Co-working and Leading Teams

The co-working movement may be considered the latest fad, but it has been around for decades under different names and forms.  Cross-organizational or cross-functional teamwork is the basis of many existing business processes.  Co-location of teams and matrixed organizations are also well known. Marketing, product development and innovation teams have long realized the benefits of working in multi-disciplinary teams to better accomplish goals.  Recently new research indicates it has a surprisingly strong psychological basis.

coworking-space

See WENDY MARX  07.14.16 5:00 AM http://www.fastcompany.com/3061515/the-scientific-reason-why-coworking-may-be-the-future-of-work

New cultural tactics such as working in pairs that rotate every five days, and company culture and social structure designed to help employees collaborate are more and more popular. Expanding offices and creating innovation centers to allow current clients or new startups and entrepreneurs to work with company teams generate strong connections and innovation in the process.

No doubt co-working is an established movement.  An of a new platform includes WeWork as well as other co-working platforms taking shape in a variety of forms.

How can you bring the benefits of co-working to your organization?

There’s no forced socialization. Team spaces that allow employees to be as friendly, or as reserved, as an individual wants work well.  Creating secure and accessible space for interaction with outside parties allows for learning and collaborative work.

And according to researchers who’ve studied the effectiveness of co-working, they’re all on to something. Wendy Marx explains why.  The following is an excerpt from her recent article in Fast Company cited above:

TWO BASIC HUMAN NEEDS CO-WORKING FULFILLS

A team of researchers at the University of Michigan’s Steven M. Ross School of Business led by business professor Dr. Gretchen Spreitzer, who also directs the Center for Positive Organizations, has spent the last four years studying co-working. In the process, they’ve interviewed the founders of co-working companies around the U.S. and surveyed more than 200 workers from dozens of co-working spaces; one team member spent six months as a co-working member.

Their research uncovered two key benefits to the co-working experience, both of which have been linked to improved employee performance. Simplified somewhat, it comes down to flexibility and autonomy without dispensing with meaningful community.

It turns out that co-working spaces’ hallmarks—like funky design features—are far less important than their social structures, where workers feel a sense of individual autonomy that’s still linked to a sense of collaboration, the Michigan team told me in interviews. Most co-working spaces, for all their variation, tend to strike that careful balance between those crucial needs—in ways that neither solo freelancing nor the traditional office experience usually provide.

Typically, coworkers pay a monthly fee in exchange for the freedom to work when, where, and how they want. Often open 24/7, coworking facilities let members come and go and sit wherever they like. There’s no forced socialization. You can be as friendly or as reserved as you want.

Co-workers also have the freedom to literally shape their environment—which some research suggests can significantly improve workers’ performance and productivity. In their research, the Michigan team found that some co-working companies have taken it upon themselves to redesign their spaces to better meet members’ needs, raising additional money to do so and inviting users to help design the new features.

Independence, adaptability, flexibility: These characteristics are fundamental human needs. So it isn’t surprising that they’ve been linked to positive outcomes in the workplace, too, from improved performance to higher rates of employee commitment and engagement.

They also help explain why more companies are embracing flexible work schedules—many of the same ones, in fact, that are exploring coworking. GE, Parades tells me, now offers flexible work arrangements for all its U.S. employees as long as they’ve got their managers’ approval.

COMMUNITIES THAT MINIMIZE INTERNAL COMPETITION

But this isn’t the whole story, the Michigan researchers found. Autonomy and flexibility may be crucial, but your work environment is hardly the only factor that can supply them. The other key benefit that coworking spaces tend to offer is a sense of community—not just any community, but one where people, as Dr. Spreitzer puts it, are “free to be themselves” because they don’t feel they’re competing with those around them. As a result, ideas are more freely shared.

People are “free to be themselves” because they don’t feel they’re competing with those around them.
Spreitzer, Garrett, and their third colleague Dr. Peter Bacevice, director of research at architecture and design firm HLW International, found that that type of communal spirit provides the necessary ballast to autonomy. While too much freedom can actually hurt productivity, grafting a community structure onto an already flexible one provides what she calls “the optimal degree of control.”

Typically, people join coworking spaces because they want to be part of a community while still doing their own thing. Members often share their thoughts and needs on Slack or some other communal platform. Everyone is usually expected to volunteer to maintain the facility. Lectures, outings, and other events are planned—but optional.

Here’s one coworking member that PhD candidate Lyndon Garrett interviewed as part of the research:

It’s really positively affected my work because it . . . makes me happier all the time, and having people around that I’m not in competition with but who can bring experience from different industries and different situations is really, really helpful . . . I’ve been able to come in contact with ideas I wouldn’t have normally come in contact with.
Traditional companies are trying to create that same sense of serendipity. AT&T has created coworking-like spaces where the company’s own engineers mingle with independent developers and startups in order to accelerate AT&T’s innovation cycle. The office furniture company Steelecase redesigned its corporate office to include a work café that strongly resembles those at the center of many coworking spaces, based on the idea that employees may be stimulated and build friendships with people outside their work unit.

So if more employers follow suit in the months and years ahead, they aren’t just jumping on a trendy bandwagon. Sure, they might be doing that, too, but they’re also trying to tap into the science that helps explain what makes people work well—alone and together.

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H1 2016 is Over! Act on H2.

Today’s thought from INSIGHTOVATION® – July 19, 2016

Stay ahead of your business cadence.

Are you still analyzing the first half of 2016 to see where you are vs. the business goals?  If so you are already behind for the year.  That analysis should have been done starting in mid-June using actuals through May and forecast for June.  The official books should be all but closed as a formality with no surprises and business reviews finalized.  You are now 3 weeks into the new quarter and second half of 2016.  Stop looking back.

Executing the plan is the business priority.

Assumptions:
  1. There is a clearly defined strategy and action plan.   Everyone is aligned and focused.
  2. It is still the right plan.  Nothing has changed.
  3. You have the right resources to execute.

Publishing a business/marketing calendar is a helpful way of staying on track.

  1. This calendar outlines a framework of the regular cycles for the business.
  2. It describes the business process and timing vs. the content.
  3. It gives visibility to timing and manages expectations of reporting to business stakeholders.

Whether the calendar is on a shared, electronic platform or an excel spreadsheet matters not. The important characteristics are that it is clearly articulated, accessible, and has organizational alignment.

Screen Shot 2016-07-19 at 9.12.59 AM

First Step? – Populate a calendar with all known business events for the next 18 months.

Consider a 3-year strategic plan with a rolling 18-month action plan.   Create an 18-month calendar outlining the business/marketing cadence as a framework and allow stakeholders to align their action plans so that the entire team is going forward on the same timing to achieve the plan.

Let me know if you need step-by-step help creating a cross-organizational cadence.

 

Leadership and Life, Just for Today

I found this inspired list of leadership qualities to focus on in 2016.  Happy New Year.  Thank you for sharing @fastcompany and 

7 HABITS OF HIGHLY EMOTIONALLY INTELLIGENT PEOPLE

PEOPLE WITH HIGH EMOTIONAL INTELLIGENCE TEND TO DO BETTER AT WORK. SO WHAT HABITS DO THEY HAVE THAT SET THEM APART?

Editor’s Note: This is one of the most-read leadership articles of 2014. Click here to see the full list.

It has increasingly become accepted that emotional intelligence is an important factor in our success and happiness, not only at work, but in our relationships and all areas of our lives.

So what sets emotionally intelligent people apart? Here are seven habits that people with high EI have:

1. THEY FOCUS ON THE POSITIVE

While not ignoring the bad news, emotionally intelligent people have made a conscious decision to not spend a lot of time and energy focusing on problems. Rather, they look at what is positive in a situation and look for solutions to a problem. These people focus on what they are able to do and that which is within their control.

2. THEY SURROUND THEMSELVES WITH POSITIVE PEOPLE

People with a lot of emotional intelligence don’t spend a lot of time listening to complainers and tend to avoid negative people. They are aware negative people are an energy drain and are not willing to let others exhaust their vitality. Because they always look for solutions and the positive in situations, negative people quickly learn to avoid positive people as misery loves company.

Emotionally intelligent people spend time with others that are positive and look upon the bright side of life. You can spot these folks as they tend to smile and laugh a great deal and attract other positive people. Their warmth, openness, and caring attitude leads others look upon them as more trustworthy.

3. THEY ARE ABLE TO SET BOUNDARIES AND BE ASSERTIVE WHEN NECESSARY

Although their friendly, open nature may make them appear as pushovers to some, people with high EI are able to set boundaries and assert themselves when needed. They demonstrate politeness and consideration but stay firm at the same time.

They do not make needless enemies. Their response to situations, in which there may be conflict, is measured, not inflated, and managed appropriately to the situation. They think before speaking and give themselves time to calm down if their emotions appear to become overwhelming. High EI people guard their time and commitments and know when they need to say no.

4. THEY ARE FORWARD THINKING AND WILLING TO LET GO OF THE PAST

People with high EI are too busy thinking of possibilities in the future to spend a lot of time dwelling upon things that didn’t work out in the past. They take the learning from their past failures and apply it to their actions in the future. They never see failure as permanent or a personal reflection of themselves.

5. THEY LOOK FOR WAYS TO MAKE LIFE MORE FUN, HAPPY, AND INTERESTING

Whether it is in their workplace, at home, or with friends, high EI people know what makes them happy and look for opportunities to expand the enjoyment. They receive pleasure and satisfaction from seeing others happy and fulfilled, and do whatever they can to brighten someone else’s day.

6. THEY CHOOSE HOW THEY EXPEND THEIR ENERGY WISELY

While these enlightened people are good at moving on from the past when things didn’t work out as expected, they are also able to move on from conflicts involved with others. High EI folks don’t hold on to anger over how others have treated them, rather use the incident to create awareness of how to not let it happen again. “Fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me,” is their motto. While they move on and forgive, they don’t forget and are unlikely to be taken advantage of again in the same set of circumstances.

7. CONTINUALLY LEARNING AND GROWING TOWARDS INDEPENDENCE

Highly emotionally intelligent people are lifelong learners, constantly growing, evolving, open to new ideas, and always willing to learn from others. Being critical thinkers, they are open to changing their minds if someone presents an idea that is a better fit. While they are open to ideas from others, and continuously gathering new information, they ultimately trust themselves and their own judgment to make the best decision for themselves.

[Image: Flickr user André Solnik]