Every company is different, but in one form or another, distributed work is here to stay. While the shift was always coming, Covid-19 has shown us that we can do it and it works. We can, however, make distributed work better.
Breaking the mould
As far as any employee can remember, we’ve been bound to an hours-based model of work – clocking in and out. This has kept us distracted with the “how” of getting things done, rather than what we are actually achieving.
Expecting employees to be “logged on” for fixed office hours is a broken model. And asking them to grind through tasks with little real impact on business objectives feels like a waste of the time we have. We need to break out of this tradition and refocus on output – by looking at what we’ve done and whether it really matters to the business. For this to be successful, we must help people focus on high-impact tasks and set them free to achieve their goals. This includes methods and timelines, but also the tools.
The missing link: the right tools
Currently, there are lots of different productivity and collaboration tools that are stitched together. We have the technology available, but we need a platform that brings these services together in a coherent manner. This is a huge challenge for people to get right, as they bounce around from application to application trying to get their work done and collaborating with distributed colleagues and partners.
We’re fortunate that our own product was built for distributed teams, and that’s why, at Dropbox, we are becoming a virtual first company, where – for the majority of the working week – employees will be working remotely, using our own technology. As we gain an increasing understanding of what our users are experiencing, we can continue to evolve our products and practices to help people focus, stay organised, and collaborate in this new environment. Right now, we have the incredible opportunity to build the products and tools we need in order to work in an enlightened way in this new, distributed world of work.
A platform of trust
If we are going to empower people to work in their preferred ways and with their preferred tools, we must also trust them. Today, employees are innately more aware of the tools that are available to them in the world outside of work, as demonstrated by a recent survey that found that 41 per cent of UK workers have used WhatsApp for work purposes.
Once employees feel they are trusted to manage their own time and tools to reach their business goals, we will have cleared a path to optimal output, and these results in turn will lead to an increase in trust from their managers – it’s a virtuous circle.
An opportunity for change
Thinking of work with the traditional mindset of hours spent at a desk is outdated and broken. We have an opportunity and obligation to change the status quo and empower people to do their best work. Let’s not waste this golden opportunity.
To learn more visit experience. dropbox.com/flexible-future
By Andy Wilson, Global Head of Media Technologies, Dropbox