Ep 190: Are you turning your remote work environment into a surveillance state?
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I want to talk about an article that you actually sent me a couple days ago that I thought was really worth talking about I'm GonNa read the title the article and then I want to know why you sent it to me. This is a Washington Post article and it's called managers turned to surveillance software and always on Webcams to ensure employees are really working from home. And when I read this I thought that's interesting. I wonder why people would start doing that. I've never experienced that Have you experienced this in your life? I mean what what stood out to you about why you wanted to send this to me. Oh yeah I I thought it was like an onion article Bait right now. It's like you gotta be kidding. Me and I was expecting to see like you know the guy at home with no pants on and like shirt teen surveillance cameras and all that type of stuff and then started reading it and I go. Oh my Kavak. This is real. People are actually doing this And and I couldn't believe it so I was like well first of all I need to send it to you and I think my caption was like Monday question. Mark like we need to talk about this and I think the the thing that most got me within article was something that somebody said about being like just how demoralizing it could be when you think about having worked for an organization or a company for maybe many many years and have a very reliable great track record. And you know. And they're just treating you like now that you're home you must be just sitting back and watching Oprah and drinking beer and not working and like all you know all the things that are said in that type of kind of excessive overreaching. Micro-management is really just a slap in the face to people and I was like you know we need to talk about this because I think that it's something that even if it's not so much as you have an always on Webcam you know you're at risk of as a leader just annoying people to the point where it's like. You don't believe them that they're doing their work. So I thought it'd be great dialogue for us to have and just think about it from your perspective of. Are you hearing this? Are you seeing this in you know? Is this something that we should be. Even it's sad to laugh at but it's something to talk about Go back a minute here. Oprah and beer do you have an always on. Webcam in my house like how do you know that that's what I do all day? Yeah well I mean that's the that's the whole point now right we actually. We do have webcams in our house. Right now. Yes but not always on at least not that. I knew so one of the things that stuck out at me and it happens in the very first paragraph of the article is the the marketing director this company. The in their words decided to replicate the office experience entirely online. And that's the first thing that grabbed me because when when I look at the office experience versus the work from home experience there are real positives and real negatives to both there. There isn't anyone who says. Oh this is one of those. Two environments is far superior to the other. Anybody says that is being disingenuous. Or they don't know what they're talking about. The the the people who say the office environment is way better. They don't have a personal life to balance with and they don't care the people who say oh the home. Life is far better in every regard. I to me. Those people are not good collaborators. They don't know about teamwork they don't know about shared goals you so there isn't a clear cut one size fits all the places that I know. Who Do this? Right are ones that? Don't try to replicate the office experience entirely online. And they also don't try to eliminate the office experience entirely either and so some of the positives that I get from an office. Experience are the one to five minute conversations that happen in the process of walking to the copier or the break room or to another office. And you meet somebody in the Hallway. Or you see somebody that you don't even spoke normally One of the things that when I worked for For best buy more than a decade ago. Now I had a an office in the in the corporate office in Richfield Minnesota and the way that they orchestrated the corporate office was so genius in that there were four different buildings. That all. Have this kind of central hub in the middle and because you could schedule meetings at any building. It forced you to walk through the central hub to go from one building to another. I got more work done and I made more relationships and more friendships and more partnerships and be had more doors open for me in the process of those walks from one building to another that. I decided to start ticking anytime I had between my meetings. Sitting at one of the tables in that section is opposed to at my desk because I felt like I got more out of Jesse Interaction. That's what an office environment is from a positive standpoint and then the positive sample of working from home is the ability to kind of kind of custom tailor. Your work life around your personal life as well and get everything done. So replicating the office experience entirely. Sounds to me like we're GONNA but from home sounds to me like we're going to eliminate all the good stuff that comes from working with together with the team in an office but we're going to maintain all the things that you hate about going to the office like I'm replicate which means I'm going to watch you all the time right so select like this. Is that really what you do all day? Like like is is the office like the ability for you as that leader to just stand there and watch everybody do their work and keep an eye on things like are you valuing your people based upon their physical being of. I'm at my desk. I'm in front of a computer. You know For many people in the feedback that we've guide listening to our podcast while they're working at their cubicle. Like yeah is there is there value in that and I think that you know you brought this up. maybe a week or two ago just like the kind of the Post Corona virus and like. What are the things that that that may be can take away from the situation and the idea that people can be very productive in an work from home and figure those things out I think is absolutely spot on in? I think it's just sad to think that there are organizations in will people in organizations that would default to this type of concern of we have to watch them at all time like we have to watch people. We can't trust our people and then I think about you. Know the the what that means from a cultural standpoint And what that means from a loyalty in a tenure stamp point again. I think that the the article makes a great point of just the idea of just how disrespectful that is like I guarantee you that I. I don't know that there are levels of leadership where a CEO is saying. I want a camera on every one of my executives right in the executives. I WANNA camera on every one of my kind of you know maybe mid-level manager and then it cascades it's way down what that sounds like to me is that there are leaders in the middle level that are just absolutely in a position of power and not in a position of empowerment in regards to how they treat their people and this is just some of the bleed over. I would hope that this is a small percentage of what people are having to go through in this current situation from a work for home. Stand Point I've read one article on it and is the only one I've read so far but that's my hope. Is that this kind of a one off and maybe there are just a few individuals out there that are causing this to happen. Yeah the article implies that some people believe this is the future of remote work and I you know from first of all. I don't see how that is the case I go to an office then feel like I was being watched in my home. That's first of all And number two. If it's the future of remote work they must be talking about from validation standpoint meaning. No one's going to be sitting there watching you but if there's all of a sudden you know you're not turning things in on time or you're not getting your there's been a reduction in your productivity or your ability to get work done now they go back and spend countless hours watching what you did all day to see if you actually work. That's kind of more like a you know. Let's validate going backward as opposed to watching you all the time kind of thing. That's usually how things like that work but still the idea that I have to kind of put on this kind of face every time. I'm sitting down at my desk from a standpoint of just how I sit you know am I slouching? My setting up straight AM I. Am I looking for a correctly as lighting right? Like all these things that you don't have to worry about when you're when you're working from home The the person who said they tried to replicate the office environment completely a quote they gave his. We have no shyness now. At this point it's weirdly brought us a little closer together and I read that and I thought yeah closer together like when I was twenty one and my spring break was a family vacation. You know it's like yeah that's those are the people I want to be closer together with is being forced to drive cross country in a car. When I'd rather be with my college friends. You know that. That's kind of the closer together that I see here when I hear that meaning if the culture is such already that you are that close with your team then whatever happens will naturally happen anyway. People who are close together people who are a team who loved that Camaraderie who WanNa be part of that team and who love. Love the closeness of that team. They don't need to have software monitoring them to make sure that they are closer together. They find ways of communicating. Anything that has to be forced. I heard a politician once. Said if your idea is great people steal it from you. You don't need to legislate it into existence like you don't have to force anybody to do things. That is a good idea already. And this is what I see here. You're forcing somebody to do. Something at that. Point by definition is almost always a bad idea. Yeah a great point and I think too. It's like I think the balance here. Oh I think it was causing. This is is twofold. I think number one. It's bad leaders. Who are looking for ways to validate their time. You know as opposed to an office where that leader might be able to sit at a desk or close their door or you know be able to twiddle their thumbs or do what they wanna do and then just people assume that they're working now. They are also in a space where they have to prove invalidated that they're not at home so that kind of projecting what they would rather be doing on onto their people and they want to you know kind of valid and follow up with that stuff and it's also like if you're if you're not in the space as a leader where you're thinking about inspiration and empowerment and you know providing people the opportunity to use their time wisely and figure types of things out then like. I don't know how else you I guess you have to have to measure your value in your own. Success is just annoying people to the point where you can catch somebody doing something wrong. I guess but I also think that what you said about the software piece though too is like there are easier less intrusive ways to validate whether people are on a computer getting work done if that is what they're supposed to be doing like. I suppose there's software that's out there to understand like when you log in what are you doing. Are you on. The right sites is work. Getting done ways that you can systematically create that where you can validate that people are being productive and as a matter of fact in a in a very transparent way you could. You could show them. You can have that on their computer to show them that they're being productive that they're being tracked and and it is what it is. I guess maybe it's maybe some industries where the work that's being done isn't so intensive that you're like a programmer you know just typing away Like you'd think of in a in a in a computer hacker movie whether just Click Click. Click away for hours. But maybe there's work that needs to be done but it can also be done at your own pace. I just I think from a cultural standpoint is something that just damages the trust. And I think it's something that shows people. And really highlights the enact inadequacies of leaders. That are not you know a comfortable in that space. And they're not leading people appropriately. I think this this whole pandemic is it can be a watershed moment for how work from home and work. Life balance happens in the future if both employees and leaders take responsibility for ensuring it becomes that meaning. If you start from the standpoint of I'm GONNA install software to monitor when people are doing. There's virtually no way. Those people aren't going back to an office when this is over weight. Like those managers have Have already basically cemented in place that this is. What's important to them? And the moment it becomes the were able to go back to the office. The teams that have the software. They're going back to an office. Believe me if each of those entities though leaders an employee's and some people are part of both teams. Some people are both a leader an-and employees depending on where you where you fall in organizations you have a tremendous opportunity to show how productive you can be in a work from home environment. I'm talking about without this software. Forget the One offs of people who have this kind of software just to be able to say. Look at what I can get done when you don't have your thumb on me. Look at what I can get done when. I'm not sitting in a cubicle all day long or whatever whatever it is that I go and then leaders have a tremendous ability to be able to say I trust you what what says. I trust you more to your employees than to say. Hey you know what you reach out to me if you have a question on something. This is what you know. What your work is. You know what it's do by you know when these projects are Dubai go work with your Co Workers. Go collaborate get this done. I'm here for you when you need me if you don't reach out. I'm going to assume you don't need me all recharge you periodically. I'll make sure you know that I'm here for you. But at the end of the day you have to get this done. And if both of those entities do those things correctly you can end up with companies that save millions and millions and millions of dollars in overhead from the commercial real estate space. They Rent Utilities. They put together. And you could turn this whole thing into kind of like a You know you you rent office space once a week for a meeting and then you go back to what you do or meet at a restaurant and then go back to what you were doing. There's so many ways this can change for the better. All of how we work where you get to take all the good of working from home but not lose all the good of collaborating in an office but it's GonNa take a lot of responsibility and a lot of commitment from both of those groups of people agree. I think that there's two things about it that number one. This is not new. There are companies organizations and complete industries. That people work from home. So it's not like we have to recreate the wheel here does not like. Oh my gosh. Now that more people have to do it because of you know this current situation that now we have to recreate how this actually works like there are very high levels of success will work from home environment but I also think to your point that is very limiting when when you whether your work from home or in an office or you know whatever your work environment looks like when you start micromanaging at that level when you start doing things that show that you don't have trust in your people to get work done. What is happening is that their output is just the minimum expectation. They're like all right. Well if this what you want me to do and you're GonNa Watch every move that I make. I would just get it done how you want done when you want it done. And that's all I'm going to do when you give people the space and the trust and the empowerment to say. Hey this is what we're looking for. This is the expectation it's got to be done by this day. I know you can do it. And what you just said. Let me know how it can help and support you. What ends up happening is people in my experience. Start to innovate. They start to challenge themselves to not only do what's being asked but find a more efficient way to do it. They start to do a little bit of extra work. They all the sudden now because they feel this feeling of trust like you know like. I'm being told that they trust me and I need to get this work done. They're kind of more self accountable to make sure that they're getting the work done. And it is done on time or early or a little bit extra versus doing exactly what? They're told done exactly how they needed to get it done. So I just think that you know in the long-term regardless of the situation home or office if you're continually fouling up your people to the point of annoyance with that really say that you don't trust them to get the work done I think that's just damages their ability to really ever meet or exceed their own potential high completely agree and would that it brings us to this. Episode's One minute pack though one minute okay for this episode Woman Hack. Here's what I want you to consider when you're in an environment like this where there's been a shift in expectations of how your team shows up specifically and kind of this work for home mode. You Really WanNa start in the element of trust right letting them know that you trust them. Tell them that that you trust to get the work done that. You're looking for them to not only accomplished the expectations but look to see if they can exceed the expectations. So that it's very clear what you're looking for as a leader and you're also letting them know that you're giving them the space to go out there and get the work done. Make sure that you have some scheduled elements of follow up. Don't let them know that. Say I want to check in once a week or every other week or every other day just to see how things are going if there's anything that you need for me so that they're also aware that there will be continuing checkup because again. That's not necessarily micromanaging. So much as it is making adjustments and learning this new behavior in a new space completely. And then finally. If you're finding were you have employees? That are not making the deadlines or they are not meeting the expectations in a pretty quick way. Then follow up with them more often and let them know that. That's what's going on. Say Hey as a result of the fact that I provided you with the trust and spacey. Get this work done. But it's not meeting expectations. I'm going to continue to follow up a little bit more often to make sure that you're getting your work. Done that level of transparency in dialogue with the team even if they're struggling with trying to figure out how they can get the work done in this new environment will at least give them the opportunity to talk with you explain themselves and maybe find a place in the middle where they can get the work done effectively while also balancing the other things that may be happening in their household. I think it's great woman hack and and this whole story reminds me a lot of things that we've talked about a couple of times on the show. Which is the idea of a metric becoming more important than a result. And this is what these these surveillance softwares in the always on webcams. This is what this screams to me. It says the the the metric of you working forty hours a week is more important than the result which is getting forty hours of work done a week. Different people work different in different paces. Different people have different responsibilities. I know that during this pandemic of the best work I've gotten done has been between the hours of nine. Pm and midnight when my kids are in bed? Because I'm not home schooling them when once they're in bed and so each person's going to have this Impact be impacted by this different way. Start BY FROM FROM. A standpoint of the result is more important than the metric. Don't let the metric don't get hung up on the metric and I think you can do some really great stuff between with the relationship between you and your employees. You got it at the end of this episode this leadership on the Renzo. And I'm Chris. We'll talk to you all next time.