The working week is killing us

For many, working at home in a toxic culture is the new norm.

Sadly, many employers have made a real mess of the #WFH opportunity that the pandemic has offered us.
Rather than embrace the whole ethos of location and time-independent working, many employers have made the working week longer and more stressful.

A recent report show that the working week grew by nearly an hour over the last year. To be fair, it’s not jist employers who have dropped the ball here, employees carry some responsibility here. The trade-off with flexible working and a reduced-stress home life is more nuanced than most would like to admit.

Here are some of the things we have learned after FOUR decades of remote work.

  1. Set clear guidelines of what is expected by the company, and publish them. If employees are expected to be online and ready to work at 9am sharp, it is not fair that they should be expected to respond to any communications after about 4:45 and should be left alone for at least an hour during lunch.
  2. Engender trust, empower the whole team. If you have the opportunity to support location and time-independent working then you’ll all need to trust in each other. No spying on staff, no covert reporting of activity, no random “attend the office immediately” requests. Employers should trust employees to deliver what is agreed, not when, where or even how (subject to some agreed framework).
  3. Avoid disruptive working practices. Poor examples include crap email management, unfiltered notifications, micro-management, poor tine-zone awareness, and everything-is-urgent communications. We banned internal email in 2010 (exceptions do apply), operate a 10am to 4pm local time communication window, and quite struct rules on notifications.
  4. Not everyone can #WFH. Accept this, find an alternate way to support remote work such as a shared hub or community co-work space. Be prepared to see folks switched around and even leave.
  5. Search for stars.. Put simply, some folks excel when freed from the grind of 9-5 and commuting. Keep an eye out and nurture those that seem to thrive.
  6. Pay folks properly. Working from home has financial benefits for both the employee and employer. Share those benefits fairly and openly. Avoid penny-pinching on both sides of the fence.
  7. Avoid the half-assed approach. Cherry picking what to take from both #WFH and office-based work is a recipe for failure. You kinda have to choose the approach and commit to it.

By far, what we gained the most from was to trust the team to work when it suited them, and regard “a week” as a reasonable time/work cycle and keep that capped at no more than 25 hours. Finally, strive to make you and your team’s life easier, not harder.