Photo by Domenico Loia on Unsplash
My first boss told me in no uncertain terms: THESE ARE THE RULES, and they should never be broken if you want to be successful.
- Every phone call should be returned within twenty-four hours. Even those from people you don’t know.
- Every memo should have a response by the next business day. Even if the response is, “I am in receipt of your memo, stay tuned.”
- Each piece of correspondence received should be acknowledged and a response prepared and returned within three business days.
Today, it is rare to make a phone call or to receive one. No one even knows what a memo is anymore, and no one receives written letters unless the letter is from the IRS. The rules have changed and are now, well, a little ambiguous. There are some general guidelines, like:
- An e‑mail needs to be returned the same day. Probably.
- A text should be returned in five minutes. Probably.
- And a phone call? Depending on who it is, maybe someone will get around to it eventually.
Some would say that these guideline response times are too slow. This group would say an e‑mail should be returned within the hour and a text within a minute. This same group would be forgiving on returned phone call times because this is the group that never makes phone calls or would die before posting an automatic out‑of‑office response.
Others would say e‑mails, texts, and calls are the source of all distractions and inefficiencies. This group would choose not to be measured by response time.
The workplace is moving so fast today that “the quicker the response, the better” is always a good rule. Acceptable and exact response times today are a moving target with lots of variables that dictate the right answer.
One thing I do know: to be labeled as unresponsive in today’s workplace is the kiss of laziness and a step toward the exit door.
Photo by Dillon Shook on Unsplash
The notion of working from home is a powerful one. We all want to do it. I want to do it. I want to avoid that commute and get away from all those distractions in the office. At home, no one is asking, “Do you have a minute?” That “minute” ends up taking an hour.
When I work from home I get all settled in for grinding it out. I am Mr. Productivity. Then the doorbell rings and it is either the UPS guy or an Amazon delivery. Wonder what that could be. Then the dog needs to go out for a long walk. Hey, there is that magazine I’ve been looking for. And what’s for lunch?
During the conference call, the dog starts barking and the others on the call start asking questions. “What’s that noise?” “Is there a dog on the call?” I chime in, “Whoever is with that dog, please put your phone on mute.”
Then it’s time to deal with the tech equipment because all of a sudden there is no Internet connection and I need to get that presentation out and there is no one to help. I am on hold with tech support.
Now it’s time to pick up the kids at school. Having them at home will help me focus.
Working at home can be a real boon to productivity.
Photo by Carl Heyerdahl on Unsplash
Working hard and showing up are not the same thing. Both things are important. Even in a world that can look like a cube farm and where everyone is looking at computers all day and wearing headphones, engagement and relationships matter.
When a friend was fired, he was shocked. WTF! He was yelling at everyone. His employer said he was let go because of his poor attendance record. Attendance record? Really? Is this high school?! He knew he worked like a dog and never heard anything about attendance. Who takes attendance?
Maybe it was not just about attendance. Between traveling and working from home at all hours, the guy thought he was meeting all of his objectives. So what happened?
No one knew him. Being around the place still matters. Hanging around with the boss still matters. Being a colleague still matters. Being part of the team still matters, even in a virtual world. It’s easier to get rid of people no one knows.
Show up. Have coffees with colleagues. Go to the holiday party. The thing is, someone is taking attendance.