Supporting businesses in their new way of working

gigcmo
24/05/2022
Pre-pandemic, most people went to the office to work, whether permanent employees, consultants or business partners. Irrespective of having a meeting or a full day of data processing, most work was transacted in person. Today that balance of work has shifted. Now, instead of the assumption that people meet in person unless told otherwise, now the assumption is that they will join a video call unless told otherwise. 
 
However, like any other digital transformation, replicating the work environment in a digital space is not as straightforward as simply doing the same things online. To illustrate the point, an article in Harvard Business Review noted: 
 
"Digital transformation should be a means to an end, but it often gets mistaken for an end in itself. This is partly why 70% of all digital transformation efforts fail."

The digital transformation of the modern workplace 

Successfully managing your business's permanent digital transformation is a skill - one that we have been honing for many years and on which we are now able to lead the way when working with our clients.
 
Quantifying the digital transformation of offices and the shift to more remote working is not entirely straightforward. There's no individual statistic that encompasses the number of people who work remotely, the amount of time they work remotely and the percentage of meetings conducted via digital platforms instead of in person.
 
However, these stats help to paint a picture of the modern working environment:
  • According to the Office of National Statistics, between 19th and 30th January 2022, 36% of working adults reported having worked from home at least once in seven days.
  • According to YouGov, by the end of 2021, half of the British workers (50%) were still working from home. That was up from 37% before the pandemic.
  • At the same time, four in five business decision-makers (79%) and 70% of the general public said the "broad consensus was that they will never see workers return at the same rate as before".
  • Perhaps less surprisingly, during the pandemic itself, online job adverts including terms related to "home working" increased at a faster rate than total adverts, with home working adverts in May 2021 three times above their February 2020 average.
  • One report found that approximately 29.7% of all business activity is conducted online in the USA.
The way we work is also continuing to shift as technologies become more sophisticated with the promise of virtual reality conferencing and more AI technologies in the not too distant future.

How effective are businesses at remote working 

While most companies that do not require tasks to be done on-site now have some level of remote working function, the sophistication and success of those capabilities are mixed. 
 
On the one hand, Business News reported that "remote employees work an additional 1.4 more days per month than in-office employees, which is nearly 17 additional workdays a year." It's a statistic mirrored in other studies on the efficaciousness of remote working. 
 
However, that effectiveness is diminished when employees suffer the same level of disruption they had in the office via various digital platforms such as WhatsApp, Slack, Chat functions, and unnecessary impromptu meetings.
 
For example: 
  • 15% of remote workers said their boss distracted them from work, which is less than the 22% of office-based employees who said the same thing - Business News
  • The average person spends about 23% of their time on unnecessary emails and sends about 200 instant messages per week - Harvard Business Review 
HBR continued: "This dependency on email and instant messaging leaves people in a cycle of hyperresponsiveness, checking email once every 6 minutes as a result, and probably staying logged in to Slack all day long."
 
WordPress founder Matt Mullenweg has coined the idea that there are five levels of remote work and that most companies have only reached level two.
 
Those five levels of remote working capability that companies exhibit are:

Level 1: Non-deliberate action

The company has done nothing deliberate to support remote work, but employees can function remotely through existing capabilities like email and smartphones.

Level 2: Recreating the office online

This will be familiar to most companies. It's where employees use platforms like video conferencing software (e.g. Zoom), instant messaging software (e.g. Slack) and email, but otherwise use the same processes to get work done as they would in the office. 
Many people find that the problem with this is that they get pulled into meetings they don't need to be part of and are tied to their desk in the same way they would be in the office, with the expectation that they are online from 9 to 5.

Level 3: Adapting to the medium

This is where organisations start to make better use of digital platforms. For example:
  • Using shared documents like Google Doc
  • Investing in digital tools such as lighting for video calls and background noise-cancelling microphones
  • Providing more organised written communications for tasks 

Level 4: Asynchronous communication

This essentially hinges on the idea that people will get tasks done when they can and are not required to reply to every email within seconds to prove their productivity. If something is urgent, pick up the phone. But this is where employers show greater trust in employees to get things, but it's facilitated by providing clear briefs and deadlines, then letting people get on with it.

Level 5: 'Nirvana'

This is where your distributed team works better than any in-person team could. It is a combination of culture and working environment.

Supporting businesses in their new way of working

At gigCMO, we have been working remotely, both amongst our team and in the way we liaise with clients, since before the pandemic. 
 
We're always happy to come to your offices (or you can come to ours), but we have found that as time goes on and as clients get to know us, most choose to engage digitally. 
 
In doing so, clients receive the services they are coming to us for, be it Talent on Demand, our Roundtable service or our CEO or CMO Whisperer services. However, they also receive a level of guidance and coaching in the digital transformation of their offices and team management. 
 
The success of this model, for our clients and for us, is the result of our easily integrated way of working, which includes (but is not limited to):

All document sharing in one place

We use document sharing platform Basecamp for all client communications. This means that everything is in one place, all parties can go back over information as required, and all communication is in one place. This process results in: 
  • Fewer interruptions throughout the day
  • The ability for individuals to disconnect from work better during their downtime

All formal engagement is planned and structured

We offer different levels of engagement. Mainly this involves planned daily conversations of no longer than 30 minutes using video conferencing. These are intense and purposeful catch ups rather than 'water cooler chit-chat'. Items are discussed or agreed upon, but any information sharing is done through Basecamp. This allows people to get on with their jobs without interruption.

We provide unobtrusive ongoing support 

Team members are given ongoing support, but they are also given space to get on with their work. This facilitates a level of coaching for staff members, paving the way for people to build confidence and autonomy in their roles and freeing up senior leadership's time to review strategic decision making.

We respect people's time

When we work with a team, we check-in in the morning and at the end of the day to build culture and ensure support, but without micromanaging individuals. We make it clear that they can reach out to us anytime, and we encourage people to ask for help when they need it. We don't encourage staff members to work weekends, recognising that boundaries are essential to prevent organisation burnout. To drive businesses forward, you need healthy boundaries. However, as a company, we are always available at any time, thanks to an international team that spans different time zones.

At gigCMO, our goal is to make your business better, achieve more and ultimately drive sales. If you would like to know more about how we can support you and your team, contact us.
 
Read about making your business more attractive to new talent.