We work in an era where "clocking in" and "clocking out" no longer produces the greatest results in a creative environment. Part of creating a healthy working environment is ensuring that we provide our associates with a healthy work life balance. A burnt-out associate will never have the ability to produce the results of their rested, focused counterparts – energized by the feeling of freedom.
Freedom, expressed as time and place – where I want to be when I want to be there – facilitates taking care of other life chores as needed; experiencing more of the joys of family, friends and new challenges; the flexibility to work from virtually any place at any time; and to be connected to families and communities more than ever before.
We can have more of that flexibility now, because technology is allowing us to sever the tether from our offices and desks, yet stay in touch with our teammates.
Professional service people often are thinking about their work challenges in the shower, on the freeway and, too often, when they should be listening to their spouse and children. They're working, or have the potential to work around the clock. This is a far cry from the "leave-it-all-at-work-when-the-whistle-blows" mentality of the factory workers and, to a great extent, many of the white-collar workers of modern-day bureaucracies.
The combination of this desire for freedom, the flexibility made possible by communications technology and the "always on my mind" mental work calls for an organizational system that's at the other end of the spectrum. The departmentalized, "always-in-your-face" pyramidal hierarchies invented for factory work are simply outdated.
We're in a new world with new freedoms and tools. New environments create demand for mental adjustments. So here's a recommendation on how to use the new tools and freedoms:
For new technologies to enable more flexibility, they must benefit the client, the client-based team, the individual and the agency. We must understand when personal presence is required for effective teamwork as well as the bandwidth needed for various types of communications. The communication methods below are listed from the least to the most bandwidth:
- Texting: the most narrow of bandwidths. Good for short messages with no emotion-related content. Good for quick questions/answers, schedule changes, etc.
- Instant Messaging: good for exchange of quick information, facilitates instant feedback and can help members align on next steps or solve minor issues quickly.
- Emailing: more information, more uses, encourages inclusion of more people in the communication.
- Voicemail: can handle more emotionally-laden communications due to voice inflections. Allows sender to off-load at their earliest convenience. Allows receiver more thought time prior to response.
- Video conferencing: the advantages of real-time, with even more voice and body language inflections. Can be negatively affected by poor audio and video orlack of access by some. Can provide acceptable bandwidth to save travel time and expense.
- In-person meeting: The most robust of human communication situations -- real time response, vocal inflection, facial expressions, body language, maximum resolution and audio quality and easy sharing of physical objects. The most powerful tool for leaders. Facilitates clear communications and inspiration for improved performance.
These are just some advantages and disadvantages for each communications tool.
I'm sure you can think of others. As you do, please share them with us.
Joe Phelps | CEO