Much this drama between retaining remote/hybrid work and going back to the office is driven by a dinosaur mentality that many managers and business leaders have when it comes to the workplace. What we need in this new age of work is workplace transformation, and the way or that to happen is to fight off these dinosaurs. Future of work strategist and Hello Monday Club founder Angelique Slob argues that it starts with self-awareness. As a leader, we need to ask ourselves, “How am I being a dinosaur myself and how am I holding people back from being effective at work?” In this interview, she breaks down some of the old ways of thinking that persist among people managers and business leaders and how it’s reinforcing the traditional, co-located 9 to 5 setup. Angelique argues that for us to move forward, we need to recognize that employees work best when the value they bring, not the time they put it, is given primacy. Join in and learn what we should pay attention to so we can make our workplaces more inclusive, human-centric and transformative.
Welcome to the show. We are so excited that you’ve all hopped in and chosen to spend some time with us, whether it’s your morning or evening wherever you are. Thank you so much for reading. If you are new here, I want to give you the rundown so you know what you’ve signed up for. We are a panel of hosts with varying experiences. We’ve had many years of experience in the corporate world, HR, people strategy and compensation. It’s a little bit of everything. We are here to help you engage, energize and elevate your employees and company. We do this also by bringing in a guest speaker. This episode is all about workplace transformation. We know you’re going to get a lot of value out of this.
To introduce you to our whole panel here, we have Wendy. Wendy is a people strategist with CompTeam. She specializes in talent development. Sumit is an HR consultant and people strategist working with various companies to improve their HR processes. We also have Howard and Char. Char can’t join us for this episode. Hopefully, she’ll be able to jump on back next time. We’ll see if Howard shows up as well, then we can give him a little intro. We also have Sam who brings this whole thing together and has been running it for a long time. He’s also the Founder of CompTeam. He runs CompTeam with his fabulous team that’s growing and expanding. He specializes in compensation and rewards.
I did say we had a guest speaker. Let me introduce her to you. We have the wonderful Angelique Slob. She was a former HR executive who stepped out and decided to be an entrepreneur several years ago. She is a future work strategist and the Founder of the Hello Monday Club. Stick around to the end because she’s going to tell us about her membership, a think tank, that she has coming up. If you love this conversation, then hang out and wait for all those details at the very end.
Angelique, welcome. We’re so happy to have you. We’re ready to dive into this conversation.
Thank you, Jules, Sam and the rest of the team for having me. To everybody reading, welcome. I’m excited to be here and share my ideas with you.
To start things off, can you tell us a little bit about how you got into the work that you’re in and how you help your clients?
I worked in HR as an executive. I was an HR Director. In the Netherlands, many years ago, we had a new way of working as a movement. Maybe you could say that is called a hybrid workplace. At that time, the new way of working involved office concepts. There were hot spaces and hot seats. Also, people were given more freedom to work when they want and where they were, which I found quite exciting.
Especially from my HR point of view, I recognized that they forward for companies. Imagine. This was many years ago. What I noticed was companies would sometimes spend millions on new office concepts. For me, the core of the new way of working is going to hire autonomy and a results-driven workforce based on trust.
I saw that companies were struggling there. A lot of critics were saying, “This is because managers cannot let go of control. They not do not trust their employees.” It is very much the same narrative that we still encounter on the global scale. I was like, “I’m not sure if that is true but if it is true, we need to find out what is behind that so we can solve it and move forward to new structures that serve us better.” That is the start of a journey that first brought me to university. I studied organizational sociology. I focused on knowledge work and management style that companies should apply to them, including culture and structure.
I discovered that 80% of the companies I researched did not have the most effective management style in place. I decided to become a consultant to help companies in that area. At the same time, I wanted to become more recognized in independence. I also recognized that technology would enable us to be freer and work more distributed and global.
Before the rest of the world did it, I was going to Bali. There, I started a blog about the future of work. I studied. I interviewed pioneers of the future of work and distributed teams. I worked with startups as a startup mentor. I interviewed lifestyle entrepreneurs making different choices. In this new world of work where the work and transformations are happening at this scale and we are answering a new era of work, I’m bringing that all back to corporate and everything that I’ve learned to help them in this workplace transformation phase.
There is one thing I’d like to dig into a little bit more because of what’s going on in the United States. You mentioned that the Netherlands was an early adopter of the hybrid workplace. I would love it if you could reach back in your memory to some of the pain points they suffered during that transition and learn things that perhaps we could learn about here in the United States from your experience.
First, I’ll start with a story. It’s an anecdote that I find illustrates the difficulties that companies encountered. I have one of my friends. She’s a high-level lawyer with a bank involved in mergers. She is involved in 2 or 3 multimillion-dollar mergers and acquisitions having to make her priorities. She’s like, “I’m going to join this or that conference call.” It’s a very international environment. They have a lot of conference calls.
This company or large bank adapted to the new way of working. A lot of people started to work from home Monday a week, which for her was a Friday. That was going on for a few months. I visited her at her house. We talked about it and she said, “My manager does not allow me to do my laundry when I’m working from home.” This was at that time I also had one of the first blog posts that I published. I was like, “Do you mean to say that you have all this responsibility, high education and high autonomy job but as soon as you start doing this same work from your living room or workspace at your house, suddenly, you’ll have to be treated like a child?”
It’s such a good anecdote but what is behind it? If you dive a little bit deeper, this manager was not that much involved in those projects. You have a job as a manager. It’s a responsibility. If you lack information about the performance or the results that somebody is having, then you fall back on old ways of controlling that are deeply implemented in who you are. It’s very simple. This is in the structure.
I came across the same example three more times in the same period. It’s a hierarchical manager. This is somebody in the same system. He was the senior lawyer person. My clients are around the world in different locations. If your senior manager doesn’t have good knowledge about what actual results you’re booking or he cannot help you define the results, they will go back to this old hierarchical structure.
In businesses that are not tracking goals effectively or the expected outcomes of work, they fall back into micromanagement. If they see somebody visually in the workplace, they can say, “Their pencil is moving. I can see that there’s a thought process going on. They’re clicking on the computer.” They have that general comfort that something’s happening but when a person disappears, they lose that sense of control and so forth. It makes sense that they resort to this type of behavior.
It’s not only managers. It’s a general thing that you see in companies. It shows that co-location and office thinking was probably not very effective since this manager did not have the knowledge he needed. On the other hand, you can also say, “Maybe he didn’t need all the knowledge in the first place.” Maybe we have to define management as a different role where we focus more on being a coach or having a human relationship and say, “How do you think your performance is going? What can I do to help you improve that?” You’re moving away from that idea of control and micromanagement.
Another area where the US has struggled as we’re entering into more of a hybrid work environment is communication and effective communication with our people. Is there anything that you can give as far as how to better communicate and leaders can better communicate with their employees in a distributed workforce?
In my whole HR career, everybody would come to the same office every day. There would always be people saying, “I feel there is a lack of communication.” A lesson from my research is that managers mainly have to be focused on giving a very clear strategic direction and a clear higher purpose. If managers can at least communicate that clearly, then you can step back and give more autonomy to the workforce.
I don’t think that there was a real transformation in that communication area when in the Netherlands, the people were applying that new way of working. It was usually limited to people coming to the office a little bit later in the day, going home earlier in the day and catching up on work in the evening or working from home before rush hour. It was maybe a maximum of two days a week from home.The core of the new way of working is a results-driven workforce based on trust. Click To Tweet
Often, it should don’t change the communication. The communication was default still in the office but still, people would come to the office for a meeting rather than being in a Zoom call or Teams call. Lastly, they would call in but then, you would be on the computer while everybody is sitting at the table, which you shouldn’t be doing. In case anybody’s still doing that, don’t do it.
Could you rewind a bit and explain that in greater detail with the best way to host virtual meetings? Could you go through that one more time for the audience?
You could choose to have a meeting in person where everybody’s present in person. The other option is it is fully virtual and remote first. Hybrid working is not having 1 or 2 people on a computer screen while everybody else is sitting there and then they have to turn if you want to say something. Still, that calls for certain situations.
Mainly, you would say as soon as people go in a virtual way of working or hybrid working, it should be remote first. It’s one of the things that I’m saying. It’s a workshop that I developed even. It is called the Hybrid Workplace Does Not Exist. If you’re hybrid or have become remote first, with remote first, it is having the good virtual tools in place and understanding that if 9 people are sitting in the office and 1 person is working from another location, you are all remote from that person. It means that you have to think remotely.
Communication, especially in this setup, goes more into documenting everything and preparing very well. It means that if there is information to be shared, share it before the meeting starts. Make sure people do the pre-work. Have clear agenda with clear outcomes. If they don’t feel that they need to be present or can add value to that particular conversation, don’t make it obsolete for them to be there but give that autonomy also while you have a virtual mindset. Think much about documentation and information sharing.
One of the things that I’ve experienced in the hybrid meetings is that if there’s a whole table of people that are there in person and a few people online, I often find that it is crazy hard to hear what’s going on in that conference room. The audio is not good enough unless they have a very good setup. Remote attendees are going, “I’m remote. I don’t want to voice up and say that I can’t hear because they’re going to judge me for not being there and all these types of things.” I find that the solution of the remote first is if you’re going to have a remote person, then everybody should be on that same platform at least. Even if they’re together, they should be using that.
What I find is that if you use the terminology distributed or remote first, people get a little bit scared because they think that you’re going to be kicking them out of their office space. It’s not. The office first mindset is where you say, “The work is a default in the office and remote workers or people working from a different location are the exceptions. It is permission-based so we can always call them back if we want.” The office is still seen as the center of the universe.
If you are not in that headquarters or you are remote, you could easily turn it around and say, “Why are you remote for me? I am working here in an office space in Brazil. You are my remote colleague because you are not sitting here next to me.” It shows a little bit of that, “This is the center of the universe,” mindset. If you move to a remote-first mindset, you could still have an office.
Even people could be there for four days a week. You could still have a remote-first setup or remote-first mindset where you say, “We work together very effectively virtually. If somebody’s not here, we don’t treat them any differently. We know that person is much included in a conversation and not forgotten because they are the only ones not here. We don’t treat that person differently.”
We record and transcript, which we can do if we do everything online. Everybody who wasn’t there always has access to what is being discussed. We have an office and we use it for people that want to come to the office to have a beautiful space where they have facilities, meet, co-create, invite guests and host events. We do provide that space but it is not in our thinking where the work takes place. The work takes place in a virtual space. Besides that, people have either a great office, maybe a third space that we provide and otherwise, maybe a good home office from where they can do the work that takes place in the virtual space.
I was talking to a CHR of an organization. This person is a client. They said a very interesting thing, “We’ve been remote for over two years. I would like people to return to work.” I asked this person, “Are you implying that they’ve not been working for two years? Have your people been on vacation?” That ties in with the point you are making. There are a lot of leaders who’ve started describing this if you’re working remotely, you are probably sitting in front of Netflix, relaxing with a beer in your hand and not working. Return to the office and return to work are two different things. That’s one of the things I’ve been realizing.
With the same client, people are threatening to leave them because they’ve said, “You must return to the office by a particular date.” People are rightly interpreting that as a lack of trust. They’re saying, “For two years, when suited your narrative and you wanted me to do things, it was fine for me to be at home. Our productivity has gone up in the last two years. Suddenly, you are saying collaboration can only happen in the office. The work environment, productivity and all these aspects can only be achieved in the office. What are you saying about the last few years? It’s hypocritical and contradictory.” What do you think about that?”
This is what I discussed in a pre-meeting with Wendy. When we came up with the actual title of this episode, it is called Fighting The Dinosaurs. It was because one of our members said it to us. It feels like we still have to fight the dinosaurs but in a way, it’s replacing transformation. You mentioned something very interesting here. Thank you for that. You said it is interpreted as a lack of trust and that is the case. That is the interpretation. I don’t think it is necessarily not the only cause.
In the first example where the manager doesn’t have the right tools and information in place to understand how they can manage a team member that suddenly works from home, there is a lot in that area that is not very clear. This is a valid point. Many companies have this debate in the organization. If you had the experience for the last couple of years, which people have been telling me, “All new hires that we hired in this period already left. We don’t think that a remote setup is good for onboarding social cohesion and creating the engagement that we want. We fall back into how we did it before at the office space,” that’s a valid point in the sense that you should address that.
It’s a new problem and challenge that we have. How do we onboard and engage new hires in a way that they feel very much a part of the team as much as the team that has been co-located before this pandemic? That is the challenge that they face. The new solution that goes with it is not, “Let’s get everybody back to the office.” You can have a group of new hires that will also be leaving because the core of the problem is that you haven’t found the right ways yet to onboard people and create that virtual team.
People were not necessarily at work when the pandemic started. The crisis was a disruption but most people managed to do the actual work they did before. When we were working, 80% of our time in our actual work was online anyway. Meetings were shifted to Zoom and Teams. Everything that we consider part of work but isn’t a necessary meeting or a virtual task is all in that area of social cohesion.
If you point out a very valid point to bring to the table if you have the debate, how can we ensure social cohesion? Social cohesion is important for people. We are social human beings. The solution to creating social cohesion in a new world is not necessarily by bringing everybody to the office to sit behind a computer again. That’s what you want people to do.
I have a new generation that is the new entries into the labor market. They might have been onboarded with virtual companies and virtual work in the last couple of years. Suddenly, they need to come to an office where they didn’t set foot during the whole pandemic. It is coming up to 10%, 20% or 25% of people in the workforce that do not have that pre-pandemic experience. There are different generations already like Gen Zs. They will come with a different set of expectations because of the last couple of years and what’s happened.It's way better that somebody comes in five minutes a day and drops a great idea than sit behind a computer for eight hours pretending to work. Click To Tweet
The first one is we do have a trust issue with employees, which has its base in an industrial thinking concept. It’s not a concept. This is fighting the dinosaurs where we want to say to people, “The way you think about work and the place it has in our lives has not served us for a long time.” It is a concept that is based on employers and employees having different interests. This is why we have, for example, unions. Karl Marx wrote roughly about it.
This is why HR directors and everybody here asked the question and maybe you have asked yourself. You’re like, “Am I here for the end of the employees or the employers?” That is industrial thinking about HR but also about employer and employee. In that area of employee and employer relationships, we have brought up programs in an industrial concept.
Peter Drucker wrote good work about that already at that time. He was saying, “This means a shift of power.” People say that there is a shift of power going on. It happened in the ‘50s and ‘60s because we didn’t sell our labor and our time anymore. We started to sell our skills, experience, ideas and creativity. We are the owner of that as a means of production. In that sense, from the Marxist ideology, we are the owners of the means of production. We sell that to companies. We exchange that for companies.
Usually, that company does not have the power, knowledge or creativity that it wants me to bring to the table. It means that there is a power shift. We need to be in much more equal relationships. We still have that system to control that people have to be there from 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM. To be honest, it’s way better when somebody comes in 5 minutes a day and drops a great idea than sitting behind a computer for 8 hours pretending to work.
In line with the lack of trust, it’s emerging from both sides. If you research, you’ll find that the sales of Mouse Jiggler have gone through the roof in the last couple of years. Mouse Jiggler is a device that you leave in front of your computer. It moves the mouse every few seconds so it seems like you’re sitting there when you’re doing something else.
You’ve got a great idea. It takes five minutes to generate. You do that and then use the Mouse Jiggler to do whatever is needed. It’s because those dinosaurs are not getting away from the command and control mindset saying, “I want you sitting in front of your desk for the next number of hours.” If they were likely to move to outcomes and say, “I don’t care if you sit in front of your computer for 5 minutes or 5 hours as long as the outcomes that we are agreeing to are getting delivered,” that’s what everyone as a worker does want. Gen Z is probably a lot more vocal about it than people from earlier generations have been. Maybe we are also dinosaurs in some sense.
We have to start acknowledging that. We are, in a sense, all dinosaurs because we are all programmed in this industrial mindset. I’m from Northern Europe. You are from Northern America. Especially for me, it was my parents’ values. The values were to work hard, be loyal to your employer, get up early, make sure that you’re there, do your best and go the extra mile. That is very much in our culture.
I predicted when this pandemic or the lockdown situation started. I was like, “This will mean that employees will start to split their priorities. They will start to understand that what they’ve been doing is not necessary to do their job good.” Apart from what they prefer in their private life and all the other things that are good for them, they’ll understand that to be active and do the job better, they need that autonomy and freedom. I have the academic proof. We have the academic proof that people start to experience that. They have been moving to shift those priorities. That is an ongoing development that will be accelerated even with Gen Zs.
If you say, “You don’t have to be in the office but we do work in a virtual space together. It means that you still want me to be in that virtual space. It’s still a pleasant mindset. Between 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM or 8:00 AM to 7:00 PM, you expect me to be there,” you are having a time and pleasant mindset and a command and control mindset. They are the opposite of what you want to do if you want to have a successful organization. There we go in the independence as extinct. If you keep on doing that and you cannot change that mindset, then you will have a less successful organization.
The mouse is a great example. It’s a little bit extreme because we talk about spyware. It’s almost spyware. Time tracking could be very good in a human-centric organization. We’ll talk about it on our LinkedIn Live. Some companies think time tracking is there to control. Especially sometimes, it’s not even illegal or at least doesn’t even know that they have it. If you have that Mouse Jiggler, I can see the situation.
There’s an employee who is figuring stuff out. He needs to refresh his body. He needs to move. He needs some snacks. He maybe wants to go for a round to solve this problem. He goes for a round to solve this problem that nobody had solved in his whole organization. That is critical for the finalization of the project but he needs to put the Mouse Jiggler on so his manager is thinking that he is behind his computer working. This is the situation that we are creating. I can understand that some people see that more clearly than others. They are all coming from dinosaurs in our part of a revolution. Some are further down the road than others. It means that you have acknowledged that people sometimes also need more time and space before they can see those things.
I’ve worked hard for 35 years to be the CEO of this company. This new generation doesn’t want to do the same as I did. What I know is the route to success isn’t. Elon Musk is more successful than we are all together. He sent in a famous email, “I want people to come to the office.” There was one sentence that triggered me. It said, “It’s important that the factory people see us because if I, back then, have not been there, we would’ve been bankrupt by now.” His current strategy which impacts a lot of people and impacts the foundation of his whole company is based on his experience in the past. It was maybe genius at that moment but it doesn’t mean that it’s genius now and it is the best decision.
We are in a global workplace transformation that is a paradigm shift. That will affect not only how we work but how the next generations work and also how society will look. In this whole 120-year-old or 200-year-old industrial era, we are the ones breaking it down and building something new, which is amazing. It also comes with a lot of responsibility to do it right.
I want to go back to the social interaction aspect that you mentioned. Typically, you are scheduling meetings to go over specific things. What would you suggest or recommend? Do companies suggest coffee breaks, get-togethers online or lunches together online to encourage that interaction? How do you get that going? It’s so informal in the workspace when you’re there.
First of all, people should do what works best for them. I cannot give them a recipe because every team and every team member has their preferences. What I want to say about that is that I see a lot of companies coming to me with the question, “How can we create the same engagement and connection? How can we support our employees to build connections with our colleagues so that they are more hybrid or distributed?”
The thinking error that the people make is that they are looking for ways to recreate the same connection and engagement that you have in co-located teams. This is impossible. You will never be able to do that. You can use that as a stick to say, “We have to go back to the office.” It doesn’t necessarily mean that connections are less important or people are less engaged or connections are less filling or less effective. People connect in different ways online than they do in person.
If you have the opportunity to do an offsite, come to Brazil. We’ll do it. You will have this great opportunity to have an in-person contact that there’s no way you can replicate online. Can you work effectively together online? Yes, you can. There is a Gallup survey that says, “I have the best friend at work.” That is an important question but the need to have that best friend at work is a lot less if you can have deeper connections with your community. You see also a balance shift there. It’s quite interesting.
There is a person. He told me, “One of my friends said, ‘I want to go back to the office because I miss having lunch with my colleagues.’ He lives in a different city than the office.” He said, “We can have lunch together with our friends.” This is the new way of working already for years. You see how deeply rooted the idea of socializing with colleagues is an important thing. I’m not even talking about work connections but socializing. Our lives can still be valuable since we have more time and we can work more flexibly. We can create this other kind of connection with the people that are physically close to us. That is also good for social cohesion in neighborhoods, for example.We are lucky to be alive now that there’s a global workplace transformation that is a paradigm shift, and that will affect not only how we work, but how the next generations work and also how society will look. Click To Tweet
I’m thinking about myself. I’ve been able to get together with people that when I was physically in an office, it was like, “When are we going to find the time?” I have the time and they are nearby. We can get together either for lunch or after they’re done. We can do a 15 to 20 minutes catch-up. It’s great.
There’s a lot to say. It is ongoing in a shift. The balance will be very different. We start to rethink work but also the place that it has in our lives. If you think about it, our whole society is based on a 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM weekday structure. You wash your car on Saturdays. It’s almost not allowed to do it on another day. You can start changing that. It’s an interesting time how we are still thinking about weekends and weekdays and how we work from 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM. We have to build our friendships with our colleagues. It’s vaporizing more and more. In five years, people would be like, “My life has changed so much. I don’t miss that anymore.”
I want to jump in because I’m naturally a night owl. This world is built for early birds. I feel like it is a count against me. It diminishes my ability to be productive and be seen as a professional. Maybe morning isn’t my time. I’ve been trying to engineer my body and my brain to become a morning bird over the last couple of years. Sometimes, I’m in the groove. Sometimes, I’m out of the groove. I feel like it’s interesting that even though we’ve moved to this new environment, that expectation that you are up and at it and ready is still so strong. When are we going to let go?
We’re fighting this dinosaur. We know we have this in our vocabulary. We have early birds and night owls. I was like, “It’s part of our culture. We know about it.” I’ve read every book. I’ve read about The Miracle Morning and The 5AM Club. The books tell me that if I want to succeed, I’ve got to get on board. When is that shift going to happen? Tell me.
There are a lot of people that are creating that for themselves. I’m one of them. I’ve been creating the change for myself. Years ago, I was on a cruise ship with 150 talents. They were marketing directors software developers and engineers. They were people that everybody was looking for. They quit their jobs because they didn’t get permission to travel and work for three months. They were like, “I’m going to quit.” Those people started to say, “I’m going to be a freelancer.”
I also met this guy in Brazil. This was many years ago. He said, “I am not fit to be an employee.” I’m like, “Why?” He’s like, “I like to work in a sprint for three days in a row. I work the whole night.” He’s a programmer developer. He’s like, “When I’m done, I like to spend five days and go to the beach and hang out with my friends. It drove my manager nuts because they wanted me to be there between 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM.” He then became a freelancer and got hired by the same kind of companies for the same work. Suddenly, it wasn’t a problem anymore. It shows those things instead of saying, “Do you want to do your writing and your creative work in the evening? If that’s the best time for you, go ahead.”
I went a step further saying to someone, “If my most effective time is between 10:00 AM and 2:00 PM, then my clients should pay me a higher fee for those hours than in the hours that I’m less productive.” If you look at the added value that you would bring to a company, that will make you productive. You will be happier and stay longer with this company if you get that flexibility.
I would add to that. It’s like that famous country song where they say it’s 5:00 PM somewhere when they’re always thinking about going to the bar for meeting their friends to drink. We’re living in a global environment. Time is more important in, “When do we get together,” versus, “When do we get up and work?” That’s important.
It’s important too if companies are making those decisions about what is going to be the foundation of their future. I’m not saying go to not go back to the office or go work from anywhere but a four-day workweek is one of them. It’s the same structure as a workweek but only that we do it 4 times instead of 5 times. It’s still not giving autonomy, freedom, flexibility and asynchronous global working.
Companies that make decisions should be informed. I would recommend to them to get the right input, have debates and understand that we’re all dinosaurs. Involve the younger generations. Ask them what they want. Look into scientific data and use it in the right way. If we know those things scientifically, we should use them in our workplace design.
I have a simple question. “What do we think the world looks like years from now? How can we evolve as a company to get there?” That is the key question of understanding what the changes are. Define what it means for your company and start working with it. All those things are going to happen. We don’t know when but we can predict this is going to be the future of work somewhere in the next decade. Companies should not question that.
The only thing that they should ask is, “Do we want to be ahead of the curve and reap the fruits of that or are we going to be at risk? Are we going to be on the safe side, watching others go first?” We have missed the boat if we do that. These are the strategic questions in a timeline. If you can answer that for your organization, you are at a very competitive advantage.
What came up for me when you said that is I’m thinking about Sumit being in India. For years, I’ve worked for international organizations. It’s always about being mindful of the time difference. It’s not having wherever the company is headquartered, all the meetings are in that time zone. We’re remembering, “Maybe our team meetings can be rooted in their time zone for part of the year. On this part of the year, we switch back.” It’s so interesting that we make those exceptions for geographic differences.
I’m thinking about myself as a manager and other managers out there. You’re thinking about your employee that you know is a night owl, for example, because you get to know them personally. You know when they have their hot times or productive times because you’re seeing emails from them at that time. They’ve talked about it.
We use diagnostic tools. For example, the TMA Method. We can tell from those tools when this person is going to be most likely productive and engaged. It’s interesting that we’ve had that awareness. Some companies I’ve worked with haven’t been that good about minding the time zone differences, wanting to accommodate and being flexible. What about as a leader, you say, “Sam is a morning bird and I’m more of a night owl. How do we come together to where he’s flexible and I’m not always trying to meet with him at his good time but he’s also meeting me?”
I posted something. I don’t even think my actual question didn’t get picked up by remote working experts. I’m in Brazil. There’s no daylight saving here. I work a lot with my friend, Trevor, who is in the UK and then a lot of other people that are either in the states or in Europe. I’m in Brazil. I was like, “What kind of time zone should I put on for an event visual?” I went for the universal time. I use the universal time for all of my outings.
Even Travis said, “People don’t understand DMT.” I’m like, “Do you mean the people from England?” He said, “Yes, the people from the UK.” That is centric thinking from one country. You’re like, “I’m here so I put my time zone or the headquarters here.” Neutralize it and say, “UTC is the time zone. We always have this meeting there.” That means that the people in the countries where they do have daylight saving say, “Can we stop with that, please? People all over the world, stop with it.” They will shift and have to adjust their schedule because, in their country, the time zone changes. In my country, it doesn’t change so I don’t have to adjust.
People in their country can say, “We have the benefits of daylight saving.” Do you see people how basic this all is? It has to do with inclusivity and national structures. In my country, we have daylight saving because we live in the Northern hemisphere. The zone goes up and this is summertime. If we move to a global inclusive workforce, then we will have to change starting with those little things.It's about time that HR steps up and takes the lead at the management table and say, “Things are beyond business. We are facing global workplace transformations.” Click To Tweet
From the way I see it, one of the great ways to fight dinosaurs is with information and data. In the actual dinosaur age, there was no technology. We’ve got a whole world of tech. I’ve been thinking of tools that Microsoft uses. They’ve got a whole lot of insight into employee behavior and how inclusive you are being.
For example, if you’re sitting in a meeting and sending out emails, you will get an update at the end of the week saying, “You were in this many meetings. In 50% or 70% of them, you were emailing other people.” It gives you direct feedback in terms of that either you are not listening in the meeting so you need to save your time and be a little more flexible. It’ll also give you feedback if you are in the habit of sending out emails late at night.
If you’re one of those night owls who regularly send emails at 2:00 AM, the tool will give you feedback saying, “60% of your emails were sent outside the working hours of your team.” That data gets aggregated. There are team leaders who are looking at the behaviors of their respective teams. Having that information and knowing what’s the right and wrong behavior is the first step to fighting the dinosaur mindset. Some parts of it could be self-realization saying, “I didn’t even know this about myself. I need to change.” The second is people can give you feedback and say, “This isn’t quite. Some change is required here.” That’s probably the best way to help the dinosaurs evolve when we may not even need to fight them all the time.
It’s both sciences. It’s these kinds of tools used in the right way with the right mindset. We also have to understand the data. Sometimes, when it is counter-intuitive or goes against the values and where people come from, you can throw as much data at them as you want but that doesn’t mean that they’re going to adapt to it. You’re helping them also in that science of organizational workplace design. In the parts where we talked about change where we acknowledge that people have a background and they bring something with it and they have their fears and doubts, we do have to add to the mix into workplace design.
Do you remember the second communication tip you gave us? We’re doing a little refresh.
Yes. I remember that. A clear purpose or a higher purpose is very important because they know what the high goal of the company is.
I often tell a lot of clients that that’s one of the most important things in defining the workforce experience. People want meaning in the work and knowing where the company’s going in its vision. How you get the higher purpose is quite important. We’re here in the last few minutes. Can you tell us a little bit more about how people can get ahold of you and learn more about this topic? Do you have other things that you offer so people can plan for the future? You have a LinkedIn Live that’s coming up.
That is at 1:00 PM UTC. We have a LinkedIn Live every Thursday. Sometimes, it’s me and Trevor. Trevor is my co-host in Hello Monday Club. Sometimes, we have a guest. We will talk about interacting in a human-centric organization with Anna from Toggl. She is also a remote working expert so that is going to be a very interesting conversation.
We have workshops coming up that we’re developing. It will be published soon. I run, next to my consultancy in future work coaching, these strategic workplace transformation issues. I also work with a group that is a think tank/mastermind group. They’re mostly HR directors. We empower them to become future work leaders. It’s time that HR steps up, takes the lead at the management table and says, “Things are beyond business. We are facing global workplace transformations.” HR should be leading strategic work. The thing that we do for them is to empower them to do so.
I work directly with those leadership teams. There is a six-month program where I come in and we talk about what would be fellow strategies. For example, are we going to be ahead of the curve in adapting this? Are we going to be waiting to get more information and take our time? Have we missed the boat? I would guide them and support them in this thinking process. I will make sure that they feel confident to move forward to be better prepared for the future.
That sounds great. You got lots of things to look forward to there. Thank you so much for sharing your wisdom. We appreciate it. Many people out there have gotten some great nuggets from this conversation.
Sam and everybody else on the team, thank you so much for having me. It was a pleasure. Everybody who reads this or is going to read this later, thank you so much. I enjoyed it.
If you want to jump in on any of her workshops or you’ve got a little taste and you want the full experience, reach out to Angelique as well.
Thank you. That’s amazing.
Thank you, everyone.
Angelique is a former HR executive in multinationals and an Organizational Sociologist. With over 15 years of experience in this area, she is internationally acknowledged as being one of the pioneers in New Ways of Working.