Business is all about setting goals, making plans and predicting the future. That is the way most companies work and are expected to operate. They set financial goals for the next week, month or quarter and those will be measured and followed systematically. But is that the only way to do business? Do we need all this planning and is it even possible to predict the future?
Rework introduces a new way of doing business. It basically questions everything that is usually seen as necessities – meetings, plans, predictions, working hours and more. It has an interesting way of viewing all these aspects of today’s work life. The book is a way to discuss if all these ways of action are necessary or could they even be rather useless but at the same time very time-consuming? If so, that is not a great way in today’s hectic work life where it feels like people are already being pushed to their limits and most certainly do not need any extra stress from irrelevant things that take their valuable time – the time which could be used more effectively.
In Rework it’s said that in business people should work smarter – not harder. There is no point in working 12-hour days – no one can remain efficient and productive that long – at least if it is continuous. In the book these people are called workaholics – people who put work first and even enjoy that others see them working that hard. They believe that working long days makes them more effective. More, more and more – there’s no such thing as too much. Even though the amount of working hours tells absolutely nothing about the efficiency. People should not be defined as efficient or inefficient by the amount of their working hours. Instead, something that would be worth paying attention into, is the work they get done during those hours. That is something that measures efficiency, right? Anyone can spend hours and hours on the same task while someone else gets it done faster and ends up with even better results. Which one would you choose to be your employee?
This is something I want to emphasize in our team Value. As the business leader, I would like to change the way we think about working hours. Long work days are not something to aim for – it is almost the opposite. In order to get the job done faster, you will need creativity, concentration and talent. Now those are the abilities that I would want people to focus on. It is also essential to have things that are important outside the work place. Usually people value things like family, friends and health the most, but sadly those are not the things that load the calendar. There simply must be time and energy to do the things you love and to do so, you will need free time. It is time for us to recover and focus on other things so that we are able to give our best when it’s time to work again.
It often feels like we are stuck in the mindset that a work day should be something between 7-9 hours. If we honestly view our days, I think many of us will admit that those 7-9 hours include a huge amount of ineffective time as well. That’s simply because our brain is not made for working in a highly concentrated state of mind for many hours straight. We need breaks and something easier while completing our work. Or we can get the job done in a few hours if we are able to concentrate carefully. Either one of these options is ok, as long as the person knows what works for him/her. If it feels like time just flies and you can’t get anything done – however after a work day you feel like you don’t have time nor energy to do anything on your free time either – the problem could be about efficiency. Then it may be good to try to really concentrate, complete the job and get out of the work place while you still have energy left. It is exhausting to work on multiple things with a lot of distractions and yet have that feeling that you can’t get anything done. That if something is non-rewarding and tiring.
Another point in the book was meetings and the relevancy of those. Meetings are something that take much time, but many times the outcome of those may be rather poor. Without a clear agenda and purpose it is a waste of everyone’s time. If you have ever sat in a meeting that feels like it has absolutely no point, but no one is brave enough to tell that out loud, you will know what the book is talking about. In Rework they suggest that every meeting that could be replaced by a report, should be replaced. If there’s just information that needs to be given, a report will do the job – and save everyone’s time and energy. However, if there are things that need to be decided, a meeting could be useful. Even so it has to have a clear agenda and it has to lead into the decision from the very beginning. The one who’s in charge of the meeting, needs to make sure that there are no irrelevant interruptions during the meeting. The meetings should never take more than an hour – if they do, they are most likely poorly planned or being interrupted by irrelevant topics.
Meetings are also a topic I would like to bring up in our team. We have a weekly meeting on Monday mornings 9am. Lately it has felt like people don’t value that time very high and personal things overtake the importance of the meetings. Of course, everyone can’t always attend and that’s totally ok, but I feel like this is something that’s worth a discussion – maybe those meetings are not relevant and people feel like their time is being wasted? If so, it needs to be changed and find new ways of doing things. That is the best part of team work – with honest communication we can bring these things up together and then start to think about the solution. On our final year when everyone has a lot of individual work to do too, I certainly don’t want to make anyone sit in an irrelevant meeting in which their only thought is that they should be out there doing something else. If that is the case, the problem is not in the people, it’s in the content of the meetings. My passion is and will probably always be people and nothing is more important than them. So in a situation like this it is easy to say that people know best, I trust them and their judgment – the changes will be made based on those factors.