Efficiency and uselessness
“There is nothing quite so useless, as doing with great efficiency, something that should not be done at all.” - Peter Drucker
The “return to the office” debate has been percolating again in recent weeks. More and more organizations are demanding their people recommit to commuting to the workplace again. There has been much push-back by workers. Many corporate chiefs say productivity has been negatively impacted by remote work. The data does not support that view, though, according to Fortune magazine and others.
My own experience is that culture supports productivity, not work location.
We are on a growth path at Columbia County Habitat. We have committed to scaling our activities over the next few years to build more and serve more families with an expanded array of home ownership-related programs.
We are growing despite most of our administrative team being in the office less often than when we weren’t as active.
Granted, we have construction folks and retail staff that have to be “on site” in the field or at the store. They are where they need to be when they need to be there. And we give them plenty of support when they need time away.
“Whenever you see a successful business, someone once made a courageous decision.”
- Peter F. Drucker
Our admin staff - the stereotypical “office” workers - is a team that is largely composed of “seasoned” folks who get the job done no matter where they hang their
hat laptop. Some prefer to be at the office, some do not, and we are set up to accommodate all work styles.
We have purposely and deliberately created a culture and atmosphere that respects individual needs and the vagaries of circumstances that arise in all of our lives.
We actively manage to tasks and goals, not location.
We set objectives and timelines and leave people to accomplish these.
We check-in often.
We use technology to extend our collaboration and knowledge sharing capabilities.
We gather when we need to, and adhere to a “meeting light” culture.
We update each other regulalarly on where we are and what our plans and schedules look like.
All of this activity happens organically. It took a while to settle into this, and evolve from the more traditional command-and-control structure that was practiced. After two years, our less formal but high-performance culture has become firmly rooted. It has made us more flexible and accommodating and resilitent.
“If you want something new, you must give up something old.” - Peter Drucker
Putting people first, hiring for attitude and fit, and providing an atmosphere of support and trust can lead to productivity and growth, even among small and lean organizations. The times are not just “a changing;” they have already done so.