Man Reading Screen in the Dark

Linked: The Rise of the 9 p.m. Work Hour

The positive spin is that people working from home create a more flexible schedule for themselves. Maybe they take a break in the afternoon to spend time with kids home from school and then pick up work after they are asleep. There’s another possibility, though, and one I think is quite likely. We spend too much of our workday in meetings.

“We need a deeper theory of work and time. When we say “That meeting should have been an email,” we’re not just saying “My boss wouldn’t stop talking.” We’re also saying “I think the information from that synchronous event would have been more productively shared as an asynchronous communication, so that an hour of necessary work wasn’t shifted later into the workday.” Our late-night mini workdays are not just an expression of benign flexibility. They’re also the consequence of inflexible managers filling the day with so many meetings that we have to add a “worknight” to do our job.”

One of the bigger management issues surrounding the remote work model is how and when to communicate. I’m an advocate of more communication, always. I’m a huge advocate of a lot more communication with a remote team.

But, we also have to think about the best way to work together. There are lots, and lots, of meetings that are designed to create better communication but aren’t necessary. Most of them are recurring meetings that no one ever cancels, even when there’s nothing urgent to discuss. Just because we’ve always had this meeting, and we always will.

That’s not a good reason to meet. At the end of the day, if your check-ins or project status meetings are nothing more than a “here’s where we are this week,” we might consider whether it makes more sense for people to send an email instead. Or even a Teams/Slack chat? It’s the same information, but no one has to plan their day around it.

Then maybe we can catch something on Netflix at night instead of popping open the laptop to catch up on work that didn’t get done during the day.

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