I recently had three discussions about remote work in the same one-week period.
The first instance came up with a close friend. Yohan moved to the DC area during the pandemic because his wife got a new job here and his Charlotte-based company was allowing, and even encouraging, everyone to work remotely. Since relocating, Yohan has been promoted to the role of manager, and now his organization is calling all managers back to the office for a minimum of three days per week. Yohan has to decide if he will: 1) Get a new job; 2) Move back to Charlotte; or 3) Apply for a non-managerial position within his existing company.
The second person facing a remote-work predicament is a coaching client, Kathy, whose husband has accepted a job in another state. Kathy has been with the same university for the past 15 years where she has held a variety of administrative positions. Since the beginning of the pandemic, she has worked remotely 100% of the time, and her performance appraisals reflect that her work and work ethic are exemplary. Kathy plans to move to the other state with her husband, but the university has a requirement that employees must live within a 90-minute commute so that there will be no overnight expenses associated with in-person staff meetings. While this requirement exists, there have not been any in-person meetings during the past three years.
And finally, I am working with a biotech firm trying to fill a niche position that has been open for months since the need for this particular skill set is so great and the pool of qualified personnel is so small. While the organization has primarily an in-person work environment, their organization does have a few exceptions; however, everyone agrees that this position would work best if the incumbent were in-person. According to the recruiter, they now have three highly-qualified candidates, but none are willing to relocate for the position.
How should companies manage these situations which are no longer unique, and in fact, are now quite commonplace? While each organization and industry must decide what is best based on their own business needs, I was most impressed with the process one of clients uses to designate a position as fully or partially remote. It starts by asking a number of important questions, like:
- How specifically will the individual continue to meet the organization’s business needs?
- How will the proposed remote work benefit the organization?
- How will the individual contribute to mentoring colleagues and to creating the culture of the organization?
- If the position has direct reports, what processes will the manager use to manage remotely?
Do you agree that these are valid concerns? Can you think of other questions that need to be answered in order to start or continue remote work in a post-pandemic world?
I graduated from school during a deep recession. Armed with an undergraduate degree in psychology, I didn’t have readily apparent job skills. After a long and daunting job search, which took place using an old-fashioned typewriter, envelopes, stamps, and bus rides all over Massachusetts, I secured a job at a junior college in Boston. My adult children are very tired of hearing about my travails, but that search and resulting job left a lasting impression on me.
My first professional job was a great fit! I was able to work with junior college students and help them plan their future careers. I was able to work with employers and help them find great workers, and I was able to teach a class that I had taken as an undergraduate. That was not all – the environment I worked in was vibrant, and most of all caring.
My new colleagues invited me to lunch and then to their homes. My new friend Karin greeted me every morning. Ruth always had a listening shoulder. Jon teased me mercilessly and created so much humor that many days I laughed until I cried. There was ever-smiling Debbie, and also Maria, who was older and wiser and shared so much wisdom with me. And then there was Nancy. Nancy was my manager and she ensured that I felt welcome and a part of the team from the outset.
In our new virtual work, where our colleagues are dispersed all over the area and oftentimes all over the world, do you take the time to welcome the first timers? Do you send a text or a card when a colleague is ill or is struggling with a family member? And if you are back in an office, do you go to lunch with the newbie? Do you take the time to welcome them and spend a few minutes learning about them?
Here are my friends from my first professional job in Massachusetts. Even though none of us have worked together in over three decades, we gathered last week for dinner in Boston. This group was my support system and they encouraged and inspired me. Are you that person for someone else? Be the reason someone new feels welcomed and included. Pass it on.
I am leading a monthly series of Leadership Trainings spanning over a year. One of the modules is Time and Stress Management, and it’s a topic that I have been presenting and trying to learn more about myself for the past 31 years since I started Concordia Consulting.
To prepare for the program, I began my usual process of reading what’s current, watching a few YouTube videos, querying my colleagues on an HR listserv, and then poring over previous presentations of my own. I have no shortage of materials, and as you can see from the spread, it’s not a neat and tidy exercise as I like to fan things out all around me as I review the materials on the floor.
Reading through some of my more dated course books, I found that there were a lot of references to phone interruptions which I found humorous since the only phone interruptions I regularly receive are robo calls. There were also numerous references to facsimile machines which were invented in 1964 and became common in the 1980s. Of course with the widespread use of email, faxes are rarely used today. I filled my recycling bin and was happy to toss some musty paper out!
What I realized during this exercise is that while forms of communication have changed considerably through the years, the basic tenets of time management have not changed at all. I like to start my course by saying “Time Management Is a Fallacy,” and point out that you actually cannot manage time since we all have the same 24 hours each day. What you can manage is yourself and how you focus your time: what projects you take on, what tasks you say “no” to, and what your job, organization, and manager require.
One of the best methods for organizing your time is by accurately analyzing how you spend your time and then making sure it’s appropriate. The time management exercise shown that I used 31 years ago is just as relevant today. I hope you will take the time to click on its image or here to complete the exercise and share the results with me.