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We have all been on a learning curve during this Coronavirus pandemic. In the beginning some had a steeper technology learning curve than others. Some of us struggled to learn communication and collaborative work technology and others worked effectively from the start. Over time, we all learned new skills for working, learning and managing virtually. Some employees would now prefer to continue working remote rather than returning to the office.
Many backpack hikers say that we carry what we fear in our backpacks. For example, if we fear we will be hungry between stops we may carry extra food or if we fear the cold, we may carry extra clothing. Over the miles traveled, all of these items weigh down the hiker. If we allow the hiking backpack to be a metaphor for our company, this has certainly been an interesting time to reflect on how much extra we have carried along in our company just because it has been the way we have always done it. As we reflect on the past few months, what are the some of the other lessons we have learned?
1. All things are possible. The Coronavirus instantly removed all obstacles that we envisioned taking many more years to remove. At the very instant we were ordered to shelter in, we created the reality of operating our businesses regardless of physical location. Perhaps we have become complacent in other areas where innovation is possible.
2. Authenticity and relationships are important. We have become accustomed to talking and working with each other while dogs are barking in the background and children are nearby. Our personal appearance and clothing are not as important as we thought they were. We have come to accept each other for our authenticity rather than our outward appearance. We have built multi-dimensional relationships from this transparency. Those living in our home experience more of our work life and our coworkers experience more of our personal life. The lines between personal and work have become blurred and we have come to genuinely care about each other.
3. We are not bound by the walls of our office. When we work remotely, nobody is excluded because they are outside of the limited geography of our physical location. Location and relocation are no longer barriers to working with the highest quality employees. We have learned that our business transcends geography. We have been participating in more because we are not bound by taking time off from work and needing to travel to events.
4. We are productivity driven. Managers may have thought that their direct reports would work less hours and be less productive working from home particularly when many homeschooled children who were also sheltered in. Many managers found the opposite was true. Employees were more productive and spent more time at their computers. Managers learned to allow employees greater flexibility and control over their schedules. The time clock mentality may be finally gone since we have learned that we do not need to be seen in the office in order to be productive.
5. We may no longer need managers of managers. Companies may not even realize how much time is spent simply managing – managing other managers and managing frontline workers. With the virtual productivity and communication tools many leaders are realizing that employees are capable of self-managing. Without middle managers, cross-functional communication increases and employees are much more likely to reach out directly and collaboratively to other people and departments. It is now possible for leaders to focus more on their work while managing a greater span and eliminating the managers who manage managers.
6. We don’t need as many meetings. Have you ever attended a meeting that was called for the purpose of scheduling meetings? We have all learned it may be more productive to handle a matter through email, IM or a quick videoconference rather than scheduling a meeting with numerous attendees. We are no longer required to sit in meetings listening to matters in which we have no interest because we must wait our turn.
Let us know what important lessons you have learned over the past few months and share your new best practices.
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