Barely more than two years ago we did audio calls. Yeah, audio calls – remember those awkward things, where people not only left their mute buttons on, but often just went missing from the discussion altogether? Now we’re all so well organized in our visual virtual worlds that it’s a huge challenge trying to balance the ridiculous notion of wasting time getting dressed, going to an office, and – heaven forbid – actually having voluntary discussions with our colleagues.
We are all human beings and we’re super comfortable in our own isolation. The days when all our colleagues were on Facebook, and our companies had become extensions of our families are long gone. I wonder how many people reading this met their spouses over a water cooler (or company Xmas party)? So how does our relationship with our company change?
Unstructured flexibility is the new “nine-to-five”
I remember once being chastised for sending out emails to my staff over the weekend. Gosh, how dare I ruin that wonderful work-free time, when I can wait until Monday to bark orders? Seriously, I don’t have bloody time on a Monday morning, so I will send out what I need when I have time to ask! If people demand flexibility to cater to their busy lifestyles/family commitments, then this whole nine-to-five bullsh*t died with audio calls.
Now I am the first to laud judging performance on outcomes, but if you’re spending half your day taking mom shopping, kids to soccer practice, taking in a quick 9-hole round, then you’re gonna have to find some time somewhere to meet your work outcomes. If you want to decompress and escape work interactions, then you need to manage that yourself – turn off all work apps, get a personal cellphone… you need to manage your own clock on/clock off these days. If you want nine-to-five structure then go back to the office. Am sure you can be amazingly productive with nothing much else to do than work 40 hours a week imprisoned in a work setting.
Managers need empathy skills… emotional intelligence is the route to the top
I have spent my entire career screaming that people management capability belongs outside of the HR department. Suddenly all ambitious managers are being judged on their ability to retain and develop their teams, keeping their staff focused and motivated. An unstructured work environment demands a lot more cohesion, honesty, and teamwork – and the only way to achieve that is through emotionally-intelligent leaders. That means management is more than dolling out tasks and conducting awkward performance reviews… it’s about getting to know what makes your people tick. When people are happy, they feel trusted, and they value the people around them, they perform. And it today’s work environment you will lose your best people if you can’t bond with them – not only will you likely fail to meet your goals, but your leadership will also notice that you’re struggling to drive your team.
The Bottom-line: An unstructured environment is based on trust and closer emotional relationships between managers and colleagues
We all have bad weeks when we are off our games – so don’t hide, let your manager or team know and they may help you get back in the groove. Good people are sympathetic and empathetic, and so are good colleagues. And if you’re having a period of great productivity, success and inspiration, let people know too… good vibes and passion are infectious and make people want to bond with you. Bare your soul a bit, whether you are an experienced leader or a junior team member, and you’ll find your work environment can be a bit more than a laptop screen and soul-crushing interactions with people who you barely know. There is no defined curriculum anymore when it comes to the workplace… when it comes to trust and passion, that comes from people and their ability to motivate and empathize with each other.