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How to enable remote work in a non-remote work environment

I had a discussion when I was at a customers site the other day regarding the need to be in a specific location to be able to work. One of the employees told me he is not allowed to work from home and we had a discussion around that.

The reason why they where not allowed to work from home was that they are instantly called to ad-hoc meetings and also, the technicians tend to walk to others to get help and have discussions. Both those behaviors can be managed easily if the management realizes how inefficient it is to work like that, but what can you do as an employee to change this behavior?

Meeting behavior

First of all, make sure the ad-hoc meeting is kept to a minimum. It’s all about planning and, basically, to show respect to other colleagues. Of course short notice meetings happen, but it should be kept at minimum.

Your company is probably using Microsoft Lync Online (or onprem)  so start the meeting revolution when you get the next meeting invite by sending a reply stating that you will not attend if the organizer don’t update the meeting request with a Lync invitation. The organizer may be your boss, or someone you are really scared of for some reason, but do it anyway. Hopefully they will understand and after enough bouncing invitations they will start creating online meetings for every meeting request.

When in the meeting room, make sure the organizer start the Lync meeting and connect the speaker in case someone is attending online. After a couple of meetings it will be common sense to connect Lync, even on small meetings. You can continue you guerilla campaign by resist going to the meeting room even if it is next to your desk, and connect using Lync instead. There is normally no need to be inside a specific room to have a meeting anyway.

In a couple of weeks (or years, depending on how willing people are to change at your company) a change may happen and suddenly you can stay home (or on the beach) without missing all the “important” meetings that your colleagues arrange.

Of course, all the meetings you create should be Lync only meetings, so make sure to learn how all the Lync meeting features works and how they can help you. Teach others and the change will happen!

Walkers and how to prevent them

I call them walkers. Those that take a walk every time they need help with something. They walk to your desk asking, sometimes, stupid questions. It doesn’t matter if you are on the phone or deep into something, they just walks in.

– Hey! You know, you are my best friend ever and I love you so much and now I have this problem that I need you to help me with.

The only way to get out of that is to simulate faint. Stop breathing for 30 seconds and then you loose your face color and finally you fall onto the floor. Well, don’t do it, you can fall onto something sharp and cut a hole in your shirt.

So, what is the problem with having someone standing there? Your colleagues need your help and must be okay, right? Well, the next thing that person says is:

– Can you come to my desk and have a look at my screen as I cannot explain without showing you?

Sigh. Now you are up and walking and wasting time. At your colleagues desk you take a look at his problem. You discuss the solution but to be able to fully explain the solution you need to go back to your desk, to your screen. Now you are walking again, wasting even more time…

How to change this behavior? You already know the solution. It’s Microsoft Lync Online. Use Lync all the time, even if it is the colleague sitting next to you who asks a question or that you need to ask something. Use it all the time. Use the chat to ask the question, share your screen to show what you have done so far and use the whiteboard as…  a whiteboard. By using Lync you can easily add another colleague  to the conversation and, when needed, escalate the conversation to an online meeting. Prevent walkers by forcing them to use Lync when they need your help. Help them to be efficient by using Lync to get help from you. Help them to use all the features of Lync Online.

You can control your situation if you just focus on making this change. When the wheel start to get some momentum others will join and help pushing it. After some time, people will realize that there is no need to be in the office building to accomplish your daily tasks. What matters is your presence status and your availability.

If would like to discuss Lync Online, contact me at: magnus.goransson@altitude365.com

Take a look at this video and spread it: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yuVPJHLNHuY

By Magnus Göransson

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