Lessons from roommates & houseguests

Digital work lessons from home

What houseguests and roommates can teach us about collaboration and Software Adoption

The rise of the digital workplace is changing how people collaborate and conduct work, forcing us to reexamine a lot of assumptions and rote behaviors. We need to rethink both how we work and how we impact others’ work.

This got me thinking that we can learn a lot about how to drive effective digital workplace behaviors by looking at how we deal with roommates and houseguests. Kind of an odd connection isn’t it. Well, not really when you look at the underlying issues.

Living with different styles and habits

Over my life, I have had a lot of roommates and houseguests. I had roommates in college. When I was studying in England, I shared a flat with a bunch of international graduate students. In my twenties, I shared apartments with friends to save money.  And I have had tons of people come and stay as houseguests over the years.

What is interesting in reflecting about roommates is that there are a lot of different types of people and how they approach living with others.

There are those who are extremely considerate and always clean their room and clean the common areas. And there are those who always leave dishes in the sink.

 

 

Houseguests and consideration

And what about houseguests? Oh, my goodness – what a range! There are those that you know they’re always going to bring a gift. There are those that are always going to clean up after themselves and be very considerate.

There are the ones who take the sheets off the bed and make sure that the place is in better shape than when they found it. And then there are the ones who always leave wet towels on the floor, the bed unmade, drop food everywhere, and then leave you with a big mess to clean up after they are gone.

 

Effective digital workplaces require focus on behavior and consideration

What has been clear from these experiences is that roommates and houseguests each have extremely different ideas of what are appropriate behaviors and they display far different levels of consideration for others. We see similar patterns when looking at the digital workplace.

Effective digital work requires that people adopt similar ways of working. They need to collaborate effectively using digital tools. They need to be aware of the interdependencies between how they perform their individual job and how they use software tools, and the impact it has on the ability of others to also perform their job effectively.

Office 365, CRM or other tools: Collaboration is a learned behavior

Take for example something like Office 365 or a CRM system.

These technologies change how and when people need to work together.  To be effective, they require people to utilize centralized tools and adopt similar work behaviors.

For example:

 

- People need to share files in the correct location, with proper names, in order for others to access, collaborate, and utilize the materials.

- People need to ensure they enter all required information in a CRM system, in order to allow everyone across the organization to enter it.

- People need to ensure they enter information with accuracy, clarity, and enough detail that anyone can quickly understand the full picture just from what is entered in the field.

-People need to enter data and share files in a timely manner (ideally the moment it is generated), so that others can access the data they need, when they need it, to do their jobs.

How many times have you looked in a system and can’t find the file you need? Or looked in the CRM and find that most of the data is missing or wrong?  How confident are you in using what is available? How much time do you waste trying to track down what you need? How is your customer experience impacted when you don’t have the information they already shared with your company because someone else didn’t enter it into the system?

 

The key lessons!

Whether it is in the digital workplace, living with roommates, or being a houseguest, the key lesson here is that you need to focus on behavior and consideration.

1. Pay attention to your behavior and how it impacts others. It is no longer enough to be a great individual performer if the way you work prevents others from their best performance as well.

2. Be considerate of others. The way you do your job directly impacts how others do their job. If you are not collaborating effectively or using digital tools as defined and designed, then you are making more work for others.

3. If you are a manager or a supervisor, it is your job to help drive the desired behaviors among your team. You need to clearly articulate the behaviors that are required from your staff.  You also need to reward people when they are considerate of others and work in a way that allows everyone to succeed. And you need to take action to correct inconsiderate or inappropriate collaboration behaviors.

Focusing on digital collaboration behaviors, and ensuring all people are considerate of their impact on others’ work, is absolutely essential to achieving success in the digital workplace.

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