Alright. Perhaps not panic. But I do feel a bit of mayhem, mixed with anxiety, mixed with dread, mixed with excitement, mixed with a whole lot of “Oh sh*t!” (Ummm, that might just be panic after all!) In Alberta, life opens up in four(ish) weeks. A mass free for all is what’s anticipated (and yes, just in time for Stampede). And while I am so happy for our friends that own gyms, our friends in the travel and hospitality business, our friends that need people to be out and about to make a living…I can’t help but be a bit nervous. We’ve been locked down, locked up, locked out for 15 months and just…like…that…we’re open? Meanwhile in Ontario, they just announced schools aren’t opening back up.
So where to begin to help with easing others fears who may be feeling the same way? I might be a broken record, but it’s using transparent communication. Don’t have time to communicate; make time.
Here’s what team members want to know (for those that still are working from home anyway):
- Do we have to come back 5 days a week, 8 to 5? If so when? No really. When. (Make up a date if you don’t have one. Most of our clients are saying September 13+ so that people have time figure out school and going back to work).
- If hybrid, do I still have an office or the same desk I used to have? Most clients are saying no. It will be hoteling. After all, it’s a great way to save on a lease.
- If I can stay working from home, is there a minimum amount of facetime at the office I have to provide? Most of our clients are saying it’s department specific, job specific but most importantly – when we need to be a team, we’ll give you enough notice to be able to be part of it.
- If I stay working from home, do I get an office allowance? Most of our clients are saying nothing changes from today if you stay home 60%+ of the time.
Be flexible. Be transparent. Be prepared to pivot. But don’t demand to have work look the way it used to. You simply won’t be competitive.
Is productivity going down or is burnout going up?
I’d suggest you might actually be asking your team to do more than pre pandemic. After all – there are no more hallway conversations, drop ins, drive byes, or random jam sessions to take part in. No more complaining about Sue’s smelly tuna salad or Jon’s desire to talk about Minecraft. Most organizations didn’t track productivity pre-pandemic – but suddenly everyone says it’s definitely down. Why? Because you don’t physically see a butt in seat? What’s your data?
The truth is people are working way more hours (there isn’t a commute anymore) and are in 35%+ more meetings because – well, you can go zoom to zoom rather than even walking room to room. Your revenues may be going down, but that’s not due to productivity. It’s only due to productivity if you’re losing clients due to not keeping up. And if your team isn’t keeping up, it’s due to motivation. And de-motivated employees are usually a direct reflection of their relationship with their leader. And poor leadership – well, it probably wasn’t that good pre-pandemic either. #micdrop
Here’s the thing: If you want to help productivity, decrease the causes for burnout. Look at the demands of each position and ask, can we change this? Look at different ways to give back control to the employee (because that’s the real cause of burnout – zero control) and then look for ways to further support. Training, education, mandating time off.
Work wasn’t great pre-pandemic. But change is hard. There were silver linings during this pandemic. Don’t discard the lessons learned. Instead, get creative. You can do hard things. You got through this pandemic by innovating and being open to the possibilities.
Don’t ditch that now.