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    Collaborating in an Agile Work Environment

    How we collaborate has changed over the past year. In some ways, I feel like I have a higher capacity to connect with people in our company, industry and country because of the remote nature of the working world. When you take out the travel, I can be in more places.

    PK Kriha of Marsh & McLennan Agency has led advisory groups of C-Level executives for many years and recently shared with me that in the past year, she saw more collaboration among a group of CFOs, CEOs and others than she has in the past. That is a positive outcome from last year that she expects to continue.

    Still, something does get lost when we only connect remotely. I have felt it with 14 of my 18 months at Marco being remote due to the pandemic. I look forward to the opportunities we will have to collaborate in person, as we begin returning to the office with the loosening of state and national restrictions. We know it will look different, but I think the office environment will become even more critical to our success as teams and organizations.

    The Marco sales team came back earlier this month and the energy was infectious. It increased a sense of belonging, camaraderie and motivation that cannot be achieved over a screen, no matter how intentional we are.

    A New Work Environment

    As leaders, we have to evaluate, develop and implement new models that foster collaborative work, productivity and flexibility. It will be key in engaging our team members and attracting talent in the future. At Marco this month, we are implementing a new agile work environment, including four work type categories:

    • Full Office
      This is more of the traditional model where employees are in a designated office space during business hours (such as 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.).
    • Agile Office
      We define this as employees who come into the office at least three days a week and have a dedicated workspace where they hang their nametag.
    • Agile Remote
      This is the opposite of agile office. In this work type, employees work at least three days from their home or a remote location of their choice. They do not have dedicated workspace at the office; however, when they do come into the office, they do have a shared space to plug in and connect.
    • Full Remote
      This applies to our employees who either work in the field, from home or another remote location of their choice. We found, particularly over the past year, that some groups are more productive (and happier) working from home.

    All of these employees have the flexibility to work at their designated Marco office at any time or from any Marco office location. We actually encourage it! We want our employees to connect with the team members that they don’t see in meetings or in their normal circles. It’s how we continue to create a sense of belonging and build connections that grow people, careers and Marco.

    Giving employees flexibility (with accountability) has been a part of our culture since nearly our inception as a company. In this new working world, we continue to learn how we can apply new strategies to continue to be admired for our people and our performance.

    Changing Habits

    Our habits and behaviors have changed throughout the pandemic. Some for the better and some may need a reset as we prepare for our “return to a new normal” in the work environment.

    PK Kriha, who specializes in employee benefits and the employee experience, joined me on our Let’s Tech podcast last week to share what she’s seeing nationally and how employers can stay competitive. A few of my favorite tips that she shared were:

    • Meetings no longer should be 60 minutes (or 30 minutes), given this new agile work environment. The new default should be 50 minutes or 20 minutes. This does require teams to be focused on what they want to achieve in a meeting and then stay on task – both are important and promotable behaviors.
    • Start meetings on the :15 (like 8:15 a.m.) instead of on the hour, to build in time throughout the day for breaks.
    • It’s easier to bring more people together remotely. Expand who attends your meetings, so you can share best practices, and they can listen in to learn and gain valuable experiences.
    No one has all the answers. This will be a work in progress with no golden ticket to uncover. The key is to follow your instincts, be open to change and new ideas and continue to take the next step to create a positive employee experience that can be felt by your customers, your vendors and your communities.

    Collaboration

    Listen to our podcast to gain more great insights on how we can work together more effectively and collaboratively in this new agile work environment. Listen in now

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    Topics: Leadership, Leadership Team, Remote Work, Collaboration