Steve’s Work From Home Findings: Please Rethink Meetings

(This column is posted at www.StevenSavage.com and Steve’s Tumblr.  Find out more at my newsletter.)

So if we all work from home more, we still have to talk to people. That means meetings, and not just the usual ones. This is something that the Pandemic is teaching us, and reality is a harsh teacher and a harsher grader.

If you’re working from home, you’ve probably encountered this: you start holding more meetings! You can’t find people because you can’t walk to their desk and everyone’s schedule is now different! So what do you do? You schedule a meeting.

So if you’re anything like me, suddenly all your day is meetings. Sure, they’re meetings to do things you’d usually do anyway, but they’re still meetings with all that entails. Me, after having a day with six and a half hours of meetings, I realized we’ve got to rethink meetings for Work From Home.

Which leads to this blog post, because again, I had six and a half hours of meetings

We have to acknowledge that meetings are not always the best tool for people to connect. Meetings are good to brainstorm, to sign off on consensus, to train, and for Q&A. Many times we use them just because we can’t get someone, or to ensure everyone talks to everyone, and so on. We use meetings as a patch because we’re not doing better.

This isn’t just draining, as meetings can be, having too many meetings ruins the joy of human contact. That’s bad as it is, but during a Pandemic, when we’re alone, having so many meetings you’re glad to be isolated isn’t healthy.

Now, once we admit that, what can we do? What can we do to communicate and not schedule a ton of meetings? I’m glad I asked for you!

First, we have to ask why we hold the meetings we do and what the goal is. We should ask why we have to do it and then what we really need to happen and why. Then we can move on to better methods – or just not doing things.

Secondly, we need to find ways to make our tools and processes work so we don’t need elaborate meetings. Good project planning tools like Rally, Jira, and Service now can save time. We need automated forms and orders, and so on that we can fill out. Literally, we should minimize unneeded human contact to focus on the needed.

Third, we need to consider ways to leverage existing communications tools like Slack, Zoom, etc. better in ways that don’t necessarily involve meetings. Channels for specific check-ins, open offices, and the like. We need to decide how to use tools better because we’re doing things by habit not a strategy.

Fourth, we need to consider meeting alternatives – the “meeting-like” if you will. This could be some people having Open Offices where anyone can “drop into” the meeting. This could be timed check-ins to determine if a meeting is necessary to save time. Just shoving everyone into a virtual room isn’t the way; we need alternatives.

Fifth, we need to improve our business processes constantly to minimize unneeded meetings and anything else unneeded. Our goal should be to get better, period.

Work From Home is something we need more of; meetings are not something we necessarily to increase. We need to rethink them in the hopefully better world to come out of this mess.

Though I don’t mind holding a few meetings to figure how to get rid of them.

Steven Savage

Steve’s Work From Home Findings: We need To Rethink Our Weeks And Days

(This column is posted at www.StevenSavage.com and Steve’s Tumblr.  Find out more at my newsletter.)

Based on my experiences in Work From Home (WFH) during the Pandemic, I’m going through my findings about work from home. Let me get more radical – WFH in many ways proves we need to rethink the idea of the workweek and work days.

In fact, we don’t need to do it just for WFH, but I digress. Maybe I’ll digress more digressively at another time.

Anyway, the Pandemic has massively disrupted work schedules. We’re trying to deal with fear, the kids being home, schedule changes, etc. We’re somehow surviving during all of this and stuff keeps running. This leads to other questions.

Is the 40 hour workweek (and inevitable overtime) a good idea? Is there any basis in reality? Do we need that? Do we accomplish as much? Is it healthy for society? For that matter, do the days we have in the weekday really work well for us?

Is the eight hour day ideal? Ever had days where you did four hours of work and found yourself exhausted – or have a day where you could go for twelve and be just cruising? The problem with an eight hour day is for many, the value of each hour isn’t the same, and it’s not the same day to day.

We’re working in an industrial/factory work situation with no connection to reality or what we need. At best this is habit, at worst this is a situation that makes us vulnerable to having time extorted. Having to upend our usual work days and work weeks, is a good time to question just what our ideal work schedules should be.

It sounds idelaistic, but we should ask just how long people should stay on the job, how to optimize jobs, and what is good for society. Let’s ask what needs to be done, how to get it done, and how to make sure people have time.

Honestly, I think we need to consider work as:

  • First of all, we’ve just learned how we have to rethink life and work. We need to focus a hell of a lot more on life.
  • People when possible should have at least two days off, maybe more. We need that. Organizations could focus on days people should be available, or groups can find the best times.
  • We should reconsider the eight hour work day and, when possible, allow people to find the ideal day and time for them. Of course some places require certain times – so let’s work on that. Maybe there’s not workdays, but only “days we must be here” or “selection of days we must be here.”
  • And, again, to those that must be on shift, in public, in phyiscal space, they deserve proper reimbursement and support.

Yeah, I know to do this will require people to be active. We’d need to push for it. But it’ll be worth it.

Besides, we’ve just learned our ways of thinking don’t work. They never really did.

Steven Savage

Using LinkedIn – Steve’s Take, Part 2

LinkedInLogo

And let’s get back to ways to use LinkedIn.

As noted last time, I treat LinkedIn as a software suite. it’s a series of tools that share data and perform various tasks. We covered the resume-adjacent elements and the way it can be a portal on the web. Now let’s dig deeper . . .

LinkedIn Function #3: The Job Search Tool

Writing about how LinkedIn is a job search tool is like saying water is wet, wrestling is fixed, and the next Star Wars film may get some viewers. It’s known, it’s obvious.

It’s just that until you look at it you don’t see what kind of tool it is.

LinkedIn is not going to have the broadness of some sites like Indeed or the specificity of say, a Dice. But what it provides is a solid job search tool companies use – and I’ve found more and more are using it over time. At this rate any job search not using LinkedIn is probably incomplete, at least for most professionals.

The job search tools also connect to other LinkedIn services. There’s a company profile for most companies seeking employees. You can check out how you’re connected to the recruiter. The job search options tie into everything else on the site.

So here’s how you use it:

FIll Out That Profile – No, really, do. I know I’ve emphasized it, but again, get it right.  You there’s a lot of power in it for recruiters, but also because . .

Many LinkedIn Job Posts Use The Profile – Which is an incredible time-saver. One reason to use LinkedIn is the profile/search synergy just saves time. Take advantage of this (but always send a full resume if possible).

Personal Story – When I was doing a job search, I realized how much time this could save, especially as text-processing job search sites still often make mistakes. I got a lot more done once I realized this.

Make You Profile Searchable – More and more lLinkedIn is used by people to recruit others. You should make sure your profile is up to date because people are looking for you and a good profile makes it easier.

A Research Tool – Got an interview? Look up the person on LinkedIn. You can see if you have any connections to them, learn more about them, and do a better interview.

Personal Story – Several times I’ve been able to carry on better interviews as I got to know the person before I knew the person. It definitely made a difference in my interview – and made it easier on the interviewer.

Post Announcements – Looking for a job? Let people know. Much as you should tell everyone so they an help you, announcing your openness on LinkedIn may get people to rally and help you out, especially if you cultivated a community.

Oh, and on that subject.

Linked In Function #4: The Social Media Tool

LinkedIn is a social media tool used by people for business and career reasons. It has ways to post, to communicate, to link up, and so on. To maximize the benefit of it, you have to remember it is both a social media tool and a business tool.

Here’s what you do.

Network, Network, Network – LinkedIn is, obviously a networking tool. You can bring people into your network, see statuses, have information on them, and so on. Add everyone relevant to your career that you can as that is just more resources for them and you to call on. Like any social media tool, the more you put into it, the more you get out of it.

Recommend, Recommend, Recommend – LinkedIn is a tool to let you leave references for people and receive them. People do pay attention to the recommendations, so ask for them but also give them. Remember these go on your profile – which is used for other purposes.

Personal Story – Several times when I’ve given or gotten a recommendation it’s resulted in a cascade of recommendations for people. If you keep it up, the recommendations pile up.

Join Up – LinkedIn provides any numbers of groups for you to join if you’re so inclined – or you can create your own. Some of these communities get very active, so be sure to take time to visit them and check them out – and when you’re part of a group with others you can send them invitations to your network!

Have A Plan – However as we all know social media can go a bit nuts. Approach these requests and connections and communities with a goal in mind – otherwise you’ll get lost.

LinkedIn Function #5: The Research Tool

LinkedIn has a lot of data, a lot of information, a lot of ways to get it. That means it’s also a research tool for you to use. Think of all that data sitting out there – and you’re given access to it.

The amount of data you can get out of LinkedIn is actually kind of amazing. Depending on what you need you can find all sorts of things. What kinds and what can you do with it?  Glad you asked . . .

Company Research – LinkedIn keeps profiles of a lot of companies, so you can quickly heck them to get some details and do some research. It’s not, say, Glassdoor, but it’s convenient – and tells you about jobs there and connections you may have.

Check Your Stats – LinkedIn gives you a quick blurb on how people found you on the site. So, pay attention to that – and you can get even more at http://blog.linkedin.com/2014/02/24/making-it-easier-to-manage-your-professional-identity-on-linkedin/

Download Data – Did you now you can download your connections in various formats? Yep, you just go to your connections and select the right option. This lets you analyze your own connections or get useful data.  Just go to your connections page, click on the “gear” icon, and you’ll have a variety of options – including one to export connections.

Personal Story – I do this regularly, to both back up my contacts, but to also find people I can ask for assistance in my projects.

Sonar Search – LinkedIn’s job search tool is easy, simple, yet surprisingly deep. You can also try doing a job search just to see what the market is like. Since the information in LinkedIn has is all tied together, a single search can reveal a wealth of information.

LinkedIn will probably keep adding new features, so pay attention.

Linked In Function #6: Alert Systems

LinkedIn is also a way to keep on top of various events and happenings So much data flows through linked in, so many people are giving updates, it’s a constant flow of information. Pay attention and you can find out a lot.

What should you look for?

Company Activity – You can actually decide to “watch” a company and get announcements about job postings and the link. So, go do that if you’re stuck on a few particular employers or want to keep up on them.

Personal Activity – When people in your network change jobs, have a work anniversary, etc. you can be alerted. THis lets you follow up, maintain contact, or just be reminded they’re there. It helps me keep up with people.

Personal Story – I use this a lot. It lets me check in on people, be appropriately social, and remember when I need to leave a reference or ask for one.

Check The Pulse – LinkedIn’s experiment in news services, you can keep up with cultivated content from “influencers.” Not my cup of tea, but it may be something you’re interested in -and who knows what’ll come up next.

There’s a lot of data there. Use it!

Use The Tool Wisely

So LinkedIn is a tool and a powerful one. But I want to end with a few bits of advice on using it better – and in manners less likely to cause problems.

We Can See This: Your profile is public and connected to your name. Don’ do anything to embarrass yourself, have a good personal photo, and be thoughtful.

You Get Out Of It What You Put Into It: LinkedIn is not a magical solution, it’s a tool. The more you put into it the more you can get out of it. Maybe you just don’t have time – that’s fine – but be aware.

It Can Be Overwhelming: LinkedIn offers so much it’s almost too much. Use what you need, try other things out, but decide just what you can do and need to do.

Everyone Does It: Yes, everyone does have a LinkedIn profile, so just having a decent one is almost expected. It’s important to be aware of this as it could go from “sort of expected” to “why don’t you have one?” – and I think we’re close.

Using It Is A Skill: YOu have to practice on LinkedIn and keep up on it to use it right. It may be a good idea to set aside a block of time to get good at it.

Forward To Well-Organized Adventure

I wish you well in your use of LinkedIn. Be sure to let me know of any ideas, tips, and advice I can share.

Respectfully,

– Steven Savage
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