Seventhman Blog

  1. The Telecommuting Case: Innovator or Disruptor?

    "telecommuting"Just when the flames of Yahoo’s telecommuting memo is slowly dying, we hear Best Buy adding more fuel to the fire.  I can’t resist not to jump in and make a case for telecommuting.  Last week, I wrote about Employee Appreciation Day and how flexible time can become the highest motivator for your people to do their jobs well.  Guess what?  A case against working from home is posted on the Web, saying that such activity is not only counter-productive, but a creativity killer as well.  While I’m not against research, they have forgotten to mention that collaboration technology is improving and more employers are saving valuable money that would have been spent on travel and office space.  Do they have the most current study on work patterns?  If innovation is said to happen in those unexpected moments when you bump into someone from another department, then.. there’s simply no need to plan team huddles to brainstorm an idea as it can happen in a snap, right?

    It’s Not the Distance

    For over two decades of having worked with remote teams across the globe, I would say that it’s not an issue of where you work — but how you manage your team to produce the best results.  By management, I’m not talking about micromanaging or this destructive habit of trying to make marionettes out of your team.  There’s nothing inherently wrong with remote work and it can even help you attract top talents to your brand.  But at some point, telecommuting has to be managed because the potential for abuse is still there.  Honestly, if someone’s consistently producing great work – I don’t really care much if s/he’s working from Jupiter or Mars.  If they can’t do their job well from a distance, what makes you think they will do better when they’re only six feet away?  But, each time I hear someone saying that s/he has the right to telecommute, the problem is always about how things are being managed from within; not telecommuting.

    Remote Work: It’s Not Picture-Perfect

    Like working in the office, telecommuting has its share of benefits and drawbacks.  One thing’s for sure though – employees are happier when they are given a chance to be home-based.  This is why they were aghast when Yahoo’s Chief announced that telecommuters report back to the office by June.  Those who are running a work-at-home program can do well if expectations are clear from the very start – from defining the job scope to deadlines.  There is a major difference between working from home occasionally and doing it all-year round though.  Managers may just not be readily available when you need instant help.  Then, there are also issues on data security, poor performance evaluations and lesser promotions for people who work from home.  If you ask why people still clock in from 9-5, they might tell you it’s all about that good ol’ feeling of how your colleagues think highly of you even if they don’t know what exactly it is that you do.

    The Reality of Working from Home

    Did you know that majority of corporate America spends telecommuting hours – only after they have worked in the office?  That’s time spent on checking emails and writing reports after office hours.  The truth is that managers are still glued to doing the old way of things, that your commitment and productivity is measured with the time you spent in the office.  This is why they want to see you and are leery of those who are out of sight.  Also, they are having difficulty measuring how well you have worked if you do it out of the office.  While there are tasks that will benefit more from face time, the future of work tends to shift from this as people are finding balance between regular communication and working as one.  Digital tools have yet to solve the issue on how to get things done when work becomes more complex.

    There’s no doubt that we will see better technology to make telecommuting seamless.  The question is not much about which platform to use – It’s more on how the company culture support autonomy.

    Do you think that telecommuting is the future of work?  I leave you with that question.

  2. Making Everyday an Employee Appreciation Day

    "employee appreciation"You might have missed it.  But just in case, March 1st is officially the Employee Appreciation Day.  Have you shown your team how much you value them lately?  While money is important, it’s proven that recognition works better in motivating your people to put their best foot forward.  Last time, I have shared with you Magnetic Outsourcing tips that will help you attract and retain top performers in your company.  This time, I will share with you simple ways on how you can run a lean business with ways you can reward your people without having to spend a dime.  Your employees are the lifeline of your business and making them feel good will always reflect back on your brand, where customer interaction is involved.

    Putting More Value on Your Team

    While your employees are crucial in making sure that you’re in the business of keeping customers loyal to your brand, engaging in scare tactics may backfire sooner than you think.  I’ve seen teams fail because people were made to fear taking risks.  Competition may be great for a short time, but it can create division in the long run.  Where do you strike a balance?  Simple.  You can try:

    1.  Sincerity

    There’s nothing bad with praise, only that when you give it indiscriminately – it looks cheap.  Instead, keep it honest. Your team had a difficult day completing a hard task so give praise publicly.  Send in a word of thanks, a note.  Value each person’s contributions and point out how each one have contributed to the team’s success.

    2.  Flexibility

    If thousands were enraged with the recent news of how Yahoo’s policy had put a lid on working flexible hours, you should know better.  So long as your people don’t abuse this privilege, it can build trust and stronger work relationship in the long run.  Flex time is always the easiest to give with most to gain.

    3.  Making Work Fun

    Try to be creative in thinking of weekly events that can boost your team’s morale.  Just because you’re working in a virtual setting doesn’t mean you can’t collaborate in real-time.  There are plenty of online tools out there that can bridge this gap.  If you’re sending out a monthly newsletter, try featuring your best workers for a change.  Be creative!

    4.  Reward Ideas

    Just because an idea didn’t work doesn’t mean that it should stop your team from producing new ones.  Why not host an annual award for the best idea?  Even if it’s not implemented, this can stimulate innovation and positive mindset among your team.  Also, if you need to correct an action, please coach privately and fix the problem without judging the person.

    5.  Ask for Feedback

    The best way to make your employees feel that their time and efforts are appreciated is to listen to what they have to say.  Besides, it’s tough to be always in control so turn the tables this time and let everyone take a vote in the decision-making table.  This way, you can open communication channels.

    Then, there’s the usual perk – in cash or in kind.  At the end of the day, it’s all about appreciating those who made a difference to your business and to your customers, of those who contributed to your success.  It doesn’t hurt to take off a few minutes each day to send out a meaningful compliment, without the BS.

    ** and to my team, Many Thanks… for working with me, through thick and thin.