How Managers Can Support Remote Employees by Sabina Nawaz in Harvard Business Review
How Managers Can Support Remote Employees by Sabina Nawaz in Harvard Business Review
Five Things #Leaders of Newly #Remote Teams Must Do by Kevin Eikenberry
With many businesses encouraging their employees to work from home, I thought it might be a good time to repost this article I wrote a few years ago.
My First Year Wearing Bunny Slippers: Advantages and Challenges of Working from Home
After retiring from the U.S. Navy in 2013, I was offered a dream job of working with Lowe Campbell Ewald, an advertising and marketing communications agency headquartered in Detroit. Moving was not an option for my family who had lived in nine different places during a 22-year military career. Fortunately, along with the job offer came the opportunity to work from my home in Atoka, Tennessee (north of Memphis). I talked to others who worked from home and learned that there were advantages and challenges of the intra-house commute. After working from home for a year, I wanted to share my own thoughts along with some recommendations for those who may be thinking about trading in their work boots for bunny slippers.
Advantages: Focus & Flexibility
According to Bassex (2009), employees spend 28% of their workday dealing with interruptions, and the average manager is interrupted every eight minutes. Interruptions are not really an issue for me, so I can focus on the tasks at hand for as long as needed. With two grown daughters and a wife who works outside the home, I spend most of my workday alone (unless you count my dog, who prefers to sleep most of the day curled up on the floor of my home office). This laser-like focus means I can work more efficiently and creatively because I have time to think about the work that needs to be done, mostly interruption free.
The second benefit of working from home, flexibility, also helps with creativity. Rather than spending time dealing with and recovering from interruptions, I have the luxury of time that I use to explore ways to help our clients better meet their mission. When I worked aboard a ship or in a standard office ashore, I rarely, if ever, allowed myself the time to creatively look at ways to get the job done. Most days were spent trying to complete a list of tasks in between a constant set of interruptions and competing priorities.
Tip #1: Make the most of the focus time by creating a work-friendly space with minimal distractions. We converted a guest room into an office, which required clearing everything out except for a desk, a small TV (for monitoring news required for my job), and a treadmill. If I get distracted during the day, I only have myself to blame.
Tip #2: Be smart about flexibility with a routine that works best for you and your organization. I still get up at 4:45 every morning to start my day with the same routine I enjoyed in the military (prayer, bible study, physical training). This puts me at my desk before 6 a.m., which means I can get an early start on my morning tasks before many of my coworkers get to their offices (after their much longer commute). This works well for my early-morning nature, but more importantly it means my coworkers have information available to them when they start their workday.
Tip #3: Be careful about working nonstop. Just because your office is a short walk away, doesn’t mean you should spend all day (or night) working. I love my job, so it’s easy for me to spend hours doing what I enjoy, even if that means working past a normal eight-hour workday. According to a Stanford University study, I’m not alone. Employees who worked from home worked 9.5% longer and were 13% more productive than their commuting colleagues (Bloom, Liang, Roberts & Ying, 2013).
Challenges: Communication and Connectedness
Just like most work arrangements, bunny-slipper employment benefits also come with some challenges. Communication and connectedness are two of those I’ve identified during my first year working from home. The interruptions that distract from work also help connect us. There’s some important communication within a lot of conversations that pull us away from the task at hand.
Tip #4: Proactively seek out opportunities to communicate and connect remotely or in-person.
Fortunately, I serve with a great team of folks who invite me to meetings and share other opportunities to communicate about items of mutual interest. I’m also thankful that we live in a time of multiple technological options to stay connected through e-mail, telephone, video conference, social media, and online collaboration tools.
My boss and many coworkers visit the Memphis area frequently because our client (U.S. Navy Recruiting Command) is located here. I also visit our headquarters in Detroit and travel with the team when we meet with Sailors or brief senior Navy leaders about the work we do supporting the recruiting mission.
Working from home isn’t for everyone (or every organization). It works well for me because I’m blessed with a boss and coworkers who allow me to contribute to our important mission remotely. I believe my organization benefits from the advantages, and I’m grateful for their help in mitigating the challenges of my bunny slipper work-life balance.
Do you work from home? I’d love to hear your thoughts about what works for you.
Are you thinking about hopping off the daily commute trail? Feel free to share your questions here. Please consider this an open thread for ongoing discussion.
Note: I have to give title credit for this article to my boss who used to tease me about working in “bunny slippers.” I shared this with my wife, who decided to join in on the joke and get me a set for Christmas. I’m modeling the slippers in the photo for this article.
For Leaders, Decency is Just as Important as Intelligence by Bill Boulding in Harvard Business Review
Miserable @ Work by Dr. Will Miller
Humor, misery and work rarely fit together so easily as they do with this light-hearted look at what’s really troubling many people in America today. I don’t want to spoil the fun for readers, so I’ll just say what many may already intuitively know. The misery ain’t all about the work!
One example of the humor injected into this book is a quote about the lack of exercise when the author was younger. “The whole time I was growing up, I never once heard any of the adults in my life use the words, ‘abs, pecs, glutes or reps.’ Complimenting someone on their abs could easily get you kicked in your glutes.”
The topic of workplace misery is one that will be of interest to anyone who feels like they’ve lost the joy they once had in their profession, as well as to leaders who wish to help those they lead find more engagement in their work. There’s no doubt that happy employees are more productive, which affects the bottom line; however, there’s a higher calling for most leaders who genuinely want their employees to see value in what they do for a majority of their waking hours.
The book balances good advice based on Dr. Will’s life experiences with solid support based on academic research. This approach helps overcome the naysayers who may suffer from self-help fatigue.
This short and relatable book is one that I’ll be sharing with those I lead as well as a few peers I thought of while reading the book over a recent weekend.
This book review was completed by Alvin Plexico, PhD. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I was not compensated for this review, nor was I asked to write a positive review. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
It’s not often I use the term, “page-turner” to describe a work of nonfiction; however, this is an accurate description of New Power by Jeremy Heimans and Henry Timms. I took the book with me on a trip for work and found myself wishing the flights and layovers were just a little longer, so as not to interrupt my reading. I even read the book in my hotel room at night after the workday, which was a mistake a couple of nights because I found myself reading instead of getting the sleep I needed.
The subtitle of the book is, “How power works in our hyperconnected world – and how to make it work for you.” What makes the book so compelling are the heavy doses of relevant examples sprinkled throughout each chapter. Some of the case studies are familiar, but many are not. The diversity of the case studies makes the work relevant to just about anyone interested in how to successfully navigate our world of instant communication and connection.
As an aside, I appreciate how delicately the authors shared insights about politically sensitive topics without pandering to or demeaning either side of the political divide. The sensitive topics they explored made the book relevant to many of the issues we face today, and they did a nice job highlighting hot button topics without alienating people across the political spectrum.
Heimans and Timms build on their own highly-successful experiences through a fascinating exploration of others who have used new power. They offer examples of how old power is often insufficient for success in today’s fast-paced, global environment. They also share recommendations for tapping into the art of blended power, which brings old and new power together to create a type of synergy between the two.
As a student, teacher and lifelong practitioner of leadership, I especially enjoyed their insights, “about leadership in a world of colliding – and overlapping – old and new power forces” (p. 162). The authors use their New Power Compass to describe how people lead. For example, “The Crowd Leader combines a new power leadership model with a commitment to, and articulation of, new power values” (p. 162).
The only criticism I can offer is that The Future: A Full-Stack Society outlined in the final chapter seemed a little vague to me and perhaps even somewhat Pollyannaish. There were examples offered to show how this might work, but it was hard to imagine how these recommendations could transcend across multiple, diverse organizations and societies. Perhaps others who read this will come away with a better idea of how this could work, or perhaps the authors will continue exploring ideas for future research that they can share on their website.
Overall, I really enjoyed this “page-turner” and highly recommend it to others who wish to learn more about how power works in our new, hyperconnected world.
More information about the book is available at www.thisisnewpower.com, Twitter: @thisisnewpower, Facebook.com/thisisnewpower.
This book review was completed by Alvin Plexico, Ph.D. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I was not compensated for this review, nor was I asked to write a positive review. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”