In the past three weeks, our team has been through an ice storm, two rounds of the stomach bug, and one of our team members welcomed a baby.
We’ve also managed media, counseled clients, and pulled off the groundbreaking for the second-largest project in SCDOT history. Casual. So how in the world did we pull it off? Flexibility.
Looking for ways to be more flexible in your workplace? Here are some of the things we’ve learned:
- Communication is key. When people are working from different offices, or even different time zones, it’s more important than ever to keep everyone in the loop. I think the CC line of our emails has gotten more work in the past three weeks than it did all last year. Sure, it might fill up your inbox a little more than normal, but when it’s not possible to have a face-to-face with your coworkers or boss every day, it’s important to keep everything moving forward.
- Make the work work for you. And by that we mean, make the workflow easier by putting processes in place that make it easier to manage. Whether that’s project management software or a messaging app like Slack, staying engaged with those processes is critical to making sure everything stays on track, even when everyone’s moving in different directions.
- Be on when necessary. We all know how things tend to pop up out of nowhere at the office during the course of a day. That doesn’t stop when half your team is out, but how do you manage it when you can’t bounce ideas off each other in person? It’s helpful to establish a system that everyone can stick to – a text is for urgent or quick responses, an email gives you more time to mull things over, and so on. As long as everyone understands what’s expected from them with each form of communication, business can proceed as usual. Which brings me to…
- Set expectations. Not to toot our own horn, but I think this is something we’ve done very well over the past three weeks. When each team member is operating on a different schedule, it’s inevitable that you’ll have some people sticking to an 8-5, some people working til midnight, and some people working on weekends. It’s just what has to happen to get everything accomplished. But that doesn’t mean that when one person works at midnight, everyone needs to, because we hope the night owl is getting some well-deserved rest when others are up and running at the office in the morning. It’s important when you’re working on your own time to determine when coworkers need to work on their time – now or later. It’s the respectful thing to do. Speaking of…
- Respect balance and be patient. The last, and maybe the most important thing we’ve learned. Whether someone is out of commission for a day dealing with a personal issue, or it’s several weeks of balancing different schedules, it takes some getting used to and there are bound to be things that fall through the cracks. Be patient, because everyone is balancing work and life, even those who are still keeping the 8-5 routine.
*I should add that John is excellent at balance. This week, he counseled a client, texted the rest of the team about it, and was probably also writing his next book and cooking a pound of bacon, all while literally balancing his sleeping newborn. Dad (and boss) of the year.