Managing Partner at Blue Book Ventures. Inspirational Business Leader, Workplace Pundit, Best-Selling Author & Venture Capitalist
A Little About Me
Richard A. Moran is a San Francisco based business leader, workplace pundit, bestselling author, and venture capitalist. He is best known for his series of humorous business books beginning with bestselling, Never Confuse a Memo with Reality and is credited with starting the genre of "Business Bullet Books."
Secrets of the business world I wish someone let me in on sooner:
The Covid Virus has had an impact on our lives in big and small ways. It sometimes seems absolutely nothing is the way it used to be and we miss the way it used to be. I don’t want to minimize the suffering by so many and the heroic efforts of health care workers but a topic that is on the minds of many is – haircuts.
As we practice social distancing and working from home we are looking in the mirror and staring at others through Zoom wondering what is happening with hair. I am not sure if others are sending them to me or manufacturers are just being opportunistic but my news feed is full of ads for hair trimmers. These trimmers will remove hair no matter its location. Be wary of the videos.
Something I learned at an early age is that the words “home haircut” and “bad haircut” are the same thing. My guess is that Moe, Larry and Curly practiced home haircuts. Bangs may look easy to trim but they are not. Going all the way by shaving your head is always an easy option that requires little skill but has other ramifications. For some haircuts, the only way to salvage something is to convert it into a retro style. That’s why the mullet is coming back. Dog grooming tools may be handy but, unless you want to look like a French Poodle, using them is probably not a good idea.
Some online contests are cropping up regarding bad haircuts. Do not enter. It’s the contest you don’t want to win.
For those who work in the business of grooming, humans or pets, the pandemic is a business and employment disaster. I hope that the programs that are being put into place will provide some relief. We will get back to them but in the meantime, be wary of taking matters into your own hands.
As we deal with “shelter in place” and working from home our lives are full of big decisions about relationships, careers, health, finances and more. Don’t turn a DIY haircut into a big thing by botching it. But if you succumb to the temptation, keep perspective. As the wise person remarked, “The difference between a good haircut and a bad haircut is two weeks.” Compared to dealing with the actual virus, dealing with a bad hair month is not a big deal.
In the olden days when we had conference rooms and used them, the coffee cup that was popular and appeared often declared, “This Meeting Could Have Been an Email.” Some cups had the same message full of F-Bombs and other expletives. A variation on that message may soon be showing up on small screens around the world with the sentiment, “This Zoom Meeting Could Have Been an Email”.
Don’t get me wrong. Zoom and other videoconferencing services are saving the day. Without this technology life in any organization would grind to a complete halt. We are all figuring out how to best use videoconferencing to be effective and efficient. But maybe the best way to use Zoom is to not use it. Maybe every single activity doesn’t need to be a Zoom meeting. Maybe an email, a text or, work with me on this, maybe a telephone call would achieve the same result.
We are all seeing some pretty bored people on Zoom meetings. We text each other about Jake, who is asleep on the call; or Megan who is doing email instead of paying attention. When someone says, “Sorry, I was on MUTE, could you repeat the question.” What they really might be saying is, “I wasn’t paying attention because it was so boring and have no idea what you were talking about but I can catch up quickly because nothing gets done on these calls.”
Videoconferencing is one of the greatest tools brought into the organizational world. Ever. In the days of COVID-19 it can be used for real communications, for team building, and to keep things moving in the right way. It is never to be taken for granted. It is a miracle. But it may not be useful if used all day every day.
Zoom is becoming a name for any videoconference capability regardless of the vendor. It has taken on a life of it’s own like Kleenex or Xerox. Zoom is now a verb like Google. We are now using the technology for cocktail hours, family reunions, weddings, funerals and it is proving to be a pretty good substitute. Let’s just not substitute ineffective meetings with ineffective Zoom calls.
When this crisis is over we will continue to use videoconferencing in more ways than we can imagine as the tool for which it was designed. Until we learn all the effective ways to use Zoom, I am waiting to see that first coffee cup on video that sends the message that this could have been an email.
The Coronavirus has changed the workplace, maybe forever. Working From Home (WFH) may no longer be a luxury or option, it may be a requirement. In this series we explore the implications and how to thrive in the new reality.
Not long ago people were not allowed to work at home. When Marissa Mayer was CEO at Yahoo! she forbade the practice. Other organizations followed and told people they can no longer work from home. Best Buy and others declared that people need to get their face in the place and the feet under the seat in the sea of cubes.
The Coronavirus will change all of that. The unintended consequence of the deadly virus could create a tsunami of change in the workplace. People are figuring it out – how to be productive at home and organizations are learning that showing up is not a skill. Attendance need not be taken, it’s the results that matter.
The debate about working at home is over. No matter the gender, demographic, geographic or children status. No matter be you a slacker or a workaholic. Working from home is the new workplace reality. Get over it.
While working from home is the new reality, there are two good reasons why it makes sense for the organizations to ask people to show up from time to time. First, sometimes it’s just good to count noses and answer the question, “How many employees do we have?” It’s like bringing the herd down from winter grazing.
Secondly, having people show up sometimes is an effective way to create the home base. Sometimes you just need a place to go to feel inspired and wanted where like-minded people are being productive. The home base allows leaders to lead and team interaction that can sometimes only be built through contact.
In many ways, working from home can help your career and create the virtual workplace we long for. Here are some tips on how…
Six Ways Working from Home Can Help Your Career
Virtual Meetings. When everyone calls in to staff meetings instead of either some showing up or some calling in, people are equal and will pay more attention to comments. It is no longer the case where the person on the phone is on mute and not expected to speak. Everyone is on the phone and participation can make you a star. The playing field for conference calls is now level.
Big Ideas. Working from home should allow time for quiet concentration and creativity. Emphasis on “should”. One just needs to find a place with no TV, radio, photos, kids toys or distractions. If that place doesn’t exist, it is time to find bigger headphones. Take inspiration from Isaac Newton who made big discoveries on the nature of motion and gravity while working from home during the Plague of 1665.
Creativity. In the office, lots of websites are blocked. At home, the world is opened and some of those forbidden sites can be a source of inspiration and reference. Just stay away from the pornography.
No commute. Money will be saved on gas, tolls and car wear and tear. Cleaning bills will go down too by not eating in the car and spilling. It’s like giving yourself a raise. Plus, since you are not taking office space or using electricity, the company saves money. But the biggest factor that will change your life is the time saved by not commuting.
No politics. Since there are no office politics or office gossip at home, you can rise above all the factors that waste time at work and be that much more productive. OK, there will still be politics but they are easier to avoid outside of the office.
Performance reviews can be made easier. No doubt, everyone will be asked to write their own review since no one is around the office that much. Now is the time to keep track of all those contributions throughout the WFH time and lay it on thick later. Others are probably not keeping track of your WFH performance.
Ok, the saw cuts both ways when it comes to working from home. There are lots of good reasons to show up at work too but sometimes there is no choice. WFH allows for flexibility, allows for less wasted time for commuting, and requires self-motivation. New tech tools allow for collaboration, creativity and being a part of the larger enterprise even while remote.
And don’t be fooled. Although you may be working from home, someone is still taking attendance. Missing calls or on-line meetings will be noted.
Communication and collaboration are important and the key to success. Working side by side can happen today whether you are in the office or not. The virus and the requirements it demands is the new dawn for working from home. I, for one, am watching with excitement.