Winning results, no matter what challenges are thrown at your accountancy firm...
In the spring of 2020, the world of work experienced a large-scale work-from-home experiment.
How did your firm and your team get on?
For non-food retail, restaurants and others it was a non-starter. Some businesses simply cannot respond with a home-working solution.
But many others can. Many business people have been surprised by how quickly and effectively they’ve adapted.
Adopting technologies for video-conferencing and other forms of digital collaboration have delivered results far better than they previously imagined.
The world of work will never be the same again, so is it time to make the most of a new way of working?
Make the shift from an hours-worked focus to outcomes-achieved.
And allow your people to choose when they work and where they work!
Start with 4 helping hands here or read on for the full Bitesize Business Breakthrough
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Home working works?
A recent McKinsey Consulting research study suggests that:
The McKinsey report confirms that:
“...employees liberated from long commutes and travel have found more productive ways to spend that time, enjoyed greater flexibility in balancing their personal and professional lives, and decided that they prefer to work from home rather than the office.”
Here's the proven solution for youR FIRM...
Set free the adaptability, performance and entrepreneurship that lives inside every employee.
Build new processes in your firm that put respect for your team AND a result focus to the fore.
More than ever before...
...results matter more than the amount of time working and the location of work.
From March 2020 most office-based businesses proved that Monday to Friday, 9 til 5, in the office, is no longer necessary.
Going back to this regimented way of working is now seen as needless, unhealthy and unattractive to most. It risks losing our best people.
Instead let’s focus on results. Forget location. Forget time.
What they get done is what matters most.
Work out crystal clear expectations about what work needs to be completed every day, every week, every month, every year.
Semco, a Brazilian manufacturing company, grew revenues from $90m to $212m over 20 years.
Semco’s team of 90 people grew to 5000 with an employee churn rate of less than 2%, in one of the most volatile economies in the world.
We have all experienced volatile times and things are still far from predictable and so the Semco way offers some valuable insights.
The son, Ricardo Semler took over Semco from his father in the 1980s and installed democratic management principles that put people before policies and processes. Clearly Semco focused on results too. People AND results is a powerful combination which has paid off for Semco over 20 years plus.
Your people want freedom...
...the freedom to choose when and where to work – like they do at college – and they like it, as the McKinsey study shows.
But with freedom comes responsibility.
The responsibility to get the work done, meet client expectations, meet team commitments, learning and more.
For this freedom to work well, you and your team will want to see this new way of working in a way that is:
But can this happen if management have no control over when people work?
Control is a myth...
Returning to the 9-5 office regime puts you back in control of results.
Or does it!?
A research study interviewed 1,989 full-time UK office workers all aged over 18.
How long are they productive every day? They answered (on average) ‘2 hours and 53 minutes’ of actual work productivity every day.
(Check out what workers in Norway, Finland and New Zealand are doing to improve productivity in the downloadable tools – at the end of this report).
Controlling the time and location of work is a myth. Doesn’t the effort level and quality of work have a greater impact than time and location?
STOP thinking work is a place you go and spend time.
START thinking that work is something you do to get results.
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Sledging is habitual...
At work we’re all married to time as THE reference for commitment and even performance. Early starts and long hours show commitment to the cause (even if they do little work!).
Hence the jibes you hear fired at people on part-time contracts or flexitime or those moving to a results only approach:
“11 o’clock and you’re only just here? Good of you to turn up!”
“Since you’re not here every day the project leader will be Mary.”
“I think I’ll take up smoking so I can have more breaks!”
In international cricket, players seek to gain an advantage by insulting or verbally intimidating opposing players. It’s called ‘sledging’.
Time-sledging in business happens a lot too, without anyone realising it.
Allow time-sledging and you weaken people’s concentration, causing them to doubt themselves, make mistakes and underperform! And for what?
Cali Ressler and Jody Thompson in their book ‘Why Work Sucks And How To Fix It’ blatantly state that if you participate or allow time sledging (sludging) you’ll never achieve a results only focus.
Allow time-sledging and you’re accepting and reinforcing a workplace that values time and appearances over genuine accomplishment.
David Maister, world-renowned business expert, in research into 109 service businesses found that one of the sources of team motivation and success is a sense of accomplishment.
So, get clear on the ‘grades’ you want your people to accomplish.
Boarding school or College?
In their book, Ressler and Thompson compare business work with university work. You can also contrast both with a boarding school – only one of these reflects a Results Only Work Environment (ROWE):
It pays to remember that most college students get the grades they deserve!
They thoroughly enjoy college life too – often saying they’re the best years of their life. Results and enjoyment are not mutually exclusive!
Ultimately the results your people achieve in your firm – job security, career progression and rewards – will be determined by the ‘grades’ they achieve in their role in your firm.
A ROWE relies on you getting crystal clear on what ‘grades’ are expected, what work is expected, what needs to be finished. Ressler/Thompson suggest you:
“...help employees understand what needs to be done, give them the autonomy, trust and support to accomplish objectives in the ways that work best for them, and provide feedback and recognition to let them know how well they’re doing and reinforce good performance.”
Cali Ressler & Jody Thompson
4 helping hands for you…
The enforced working from home seen in 2020 forced many of us to install new ways of working.
But many firms have seen that the work got done, on time and to the right standard. Their people got the work done.
When the results weren’t achieved as planned then new ways of working were tried, new ways of keeping in touch with colleagues installed, better planning too.
Stop thinking work is a place you go and spend time – instead think of work as what gets done.
Remove the time-sledging that is common in most firms.
Together, get crystal clear on results – what’s required, by when, to what standard.
Let your people choose when and where they work to get the required results
TIME TO DISAGREE
“My team want to work in the office and want to work regular hours too.”
The power of a ROWE is in giving team members the choice and tapping into a greater level of employee motivation, engagement and loyalty.
We know of one firm and their team have been known to say:
“I’m unemployable anywhere else now! Why would I ever give up having complete autonomy to work when and where I want?”
Interestingly half the team choose to work in the office most of the working week. More interestingly is the value and volume of work this team get through.
“We already have flexitime, why move all the way to a Results Only Work Environment?”
Like Ressler & Thompson suggest:
“In most workplaces, an employee asks permission and managers decide who can use flexitime, telework or part-time options.
This sets up a “Mother, may I?” dynamic, wherein a supportive supervisor may “accommodate” specific workers.
But employees often end up being penalised in performance evaluations, [salary] raises or promotions when they work flexibly.
As a result, many people stick with traditional work patterns and some flex “under the radar,” hiding their different schedules or occasional offsite work from everyone except their manager and immediate co-workers.”
Chances are you’ll also recognise the time-sledging that derails flexitime and reconfirms that time in the office matters more than getting work done!
“How can employee control rather than manager control be better for my firm?!”
What can be wrong with a business model that prompts your people to ask these three questions:
- 1How do I measure my performance?
- 2How does my manager judge my work?
- 3What am I supposed to be doing with my time?
The ROWE processes mean that:
“Each person is free to do whatever they want, whenever they want, as long as the work gets done.”
‘As long as the work gets done’ is no small thing. It’s what you want for your firm. You’ll find it’s what your good people want too, just like high performing college students do.
“How do I know that a results focus will work and help build a better firm for us?”
The enforced home-working experiment from March 2020 showed what’s possible, it showed that people want to work. It also showed everyone that an office and a 9 to 5 regime is unnecessary, if not unhealthy!
Building a balanced way of working with clear expectations on results, reduced commuting and increased home and family flexibility will be successful, like it is at universities around the world.
If we ignore what we learnt in 2020, we might see our best people go to firms that are results focused, not clock watchers.
Ricardo Semler made it work at Semco in the 1980s. Best Buy made it work in the 2000s. We all made it work in 2020! Now let’s make it work better – get better focused, crystal clear on the results and engage with our people in a way of working that works for them too.
Your 'Make It Happen' checklist:
Encourage your team to do whatever they want, whenever they want, as long as the work gets done
Most firms experienced a large-scale ‘work-from-home’ experiment due to the coronavirus restrictions in the Spring of 2020.
This remote working experience showed that where work is done and when it gets done matters less than we thought. Mon-to-Fri, 9-to-5, in the office isn’t the only way to get work done.
In fact, if on average, people are productively engaged in work for 2 hours and 53 minutes (ref: McKinsey consulting report) of every day at the office, hasn’t there got to be a better way of working?
Ricardo Semler of Semco thinks so. Cali Ressler and Jody Thompson from Best Buy also think so, which is why Ressler and Thompson propose you embrace a Results Only Work Environment.
In short Ressler and Thompson suggest 4 steps to increasing the productivity of your people and the results of your firm:
Stop thinking work is a place you go and spend time
it’s what gets done that matters most – obsess about results for your people and your firm.
Remove the time-sledging that is common in most firms
if you don’t, you’re accepting and reinforcing a workplace that values time and appearances over genuine accomplishment.
Together, get crystal clear on results
only when there’s clarity and transparency about what needs to be completed, by when, and to what standard, will you achieve the enhanced results you want for your firm
Let your people choose when and where they work
to get the required results – don’t worry about the lost control (it’s a myth anyway!)
It seems blatantly obvious that a focus on results will achieve more than a focus on the time and location of work. It’s just that most firms traditionally have been encouraging more ‘time’ rather than more ‘work’. Is it now time for you to embrace a Results Only Work Environment?
Click here to re-read this whole Bitesize Business Breakthrough
Want to know more?
Why Work Sucks
Cali Ressler & Jody Thompson
In their book ‘Why Work Sucks and How to Fix It’, Cali Ressler and Jody Thompson describe how they installed a ROWE at ‘Best Buy’ HQ (USA retailer). They allowed the 3000+ head office staff to choose the time and location of their work and witnessed a 35% lift in productivity and a radical reduction in employee churn.
Ricardo Semler shares the Semco story in his book ‘Maverick’. You’ll find more on Semco in the downloadable tools at the end of this Business Breakthrough report.
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