Where will we work? And when?

Maybe you’ve decided to adopt a ‘work from anywhere’ approach, or maybe you just want your employees to come to the office a few days a week. Or every day.

If you’ve followed me for a while or listened to one of my keynotes, you know that I’m an advocate for letting the activity determine the location.

Which means that you first break work down into a list of activities, and then you decide for each activity where that takes place: in an office, at a co-working space, at the customer, at home etc etc.

But how do you determine what the best location is?

ONA

MIT Sloan just released research where they used Organizational Network Analysis – a methodology that maps employees’ working relationships — as approach for guiding return-to-office decisions.

With ONA they determined the most effective location per activity. The picture below shows an example, but don’t use it as generic advice. You’d have to personalize it for your company. In your case, e.g. decision making might be an in-person activity while career advice could be virtual.

The authors show that with ONA, you can address three critical questions in a work-from-anywhere strategy:

  • Who should be brought together in a weekly cadence of in-person and virtual interactions?
  • What work should be prioritized in the now scarcer in-person time?
  • How do leaders manage the transition to this new model with the least resistance?

I’d add that when you embark on such an initiative, involve your employees when answering these questions. Letting them be part of the solution is an excellent start to accepting the changes!

Time

But it’s not only about where you work, it’s also about when you work. In-person activities are obviously scheduled. But with mental health issues on the rise, I’d recommend you also schedule virtual work.

You can do that in two ways:

  • block off time where everyone is supposed to be online and meetings can be held
  • block off time where no meetings can be organized and employees can focus on work

I would suggest you do both – it clarifies expectations and allows people to plan their days. Let me know how it goes – and if you have questions, feel free to reach out.


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