It’s true. There are times when we need to meet virtually. With each other, or with a customer. A lot of our work, however, simply doesn’t require us to be in a meeting to get it done, and yes, that includes reporting on the status of projects. There’s no reason much of our work can’t be done asynchronously, and if people felt free to work that way, they would get more work done instead of showing up to meetings just to be marked present.
Think about how we organize our days. Is having someone sit in one place learning or working all day a recipe for mental fatigue? Of course, it is. That also means that the longer a person goes without taking some significant breaks, the less they are learning. Or, in the workplace, the more mental labor required to do your job, the more likely it is that you’ll start to make some bad decisions and mistakes after a certain point.
So those 12-hour days are probably not doing anyone any good. You’re simply doing lower-quality work instead of doing what your brain wants you to.
I think we should look at the research around sleep, mental fatigue, meeting fatigue, etc. We might just find a better way for everyone to be more successful.
When you aren’t allowed to question, you are probably also not allowed to have a bad day or express frustration. That limits how much of you can show up in the workplace.
That is not the way to get employee engagement and the best efforts of the people who work for you. In today’s job market, it is a good way to lose them.
Being remote is different. You have to over-communicate to make sure that people are in the loop. You have to create collaboration opportunities and build camaraderie purposefully, and they can’t be team trust falls. You have to get creative about how you work together and interact.
Most of all, you have to be purposeful about it. You have to create opportunities for people to interact and allow them the freedom to create their own patterns and relationships. You have to learn how to work asynchronously so that you can have more meaningful meetings.
Something I’ve been thinking a lot about in the industries I have worked in has been this idea that remote and asynchronous work is something that makes it less likely that the only people we can hire are the ones who are both willing and able to dedicate their entire days to be in the office and also willing to jump in and do more work at any hour of the day and weekends. That eliminates a whole bunch of people from even applying, especially women with kids, neurodiverse and disabled candidates, and underrepresented groups without a large presence in the area where your office happens to be. (When you start a company in Silicon Valley, Seattle, Austin, or some other “hot” area, your candidate pool is limited to the people who live there now or are willing to move immediately.)
There is a lot to chew on in the HBR article below. Starting with how often women overqualified for a position will get hired anyway versus overqualified men.