WHY ADOPTION MATTERS.
“Those who cannot change their minds, cannot change anything” G.B. Shaw.
Changing processes, changing behaviours, rerouting old paths, it is never easy. And whilst conceptually a lot of organisations recognise the need to evolve their remote working capabilities, few have taken the uneasy step of actually starting the journey.
For remote working to be successful, digital workplaces and all that encompasses need to be normalised into our businesses. As a concept this is easy to grasp, but actually implementing a meaningful strategy less so.
THE CHALLENGE IS THIS.
Firstly employees have varying capabilities. At the one end you have the innovators who have been quick to realise the potential of remote working, yet their knowledge is at best gained through trial and error, which is time consuming – so any potential productivity gains have been lost in their rudimentary knowledge of what is and isn’t effective. And then at the other end of the spectrum you have the laggards – those who are struggling to adjust either through bloody mindedness or a general lack of enduring technical knowledge (this group typically fail spot checks on other basic functions such as managing their CRM database correctly).
But we have been here before… For those grey and wise enough to remember the early stages of mobile connectivity (remember how great Blackberry was back then), the potential benefits of properly adopting connected solutions had a massive impact on productivity as businesses went from strictly 9-5 office working to a slightly more flexible approach. Responding to emails could be quicker, managing calendars was easier, we shifted the basic functions of a desktop into the cloud and it took off.
The problem – for those who remember – was that everyone wanted access, but very few knew what to do to roll it out successfully beyond a basic tutorial of how to use the device. The subsequent poor adoption meant a backlog of requests to the IT desk where supply couldn’t keep up with demand, as they dealt with existing customers so to speak. Consequently there were arbitrary corporate policies on who could and couldn’t have a blackberry, along with employees having to write their own justification for requesting one. Up until about 4 months ago – digital workplaces / remote working had a similar feel. As opposed to businesses encouraging a flexible approach to working, it was incumbent on the employee in a large proportion of cases to justify the necessity to do so because we are still coming to grips with what is and isn’t acceptable in a remote work environment.
THIS IS COUNTER PRODUCTIVE AND SHOULD BE FLIPPED AROUND.
It is to a certain degree – the leaders and managers who should have been encouraging employees to adopt these new practices from the outset. The benefits are easy to define and there are numerous studies from the quantitative to the qualitative which outline why it matters. COVID-19 then happened, taking the decisions out of the managers and leaders hands, as organisations were forced into a scenario very few had prepared for.
SO WHAT HAPPENED NEXT.
Our calendars got full. And I mean really full. Suddenly the rush to justify our whereabouts led to our days becoming filled with video calls, with check in’s and status updates morphed into social calls. The economy in the space of a few weeks had to adjust but we weren’t set up for it properly so we reverted to type and tried to replicate the office environment at home.
THAT’S A FALSE POSITIVE.
Yes it is encouraging that teams worked hard to understand how to communicate, but our productivity dropped – if you today ask most front office teams and a typical response is they are looking forward to getting back in the office so they can get on with their jobs again, ask most back office functions and they’ll tell you the same.
WE SOLVED HOW TO STAY IN TOUCH. WE DIDN’T SOLVE HOW TO STAY PRODUCTIVE.
Businesses, me, you, everyone need to rethink how we operate. Taking the good behaviours of office working, and removing the bad habits – because in a digital workplace setting its the bad habits which impact our productivity the most. Decision making is an easy one – in the office a group decision is typically made within around 3-5 minutes, yet on a video call its 15 minutes minimum because that’s what our calendar tells us. So on a typical working day that means our ability to make a group decision just dropped by 66%.
THIS IS WHY ADOPTION IS IMPORTANT.
It’s not just understanding the tech, it’s recognising what your processes actually are, how leaders behave and what your expectations and tolerance threshold looks like.
Here at Toomi, we understand that. We admit to not always getting it right 100% of the time. But we’re pretty close. So if you’re wondering why we think adoption matters, it’s because we see no reason why your business shouldn’t be operating at the same levels or better than in the office.
We help you get your 66% back.
Evolving Leadership in the remote workplace.
Today’s leaders give an organisation direction and purpose, keeping the team in the loop about where the business is headed and how everyone contributes to that vision. They’re also the driver in recognising success and motivating effort, and aligning those efforts to the strategic direction of the organization.
THEY ARE THE GUARDIAN AND REINFORCER OF THE BIG PICTURE.
At Toomi, we recognise that the move to, and successful adoption of remote working will challenge leaders in new ways, offering opportunity for growth and development of existing behaviours in equal measure.
Whilst the modern workplace may be changing, what isn’t in question is that great leaders have key traits in common that allow them to influence those around them, maximising their teams potential to achieve an agreed organisational goal. Great leaders demonstrate vision and act decisively, maintaining an authenticity to their actions as they lead their organisations with compassion and care. However, the enforced transition to remote and blended working practice continues to challenge this way of working at every stage.
As the long term adoption of remote working practice continues at a pace, it is more important than ever to understand the building blocks allowing for long term success.
Any high performing remote working environment starts with trust, and the leadership has to be at the heart of that movement. Trust is clearly a two way street, and in the same way that leaders have to be credible, whilst being respected as people alongside their professional efforts, team members generate trust via their positive actions. ‘Walking the walk’ will often be used when describing a high trust environment, and this adds to the authenticity of any successful leader, promoting a ‘trust, not track’ approach to team performance.
2. Task based
In the instance of virtual teams, it can be harder to track hours worked and more traditional employee metrics. Instead, many organisations that have successfully integrated virtual workers go for a much more “task” based model, in which workers have tasks to complete, and they have the autonomy and freedom to structure their day in a way that suits them (as long as the agreed tasks are completed).
This brings with it many benefits and can often mean teams become much more results focused, as opposed to “watching the clock.” Teams are designed around problems and objectives and measured on their input and effectiveness.
Communication, whether that’s video calls, phone calls, messenger apps, or email, the communication between team members is vital. Leadership teams need to ensure that although employees may be virtual and located around the world, effective communication is prioritised – your communication method is as important as your content.
This enables teams to foster a culture with these virtual workers and ensure their needs are being met.
4. Focus on the individual
Organisations have made great progress in recent years to create company wide collegiate cultures that focus on lofty goals supported with team ‘buy in’ to well defined support processes. Whilst these cultural frameworks still have enduring impact, for leaders, accepting the individual, their new working environment and its impact on the process, is critical to the end result.
Leading with compassion and caring for the person delivering the results is key to engaging and maintaining connection with a workforce that varies in almost every facet outside of the homogenous office setting. Embracing this diversity in process, whilst working within an agreed framework and timescale is critical to team and programme success.
At Toomi, our goal isn’t just functional tech enablement, it is about maximising output from leadership to associate level. We recognise what worked well for individuals and teams in a physical environment, and help you shape your new high performance work setting through insight, experience and knowledge.