We have just been through the biggest remote work experiment of all time. The good news is that we’re coming away with insights to apply to the hybrid models that will likely dominate our working futures.
In this post I ask you to apply the lenses of drag, distraction and drama to your workplace. They can slow down or frustrate efforts to do our best work (and achieve better outcomes).
- Drag is about those processes or ways of working that may no longer be useful. For example, a daily Teams call or Zoom meeting was useful for touching base in the early levels of lockdown. We needed that interaction and connection. Shorter, less frequent meetings might now be more useful, with longer sessions planned for when we are face to face. Questions to root out outdated practices are: Where do I feel as though I am wasting time? What is no longer relevant? What new tools or tech can make this task quicker, easier or more efficient? No doubt there is a fair amount of drag from our recent years, perhaps even from pre-Covid days. Shedding some outdated practice may help us mentally to shift into a new space.
- Distraction is about lack of focus on the work that needs doing. With the advent of clever and social tech, attention has become our most precious resource. Cal Newport is a specialist on this topic. He builds a solid business case for DEEP WORK, where we schedule (and then respect) focused and uninterrupted working time in each day. Start with just 30 minutes if that is all you can bargain for. Productivity levels soar when we do this, as do ‘flow states’ (see the late Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi’s amazing work). Explore the simple but effective Eisenhower Matrix to sort and prioritise important and urgent tasks. My vote is for completing this matrix at least once a quarter.
- Do you ever get stuck in the human drama of pleasing or getting recognised? Presenteeism (in-office or online) can be a manifestation of drama. We appear to be ‘at work’, but the signalling dominates the commitment to the outputs of the task. We want to make sure that others see us as rolling sleeves up, especially in uncertain times. But the ripple effects of this kind of behaviour aren’t especially good for business. We inadvertently create the expectation that there is never any down time, for example, when we are ‘always on’. Where is the drama in your workplace? And who sets the tone for it?
There’s a lot of room for learning about how to navigate hybrid workplaces. They may be hybrid but they are still human (or should be). The three P’s are excellent conversation starters.
A guide for remote work by Dr Richard Claydon.