Want greater staff retention, less sickness absence and increased productivity? Join the results-based revolution and unleash the power within.

We’ve all been there, haven’t we? Racing around trying to get the dog organised, kids sorted and self looking presentable to arrive at the office for 9am like that’s all you’ve had to worry about.  We’ve also all most likely heard that tut when you’re two minutes late or had a poor attendance record because it keeps on happening.  And we’ve probably all had time off work to let in the heating engineer or be home for a sick child or get to the hospital for an appointment.

So what if it was possible to have a happier and more productive workforce by ripping up the policies and letting people decide for themselves when, where and how they work? Would you do it? You should definitely give it some thought.

This is on my mind right now because I’ve had a hectic start to the year. With a new dog, hospital visits for my mother in law, surgery for myself and the pooch, I’ve been dashing from one place to another trying to make sure everyone is ok and then arriving at work pretending everything is normal.  It’s made me miss my previous workstyle (not lifestyle) where the focus was on what I delivered and not whether I was there or how long I sat at my desk.

In my former role, my team had cast away the shackles of time and space and embraced a results-based approach.  This idea was developed after reading work on the Results Only Working Environment (ROWE) which has become prominent over the last few years. We didn’t follow it in its purest form but based our own model on the general premise of results not time.

How it worked in practice was to agree with each individual what they were expected to deliver and what ‘good’ would look like and we caught up on a regular basis to make sure everything was on track.  It meant that my team was empowered to get on with the job and trusted to get it right which in turn meant they were motivated to succeed and delivered above and beyond what was expected of them.

The first time I heard this idea, it was in the news that Virgin were letting employees have unlimited annual leave.  It sounds unrealistic but actually is manageable when individuals start being accountable for what they have done and not how long they were in the office.  It also means you can get all your tasks completed whether in the office or at home or elsewhere! Does someone need to finish early to go to the vet? No problem. Do they need to work from home to keep an eye on the sick dog? Sure thing. Do they want to work at the in-law’s so they can get to the hospital for visiting hours? Absolutely. People can manage their time however they see fit, providing they deliver the agreed results.

You might still be thinking ‘but if they are not in the office, how do I know they are working?’ You know because they will do the things they agreed and if they don’t then it’s a performance issue. How do you know they are working when they are sat at their desk? You don’t generally, you just feel better because you can see them in front of you. Maybe you are also thinking that if you let people just do what they need to then they will do as little as possible. My experience of managing a team in this way taught me that providing you have empowered and motivated them in the right way, when they run out of things to do, they will find more.

Many employers think that allowing employees to work flexibly is a nice perk but actually, it can remove stress, reduce sickness absence and increase productivity which means that employers get more for their money.   My experience with results-based working found that it encourages people to work smarter and think more about what they are doing and how they can invest their time on things that will deliver the best results.  What’s not to like?

Get your own copy of ‘Why work sucks and how to fix it’or hear how it works at GAP by watching this video.

Why you should ditch the desk and flex your space

A few years ago, the new Chief Executive of the organisation I was working for had a bright idea to change the way we used the space in our office to get more from it. The way things were set out at the time meant that we had desks spread out across the office and often not all in use.  We were told we were going to reduce the number of desks which would give us space that we could use for commercial work.  We would all become ‘huggers’ or ‘hoppers’ and those in the latter category would have no use the desks or other areas flexibly.

If I’m honest, I wasn’t keen to give up my desk. It was my bit of personal space in the place I spend much of my time. Almost a home from home if you like. I’m not one for family photos in the workplace but I did have some personal things around my desk that I wasn’t keen to give up.

Although I was forced into it to start with, I’m now a complete convert. Once you have become used to working in this way and enjoyed the benefits, it’s hard to go back. I’ve now moved organisations and whilst I thought I would be pleased to have a desk of my own once again, I’m missing the ability to have fresh conversations with a wide range of people.

As a result, I am now looking to clear my desk and work more flexibly again.  One of the great things about being free to work in different spaces is the ability to share updates and ideas across teams and departments.  As I am looking to support colleagues across the whole organisation, this seems like a great way to achieve success by getting to know the people, their work and their environment.  It’s also a good way to encourage people to think and work outside of their silos. Those informal conversations are what build relationships and make people want to work together.

Being flexible in terms of space also allows greater efficiency because it empowers the individual to be where they need to be at that time to best get the job done instead of feeling pulled into a set place.

Personally, I like to work where I feel my ‘flow’.  Variety inspires me but also I like to choose my space according to how I feel or the task in hand.  If I need to be creative, I might look for a bright open space or if I need to do some quiet reading, you’re more likely to find me settled on a sofa somewhere.

Aside from getting to know people and priorities better, levels of trust can increase by developing a sense of a wider team. It’s also a great way to reduce the use of paper! When you don’t have a place to keep documents, you stop wanting to print them.

There have been some challenges to consider in adopting a new way of working in an organisation where this isn’t the norm.  The key to success is really around communication and getting support from those it affects.  People need to know how you intend to work and why, where you are and how they can get hold of you.  I make sure I keep my calendars to date and my phone number is shared so people can get hold of me easily.

Ultimately, it’s the 21st Century, teams are working differently and it’s time to push forward with the way we work to get the best results.

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