Evolving PMO: How the pandemic is shaping future PMOs

The pandemic has taught everyone that anything can happen, and change is always just around the corner. While every industry has been reeling from its impacts, the pandemic has given us the opportunity to make our project management offices more resilient and sustainable. To stay relevant and fulfil its role as a strategic command centre, the Project Management Office must evolve.

5 key changes of an evolving PMO

Here is a quick summary of the top 5 changes the pandemic will bring to the Project Management Office (PMO):

  1. Shift towards more Agile methodologies
  2. Increasing demand for effective communication and collaboration tools
  3. Acceleration of digital transformation through technological advancement
  4. The necessity for remote leadership skills
  5. PMOs becoming pivotal for crisis management

Let’s do a deep dive of each major change.

1. Shift to more Agile methodologies

Agile has been the ongoing buzzword of project management for years, though previously limited to software and ICT development spheres. The pandemic has shown us that the global market is not only extremely competitive and fast-paced, but also filled with uncertainties that could strike at any moment.

With its high value orientation, emphasis on self-organisations, quicker reaction times, more efficient management of digital programs and customer experience focus, adopting Agile methodologies allows organisations, not just software companies, to tap into the flexibility they need in times of crisis and change.

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If organisations need to be more Agile, their PMOs will need to spearhead the change. Becoming an Agile PMO is more than just changing practices and tools, but also involves changing mindsets and cultures. PMOs will need to transition from their traditional policing role rooted in rigid processes, old bureaucracy and traditional tools to make room for flexible processes, lean management and Agile-centric tools.

Though organisations may want to become more Agile, there is no one-size-fits-all approach to solve all your problems. In fact, many other methodologies have emerged and built off Agile philosophies to suit specific contexts. The PMO will be tasked with identifying, adapting and implementing the approach that suits their organisations needs best.

2. Increasing demand for effective communication and collaboration tools

The pandemic has brought about massive workplace changes, specifically in regard to remote working, and it is change that is likely to stay. A 2020 Gitlab research on white collar professionals discovered that only 1% of respondents wanted to return to the office with the vast majority preferring remote working. Additionally, 59% of the respondents indicated that remote working improved their output.

To accommodate this trend, the PMO will need to invest in improved cloud-based technology adoption to enable seamless communication and cross-team collaboration of geographically dispersed teams. Though many software and PPM systems have online collaborative capabilities, not all PPM software is equal. Collaboration platforms like Asana and Monday have become increasingly popular, but many such services lack integrative capabilities that allow all your project related activities to be collated in a single hub.

3. Acceleration of digital transformation through technological advancement

Digital transformation is nothing new, but the pandemic has greatly accelerated the pace of digital transformations. KPMG global survey shows that the pandemic has accelerated digital transformation strategy in 67% of respondents, with 63% increasing their digital transformation budget. McKinsey research shows that companies were adapting to digital changes at much faster rates than what was imagined pre-pandemic, particularly in regards to remote working, online customer services and the adoption of advanced technologies into operations.

As companies begin to better grasp the value of digital transformation and understand the speed it can be implemented, it will become a forefront agenda for PMOs of the future. PMOs will play a critical role in not only introducing practices, tools and processes catered to digital workflows, but also building the right cultures to minimize the resistance to change.

Additionally, as digital integration becomes more advanced, PMOs will much sooner than later be faced with the challenge of adopting and integrating artificial intelligence into their operations. It may seem like a daunting task, but AI is set to bring extensive changes to the project management field and effective PMOs cannot afford to be left behind.

4. The necessity of remote leadership skills

Relationship building and clear leadership are critical ingredients for a successful PMO. But relationship building is one of the hardest challenges of remote working. How does the PMO maintain their position as the strategic hub of an organisation if they are not able to build the relationships to lead effectively?

The pandemic has clearly shown how unequipped teams have been for remote working. A Terminal survey shows that 77% of respondents had no prior experience of leading remote teams and 30% of organisations had no long-term strategy for remote working post-pandemic. With trends showing that remote working is not going anywhere any time soon, PMOs have to adapt quickly and effectively to keep teams organized, focused, and motivated.

While remote working has been said to improve productivity, there are still many challenges such as teams feeling disconnected, employees experiencing higher rates of burnout and lack of morale. PMOs will have to work on building up their digital communication and leadership skills to compensate for the lack of opportunities to build informal relationships with team members.

5. PMOs becoming pivotal for crisis management

“In my view the PMO, in times of uncertainty, holds the whole project management ‘enterprise’ together, via process, communication and guidance. Companies that don’t have a PMO will see a lot of chaos and fumbling around in their projects” – Bob Patrino, Principal IS Project Manager

In times of crisis, employees will turn to the PMO to be their guiding light and have the proper processes and tools in place to support them. Crises like the pandemic are only going to increase in frequency and if PMOs limit themselves to their traditional policing role, they will quickly lose their relevance. PMOs have the opportunity to become a critical asset in an organisation’s crisis management strategy and have the capacity to lead teams strategically, align stakeholders, prioritise tasks effectively and ensure resources are allocated to the most critical projects.

PMOs are changing permanently. Are you ready?

Like the rest of the world, it is tempting to wish we can all ‘go back to how it used to be’. It is becoming more apparent than ever that going back may not be an option and a ‘new normal is here to stay. However, the PMO may be changing for the better and it is only those who prepare for the future who will reap its benefits.

About the author

Bill is a PMO consultant with 20+ of experience in Project and Portfolio Management, Project Administration, Risk Management and Process Redevelopment. He is currently working as PMO consultant with pmo365 and providing his expertise to the leading business.

Is Project Management Being Devalued By Non-Project Managers?

As Project Managers, most of us have experienced someone that works in our organisation slapping a on a PM badge and joining the party.  This party is one with an endless bar tab, the end time doesn’t matter drinks are spilled over glossaries containing project buzz words and generic document templates found on Google.

Only us actual PMs are at the party next door.  Having sensible conversations.  With the right people.  About the right things.  And we brought our own coffee.

Project management is changing where we are seeing more people adopt the role of PM in addition to their day job.  This is due to a number of reasons such as the recruitment of a PM will take too long, project management courses are inexpensive so upskilling is easy and staff know the business better than anyone so it can’t not be a success.

Why is this a problem?

Project management requires a specific skillset, ability to quickly assess and understand the corporate landscape and appreciation of how a project fits into the bigger picture.  PMs are trained to expertly balance the science of budgeting, scheduling, resource planning and estimating with the art of confidently managing risks, issues, dependencies, stakeholders and fluctuations in any aspect of the project.

Where a business function problem exists, there is often a tendency to purchase a new piece of software and bend the internal processes to fit.  Someone is selected as the PM, usually someone who is familiar with the team and processes.  They are chosen over Dan the IT guy as he has no capacity at the moment to manage this project.  So an SME is now also a PM.  Let’s call this PM Chris.

After Chris is given the PM role, they Google sales reporting software and finds a supplier.  Chris liaises with the supplier, who guides says they will get the new software implemented within the quoted 3 months and within budget.  Contracts are signed and everyone is happy.

Chris sends some requirements to the supplier, who can deliver 75% of them but the rest is chargeable. There is some contingency in the budget (nice Googling!). Chris says yes as they’re all must haves anyway.

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Chris returns to the project after spending 2 weeks on some priority work at the point of data import.  A sales data spreadsheet is sent to the supplier, which is sent back as some columns need renaming and there’s some data misspelled and missing.  Chris doesn’t have the time to do this so forwards it to a colleague.  When Chris gets it back, it’s forwarded to the supplier, who has more questions.  This 3-way game of data file tennis goes on for 3 weeks.  Chris is now really busy and is feeling the strain.

Testing is overdue so Chris asks a colleague to help but it’s going to take a little longer than expected as the colleague has booked a week off.  The go-live date is no longer achievable and Chris sends an update to their bosses saying go-live is delayed by 4 weeks.  The bosses ask yet again for an update on project spend and a list of deliverables.  Chris forwards a supplier email and reminds them they have a copy of the contract, which should give them everything they need.  It doesn’t.

Go-live day arrives and a short email is sent to the whole company saying the system is live and the project was a success. The broken sales spreadsheet and dodgy monthly report are replaced with a shiny new system. Yaayyy!  However, the budget of £23,000 was exceeded by £5,500 and the project was delivered 8 weeks late and there are no metrics to show what value was delivered.

After a few weeks, it is found that the sales data that was missing from the spreadsheet is missing from the system and the dodgy monthly report looks nicer but is missing the same information.  There are 3 teams who used the spreadsheets and didn’t know they wouldn’t have access to them.  They don’t have another solution so need emergency training on the system.  Most people are asking why they got rid of the spreadsheets.  If the missing information was added to them, this wouldn’t be happening.  People aren’t happy.  Chris’s reputation has taken a battering.  Chris is exhausted and depressed.

We can see that although Chris is knowledgeable about the business area receiving the new system, they are not as experienced at supplier and contract management, requirements gathering and prioritisation, scheduling, stakeholder and role management, testing and communication in a project environment.  Even with experience in some or all of these areas, that experience still needs to be within the project domain or the business will see someone applying generic experience to a complex and sensitive practice, often with disastrous results.

It’s clear that hiring a PM or BA would have meant this project would have prevented damage to a number of areas.  What’s more, that PM or BA could have saved the business from doing the project at all.  The issue was broken processes, which could be fixed with service review, redesign, workshops and training.  Instead, the wrong decision was made, one which probably scared Chris away from project management forever.

Allowing an SME to run a project sends a message that anyone can be a PM.  That doesn’t mean anyone should.  If there are PMs in the organisation that aren’t selected to run the project for whatever reason, it only reinforces this message.  It can massively impact morale, risk the PM’s reputation and affect the organisation’s perception of the value their role delivers.  Having business leaders not understand business analysis and project management can lead to poor strategic decision making.

How do we fix this?

Do we preach defamation of our profession?  Do we mentor the SME/PM through the treacherous journey that lies ahead of them?  Or do we step back and watch the circus that often ensues and hope they won’t do it again?  It’s a delicate balance as we want to help others but we also don’t want to facilitate the erosion of value of our profession.

You can see it’s not just about reading a textbook and applying the techniques.  It’s about rich experience in understanding the purpose of the project and its place within the business.  However, it’s also not just about projects.  It’s about influencing the adoption of project management principles to help the organisation breed a widespread culture of collaboration, accountability and value delivery.  Just like how the Finance department advise us to be cost-efficient or HR advise us to be conscious of how we conduct ourselves at work, we want to broadcast a message to this affect but we can’t do this on our own.

Unfortunately, the company culture is one of acceptance or even worse, encouragement of non-project professionals managing projects. Our leaders must help us raise the profile of project management in our organisations so people appreciate what it means, the value it delivers and just how god damn difficult it is to get right.  Only then will the organisation see that when there is a project that needs doing – only a proper PM will do.

Be Straight with Yourself to Get What You Want and Want What You Get

Being straight with yourself puts you on solid ground for getting what you want. And who doesn’t like to get what they want?

Can you own up to your motivations and limitations, your values, and your intentions? Are you self-aware enough to acknowledge your capacity and capability and to own up to your strengths and weaknesses? Can you manage your emotions to be responsive rather than reactive? Are you clear about your values and intentions and how they motivate you?

What Do You Want?

Here is a little story about owning up to what you really want.

A person came to the Guru to get instruction on how to deal with an exploitive partner (it could be an abusive, uncooperative, or incompetent boss, subordinate, or peer).

Guru asks, “So you want to change your partner.”

“No, I want to change myself” the person answered.

Guru (who is a bit of a mind reader) says, “No. You only say that because you think wanting to change the other is not “spiritual,” not giving and allowing; that it is manipulative.  You might have read somewhere that the only thing you can do is to change yourself and your perception, that you need to accept things as they are.”

Influencing

“Admit it.” the Guru says. “You are unhappy with the relationship, and you want change. You want to change the other or to have them change themselves into someone you’d like them to be, doing (or not doing) the things you want them to do.”

Guru continues, “You want to change the situation and you think the only thing you can do is to change yourself because you can’t change your partner. You are correct, you can’t change others.  But you can change your perception. When you do, behavior changes. When your behavior changes, you influence others, so they are likely to change their behavior. Though the change may or may not be to your liking.

You can’t change others, but you can influence their behavior.”

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Are You Being Straight?

The Guru concluded, “Are you being straight with yourself? Are you acknowledging your true feelings, thoughts, wants, and needs? Do you have an accurate sense of the situation? If not, you won’t get the change you want.

“Once you acknowledge the situation and your part in it, you can look in on it. You can be both a part of it and an objective observer, a witness. Stepping back to objectively observe you can better know the situation and it’s causes. Then you can apply the courage to work to change it or learn to settle into it.”

A Self-serving Boss

Take the example of a self-serving, manipulative manager. She exploits and verbally abuses team members. She takes credit for successes and blames others for failures; expresses no gratitude.  You are frustrated, depressed, and angry.

You’ve read a self-help book or listened to a podcast that says you can only change yourself and you begin to deny that you want to change her. So, you learn some techniques to manage your anger. You apply them and the frustration seems relieved; you’ve accepted the situation. Or have you?

The frustration doesn’t go away, instead, it gets buried or turned inward. You become frustrated with yourself and your inability to accept the situation as it is. You feel powerless. Your anger turns to resignation and depression.

A Solid Foundation

When you acknowledge your desire to change the situation and accept that you can change yourself and influence others, you courageously do it or you learn to settle into it, truly accepting what you can’t change.

If it’s neither change nor settles, then you complain (to yourself or out loud) and everyone suffers. When you are straight with yourself you can decide and do.

What You Can Do

When faced with a challenging other, do a reality check.  Are they behaving in an abusive, exploitive manner or are you overly sensitive or expecting too much? Or is it a combination? Are you being open and empathetic? Are they? What are the risks of being straight with them?

Answering these questions will put you in a position to more effectively manage the situation to get what you want and be more likely to like what you get.

Depending on the situation, voice your wants and needs. You can confront your partner gently but firmly and tell them what you are feeling and how their behavior affects you. You can ask them to change their behavior.  If you don’t say what you want, the likelihood of getting it is small.

At the same time, you can change your perception and become less vulnerable to their abusive behavior. Here we are on a slippery slope. You don’t want to become a doormat or accept the unacceptable. You need to know your limits  In negotiation it is knowing your best and final offer and having the resolve to walk away.

Changing your perspective to unconditionally accept what is, is wise. However, accepting what is does not mean that you can’t do something to influence the future. Remember, you can’t change the past or the present moment, but your thoughts, speech, and actions create a ripple that changes the future.

Knowing what you want and don’t want, influences your behavior. You establish goals and objectives, and these motivate you to do what you can.

Values, Intentions, Implications

What are you willing to do to get what you want? Does getting what you want to harm others?  What are the immediate, medium, and long-term implications?

Being straight with yourself includes knowing your values and intentions. The values may be saving time and making money, health and happiness for yourself and others, environmental health, ethical and non-harming behavior, safety, and security. Your intention might be to win at the expense of everyone or to find win-win solutions. Your highest intention may be to become a great servant leader or the richest and most powerful.

Getting What You Want

Opening to self-knowledge, being straight with yourself, may sound easy, though for many people it is not. It requires the courage to confront your beliefs and acknowledge realities that you do not like. It requires stepping back to objectively observe and accept things you don’t like.

When you own up to your motivations and limitations; your values and intentions, and acknowledge your expectations, capacity and capability, strengths, and weaknesses you can get what you want and be more likely to like what you get.

Cultivate self-awareness and be straight with yourself.

Work Plans Must Account for Friction

I overheard this conversation at work one day:

Manager Shannon: “Jamie, I know you’re doing the usability assessments on the Canary project right now. Several other projects are also interested in usability assessments. How much time do you spend on that?”

Team Member Jamie: “About eight hours a week.”

Manager Shannon: “Okay, so you could work with five projects at a time then.”

Do you see any flaws in Shannon’s thinking? Five times eight is forty, the nominal hours in a work week, so this discussion seems reasonable on the surface. But Shannon hasn’t considered the many factors that reduce the time that individuals have available each day for project work: project friction (as opposed to interpersonal friction, which I’m not discussing here).

There’s a difference between elapsed hours on the job and effective available hours. If people don’t incorporate friction factors into their planning, they’ll forever underestimate how long it will take to get work done.

Task Switching and Flow

People do not multitask—they task switch. When multitasking computers switch from one job to another, there’s a period of unproductive time during the switch. The same is true of people, only it’s far worse. It takes a little while to gather all the materials you need to work on a different activity, access the right files, and reload your brain with the pertinent information. You need to change your mental context to focus on the new problem and remember where you were the last time you worked on it. That’s the slow part.

Some people are better at task switching than others. Maybe I have a short attention span, but I’m pretty good at diverting my focus to something different and then resuming the original activity right where I left off. For many people, though, excessive task switching destroys productivity. Programmers are particularly susceptible to the time-sucking impact of multitasking, as Joel Spolsky (2001) explains:

“When you manage programmers, specifically, task switches take a really, really, really long time. That’s because programming is the kind of task where you have to keep a lot of things in your head at once. The more things you remember at once, the more productive you are at programming. A programmer coding at full throttle is keeping zillions of things in their head at once.”

When I was a manager, a developer named Jordan said he was flailing. He would work on task A for a while, then feel guilty that he was neglecting task B, so he’d switch to that one, accomplishing little as a result. Jordan and I worked out his priorities and a plan for allocating time to tasks in turn. He stopped flailing and his productivity went up. Jordan’s task-switching overhead and priority confusion affected both his productivity and his state of mind.

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When you’re deeply immersed in some work, focused on the activity and free from distractions, you enter a mental state called flow. Creative knowledge work like software development requires flow to be productive (DeMarco and Lister 2013). You understand what you’re working on, the information you need is in your working memory, and you know where you’re headed. You can tell you’ve been in a state of flow when you lose track of time as you’re making great progress and having fun. Then your phone pings with a text message, an e-mail notification pops up, your computer reminds you that a meeting starts in five minutes, or someone stops by to talk. Boom—there goes your flow.

Interruptions are flow killers. It takes several minutes to get your brain back into that highly productive state and pick up where you were before the interruption. A realistic measure of your effective work capacity is based not on how many hours you’re at work or even how many hours you’re on task, but how many uninterrupted hours you’re on task (DeMarco and Lister 2013).

To achieve the high productivity and satisfaction that come from an extended state of flow, you need to actively manage your work time. Jory MacKay (2021) offers several recommendations for reducing context switching and its accompanying productivity destruction.

  • Timeblock your schedule to create clearer focus boundaries. Planning how you will spend your day, with dedicated blocks of time allocated to specific activities, carves out opportunities for extended deep concentration.
  • Employ routines to remove attention residue as you migrate from one task to the next. A small transition ritual or distraction—a cup of coffee, an amusing video—can help you make a mental break into a new work mode.
  • Take regular breaks to recharge. The intense concentration of a state of flow is great—up to a point. You must come up for air occasionally. To minimize eyestrain, periodically focus your eyes on something in the distance for a few seconds instead of the screen. Short mental breaks are refreshing before you dive back into that productive flow state.

Effective Hours

At-work hours seep away through many channels. You attend meetings and video chats, respond to e-mails, look things up on the web, participate in retrospectives, and review your teammates’ code. Time gets lost to unexpected bug fixes, kicking around ideas with your coworkers, administrative activities, and the usual healthy socializing. Working from home offers myriad other distractions, many of them more fun than project work. Even if you work forty hours a week, you don’t spend anywhere near that many on your project.

One software group of mine measured how we devoted our time on projects for several years (Wiegers 1996). Individuals tracked the hours they spent working on each project in ten activity categories. We didn’t try to make the weekly numbers add up to any total. We just wanted to know how we really spent our time, compared to how we thought we spent our time, compared to how we were supposed to spend our time.

The results were eye-opening. In the first year we collected data, we devoted an average of just 26 hours per week to project work. The time tracking made us all more conscious of finding ways to focus our time more productively. However, we never exceeded an average of 31 hours per week of project time.

Several of my colleagues have obtained similar results, averaging five to six hours per day on project work. Rather than relying on published figures to estimate your effective project time, collect your own data. Recording how you work for a few typical weeks will provide a good idea of how many hours per week you can expect to devote to project tasks. Knowing the team’s average effective weekly work hours helps everyone make more realistic estimates, plans, and commitments.

Other Sources of Project Friction

Besides the daily frittering away of time on myriad activities, project teams lose time to other sources of friction. For instance, most corporate IT organizations are responsible for both new development and enhancing and repairing current production systems. Since you can’t predict when something will break or a change request will come along, these sporadic, interruptive maintenance demands usurp team members’ time with unplanned work.

The team composition can further impose friction if project participants speak different native languages and work in diverse cultures. Unclear and volatile requirement priorities can chew up hours as people spend time researching, debating, and adjusting priorities. The team might have to temporarily shelve some incomplete work if a new, higher-priority task inserts itself into the schedule. Unplanned rework is yet another time diversion.

Distance between project participants can retard information exchanges and decision-making. A contract project that involved a customer in the eastern United States and a vendor in western Canada planned some peer reviews of certain deliverables. However, the long-distance reviews took longer than expected, as did follow-up to verify the corrections made. Sluggish iteration to resolve requirements questions and ambiguity about who the right contact people were for each issue were further impediments. These—and other—factors put the project behind schedule after just the first week and eventually contributed to its failure.

Planning Implications

I estimate how long individual tasks will take as though I will have no distractions or interruptions, just focused and productive time. Next, I convert that ideal effort estimate into calendar time based on my effective work-hour percentage. I also consider whether any of the other aforementioned sources of friction could affect my estimates. Then I try to arrange my work so that I can focus on a single task at a time until it’s complete or I hit a blocking point.

My colleague Dave described what happens on his current project, whose manager doesn’t consider the impacts of time lost to excessive multitasking:

“The manager likes to split people up between teams, 50 percent here and 50 percent there, or 50, 25, and 25. But when this happens, it seems like they forget the percentages and think the team has all full-time people. Then they seem surprised at how long things take. Also, being on multiple teams means more overhead in meetings and less coding time.”

If people always create estimates without accounting for the many ways that time splitting and project conditions can slow down the work, they’re destined to overrun their estimates every time.

References

DeMarco, Tom, and Timothy Lister. 2013. Peopleware: Productive Projects and Teams, 3rd Ed. Boston: Addison-Wesley.

MacKay, Jory. 2021. “Context switching: Why jumping between tasks is killing your productivity (and what you can do about it).” https://blog.rescuetime.com/context-switching.

Spolsky, Joel. 2001. “Human Task Switches Considered Harmful.” https://www.joelonsoftware.com/2001/02/12/human-task-switches-considered-harmful.

Wiegers, Karl E. 1996. Creating a Software Engineering Culture. New York: Dorset House Publishing.

Leading From a Distance: Boost Workplace Morale From Anywhere

For 30 years, my main motivation as a leader and entrepreneur has been the certainty of facing new challenges, finding solutions, and overcoming them as a team. To date, the global pandemic has been the most challenging crisis our company has faced. How can we navigate these trying times? In which ways can we help slow the spread of COVID-19? Should we abandon our current business processes, policies, and procedures until things get back to normal? How do we lead employees post-covid?

If there’s one thing I know, it’s that businesses are innovative, powerful forces — made up of inventors, designers, dreamers, and doers. As a project management software company, it is my strong belief that collaboration tools can be a huge part of the solution. By addressing our skills with the ongoing problems, we can work toward creating the type of workplace we all need during this time of uncertainty. That’s where we can make a difference.

The Future of the Workplace is Remote

While the shift to remote working was already well underway, the pandemic has certainly put the work-from-home trend on a fast track. As restrictions ease, we wonder if “business as usual” will look, well, usual.

Nearly two years after the start of the pandemic, it has become clear that this will be the situation for a while yet. Like many other companies navigating the uncertainties of the times, we have been revamping our processes to ensure we work better together even when we’re apart. Of course, it’s a learning curve. There are still so many questions. What are the new expectations for turnaround? How flexible should the workday be; which hours should everyone be present? Which channels are appropriate for which types of conversations? What does a meeting now look like? It might take some figuring out, but remote working is here to stay. It will continue to grow and bring new opportunities for business application developers and those in the technology sector.

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When we think about the future of the office, we imagine an environment where employees can work from wherever they perform best, whether that’s at home or in the office. For some, that might mean coming into the office a couple of days a week, while others may only come in for an occasional meeting.

Whichever working arrangement employees prefer, we want to ensure that it contributes to their overall well-being and productivity. We aim to be flexible – if we can take better care of ourselves, we can take better care of our clients.

Digital is The Best Solution

As we too adjust to the new way of working, we’re also granted the opportunity to reimagine the workplace, rethink our priorities, and reevaluate our values.

While there are still many unknowns about the future of the workplace, I can say with certainty that siloed communication, archaic systems, and disengaged employees are not going to help a company hit the ground running.

In this day and age, we need technology that connects people as well as the digital tools we use daily. Effective communication should be a top priority for any type of business that is dependent on collaboration, from small startups to enterprise companies. This is how work gets done. Businesses that invest in new technology will see major improvements in terms of output and employee happiness, compared to those using out-of-date systems.

As a leader, it is my responsibility to give my employees everything they need to get the job done. Now more than ever, we need ways to engage in real-time conversation with team members by commenting on ongoing tasks and sharing files, ideas, comments, and more. The health and well-being of my employees are very important to me and I feel it is my duty to make sure they work in the best possible conditions.

Work-life Balance

For a large number of us, the perimeters between our personal and professional lives have been obscured due to the continuous pandemic. Consequently, it can be challenging to keep motivated while telecommuting. The absolute best approach to avoid burnout is by empowering employees to put their mental and physical well-being first. That means setting actual limits, like not checking messages on weekends or getting completely off-screen after nightfall. Working constantly will just prompt burnout over the long haul. We need to set aside time for fun, family, and friends.

It’s also important to make expectations clear across the board. Especially these days when it’s considerably challenging to understand what the ideal work pace should be with everyone is in different places and time zones. Some employees might feel like they’re putting in more hours than other teams or getting more work than they can handle. Without clear benchmarks and deadlines, employees aren’t going to feel rewarded or fulfilled. In fact, they might wind up doing a bunch of work that ends up not mattering or working overnight on a project that isn’t actually urgent. Is there anything more demoralizing?

Not everyone is going to take to the work-from-home routine right away. With the added autonomy can come additional disruptions. While being able to work from wherever offers freedom and flexibility, it also opens doors to new distractions. And while there is no shortage of tips for remote working on the internet, good processes and documentation are an essential part of putting the advice to action.

An added bonus that comes with project management software is the time tracking feature, which allows us to analyze and compare productivity, focus, and output from home against the office. When management can understand productivity, they can help their team better juggle responsibilities and tasks while working from home. Moreover, I invite and encourage employees to propose alternative working styles. This is new for everyone. I see no fault in a flexible arrangement that is beneficial for both the company and the individual. It’s a win-win in my book.
Most Importantly, Take Care of Each Other

Of course, I wish the pandemic never happened, but the new challenges that the current world situation brings are a source of motivation for me. And while I take great pride in my ability to tackle complex issues quickly, I know I need to remain humble in order to recognize my errors and continue to learn. Being a visionary means being imaginative and creative, yet this is only possible when you are open to learning with and from others.

It goes without saying that we must be empathetic during these times. This crisis isn’t over. Workers are still getting their footing, which means they may have off days or not be as productive as they once were. Despite all the aiding technology, now is the time to be human — we must take care of each other. Call me optimistic, but I believe we can use what we learned from this pandemic to be more compassionate, innovative, and connected.