Looking for 3 strategies that will help you as the business owner manage the brave new world of Work-From-Home and the 4-day work week? Bonus Tip for reading to the end…
As we enter 2023 business owners are struggling with decisions on how to move forward in a post-pandemic world. If we don’t offer certain benefits to our staff, we will lose them!
- Do we go back to the office?
- How many days should I let staff work from home?
- How do I meet client demands with a four-day working week?
The pandemic opened our eyes to how life could be if we aren’t consumed with work, sitting in traffic and constant meetings.
In 2020 and 2021 we exercised more, because the only allowed activity during lockdown was walking around our local area – inside the 5klm steel ring for those in Melbourne! We couldn’t go out to eat, so we cooked healthy meals at home (until they let UberEats resume 🎉).
We didn’t lose hours in traffic or on public transport getting to work or meetings – and yet we still got everything done! Those hour-long meetings dropped to 30 minutes via Zoom or Teams and we found more time in our day.
And the biggest benefit – we had more time with our family (maybe too much time?? 🤣)
Let’s compare a “normal” week pre and post pandemic
A normal day during lockdown
- I got up at 8am and was still at work by 9am after fitting in a 45 minute workout!
- I cooked a healthy breakfast of bacon and eggs, grabbed a coffee and turned on Zoom/Teams for the first meeting of the day
- During the day, I put my airpods in whilst making calls and walking to and from my kitchen
- At lunchtime I went for a quick walk around the lake near my house (probably talking on the phone or catching up on a podcast)
- Afternoons were filled with online meetings, and various other work – my emails were under control! I even had time to attend online zoom training sessions
- 5pm I started dinner and relaxed to watch the news of the day by 6pm
- Evenings included time with the family – cause they were actually all at home!
Back at work in 2023
- I got up at 6am most days this week to try to get a walk in before my hour commute to the city – only made it 3/5 times. Oh, I was late one day this week because my bus didn’t come!
- I purchased breakfast each day from my favourite Grindhouse Cafe, and just managed to make it to my desk by 9:15am each day (my bacon and eggs price has gone up to $12, so $60 this week)
- Back to back meetings most of the week – fortunately I managed to schedule them all at my office so I didn’t have to rush across town
- Lunchtimes were for working meetings or catching up on emails – if I was lucky I managed 10 minutes to pop down to Grindhouse Cafe to pick up lunch (yep more money, lunches have gone up to $17 for salad!)
- Let’s not discuss how out of control my emails are….
- Most nights I left the office after 6pm just so I could tick off a couple of “to dos” and I had one dinner event this week.
- My kids are hardly even home at night, but I did manage a passing hi/bye with them as I collapsed on the couch to fit in some Survivor on TV with my husband before rolling into bed by 10pm and doing it all over again the next day!
One of my team this week was late leaving the office and had to pay the extra fine for her after-hours childcare! Is it any wonder our staff want to work from home…
Is there a solution?
Our staff want to keep some of the benefits they had during the pandemic. Hence the increase in the 4-day work week or working from home one or two days a week (something my staff managed this week – I clearly need to learn from them!)
In the current skills shortage climate, it is an employee market. According to an AFR Article in February 2022, Australians are living under the best labour market conditions in 50 years. I’d suggest 51 years if the surveying market is anything to go by! Unemployment is at an all-time low of 3.5% and participation at 66.7% according to December 2022 stats from the ABS. Our monthly hours worked have increased to 1,890 million (how do they know this stuff?!)
If employers don’t offer new benefits, such as working from home or 4-day weeks they will lose staff to competitors!
It’s a brave new world and the businesses that succeed will be implementing these 3 strategies:
- Identify what work must be completed in the office and which team members need to be together to do that work or project to achieve the desired outcomes. For my team, that means if we have in-person events then certain team members need to be in the office to support that event. But perhaps those days are days other team members can work from home. It would be great to have the whole team in for a staff team meeting, but is it really necessary? We managed them on Zoom/Teams for two years, we can manage them now. Sure, it takes more effort to coordinate but there are many tools available to help you manage who’s in when.
2. Identify which tasks or projects can be carried out in isolation. Working in a quiet environment, like your home, can often help you better focus and get the job done without distraction. Some roles might be more difficult to do in isolation or at home. Perhaps you have some team members who say they can’t work at home. Is this their preference or have you not allocated them a project they could complete at home? It may be time to rethink how you work and allocate tasks
3. Understand your team. Every individual who works for you is unique. Some will want to come to the office every day because they need accountability and regularity – or the office is just a better setup. Some people work better alone and might be more productive at home without noisy co-workers. Some like the team atmosphere and the buzz in the office helps them achieve more. Know your people and what makes them more productive and efficient – they are all different!
Side Note – if you want your team in the office, make sure the office is somewhere they want to spend time!
- Is it dark and drab? Or light and airy? Colourful or Gray?
- Is it outdated or modern? When was the last fitout?
- Are the desks and chairs falling apart?
- Do you have Tim Tams or only Nice biscuits?
If the office culture is fun, enjoyable and a pleasure to be there in person, they’ll want to be there…
- Take the time to sit with each person individually and discuss their personal needs
- Then discuss it as a team so everyone understands and knows who is doing what and when.
WARNING: If you don’t discuss it as a team, you risk feelings of jealousy or the perception of “favourites” setting in. If one employee is always allowed to work from home and another is expected to come into the office 5 days this may cause division within the team. Clearly explain the decision you have made, as the leader, with as much of the why as you and your team members feel comfortable with, protecting the privacy of individual situations.
For reading this far, you get a bonus tip!
You are the Pilot of this airplane – the leader of this business. Your team is looking to you and expecting you to lead!
- You need to make the decisions.
- You need to keep the team on track.
- You need to show how it can be done.
- You need to communicate effectively.
You may slip, fall, or fail on occasion but just get right back up. Put your hands on that steering wheel and keep the plane in the air!
If leadership is a challenge for you or you are unsure how to implement these 3 strategies for the brave new world, then consider hiring a business coach. A Business Coach (like me!) can come alongside and give you the support you need. They usually offer a fresh view to help implement these and and other strategies to ensure your business is a success this year and in years to come.
Schedule a Call today!