or “playing the game”, but it is no less serious than more direct, explicit bullying. Negative actions are often prompted by a harasser’s feelings of fear, disrespect or entitlement, but no matter the reasons, the only way to end workplace harassment is to properly address it.

U.S. law requires employers to create a workplace free from discrimination and harassment. But as offices go virtual, what happens when staff confront a torrent of hate and abuse online? Given that over 44% of Americans say they’ve experienced online harassment, chances are, if you’re an employer, you have people on staff who’ve been impacted. For those with public facing jobs (journalists, policymakers, academics, etc.), online abuse may well be part of day-to-day working life.

Although anyone can be subjected to online abuse, women, BIPOC, and members of the LGBTQ+ community are disproportionately targeted for their identities and experience more severe forms of harassment. As more and more organisations proclaim their commitment to providing equitable and inclusive work environments, they can no longer afford to ignore the very real consequences of online abuse.

And yet the professional impact, within and across industries, is significantly understudied.

The creative and media sectors are among the few industries for which we have research. A 2017 PEN America survey of writers and journalists found that over a third of respondents who had experienced online abuse reported an impact on their professional lives, with 64% taking a break from social media, 37% avoiding certain topics in their writing, and 15% ceasing to publish altogether. A 2019 study from the Committee to Protect Journalists, which focused specifically on female and gender non-conforming journalists in the U.S., found that 90% cited online harassment as the single biggest threat they faced.

In other words, in the media sector, online abuse is damaging the professional prospects and chilling the speech of those already underrepresented in the industry. It is precisely the voices that most urgently need to be heard in debates around race, gender, and the rights of marginalised groups that are at the greatest risk of being silenced.

Employers need to do better. When staff are attacked online in a way that intersects with their professional life, organisations have a responsibility to take the abuse seriously, and help address it. Some employers may feel they don’t know where to start, but in fact there are many steps you can take to support your teams in preparing for, responding to, and mitigating the damage of online abuse.

Acknowledging the Harm

To create an environment where employees feel safe and supported enough to come forward when they are being abused online, leadership needs to let staff know that they take the issue seriously and expect managers and colleagues to do the same. Targets often suffer in isolation, partly because there’s still a great deal of stigma and shame associated with harassment, online or off. Many people who are disproportionately attacked online have also been marginalized in other spaces, so they may have legitimate concerns about being dismissed, mocked, or punished. A commitment to supporting staff who are being abused online can be formalized by amending existing policies and protocols around sexual harassment and social media use, communicated via all-staff emails and meetings, and reinforced by the ways in which managers and HR react to individual cases.

Online Protocols Setup & Training

When staff are being harassed online, they often have no idea where to turn or what to do. Arm them with the knowledge that there are concrete steps they can take to proactively protect themselves and respond. Having clear protocols can make staff feel safer and more empowered. To ensure staff are actually aware of these initiatives, employers can fold policies and protocols into onboarding and employee handbooks, post them on intranets and Slack channels, and encourage managers, HR, IT, and social media staff to reinforce them — and offer training.

Guarantee Resources

These should include: cybersecurity services that protect against hacking, impersonation, doxing, and identity theft, including password managers, such as Password or LastPass, and data scrubbers, such as DeleteMe or PrivacyDuck; mental health care or counseling; legal counseling; and guidance, such as PEN America’s Online Harassment Field Manual.

Support Groups

Online abuse is intended to be profoundly isolating, which is why giving staff a safe space to vent, share experiences, and exchange strategies is vitally important. Encourage staff to band together and create a peer support group. Just make sure they have adequate time and access to leadership to apply their hard-earned knowledge to help improve policies, protocols, and resources.

Escalate Certain Situations

From social media to email and messaging apps, most digital platforms have mechanisms to report online abuse. But sometimes these mechanisms fail. As an individual, it can be difficult to get a platform’s attention, but organisations often have direct contacts at tech companies. If a staff member has reported abuse that clearly violates terms of service and is nevertheless unable to get it removed, escalating the issue directly to tech company contacts can make all the difference.

We are facing an unprecedented moment in professional life. The hyper-digital world we’ve been plunged into is already exacerbating harassment and hate online. At the same time, the Black Lives Matter movement has put much-needed pressure on for-profit and nonprofit organisations to redouble their commitment to creating more diverse, inclusive, and equitable workplaces. Online abuse is a major stumbling block to these efforts. If organisations are serious about supporting staff who identify as women, nonbinary, or BIPOC, it’s high time to have their backs in the face of online attacks.

Given our current situation knowing that your colleagues or employees are best suited for this new scenario we find ourselves in. Finding the right talent, the best fit for the job and your organisation can be a very challenging task. It is now important to find out whether your managers or your team is well-equipped of working together from various locations. It requires deep knowledge of their personalities, strengths, weaknesses, interests, work style and other characteristics. Our technology and solutions will do the work for you, helping you discover if your people are resilient during times of hardship, if they are autonomous, if they are team players, without actual human contact. Given that our platform is cloud-based, everyone can use it from home as well. Humanity finds itself at a crossroad for various reasons now, why not help people discover and develop themselves from the comfort of their own homes?

Request a free demo:

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Sources:

https://www.wmlawyers.com/2017/06/social-media-workplace-harassment/
https://www.affordablecollegesonline.org/college-resource-center/workplace-campus-harassment/
https://hbr.org/2020/07/what-to-do-when-your-employee-is-harassed-online?ab=hero-main-text

Rethinking the Work Schedule

The coronavirus has changed the workplace in ways that will permanently transform the future of most organisations. Many leaders have been forced to craft new and improved strategies for successfully running an office remotely, building environments that help — not hurt – our immune systems, and developing guidelines to enforce safety measures like social distancing. Perhaps the most common change designed to address all of these areas is rethinking the employee work schedule, whether it is to support changes in work-life balance, to minimise social contact, or to meet wavering business demands. The traditional nine-to-five workday is no longer the gold standard.

Responsibility for gathering relevant information, identifying alternative schedule options, and implementing the new schedule is often given to the Human Resources (HR) manager. Since information on the subject is surprisingly scarce, this responsibility can be quite a challenge. It’s not something you do every day. Few people have the expertise to design a schedule for a group that works more than five days a week or more than one shift a day. Once you realize that schedule design is not the only step in changing schedules, nor the most difficult, you easily can be overwhelmed.

Despite the difficulty, this is a great opportunity for HR managers to orchestrate a significant change in the organisation. As an HR manager, you are uniquely qualified to do this. You tend to have a broader perspective than line functions such as production or maintenance. You have more experience in communicating with employees. Your on-going role as a company steward has trained you to protect organizational interests while addressing employee concerns.

Organisations change the work schedules of their non-exempt employees for a variety of reasons:

  • Change the hours/days of operation to match the demand for their products or services.
  • Fix problems such as high absenteeism, hiring/retention issues, or excessive overtime.
  • Improve efficiency (e.g., lean manufacturing) or lower the operating costs.
  • Respond to employee requests for change or complaints about the current schedule.

The Process of Change

In today’s tight labour market, organisations simply can’t afford to lose employees. Changing work schedules is an easy way to alienate the workforce and increase turnover. To ensure widespread support for the change, you need to have a plan for involving the key stakeholders and keeping them informed throughout the entire change process.

That sounds simple enough, but it’s actually the most difficult part of changing schedules. People are resistant to any kind of change. When it comes to work schedules, even a minor change can make a significant difference in employees’ lives. For example, changing the time that the work starts by 15 minutes may seem trivial, but it can have serious repercussions for people who commute in a carpool or use public transportation, parents with day-care requirements, and individuals with hundreds of other personal commitments built around their work schedules.

Availability of Resources

How many employees are needed to satisfy the coverage requirements? How many hours will they have to work each week? In addition to the base coverage, you need to consider absences such as vacations, illness, training, etc. Additional staff and / or overtime may be needed to cover these situations. Even though you think you have sufficient personnel, if a number of employees want to take a vacation at the same time, this could leave you short-handed. If someone takes a leave of absence due to health problems, pregnancy, or family care, you may not be able to replace them. The use of temporary employees may help, assuming you can find someone with the necessary skills.

Schedule Conflicts

Schedule constraints include legal considerations (e.g., state laws requiring overtime to be paid after 8 hours of work) and union agreements (e.g., limits on the number of consecutive days worked). There are also company policies to consider. For example, your company may require that all employees rotate so they spend an equal amount of time on every shift.

These are referred to as “constraints” because they limit the number of possible schedules. If you need an 8-hour fixed shift schedule with a maximum of 5 days worked in a row, you’ll be hard-pressed to come up with a schedule that gives you a lot of weekends off or long breaks. Without the constraint on the number of consecutive days worked, you would have a lot more options to choose from. Without the fixed shift constraint, you would also have more choices. If there are too many constraints, it may be necessary to add more workers, increase overtime, or sacrifice some coverage.

Changing employee work schedules is not a simple task. There is a lot more involved than simply finding a work pattern that matches the new hours of operation or accommodates a preferred shift length. The six major considerations are the change process, coverage requirements, available resources, schedule constraints, employee preferences, and company policies. Skipping any one of these can result in implementation delays, unhappy employees, damage to your relationship with workers, poor business results, and higher costs. However, with proper planning, preparation, and communication, it is possible to produce a win-win result for employees and the organisation.

Changing your organisation’s work schedules may be one of the most important tasks you undertake in your career. Not only is the schedule vital to the performance of your company, but it is also an integral part of your employees’ lives. The time and effort you invest will increase the chances of achieving a positive outcome for everyone affected by the new schedule.

This pandemic has revealed that some jobs, such as healthcare, are truly essential, and employees in that sector have to work difficult hours. At the same time, the post-pandemic period may be a time for organizations and society to reconsider the definition of essential. For instance, moving forward, is it really necessary for workers to be available at all hours, year-round, to provide nonessential services at retail and fast food places?

The key will be finding a balance between short-term business needs and the long-term benefits that new scheduling strategies bring to both employees and the organisation.

To summarise, rather than being mechanistic, organisations can take a more organic approach and allow employees to play a bigger role in determining when they want to work. We have already seen considerable discussion lately about where (e.g., from home) and how (e.g., using video conferencing technology) people will work in a post-pandemic world, but additional thought should also be given to when everyone works. Managers are encouraged to thoughtfully consider the schedules that are right for them as they return to their places of work.

Given our current situation knowing that your colleagues or employees are best suited for this new scenario we find ourselves in. Finding the right talent, the best fit for the job and your organisation can be a very challenging task. It is now important to find out whether your managers or your team is well-equipped of working together from various locations. It requires deep knowledge of their personalities, strengths, weaknesses, interests, work style and other characteristics. Our technology and solutions will do the work for you, helping you discover if your people are resilient during times of hardship, if they are autonomous, if they are team players, without actual human contact. Given that our platform is cloud-based, everyone can use it from home as well. Humanity finds itself at a crossroad for various reasons now, why not help people discover and develop themselves from the comfort of their own homes?

Request a free demo:

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Sources:

https://hbr.org/2020/07/rethinking-work-schedules-consider-these-4-questions
https://shift-work.com/about/changing-schedules/
https://www.nytimes.com/2016/02/28/magazine/rethinking-the-work-life-equation.html

The Fear of Making Mistakes at Work

The Covid-19 crisis and its fallout — including recession, layoffs, and uneven economic pain — as well as recent protests over police brutality and demands for racial justice have presented many of us with challenges that we’ve not encountered before. The high-stakes and unfamiliar nature of these situations have left many people feeling fearful of missteps. No one can reduce mistakes to zero, but you can learn to harness your drive to prevent them and channel it into better decision making. Use these tips to become a more effective worrier.

As they say, everyone makes mistakes. In many situations, you can correct your error or just forget about it and move on. Making a mistake at work, however, is more serious. It can have a dire effect on your employer. It may, for example, endanger a relationship with a client, cause a legal problem, or put people’s health or safety at risk. Repercussions will ultimately trickle down to you. Simply correcting your error and moving on may not be an option. When you make a mistake at work, your career may depend on what you do next.

The current culture that is perpetuated glorifies fearlessness. The traditional image of a leader is one who is smart, tough, and unafraid. But fear, like any emotion, has an evolutionary purpose and upside. Your concern about making mistakes is there to remind you that we’re in a challenging situation. A cautious leader has value. This is especially true in times like these. So don’t get caught up in ruminating: “I shouldn’t be so fearful.”

Use emotional agility skills 

Fear of mistakes can paralyse people. Emotional agility skills are an antidote to this paralysis. This process starts with labelling your thoughts and feelings, such as “I feel anxious I’m not going to be able to control my customers enough to keep my staff safe.” Stating your fears out loud helps diffuse them. It’s like turning the light on in a dark room. Next comes accepting reality. For example, “I understand that people will not always behave in ideal ways.” List off every truth you need to accept. Then comes acting your values. Let’s say one of your highest values is conscientiousness. How might that value apply in this situation? For example, it might involve making sure your employees all have masks that fit them well or feel comfortable airing any grievances they have. Identify your five most important values related to decision-making in a crisis. Then ask yourself how each of those is relevant to the important choices you face.

Repeat this process for each of your fears. It will help you tolerate the fact that we sometimes need to act when the best course of action isn’t clear and avoid the common anxiety trap whereby people try to reduce uncertainty to zero.

Apologise, but keep it simple

Genuinely say the words, “I’m sorry, I made a mistake,” and offer how you plan to correct it. Resist the urge to offer excuses or to start apologising repeatedly. On the other hand, don’t overdo it trying to make it up. Stay professional and business-minded, recognising how valuable company time is.

An apology conveys several major things: regret of the mistake, responsibility for it, and respect for the company and people in it. An apology also offers the opportunity for the other people to let go of their anger. The moment the apology is genuinely made is the moment that you can work to rebuild.

You can’t change the past but you can find a solution for the here and now. One apology to the right person or people along with a possible solution will come across much more positively than a bunch of unnecessary filler words and statements to the entire office.

Accept the consequences in stride

The management and the HR team can decide that you need another form of reprimanding. Or they can take you up on your offer on how you’ll correct the mistake. Whatever the case, accept the consequences and carry out your tasks without complaining.

This reinforces your apology and will likely generate additional respect. Whether it’s staying after work for a few days in order to remedy the work, reaching out to the wronged person, or going about your normal work tasks, do it and do it well. Don’t just say you’re sorry, show them through your actions. Be a better worker.      

Broaden your thinking

When we’re scared of making a mistake, our thinking can narrow around that particular scenario. Imagine you’re out walking at night. You’re worried about tripping, so you keep looking down at your feet. Next thing you know you’ve walked into a lamp post. Or, imagine the person who is scared of flying. They drive everywhere, even though driving is objectively more dangerous. When you open the aperture, it can help you see your greatest fears in the broader context of all the other threats out there. This can help you get a better perspective on what you fear the most.

It might seem illogical that you could reduce your fear of making a mistake by thinking about other negative outcomes. But this strategy can help kick you into problem-solving mode and lessen the mental grip a particular fear has on you. A leader might be so highly focused on minimising or optimising for one particular thing, they don’t realise that other people care most about something else. Find out what other people’s priorities are.

Given our current situation knowing that your colleagues or employees are best suited for this new scenario we find ourselves in. Finding the right talent, the best fit for the job and your organisation can be a very challenging task. It is now important to find out whether your managers or your team is well-equipped of working together from various locations. It requires deep knowledge of their personalities, strengths, weaknesses, interests, work style and other characteristics. Our technology and solutions will do the work for you, helping you discover if your people are resilient during times of hardship, if they are autonomous, if they are team players, without actual human contact. Given that our platform is cloud-based, everyone can use it from home as well. Humanity finds itself at a crossroad for various reasons now, why not help people discover and develop themselves from the comfort of their own homes?

Request a free demo:

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Sources:

https://www.thebalancecareers.com/mistakes-at-work-526244
https://www.inc.com/john-discala/4-ways-to-bounce-back-after-making-a-mistake-at-work.html
https://hbr.org/2020/06/how-to-overcome-your-fear-of-making-mistakes?ab=hero-subleft-3

Virtual Work Skills Have Become a Must

2020 is the year that work went remote. In a matter of days, entire workforces were sent home and told to set up shop. Employees with no prior experience working from home were asked to navigate digital communication platforms, online meeting tools, and a deluge of email.

When you couple the inherent challenge of communicating remotely with uncertain and turbulent times, creating a cohesive and successful remote team can feel like an uphill battle.

Maintaining strong, productive relationships with clients and co-workers can be challenging when you never see the person you’re working with. Yet, it is common to have ongoing work relationships – sometimes lasting years — with people you’ve never met in person.

We often think of “virtual work” as working with someone located outside an office, or in another city or country. This type of work is on the rise: a 2017 Gallup report found 43% of American employees work remotely; in another survey, 48% of respondents reported that a majority of their virtual teamwork involved members from other cultures.

However, virtual work also encompasses how we are turning to technology to conduct business with nearby colleagues, sometimes within the same building or campus. At a large consumer-products firm where we’ve been conducting research, an HR director recounted the changes she witnessed in employees located in two buildings a few miles apart. “Ten years ago, we would regularly drive between buildings to meet each other, but today, we almost never do; meetings are conducted by videoconference and everything else is handled on e-mail and IM.”

Research consistently indicates that virtual work skills – such as the ability to proactively manage media-based interactions, to establish communication norms, to build social rapport with colleagues, and to demonstrate cooperation – enhance trust within teams and increase performance. Our surveys indicate that only about 30% of companies train employees in virtual work skills, but when they do, the training is more likely to focus on software skills and company policies than on social and interpersonal skills. Our findings are similar to those of a 2006 survey of HR leaders on training of virtual teams, suggesting that while technology and virtual work itself has advanced dramatically in recent years, our preparation to work virtually has not.

Recent reviews of the last 30 years of virtual work research shows that the most effective workers engage in a set of strategies and behaviours that we call “virtual intelligence.” Some people tend to be naturally more adept at working virtually than others; yet, everyone can increase their virtual intelligence. Two specific skill sets contributing to virtual intelligence are 1) establishing “rules of engagement” for virtual interactions, and 2) building and maintaining trust. These skill sets are relevant to all individuals who conduct virtual work, including co-workers in the same office who interact virtually.

Communication Is Key

While employees struggle to find their places in a new virtual team, how can we ensure the forced—or in some cases, desired—distance doesn’t lead to a culture of silence and silos? How can you put your people first and ensure distance doesn’t come between relationships and results?

Communication technology. Once you know you’ll be working virtually with someone on a regular basis, initiate a short conversation about their available technology, and agree on the best means of communication (e.g., “We’ll e-mail for simple, non-urgent matters, but get on Skype when there is something complex that might require us to share screens. Texting is fine if we need to get in touch urgently, but shouldn’t be used day-to-day.”)

Best times to connect. You might ask your virtual co-worker, “What times of day are typically better to call or text? Are there particular days of the week (or month) that I should avoid?” Establishing this rule early in a virtual work relationship both establishes respect for each other’s time, and saves time, by avoiding fruitless contact attempts.

How best to share information. If you’re collaborating on documents or other electronic files, establish a process to ensure you don’t inadvertently delete updates or create conflicting versions. File-sharing services such as Dropbox can help monitor revisions to jointly-owned documents (often called “version control”), but it is still wise to establish a simple protocol to avoid lost or duplicated work.

As the use of technology for all types of communication has become ubiquitous, the need for virtual work skills is no longer limited to telecommuters and global teams; it now extends to those of us whose work never takes us out of the office. Making a concerted effort to develop these skills by setting up rules of engagement and establishing trust early can feel uncomfortable, especially for people new to the idea of virtual work. Most of us are used to letting these dynamics evolve naturally in face-to-face relationships, with little or no discussion. Yet, workers with higher virtual intelligence know that these skills are unlikely to develop without explicit attention, and that making a short-term investment in developing the virtual relationship will yield long-term benefits.

Building and maintaining trust

Two types of trust matter in virtual work: relational trust (trust that your colleague is looking out for your best interests), and competence-based trust (trust that your colleague is both capable and reliable).

In order to build relational trust you must bring a social element into the virtual work relationship. Some people do this by starting conversations with non-work-related questions, such as “How are things going where you are?” or “How was your weekend?” Avoid making questions too personal, and don’t overwhelm your colleague with extensive details of your life. Keep it simple and sincere, and the conversation will develop naturally over time. Let your enthusiasm and personality show in your virtual communications. Keep it professional, but try adding a little of your own ‘voice’ to give your virtual colleague a sense of who you are, just as they would have in a face-to-face meeting.

Competence-based trust is highly important as well and to create such a relationship sharing your relevant background and experiences, indicating how these will help you support the current project. For example, on a new product development project, you might say, “I’m really looking forward to contributing to the market analysis, as it focuses on a market that I researched last year on another project.” Take initiative in completing tasks whenever possible and communicate that you’re doing so with periodic update e-mails. Doing this shows commitment to the shared task. Respond to e-mail quickly and appropriately.

Many virtual work relationships fail due to inconsistent e-mail communication. Silence works quickly to destroy trust in a virtual colleague. We recommend replying to non-urgent e-mails within one business day (sooner if it’s urgent). If you need more time, send a quick acknowledgement of the e-mail, letting your colleague know when you will reply.

Given our current situation knowing that your colleagues or employees are best suited for this new scenario we find ourselves in. Finding the right talent, the best fit for the job and your organisation can be a very challenging task. It is now important to find out whether your managers or your team is well-equipped of working together from various locations. It requires deep knowledge of their personalities, strengths, weaknesses, interests, work style and other characteristics. Our technology and solutions will do the work for you, helping you discover if your people are resilient during times of hardship, if they are autonomous, if they are team players, without actual human contact. Given that our platform is cloud-based, everyone can use it from home as well. Humanity finds itself at a crossroad for various reasons now, why not help people discover and develop themselves from the comfort of their own homes?

Request a free demo:

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Sources:

https://www.mckinsey.com/about-us/new-at-mckinsey-blog/this-moment-belongs-to-virtual-capability-building
https://www.td.org/insights/how-to-lead-a-virtual-team-7-skills-to-put-your-people-first
https://hbr.org/2018/10/the-virtual-work-skills-you-need-even-if-you-never-work-remotely

Knowledge Workers in the Ever-Shifting Gig Economy

The term “gig economy” was coined by former ‘New Yorker’ editor Tina Brown back in 2009. It was used to describe how workers in the knowledge economy were increasingly pursuing “free-floating projects, consultancies, and part-time bits and pieces while they transacted in a digital marketplace.”

The wisdom of the time was that the gig economy would completely change white-collar jobs and call into question the very existence of professional service firms: Why would anyone hire a data analytics firm for a project when you could have unrestricted access to a bunch of experts, connected by a digital platform from all around the globe, who could work together for your company? Given the freshness of the idea, it certainly looked like things were headed that way: the Netflix million-dollar challenge back in 2009 for creating and developing the best recommendation algorithm was won by a team that didn’t belong to a company — or even geography.

In the 1960s, Jack Nilles, a physicist who turned into an engineer, built a long-range communications system at the U.S. Air Force’s Aerial Reconnaissance Laboratory. Later on in his career, at NASA, he helped design space probes that could send messages back to Earth. In the early 1970s, as the director for interdisciplinary research at the University of Southern California, he became fascinated by a more terrestrial problem: traffic congestion. Unrestricted growth in urban areas and cheap gas were creating incredible traffic jams; more and more people were commuting into the same city centres. In October 1973, the OPEC oil embargo began, and gas prices quadrupled. America’s car-based work culture seemed suddenly unsustainable.

That year, Nilles published a book, “The Telecommunications-Transportation Tradeoff,” in which he and his co-authors argued that the congestion problem was actually a communications problem. The PC hadn’t been invented yet, and there was no easy way to relocate work into the home. But Nilles imagined a system that could ease the traffic crisis: if companies built small satellite offices in city peripheries, then employees could commute to many different, closer locations, perhaps on foot or by bicycle. A system of human messengers and mainframe computers could keep these distributed operations synchronised, replicating the communication that goes on within a single, shared office building. Nilles coined the term “telework” to describe this possible arrangement.

However, nowadays remote work is the exception rather than the norm. Flexible work arrangements tend to be seen as a perk; a 2018 survey found that only around three per cent of American employees worked from home more than half of the time. And yet the technological infrastructure designed for telecommuting hasn’t gone away. It’s what enables employees to answer e-mails on the subway or draft pre-dawn memos in their kitchens. Jack Nilles dreamed of remote work replacing office work, but the plan backfired: using advanced telecommunications technologies, we now work from home while also commuting. We work everywhere.

As spring gives way to summer, and we enter the uncertain second phase of the coronavirus pandemic, it’s unclear when, or whether, knowledge workers will return to their offices. Citigroup recently told its employees to expect a slow transition out of lockdown, with many employees staying out of the office until next year. Jack Dorsey, the C.E.O. of Twitter, went even further, announcing in an e-mail that those whose jobs didn’t require a physical presence would be allowed to work from home indefinitely. In a press statement, Twitter’s head of H.R. said that the company would “never probably be the same,” adding, “I do think we won’t go back.”

According to Peter Miscovich, Managing Director, Strategy + Innovation, JLL Consulting in New York, by 2020 gig workers will comprise half the workforce, and as much as 80% by 2030. In the very near future, says Miscovich, enterprise “Liquid Workforce” platforms will be based upon the emerging “Hollywood Model” of working where agile and “liquid” knowledge workers will be intelligently organized via the Internet on a project basis much like Hollywood movies are made today. The future Liquid Workforce will be organized via crowdsourced “uber-like” cloud-based work platforms providing greater workforce and workplace efficiency.

At some point, the pandemic and its aftershocks will fade. It will once again be safe to ride commuter trains to office buildings. What then? Many companies seem amenable to the idea of lasting changes. In April, a survey of chief financial officers conducted by the research firm Gartner found that three-quarters planned to increase the number of employees working remotely on a permanent basis. From an economic perspective, companies have a lot to gain from remote work: office space is expensive, and talent is likely to be cheaper outside of the biggest cities. Many workers will welcome these changes: in a recent Gallup poll, nearly sixty per cent of respondents said that they would like to keep working remotely after restrictions on businesses and schools have been lifted. For them, the long-promised benefits of work-from-home—a flexible, commute-free life, with more family and leisure time—have finally arrived.

And yet remote work is complex, and is no cure-all. Some of the issues that have plagued it for decades are unlikely to be resolved, no matter how many innovations we introduce: there’s probably no way for workplaces to Zoom themselves to the same levels of closeness and cohesion generated in a shared office; mentorship, decision-making, and leadership may simply be harder from a distance. There is also something dystopian about a future in which white-collar workers luxuriate in isolation while everyone else commutes to the crowded places. For others, meanwhile, isolation is the opposite of luxury. There may be many people who will always prefer to work from work.

But Brown turned out to be only half right. There has been tremendous growth in the gig economy, but most of it can be attributed to unskilled work such as driving (Lyft and Uber), delivering (food, parcels, etc. through DoorDash, Postmates), and doing simple errands (TaskRabbit). A vibrant gig economy for knowledge workers — engineers, consultants, management executives — has not really materialised.

Culture

Gig workers in the knowledge economy will have to work with and for firms that have pronounced values, incentives, practices, and preferences. But they do not assimilate easily into these organizations (unless they join them) as they often work at arms-length with them and are seen by people in the organizations as outsiders — or even threats —impeding effective cooperation and creating the potential for conflict. In this context, gig workers often struggle to understand, let alone accept, the larger organizational processes, people, and politics of many of the people they have to work with. Performance assessment may also be problematic, especially if the gig worker is hired by a firm to do a job that the traditional metrics of most organizations still cannot properly capture.

When you start listing these problems, it becomes less of a mystery why the firms still prefer to hire knowledge workers as full-time employees or other firms with knowledge workers rather than contract directly with gig workers, despite the ability of tech to reduce many of the more obvious costs.

This may, at last, be about to change. But not from the advent of any new technology — it’s from the global pandemic that is forcing the global economy to its knees. The organizational factors that act as barriers for knowledge-based gig work are the same ones that in the past have inhibited remote work by full-time employees. If these issues can be resolved, whether a remote worker is full-time or gig-based is simply a matter of contractual documentation. Clearly, the experience of working during the pandemic provides useful insights on how to successfully contract knowledge work to external contractors. But we need to approach these lessons carefully.

Tasks Are Vital

Knowledge work is not uniform and, to the extent that you can even talk this way, a given “unit” of knowledge work is itself highly complex. A university, for example, educates students for degrees. A unit, therefore, could be the degree that a student comes out with. But a lot of very different tasks go into creating that unit. So what does “gigification” mean in this context?

Universities could certainly consider using gig workers for graders, teaching assistants, or for pre-recorded online lectures. But it is unlikely that the majority of milestone classes (face-to-face or virtual) that need to be delivered live at specific moments will be delivered by gig workers. Since any degree will inevitably involve both kinds of classes, university teaching will always be hybrid between the two, at least at the course level, possibly even at the class level.

The lesson is that all knowledge-based work can be unpacked into a set of different tasks. To figure out the future of the gig economy for knowledge workers, therefore, we need to analyse things at the task level rather than at the work level. We have found the simple process chart shown below to be extremely useful in figuring out which kinds of tasks are amenable to gigification.  It involves asking these three basic questions about each knowledge-intensive task involved in delivering a product or service.

The Covid-19 epidemic could well prove to be a pivotal point in the gigification of knowledge work, and many firms will be attracted by the prospects of the direct and indirect cost savings that the gig economy model seems to offer.  But given the complexities of knowledge work there’s also a risk of overreach and wasted investment.  The simple task-based categorization we propose will help managers make smarter choices about how just what tasks should be contracted to gig workers.

Given our current situation knowing that your colleagues or employees are best suited for this new scenario we find ourselves in. Finding the right talent, the best fit for the job and your organisation can be a very challenging task. It is now important to find out whether your managers or your team is well-equipped of working together from various locations. It requires deep knowledge of their personalities, strengths, weaknesses, interests, work style and other characteristics. Our technology and solutions will do the work for you, helping you discover if your people are resilient during times of hardship, if they are autonomous, if they are team players, without actual human contact. Given that our platform is cloud-based, everyone can use it from home as well. Humanity finds itself at a crossroad for various reasons now, why not help people discover and develop themselves from the comfort of their own homes?

Request a free demo:

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Sources:

https://serraview.com/gig-economy-impacting-corporate-workplace/
https://www.newyorker.com/culture/annals-of-inquiry/can-remote-work-be-fixed
https://hbr.org/2020/06/will-the-pandemic-push-knowledge-work-into-the-gig-economy

Effective Screen Time While Working from Home

Before the quarantine, most of us likely thought that we have spent almost all of our workday at the computer. But little did we know that you could spend so much more. Between commutes, meetings, chats, watercooler talks, coffee breaks, and lunches, we had many opportunities throughout the day where our eyes would have less screen time and detach from the digital realm.

Now with those natural breaks eliminated, there’s little to no break from the connection to technology. In particular, video calls add an extra layer of fatigue. Having to focus on multiple faces simultaneously while also being conscious that everyone can see you creates an added layer of mental and emotional exhaustion that wouldn’t be experienced as acutely in an in-person setting. The extra time in front of the computer can also cause eye strain and muscle fatigue because you need to hold your body rigid for hours to stay inside a camera’s range.

A recent study found that the average office worker spends 1,700 hours per year in front of a computer screen — and that was before many of us began working from home. Add to that our frequent use of phones and other digital devices, and you’ve got a recipe for unhappy — and possibly unhealthy — eyes. What are the implications for the eyes during this period of greatly increased screen time?

When we’re moving between meetings and offices and interacting with people face-to-face, it’s a simple fact that we move our eyes more. We blink more, which helps keep the eyes lubricated and comfortable. But when we look at a screen for extended periods, we tend not to blink. In fact, focusing the eyes on computer screens or other digital displays has been shown to reduce a person’s blink rate by a third to a half.

According to Esen Akpek, professor of ophthalmology at Wilmer Eye Institute, Johns Hopkins Medicine and an expert in dry eye, not only does extensive gazing — such as that which occurs when reading on a computer screen — dry the eyes, it also starts a vicious cycle. “When your eyes become dry, that reduces reading speed, which further increases exposure time and worsens dryness,” Akpek has said, “and this can ultimately lead to inflammation of the eye surface and a self-perpetuating chronic dry eye.”

Gone are the days when we could break away from our computers with post-work pub trips, theatre visits, or meals out. Work events and conferences, too, once provided a much-needed respite from staring at displays all day, while meetings could be conducted device-free and in-person. Due to ongoing lockdown measures to combat the COVID-19 pandemic, however, we’ve come to rely on screens more than ever; not just for work, but to keep our social lives going, too.

In order to help your time management and regain energy, there are ways that can reduce or eliminate technology throughout the day. Here are a few tips and tricks that have been proved to be most effective.

Limit meeting duration

Normally, setting aside blocks of time to get work done is a good idea. But if you find virtual meetings draining, this practice is even more essential for you right now. Block out time on your schedule where you’re not available for meetings so that you can temper how much virtual communication you have each day. That could look like setting aside most of a morning or afternoon as a meeting-free time or blocking out a few one-hour chunks of time throughout the day to detach and focus on other work.

More physical less digital

In order to balance out the increased screen time both on and off the clock, look for ways that you can take the low-tech route. Brainstorming for an article? Write out your thoughts on paper. Creating a road map for a big project? Sketch the initial draft on a white board. Reading a book? Pick up a print copy. Exercising? Go outside on a run. Anytime you can reasonably choose a physical option over a digital one, take it. Stepping away from the computer not only offers you a digital break, but can help you be more creative.

Get up and move

To cancel out the fatigue caused by sitting rigidly in front of your computer, move around as much as you can. In between meetings, take a walk to the kitchen to refill your water or coffee. When you need a quick break, do a few simple movements like rolling your shoulders to get the blood flowing. If you have a standing desk, move it up and down so you’re able to both sit and stand throughout the day. If you don’t have a standing desk, put your computer on a high counter or bureau to get an opportunity to stretch your legs. And if you’re on a normal phone call and don’t need to be taking notes or looking at documents while you talk, consider standing up or even walking back and forth during the conversation.

Activate the blue-light filter on all of your devices

One of the most effective ways to immediately reduce eye strain is by installing a filter that warms the tone of your display. Although the eyes absorb blue light naturally, prolonged exposure from computer displays can lead to eye strain, according to Prevent Blindness. The consequences include irritation as well as difficulty focusing.

There are a number of free tools out there, including f.lux and the open-source Lightbulb, which users can download immediately in order to modify the tones on their displays. macOS and Windows 10 users can also opt to make use of night-time filters bundled into their operating systems. These can be found under display settings in each OS and can be activated throughout the day if needs be, not just at night.

Tech-free breaks

Although it may feel more “efficient” to eat lunch at your computer, your brain will thank you for taking a break from the screen. Eat lunch while chatting with your family members in the kitchen, looking out a window, or reading a physical book. Stepping away from technology not only gives your brain a break but also gives you the added bonus of perspective. I find that even when I take a short lunch of 15 to 20 minutes where I simply eat without doing anything else, I feel more peaceful at the end than I did before. I also find that I tend to have a clearer sense of the big picture of what’s occurring in my life and work.

Another practice that’s benefiting myself as well as many of my time management coaching clients is post-work outdoor physical activity. This includes taking a walk, playing basketball in a driveway, gardening, or anything else that gets you active. This split from the digital world refreshes your brain and helps to create some separation from the end of your work day and the beginning of your personal time.

Don’t e-socialise right after working hours

In the last few weeks, we’ve been forced to find increasingly creative ways to stay in touch with our friends and loved ones – whether on Zoom, Skype, Google Meet or Google Hangout.

Just as you wish to break up your working day, it’s important not to hop straight from work to online catchups, however. You should leave a little room for a break to reduce the strain on your eyes, perhaps by getting up for a short walk, making a snack, or catching up with the people you live with. Try to leave yourself a little breathing room in the schedule while organising your digital commitments to ensure you aren’t glued to your computer, tablet or smartphone all morning.

Take up a new hobby

Besides saving time on travel, lockdown has freed up dozens of hours per week that would have otherwise been spent on going out or meeting up with people in-person. While this is the perfect time to catch up on boxsets, or the latest shows that have passed us by, it’s critical we don’t fill all these hours up with yet more screen-related activities.

It could be the best time to engage in a long-lost passion, learn how to cook, or take up more exercise. There are hundreds of activities you can take up now and then throughout the lockdown period to ensure you’re keeping yourself entertained while resting your eyes after a day locked to your computer. This may also help to more effectively maintain a work-life balance, with these lines threatening to become intertwined very easily.

When it’s possible to go back to more in-person communications, it will be a wonderful relief. But in the immediate term, some of the added digital load is unavoidable. These strategies can help you counter that load and reduce digital fatigue.

Given our current situation knowing that your colleagues or employees are best suited for this new scenario we find ourselves in. Finding the right talent, the best fit for the job and your organisation can be a very challenging task. It is now important to find out whether your managers or your team is well-equipped of working together from various locations. It requires deep knowledge of their personalities, strengths, weaknesses, interests, work style and other characteristics. Our technology and solutions will do the work for you, helping you discover if your people are resilient during times of hardship, if they are autonomous, if they are team players, without actual human contact. Given that our platform is cloud-based, everyone can use it from home as well. Humanity finds itself at a crossroad for various reasons now, why not help people discover and develop themselves from the comfort of their own homes?

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Sources:

https://www.itpro.co.uk/business/business-strategy/355372/8-tips-for-reducing-screen-fatigue-while-working-from-home
https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/news/articles/protect-your-eyes-from-screen-time
https://hbr.org/2020/05/5-tips-to-reduce-screen-time-while-youre-wfh