The Innovation First-aid Kit for Burnt-out Teams

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@olya-greenOlya Green

I write about blockchain and Web 3.0

Remote workers will be drained very soon — both cognitively & emotionally, if not helped by innovative approaches to collaboration.

Your team is exhausted, and the only way to restore its vitality is to start innovating processes and operations right now.

Businesses operating on outdated assumptions in the COVID times are killing workers for fewer results.

It is now clear that hub-and-spoke distributed work models, along with remote only offices, are here to stay. And while opinions do vary on whether employees can be as productive at home in the long-term, there are a number of things to be addressed and re-configured to avoid the emotional and physical drain.

Ethical Issues: longer hours and doubled workloads and constant juggling collaboration tools & messengers result in the overuse of limited cognitive resources.

Most often than not, remote work implies stretching yourself thin both mentally and physically. The Stanford psychologist Jeremy Bailenson has spent two decades studying virtual communication between humans cataloging the ways existing technology fails us.

He affirms that the commonplace managerial assertion about employees working better when controlled and present in one physical space, completely fails when applied to the online setting: “I believe that had we run our studies over days, weeks, and months, productivity would have a very steep decline.” The takeaway? Online productivity trackers and long video calls don’t really work when trying to boost performance and keep up the morale.

Managerial Issues: larger workloads, more time spent on collaboration, constant follow-ups lead to project delays and worse performance.

According to a recent survey by the Society of Human Resource Management, over 70 percent of employers report struggles with shifting to remote work. Another survey by PricewaterhouseCoopers finds that about half of companies believe they are witnessing a dip in productivity with this shift.

When businesses stick to the old ways instead of adapting to the new normal, the anxiety levels only increase causing higher stress, reduced life expectations, and happiness levels.

To make the ongoing shift from synchronous to asynchronous work model smoother, we may want to look for tips to remote-first companies and founders that intentionally structured their companies differently emphasizing things like thorough documentation, latest technology, employee well-being, and flexibility.

To tackle the emotional and physical fatigue, these three things prove feasible and easy to implement:

  1. Introduce new mechanisms to establish trust in remote-only interactions (especially in a high-stakes negotiation)
  2. Re-allocate the disproportionately imposed tasks
  3. Streamline collaboration to unload people from coordinating small things that are the main drivers for frustration and stress

Desperate times call for faster innovation: how ethical, lean infrastructures can help your team cope

The number one issue cited by strategy advisors is a lack of access to information and difficulties associated with the time and effort needed to locate information from coworkers. There is only one thing C-level execs and CEOs dealing with the uncertain fate of their businesses can rely on today — new patterns for interaction and keeping up the mutual knowledge base among remote workers.

This pandemic has proven that those companies and SMBs that already had some sort of collaboration tools and the practice of on-demand, quick adoption of new tools have won both in productivity and revenue over their less agile counterparts.

It’s not only the economic indicators that are rising in quick-to-innovate organizations. Innovative leaders pay much more attention to the motivation and team spirit without sacrificing the ethics to let them build relationships and communicate just as effectively as they can in an office.

And the first thing they are looking at is a complete revision of all internal collaboration models according to the propertied of the asynchronous workplace:

  • Think about how digital-only interferes with the brain and morale.
  • Think about the stress level of needing to be able to self-serve.
  • Be ahead of the curve and make work less stressful with novel collaboration infrastructures

Giving a variety of communication technology options to your team depending on the scale and purpose of the interaction is crucial. However, this has a significant pitfall when applied to operations with external vendors and partners.

The ‘bring-your-own collaboration suit’ approach fails completely, leading to project delays, trust issues when sharing sensitive commercial information, and other coordination overheads.

Since most asynchronous communication happens in writing, there’s always a clear record of all business conversations and decisions —  and a more transparent interaction model that gives workers the context when they need it.

What is still lacking is a quick way to bring all the stakeholders on the same page without forcing them to copy-paste data from one app to another.

The good news is that there is a whole slew of new tools that aim to minimize the information silos, build integrity, and maintain the knowledge base across your collaboration stack.

Coming either in the form of Chrome-extensions (FYI, Keeper, Slapdash, Clew), or downloadable applications (Station, Command E, Onna, Workona), they all help remote teams free up time for more meaningful, creative work, instead of worrying about searching for messages and filtering out data.

Knowledge bases and information search/discovery become essential when work is both distributed and asynchronous.

Another common need observed in this new landscape is automating internal auditing and compliance. Blockchain-based Taraxa adds the unique layer of trust to everyday remote operations infusing them with accountability.

The novel infrastructure for secure data collection and auditing removes the worry that critical transactional data might get lost in operational silos. Everyday operations of any scale become easily traceable, and stakeholders reduce the time spent coordinating approvals between departments, external vendors, and partners.

Author of this story has vested interest in Taraxa.


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