A vast amount of people are now working from home, more due to being forced than wanting to. They have to manage a busy schedule, setting up shop in their living room or kitchen. Some have to deal with being around their spouses 24/7 and home-schooling their kids. How do you fit in answering emails and attending Zoom meetings into that?
How it could be
Imagine this: your employees are happy, productive, seldom absent, and sing your praises to their friends. In fact, they are so happy that your company is in the top companies to work for. What these companies have in common is that they are profitable. Just look at the examples over the last few years in the UK and US alone: Amazon (well not so much their warehouse workers I suppose), JP Morgan, and Sainsbury. LinkedIn, Facebook, and Google also consistently rank amongst the best companies to work for. We have a lot of these examples in our Progressive Organization section.
Often, I see the complaint from smaller companies that they simply cannot provide what these corporate giants can, like state-of-the-art gaming and relaxation rooms for their employees. But you don’t need all that. What you need is a restructuring of the way you work, and you can do that one step at a time.
What does self-management mean?
Firstly, let me explain in a bit more detail what self-management in a company environment means. It means that teams do not report to a manager, but to each other. They make decisions together, take on organizational tasks like planning rotas, holidays, and finances. They work within a framework they defined together with a manager, one that really works for them. And they can consult the manager should they need someone to give advice on specific questions. That is the basis of it. It’s a culture of trust, freedom, responsibility, and caring.
What it means is that people within a self-managing team are able to make decisions without the usual bottleneck of a manager or team of directors to get involved. They can work quicker and deliver more efficient customer service. They take responsibility for their decisions. They will want to do a good job. What’s not to love?
Of course, a change into that direction takes time and you will need to get everyone in your organization on board eventually. But that’s the good thing about it, these things can happen gradually.
What does self-management bring in times of COVID-19?
A massive benefit of having a self-managing structure in your company is that you would have avoided many pitfalls businesses fell into when cases of COVID-19 hit their countries. Your employees would have been able to decide to work from home if they needed and wanted to, for example. They would not have been forced to get on public transport to travel to the office. They could have made staff rotation plans to ensure minimal contact with each other, whilst still making sure business needs are met. They would already have an excellent system in place to individually work from home and stay connected, collaborate online, and continue to be productive.
Here is something else to think about: CO2 emissions have dropped since this virus seemingly paralyzed the world. It’s probably the only good side effect at the moment. And we can keep it going! By deciding to give your employees more freedom as to where and maybe even when they work, instead of forcing people to travel to and from offices all at the same time, your company can contribute to saving the environment. That’s a huge plus in the eyes of many people, who will want to buy your products, recommend you, and even work for you, based on your excellent ethics. You can save money in office space, and so on.
So many possibilities, we just need to understand and accept that the world is changing, and that this is the time to get aboard the future. Start small, start now!