It’s 9:30 in the morning. You've laid out your POA for the day (which may or may not include mindless Facebooking). You’re all set to start working on that brilliant idea you thought of yesterday.
But all of a sudden, your messenger pings!
Your boss has summoned all the employees for a ‘hyper-productive’ brainstorming session.
All your work plans and that killer idea have to take cover and just wait till the storm passes.
Even with start-up culture on the rise, I can't help but notice that most companies follow some seriously outdated practices. Here are some productive alternatives, borrowed from the books of more progressive companies.
1. Formal Dress Codes
Full sleeve shirts in 40-degree weather, ties that feel like nooses, skirts that keep riding up.
I get the whole idea of 'uniforms' being equalizers, and formal clothing being synonymous with professionalism, but with the corporate world changing in ideology and appearance, is formal clothing necessary?
Lately, most startups have created a more relaxed and logical dress code: dress the way you want, as long as you look presentable enough not to scare off potential clients/investors.
Sounds contradictory, right? Well, here is where the ‘smart casual’ dress code comes in. You don’t look like a hobo, and you don’t look like a stiff.
Companies like LinkedIn, Google, Facebook, Twitter, Apple and AOL are pioneering this ‘chill’ work environment.
2. Unnecessary Hierarchies
You laugh only if your boss laughs
Everybody is somebody’s boss. You have to go through 3 levels of approval before a single proposal gets through.
Hierarchies had a purpose in traditional corporates. But now, with work culture having changed so significantly, it makes more sense to do away with these unnecessary, complex systems.
There’s also the fact that abuse of hierarchy is one of the primary causes of conflicts in the workplace. Why keep up a system that causes more harm than good?
The flat hierarchy of management or holacracy is one of the ways new-age corporates are doing away with hierarchies. It is a system of ‘self-management’, where each employee is equivalent to the top management itself.
In India, a data analytics firm, SocialCops has adopted a modified form of this system. It has led to creating an entrepreneurial drive amongst the employees. Also, you get to have the wackiest, most creative job roles and descriptions, like Resident Entrepreneur or a TechViz!
I’m not saying that this is the only solution. Holacracies are still in their infancy, and whether or not they’re foolproof will only become clearer with time.
But it's worth a shot to be flexible with your organizational structure. If you understand and make the most of your employee's strengths, you may unlock way more potential.
3. The Monotonous 9-6 Routine
Every individual has a certain time in the day during which they are most productive. So, you can’t expect peak performance from everyone in that stipulated time period.
Strict timings are extremely restrictive and could actually bring down productivity hugely.
Companies have started offering flexible timings, whereby employees create their own hours.
Of course, very few people have the liberty of working independently, which is why a lot of companies are trying to find a time of the day where all of the employees are together for at least a few hours every day. Training employees to be more responsible and efficient with their time would certainly help.
In fact, Flexi hours are becoming all the rage, leading to RMSI, a relatively newer company, taking over Google India as the most preferred company to work for in 2015.
This article suggests that Flexi work hours clinched the deal for RMSI, and won them the prestigious superlative.
Apps like Slack have also made it that much easier for official communication to take place over the phone. You don’t really have to be with your team to effectively communicate with them.
4. Counterproductive Team Meetings
Those endless team meetings and pointless brainstorming sessions have lately been criticized for reducing productivity in the workplace.
Reports suggest that fewer fruitful ideas have come out of group meetings than from ideating alone.
Giving the employees time to think and research on their own, and then present their ideas in a group meeting, saves time and ensures concrete results.
A new technique called Brainwriting (as opposed to brainstorming) could be a game changer.
Loosely put, it is Brainstorming involving pen and paper, and excluding the chaos. Though many companies haven’t employed it yet, psychologists see great potential in it.
With young entrepreneurs taking over the service industry, we have a chance to revamp rigid systems. It’s a fresh start, so let’s do something great with it!
What other redundant rituals does your workplace observe? Tell us in the comments below!