Wednesday, October 5, 2011

The Evolution of T.I.M.E. - Part 2

The time for the meeting to discuss this otherworldly workplace notion finally arrived. As you can imagine, everyone was quite punctual to this one. Jmîchaeĺe gave a quick overview of something he’d been reading. He was very happy with his lifestyle and the freedom he felt and wanted to pass this along to all the associates in his company.

He cited a book called Why Work Sucks and How to Fix It by Cali Ressler and Jody Thompson, the developers of a management strategy called R.O.W.E. – Results Only Work Environment. He encouraged us to actually not read the book (yes, I cheated and went out and bought the damn thing on my way home that night), but instead consider their statement that “work isn’t a place you go, it’s a thing you do.” Also, imagine a work environment with no more vacation days, no more personal days. If you need to take time off, do it. It won’t be tracked anymore.

Whoa. I suddenly felt as if I were about 16 and my parents asked me to consider if a new Ferrari would work as my first car. There was a time of rather stunned silence, but then questions started pouring out. So anyone can work from wherever they want, whenever they want? Yes, as long as the job gets done. What if someone only works a couple hours a week? If they’re getting their tasks done, then fine. But we’d also have to consider if they have enough to do. So, someone could join a conference call while at the beach? Yup. What if you needed to contact someone who’s not showing online in our company IM system? Try calling them. If I want to take tomorrow off, I don’t need to submit anything or get approval? Nope, just post it on your calendar. And perhaps alert others who work with you, as a courtesy.

Good gravy! Could this be for real? It felt so liberating, yet unreal. How could someone possibly say no to this? There was initial excitement, but as the meeting progressed, folks starting airing some concerns. What about those who slack off? We still work with clients who have a traditional “workstyle,” so how to deal with that? What if you simply cannot reach a person who’s crucial to what you’re trying to accomplish? Do I have the self-discipline to make this happen? Will I be getting phone calls at 10 PM from someone who prefers to work late at night? Does this mean I’m “available” 24 hours a day?

It was a lot to consider. We started meeting in the late summer, with the idea of hashing everything out and launching this new workstyle at the beginning of the new year. One thing was crystal clear from the get-go, though. If you wanted to take advantage of this, you had to make it work. Don’t look to the company to provide all associates with laptops and T1 lines to their homes. There was immediately one hard, fast rule: MeetingMatrix was not to incur additional expenses because of this new undertaking.

We established certain questions we all needed to ask of ourselves and our departmental teams. We agreed to have regular meetings to consider next steps, and to get buy-in on all aspects of this endeavor which would show themselves over time.

First on the agenda, though, was to come up with our own name. There was a brainstorming session and we eventually agreed to go with T.I.M.E.,which stands for Task Inspired Management Environment. We absolutely loved the irony of that name, because one “mandate” is that no one is measured by how much time they put into the job, but rather the results they produce.

As word spread about what we were doing, the resistance we encountered was quite surprising. Initially, it was hard for other associates to look past the fact that there were no longer any vacation or personal days. It took a good deal of coaxing to get them to understand that it didn’t matter. Later, it appeared that despite completely eradicating all past “rules” of work, people needed guidelines to help them travel this new path. So, our committee had each person talk directly to their department to uncover and document concerns and questions, and bring them back so we could address them collectively.

To be continued (again)...

Karen Mathews
Product Manager

No comments:

Post a Comment