With rapid changes in the workplace as a result of COVID-19 and social distancing, a vast number of organizations have made the rapid shift to a work from home (WFH) model. We’re all familiar with the challenges this can present (three people on the same internet? Nice try). So how do we make the most of it?
This week on Elevate Main Stage: Livestream, we sat down with one of the experts on the topic. Adam Grant is a leading organizational psychologist and a professor at the Wharton School in Pennsylvania. He hosts the WorkLife podcast with TED and is a New York Times bestselling author of Give and Take, Originals and Option B.
In an incredible 45 minute deep dive into the WFH landscape we were thrilled to learn that Adam thinks working from home can yield surprising results when you’re armed with the right attitude and approach.
Here are just a few of the unbelievably simple and useful tips that Adam shared with us.
Tip #1: Dispel the ‘unproductive’ myth
Okay, so Adam didn’t refer to a myth exactly, but we all know it exists right? ‘Work from home’ has always had a ‘wink-wink, nudge nudge’ connotation to it. Are people really working? Are they being productive? Did they even put pants on today?
According to Adam – yes! The National Bureau of Economics published a study wherein a group of call centre employees were randomly assigned to WFH. Over the next six months, productivity went up by 13%, and team members were half as likely to quit as before.
Adam has a few theories about why this might be:
Tip #2: Capitalize on “Burstiness”
Think back to your most productive meeting in the office. Ideas are flying back and forth. Some ideas are great, some belong in the nearest garbage can, but everyone is engaged.
To recreate this dynamic, Adam recommends harnessing something called “burstiness”, a term coined by organizational psychologist Anita Woolley.
“Burstiness” refers to the energy that people feel when others are present and available to respond real-time. Knowing that the ideas and work we’re producing matter to someone else creates a sense of momentum, and that energizes us.
Adam recommends finding a few hours a day for whole teams to be online at the same time, not to uphold accountability as so many offices do (we wouldn’t want to hurt that sense of trust we built up in tip #1!) but instead to create a nice, ‘bursty’ sense of purpose.
Tip #3: Manage Attention, Not Time.
According to Adam, time management isn’t part of the solution, it’s part of the problem.
Instead, he prefers the idea of managing attention by using a few simple tactics:
Tip #4: Establish High Quality Connections, Quickly.
As we’re all cooped up at home, it’s harder to connect with people on a genuine level.
Adam recommends building ‘ rapid high quality connections’, a concept created by University of Michigan professor Jane Dutton. Dutton recommends using three methods to break the ice:
Check out this great analogy offered by Adam to explain this concept:
As we all learn to thrive in the work-from-home reality, our effectiveness is sure to be influenced by the thoughtfulness and intentionality of our day-to-day and, most importantly, our mindset.
Whether that means taking the time out to create a new connection over a virtual coffee chat or rearranging your schedule to make the most of your attention, there are so many things that we can all do to make the idea of working from home far less daunting — dare we say, even enjoyable?
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