The always-on culture that many of us now experience has issues lurking under the surface. A recent Harvard Business Review article highlights the largely negative effects. According to the article, the always-on culture often leads to higher stress levels, greater work/home conflict, more distractions at work and at home, and increased difficulty focusing. One person even said, “You burn out, no private life, no time for children, regrets at the end of your life, many tense situations, losing friends or close relationships.”
Bondle offers an alternative to the always-on culture. In this blog post we’ll take you through the problems to the current always-on culture and show you how our asynchronous approach offers a better way to work.
THE NEW OFFICE HOURS
When the pandemic started, most of us were excited to work from home. We didn’t have to commute or dress up. We had the freedom to work when we wanted—or so we thought. Then the reality set in. The barrier between work and home disappeared, but the power didn’t go to the individual, it went to the business. Instead of working from home, it now felt like we were sleeping at a new office.
More time at the office doesn’t make people more productive. Tom Demarco and Timothy Lister talk a lot about this problem in their classic book Peopleware. They sum it up nicely in the chapter “You Never Get Anything Done Here from 9 to 5.” In order to be productive at work, employees need to get into a state of “flow” or deep concentration. After each interruption it takes 15 minutes to get back to that state of concentration. Demarco and Lister point out that the day is full of meetings and interruptions, so in order to be productive, people work late, come in early, or block their calendars to get “real work” done.
It’s easy to get sucked in by the productivity myth of communication. I remember getting my first Blackberry in 2000. I thought, “This is fantastic. I will be so much more relaxed because I’ll be able to check my email coming to work and going home. I don’t need to be in the office 9 to 5 anymore.” What happened, of course, is that I had a lot more work to do. I was available anytime to work weekends or answer emails late at night.
Communication technology was getting better for a while. The rate of telephone calls (and their attendant interruptions) was falling precipitously. Many companies were removing voicemail from employees’ phones because they never got any messages. But our favoured method of synchronous communication, the telephone, was being replaced with the technology of synchronous apps.
Now we have become a slave to the green light of availability and read receipts. Once an employee signs on, their boss can start asking them for updates. It’s even worse in the coronavirus work-from-home environment, where no one wants to be seen slacking so they won’t take any breaks in the middle of the day. Similarly, when managers receive a question, they feel the need to reply immediately instead of pondering the correct answer. How many of us love being interrupted with an endless barrage of “Hey, do you have a second?” While people feel more “in the loop” getting quick responses, is this really a better model of work?
THERE IS AN ALTERNATIVE TO THE ALWAYS ON CULTURE
If we learned anything during COVID it was that being “always on” is not the best way of working.That’s why we at Bondle prefer asynchronous communication and have built a platform that delivers it. We know that people work their best without interruptions. Asynchronous communication requires a different culture though. It requires more communication where managers and others clearly convey their objectives. It’s not a culture of micromanagement but of delegation.
Asynchronous communication leverages the best practices of project management. Instead of telling an employee how to do something, the manager defines what the problem is and the key objectives that they will be measured on, leaving how and when to do it up to the employee. This allows the employee, who is often closer to the situation, to come up with their own novel solutions. Google uses this method throughout their company referring to it as OKRs (Objectives and Key Results).
Bondle is built to support asynchronous communication from the ground up. We have built a platform for managing important communication that’s an order of magnitude better than our closest rival, email. Bondle allows you to structure your work relationships into meaningful conversations and provides easy access to critical assets delivering a trusted source for all your key interactions. Stay tuned to this blog to learn more.