Have you ever felt micromanaged at work? If your boss doesn’t know what you’re doing for every moment of the day, you might as well be nonexistent. You definitely couldn’t be working or making logical, sound decisions on your own, using your years of expertise. Having someone looking over your shoulder always seems to make me more productive. Wouldn’t you agree?
No way! For most people, micromanagement is one of the most demotivating things ever. If you want your employees to only work while you babysit them (and to constantly be on the lookout for another job), then micromanage away. But, if you want people who are thoughtful, hardworking, and will go the extra mile for you, trust your employees.
There’s a new trend that is quite frankly, disturbing. Did you now that some companies are monitoring their employees remotely through their computers? This technology existed before. But, since the pandemic, companies are making the news for their monitoring practices. And, the worst part is, many aren’t telling their employees.
The employee-monitoring software employers are using can take photos of what you’re working on. They can look at which websites you’re visiting. Using your phone, they can even detect where you went during the day. The software reports out on an employee’s usage in small increments, looking at how much time the employee spent typing or using the computer mouse. The New York Times recently reported that employee-monitoring company Hubstaff has seen their sales triple since the pandemic began in March.
Is this really what work is supposed to be about? Whatever happened to salaried employees being expected to “get the job done” whether it took thirty hours or sixty hours? What about employees in creative fields that may find their most productive time in smaller bursts? Many people agree that depending on the type of work you do, it’s not a consistent flow of productivity. We aren’t machines after all.
What about jobs that center around phone calls that are not hooked directly into your work computer? What about those people like me who like to use, dare I say it, paper? What about people who print documents out to review them? Or those who work their thoughts out in a notepad?
This state of being monitored is really too much. Companies need to get back to the basics with their leadership skills and mentoring. I have rarely met an employee who doesn’t want to pull their own weight at a company that treats them with respect. And, when a company does not respect them or their work, getting great results is next to impossible.
If you’re a company executive who is considering this software, think of other ways to measure productivity and success. Secret software monitoring is not the way to go. We’ve really gotten off the path if we think some artificial productivity score applied equally to all employees is meaningful or motivating.
We can all agree, this pandemic has been horrific. Regardless of how much or how little you were impacted, you were impacted. You probably spent more time inside your own four walls at home than you ever imagined. And, you may have learned to work from home, while balancing your spouse, pets, and kids – all at the same time.
Eventually, our children will go back to school. Our spouses will go back to work. Stores will reopen. We’ll all be able to get a haircut and find toilet paper with more ease.
But, I’m not convinced that the job market will be quite the same in the future. This is the thing. If you’ve been working remotely, you’ve been doing it for over two months now. Two months! And, if you’re able to do your job from home, you (and the management at your company) may be surprised that it’s actually working.
Working from home is not a total failure. It’s a learning opportunity. The entire world is learning how to operate a little differently. And, in that there is potentially a silver lining. Some companies are considering becoming a remote company going forward. For example, Twitter announced that they will allow employees to permanently work from home. And, Facebook said they will let some of their employees work from anywhere.
If you’re job searching, you are probably looking in the city that is the closest to where you live. And, this makes sense. But, as you keep looking, I’d encourage you to expand your possibilities. Look for jobs at companies that are beginning to let their employees work from home permanently.
If you’re not sure which companies are doing this, a good place to start is the news. This is a new concept for many companies, so the ones switching are making headlines. Then, search on sites like LinkedIn for jobs. But, instead of putting your local city into the search box, use the word “remote.” That’s the way many job sites work when it comes to looking for a work from home job.
But, do your homework in advance. Facebook has announced that they may pay workers less who choose to live in cheaper cities. But, very often, in the world of technology, smaller markets must pay a premium to get highly specialized employees. Living in a less expensive market doesn’t always mean a smaller paycheck. Sites like Glassdoor.com will give you a sense for how much companies are paying for specific roles. Be informed about your market value before your first phone interview.
This pandemic may open a door for us when it comes to work. We’ve been forced into this test. And, we’ve learned that in some industries, working from home is not only possible, it’s more effective. This will be even more true once the kids all finally go back to school. That’s when the real productivity will happen.
If you’re in the middle of your college education, this pandemic could not come at a worse time. You’re trying to build up your resume to give you a chance of getting a job after graduation. And, you’re going to need one with all of those student loans you’ll have to pay back. One way to do this is often through summer internships. But, the number of internships that have been cut is astonishing.
When I was in college, I had the opportunity to have four internships. The first two were with General Motors. Then, I had one with Westinghouse and one with the Boys and Girls Clubs. Each one gave me experience and set me apart from my peers. But in graduate school, I was less lucky. I studied for my MBA during a time when the job market wasn’t great. There weren’t as many internships available – and the ones that were often expected you to work for free. So, I ended up not doing an internship during my MBA studies.
What are you to do if you have found yourself without an internship this summer?
Look for other ways to stand out. What else can you do with your summer that could be included on your resume? For example, are there opportunities to tutor other students online? Could you take additional courses? Perhaps you could volunteer to help a professor at your school with some of their research. Maybe you could teach yourself how to use a new kind of software.
Perhaps you could volunteer to be an intern for a company. This idea may work in situations where the company can’t afford to hire you, but is open to your help. I know this isn’t an option for everyone, but if it is, consider it.
Any of the ideas above will give you something that you can include on your resume. Speaking of your resume, this is the perfect time to work on yours. There are lots of tutorials online about how to craft a resume. And, while you’re at it, set up your LinkedIn profile.
Beyond this, another tactic I love is called informational interviewing. Informational interviews aren’t job interviews. They’re networking meetings that allow you to chat with a professional about the work they do. For example, if you’re studying computer programming, you might reach out to someone who is a computer scientist and ask them if they are willing to chat with you about their job. Many companies have slowed down, so there are some professionals who have extra time right now.
Whatever you do, try to keep your head up. I know this is tough. When I graduated with a computer engineering degree, the dot com crash had just happened. I thought things would never get better. But, keep pushing ahead. Someday things will improve and you want to put yourself in the best position to succeed then.
One of the hot topics around the virtual water cooler is when we’re going back to work. Some states are beginning to open up, while others continue to be locked down for what may be months. Recently, this question was posed to me. When should we all return to the office?
Before I share my thoughts, let me say this. There are many jobs where the luxury of working from home is not an option. There are so many people who are putting their lives on the line every day in order to keep us fed, to keep the mail going, and more. I’m so grateful for those essential workers and their families.
For companies that have been operating from home, you may wonder when is the right time to go back. It’s a tough question. We’re all ready for things to get back to “normal.” We’re ready forget this pandemic ever happened.
Working from home for the first time was a major transition. It was an upheaval for many businesses. We had to learn how to video conference in large groups. We had to learn to pay bills remotely. We had to learn to keep things going, while juggling children, pets, and spouses.
But, this is the thing. We did it. If your business is now fully functional remotely, you made it over the hump. You are likely in a routine now. Despite how much many people hate being at home all day, they’re adjusting.
My suggestion is this. If your business is able to successfully operate from home, continue to work from home until it’s truly safe to return to work. And, wait until the kids have gone back to school (or daycare).
Going back too soon has the potential to create two negative scenarios. In one, only half of employees are able to come back. The other half are at home, tending to young children – or avoiding infection. Imagine how your Zoom conference calls would be if half of the group were at work, while the other half was at the office. Imagine if you were never sure who was working from home and who was working remotely.
In an even worse scenario, we would all make the transition back to the office. Then, there would be a case of COVID-19 at work. It would infect someone who would pass it around the office. Then, we’d all be forced back home again.
By waiting to go back until we’re really sure it’s safe (and until other businesses, like childcare are up and running), we’ll keep the number of difficult transitions to a minimum. We’ll make sure we’re all healthy. Nobody will have to put their family in danger by going to work. No one will have to pick between their paycheck and their health.
And who knows, in the middle of this difficult time, we may learn to be better at business.
I grew up in a place where natural disasters are the norm. I grew up in a suburb of Oklahoma City. You would have never heard of it, except for the natural disasters (and one famous country music singer). It’s called Moore. You probably saw it on the news in 1999 and 2013 when F5 tornadoes destroyed much of the city. It was devastating. Homes and businesses were destroyed. And, sadly, lives were lost.
The special thing about Moore is just how resilient it is. Every time a tornado wipes the ground clean, people rebuild. They continue to have excellent public schools. It’s safe. The economy is doing well.
If another city had been hit with the level of devastation Moore has, people would have packed up and moved by now. They would have had enough of the disasters and the drama and the heartbreak.
In Moore, the people come together in a way that doesn’t exist everywhere. They’re a true community. They support one another. They know that in order to get through disasters, they have to do it together. And, they have lots of practice.
I don’t live in Moore anymore. But, after COVID hit, one of the first people I saw was a friend from Moore. Although I hadn’t seen him in over twenty years, he personally drove a face mask to my home when I didn’t have one. He knew, as the community in Moore knows, that in order to get through this, we have to do it together.
When you go to work every day, I hope you’ll keep this in mind. We are all facing unique challenges. Some people are caring for small children. Others are trying to help their aging parents. And some are self-isolating completely alone. None of these different scenarios are easy.
As businesses, we’re only going to make it through this in one piece if we do it together. We’ve got to pick up the slack for our colleagues when they can’t. Everyone matters. This isn’t the time to judge harshly or to compete with one another. People have different levels of support or flexibility at home. No one was planning ahead for how to weather such a storm.
Not everyone has a nanny who can take care of their children during the day. Not every older person has adult children nearby who can help. And, not every single person has loved ones nearby. Every scenario is creating stress and strain.
The only answer is to work together. It’s not the time to make a fuss over little things. It’s not the time to feel guilty when you aren’t perfect. It’s the time to step forward with empathy and compassion, both for our colleagues and for ourselves. We are all struggling. And, that’s okay – as long as we stick together.