Today’s column provides an overview of tools and training to reinvent work that can also improve work-life fit.
Reinvent (verb): to make major changes or improvements to (something); to present (something) in a different or new way
Dear Pat: I’m employed by a large research hospital where I love my job as a scientific editor. Almost all my work is done via computer and there’s no question I could do my job remotely instead of coming into the office every day.
We are currently short-staffed. The overwork is causing me stress at the office and putting the squeeze on my life at home. So I was thinking to ask to telecommute a few days a week, as that would give me some margin both mentally and time-wise.
I expect resistance to my request from my manager, especially since there are four other editors who might perceive that I’d be getting special treatment. But it occurred to me that all of my co-workers might like to work remotely, too. I’m wondering if I should approach the request as a work team. Is that a good strategy? Brianna
Dear Brianna: Yes, it is. Better yet, approach the change as an operational improvement, sometimes labeled “work redesign.” That’s something your manager will welcome instead of resist.
Several years ago, research from WFD, a work-life consulting firm, showed that creative and effective team-based solutions improved work process efficiency and workload management. In the process, work-life conflict was reduced.
More recently, Harvard Business School professor and researcher Leslie Perlow surfaced similar findings among hard-driving, 24/7-type management consultant teams.
These days, we’re seeing the label “reinvent work” which usually embraces elements of flexible work arrangements. (Use #reinventwork when searching on social media.)
Whatever it’s called, I encourage you to initiate the process with your work group first. You’ll reap the near-term benefits, while planting the seeds for wider change throughout your large workplace.
Toolkits and Online Training Resources
Whether small and large, employers have ample ways to be guided toward new, flexible and better ways to work in the 21st century.
For the purpose of the partial list of resources below, I’ve put the focus on free or low-cost toolkits to benefit small employers, plus online options as a cost-effective way to train employees in companies of all sizes.
Who Works Where and Who Cares? is a hands-on book from Life Meets Work that guides you through the proven Team Alignment Process of working in new and better ways. While the book is written for managers, I recommend you and your coworkers first become familiar with the material. Then, as a team, propose the process to your manager. With this approach, remote work is a part of the process improvement initiative, not a stand-alone request.
When it’s time to champion the cause and spread your efforts employer-wide, let the HR and Training & Development departments know about these resources:
Toolkits to Achieve Workplace Change is packed with free detailed training materials “…to transform work groups and in turn improve health.” These research-based materials were developed by the Work, Family and Health Network, comprised of notable researchers.
FlexWise™ Tools from Rupert & Company are web-based, providing guidance and support in initiating flexible work arrangements for employers of all sizes. Previews of the tools are available right from the site; no inquiry or email address required.
The DYI ROWE System™ is a set of online resources for employers with 5 to 500+ employees who want to build a Results-Only Work Environment (ROWE). The developers reject flexible work “arrangements,” and instead embrace a wider, more-encompassing approach where employees are highly accountable for their work outcomes, but have full freedom to choose when, where and how they work.
Flex + Strategy Group offers an online curriculum for employees called Taking Control of Your Work+Life Fit™. It’s designed for larger employers with Learning Management Systems. A preview link is available upon request by contacting Linda Cannilla.
E-Work has a comprehensive menu of interactive e-learning courses for training managers and employees in news ways to work. Employers can select just the modules they need, plus there are several ways that companies can have the content customized to match their culture. For employers considering E-work training, several people on the management team are allowed access to pre-purchase previews to evaluate its suitability.
Communication and Collaboration Tools
The advice in this WSJ article on manager-employee communication in a remote environment is specific, practical and highly useful.
The list of cloud-based communication and collaboration tools to support remote and flexible work is almost endless. Project management, file- and screen-sharing, virtual meetings with HD video, and more, are available. Find some examples here.
Reinvent Your Work by Taking the Team Approach
Use tools and training to guide your team of co-workers to reinvent work. Better ways to work will lead to a better way of living.