Adapting to New Work Environments
Adapting to New Work Environments
ITDUG 2021.07 – Employees who work remotely are motivated to deliver more than their on-site counterparts, studies show. In this webinar, HR expert Brook Lee examines the guidelines for empowering teams to choose whatever work model works best for them and how it can lead to better retention, productivity, and more collaboration. As the world becomes more connected and companies adopt a more mobile workforce, these new models bring a wide range of challenges as well. Communication and training between management and staff are key to having a productive solution. By properly documenting the way the work will be done, the expectation and policies are communicated and set early and often.
Adapting to New Work Environments
Allen Edwards 16:33
Alright, so welcome everybody to the it documentation and users group monthly webinar, we cannot tend to try to find something interesting related to documentation and process to bring to you each month. After three years, it’s we keep looking for like new, new new, what can we discuss that we haven’t discussed before? Even though some repetition probably isn’t bad. And Brooks, like, you know, I’ve been working with clients constantly discussing, you know, how do we bring people back into the fold of the office? Or should we or why are we paying rent. And so Brooks had a lot of experience having those conversations with clients. So while we thought we would talk about that today, I will let Brook advances we’ll do the quick introductions about it, Doug, I in our topic today. So it dog was founded by Tracy harden of next century technologies. She’s out of Kentucky. She founded this group in May of 2018. To co learn it glue together, she got me involved in August, as a co administrator, I only decided to open it up to all platforms besides just one specific product. And you can see our amazing growth. 18 months later, we had 1000. And then nine months later, we had 2000. And we’ve continued that trajectory. So please feel free to keep inviting this the more people who can respond to your questions on the Facebook forum. I’m Alan, founder of Eureka process. And Brooks, the vice president who will be speaking today, you can see my history on this next click here. I’ve been doing it since 94, owned an MSP sold in MSP led some others for some great success before joining this company. I met Brooke during my tenure at one of those MSP spaces. And she is currently doing a lot of project management and screening of candidates for our clients, as well as consulting them on projects and process, which is how she gets through experience. All these things to do with working from home Eureka process in general, we do work with clients all day every day regarding their strategy, their processes, your screening and retention, as well as from the community site called the Eureka community.com. Just to give you a feel for where we’re coming from, let me give you this information. So here we are starting to roll out of the pandemic. Brooke, what do you want to know? Um,
Brook Lee 19:15
so now that we’re post pandemic, or maybe not, depending on how you read the news these days, um, before the pandemic, we had a way that we were going to work, the pandemic hit and everybody kind of had to make a shift, both within the msps and your particular employees and also for our clients. So what we’re going to do is we’re going to do a poll. So I kind of want to know from everybody, what how’s your workspace going right now? Are you fully in the office? Are you still fully remote? Are you trying to do some sort of combo hybrid thing? people working in the office a couple days a week, maybe from home a couple days a week? No, Adam, you’re helping a couple of different clients. What are you seeing with the clients that you’re working with?
Adam Edwards 21:02
Depending on client need, sometimes there’s deployments and things that absolutely have to happen on site. But other than that, there are a lot of stuff that are maybe in a combination of remote and on site. I think there’s the with, you know, with with our industry like, in it, there’s a need for people to be on site and going to client sites and things from time to time. But there’s also that maybe administrative side, or just checking in here and there. But I have seen a lot more people working from remote, which I think in it and true. We’re always prepared for it as an option. So I don’t think that we felt it as much as other industries. But I kind of like the trend.
Brook Lee 21:48
Yep. So it looks like most of the people here are doing the fully remote work from home. So let me stop sharing. And let me get back to Prezi. Can you all see the Prezi presentation again? You can. Alrighty. So we kind of have some different options. There is the full remotes. We had some clients that I work with that already worked with that model prior to the pandemic, we had some people that were fully in office and then depending on how lockdowns went in their particular states, they had to send everybody from everybody home for a certain period of time. Then we had some people that did this before they had a hybrid, you could work in the office part of the week, maybe at home, maybe it depends on what type of work that you had. What I told a lot of people is some of this is going to depend on your clientele, and your market that you’re in. If all your clients are local, and you’ve always serviced them with a person on site, maybe you have a monthly recurring, where you’re going to go on site, visit everybody and that client is fully back in the office, then we’d some of these things may have to be adjusted for that. So you may need to think about that when we’re deciding whether we’re going to come back in the office, are we going to stay home? Or are we going to have a hybrid environment. So there’s a lot of different factors that we need to think about. No matter what you choose, we need to have some policies in place, we’ve got to have a work from home policy. Even if you’re doing a hybrid environment where people are home, we need to have a policy that explains to them clearly what it is that we’re going to ask them to do and be accountable for. So we’ve got to have some process and policy around that. We also need to have some KPIs or metrics, what are we going to measure these employees by? Is it going to be utilization is it going to be tickets, again, lots of different options, we just want to make sure that we have these policies in place. And then we have what we call the Forgotten metric, we’ll get to that one in a minute. Um, expectations, whatever we decide whether it’s leadership, whether it’s leadership, plus a couple others, we need to set the expectation with everybody. We want to set everybody up to be successful. if everybody’s going to work from home, how can we best make our employees be successful? What can we do to make sure that they’re productive, and then we can keep the train moving down the track. It needs to be documented. Whatever we choose to do, we have to document it. It’s got to be in a place where everybody can go look at it. And the big one is it’s got to be delivered to everybody. Everybody has to understand what your process or policy is. Our work from home policy is x. Okay, we need to have a meeting we need to explain to everybody you need to let people be able to ask questions. If something is not clear. We want to deliver this in the best possible format. Also, if you’re going to have a hybrid environment, how are we going to work that out? Does it need prior approval? We want to make sure that everybody understands what the process and policy is so that everybody can follow it. Alan, you look like you had something to add. Always. Yes sir.
Allen Edwards 24:54
Do you have any example of various expectations
Brook Lee 24:59
were Get into that. Okay, I think we have some more slides, we just kind of wanted to give a 30,000 foot overview before we dove into the next pieces.
Allen Edwards 25:06
I’m waiting with bated breath.
Brook Lee 25:08
I bet you are. Alright, work from home policy, a couple different things we want to make sure that we have in there. Do you need your managers approval to do so another example is to work remotely, we need to have an effective work area, you may want to very specifically define that in your work from home policy, does the person need to have a room that no one else is in the room? Does it need to have a door? Does it need to have nothing on the walls, are they going to be doing zoom meetings, maybe with clients throughout the day. So you may want to be very specific in defining defining that space that they’re going to be working from. Another thing we want to make sure expectations are set with the employees that you need to be ready to go sit long go before your shift starts. Even though I work from home, if I have a meeting at eight o’clock, I can’t log in today the clock and think that I’m going to get the ball rolling, I need to be there just the same as if I went into the office, I’m not going to roll in at eight o’clock for an eight o’clock meeting, I’m going to get there at a quarter till you know, get my coffee, make sure I’m all set up, get my computer fired up, make sure everything’s good to go no lovely Microsoft updates fired off the night before and I have to do something funky. So you want to make sure that that’s there. Another key expectation is visibility. Alan and I dealt with this specifically when we were at our last MSP together, we had an employee that ended up moving and that person was going to work remotely still work for the company, but work somewhere else. This was several years ago, this was the only person that worked remotely, but a decade
Allen Edwards 26:40
ago. So ahead of the curve.
Brook Lee 26:42
Yeah, I mean, like way, way out there. But one of the expectations and Alan was this person’s manager at that point, the expectation was it is on you to be very visible during the day, you have to be noisy for lack of a better word so that people know that you’re there. You’re responding to questions and whatever internal messaging app, you’re using team Slack, whatever. And make sure that when people are reaching out for assistance that you are right then and there available to be able to answer those questions. When I leave for lunch, I send a message, hey, I’m stepping off my desk for lunch, I’ll be back in 30 minutes, whatever it is, so that everybody knows what’s happening, because they can’t see me when I’m at home. So you know, they can’t see that for the office to go get lunch and she’ll be back. So it’s making sure that the people that are working remotely understand that that’s that expectation is on them, it’s their responsibility. I want you want to weigh in on that because like I said, we did this way back in the day with that particular person.
Allen Edwards 27:37
But yeah, use the word that I that I like, which is noisy is the easiest way to explain to folks you’ve got to be noisier when your wave in the office, I can’t see you. If you enjoy this privilege, then show it you know, show us how much more productive you are. If you’re 95% active at at the office and you like working from home, I’d like you to be 96% productive from home. Show us that it’s going to happen in it’s going to work in the best part of the being noisy, you know checking in and out for breaks saying hi, if you have a random Slack channel or team’s channel, you know, actually participating that from time to time to show you’re engaged
Brook Lee 28:18
our how our a client that I work with that uses slack exclusively for internal messaging. And one of the responsibilities for people working from home is they’re required to check in, in the Slack channel in the morning. It’s the same as me coming into the office and just saying good morning, everybody, when I come in the door is just like, hey, how’s everybody doing? So same concept within a messaging app. No matter which one you choose, just let everybody know that I’m there ready to work on if anybody needs me. Again, I step out, let people know hey, I’m you know, taking a break. I’ll be back in 20 minutes taking a lunch. So you guys a little bit just so that people know that you’re there and know that you’re available.
Michael C. 28:55
A yellow sports code count is being noisy.
Allen Edwards 28:59
It can. Absolutely.
Brook Lee 29:04
The second expectation that we need to set is ISP and power issues. This is something that is on the employee, the employer may decide to give some sort of a stipend for internet, the employer may require the employee to have separate internet from their home internet. Again, whatever you decide, we need to make sure that it’s documented and it’s understood and accepted by all. Also, same thing with power. It’s on me if I have meetings and something happens. I live in Savannah, Georgia. So in the summertime we get tons of storms. Yesterday I had one right before I had to do an interview. So prior to that interview, I printed out the resume that I needed I printed out my questionnaire I had zoom ready to go on my phone so worst case scenario, I would still be able to press on and do that interview. If your internet is going to be down for an extended period of time, you will need to find a remote location to work from. Again these are expectations that need to be documented and delivered To your employees, repeated issues with that, then the employer is going to have something in their work for home policy that says we’ll need to reevaluate your ability to be able to work from home. So if you’re having an ISP or a power outage, once a week, you probably need to come work in the office for most of the time, because we can’t have you know, people just randomly not being able to support the clients handle the phone, queues, whatever the case may be, it’s the same as if somebody just got sick and left and went home. So we want to make sure that we are predictable, and we’re able to support our clients, and I’m able to help my team. So if I can’t do that on a regular reliable basis, then that person may need to come back into the office.
Allen Edwards 30:38
So my assumption is, I mean, this, this, come back to the office and obviously be as some sort of hybrid model. But if you’re fully remote, then when you talk about ISP and power issues, I guess this comes down to a simple discipline issue, your requirements are to make these things happen. If you’re not in a lot of the
Brook Lee 30:58
if you are in the same tail is the employer, you know, if we’re all in Savannah, working together, and I’m working from home, and I keep having problems, Allen is my supervisors gonna say, hey, Brooke, you’re gonna have come back to the office, you know, this is just not working out, we need to come up with another game plan. If you’re all of your employees are remote, and they’re scattered across the United States. At that point, we would recommend that you start the coaching plan, where you’re just sort of having a conversation again, is it repeated behavior? What can we do to help you to need to get a better ISP service? Do you need to switch? We always want to take the positive outlook, and what can we do to help this employee, make sure that they have everything that they need to be able to successfully work from home? So you want to take the positive approach, and do what you can to help but then, like I said, if we keep having issues over and over again, then it’s going to need to turn into a disciplinary issue at some point. Thank you for that answer your question. Sorry.
Allen Edwards 31:49
It does. Okay. Michael? Hart.
Michael C. 31:52
Sorry, it should also be part of the company’s business continuity plan. Yeah, whether they the company installs firewalls with cellular backup, or issues, laptops or whatever it, they really need to back that into their business continuity plan. Yes, sir.
Allen Edwards 32:08
Absolutely. Now, there’s a there’s the whole risk reward factor that if you have 20 employees working remotely, and one of them goes down? Is it worth the cost times 20? To have a backup internet for everybody? Or is the risk better to have 120 of the company networking? You can do your math on which one makes the most sense.
Brook Lee 32:29
Allen Edwards 32:30
And sometimes, you know, cell phone hotspots good enough for a few hours.
Brook Lee 32:35
Sometimes, um, one of the other things that we need to talk about for work from home is productivity, we’re gonna want to get going to go into these a little bit more in depth. But what is it that we need to make sure that we’re measuring to make sure the person’s productive? Is that utilization? Is it ticket resolution? Is it resolution time on tickets response time, again, whatever we choose, we just got to make sure that it’s documented. It’s been delivered to everybody. So one of the things we want to have is KPIs, metrics, numbers, utilization is a big one, we measure that across the board. And what’s what we recommend to all of the clients that we have at Eureka process. This is the difference of how long you were at work today, minus how many hours you worked on tickets. And then it’s just a math and it’s a percentage, it’s nothing, there’s nothing gray fuzzy about it. It’s a black and white math formula. If you were asking your employees to be 72%, utilized when they were in the office, then you know, Alan’s last gonna gonna ask for 73 for remote employees, again, should not be any different expectation, whatever the utilization percentage is, everybody needs to understand it, they need to know how it works. How do we get that number, making sure all of our time is documented on tickets. And then it’s simple math. And then if this is something that we’re going to talk about, with our employees, should have already been happening before we came to the hybrid or, you know, maybe this all sudden we’re working from home should have already had it in place. But regardless, it’s something that we’re going to need to do now. Because you’re not going to be able to sit at your desk with people that are remote and no, of the person sitting there working. Can’t see them. Yes, sir.
Allen Edwards 34:16
There’s so many important things here that maybe go without saying, but I’ll say them anyways. I mean, KPIs are just as you said, one other form of setting expectations. They should really be in place, even without remote workforce or remote considerations. But if you don’t, now you have to do it. How else are you going to find out if you have technicians having trouble with real time ticketing. Okay, if you’re making a transition if you happen to be making a transition to long term work from home, all right, real time ticketing you have to put in your time as you’re working your ticket, how else can I see what you’re doing? Would you rather have to report separately what you’re doing or me check in with you every five minutes or just put it in the ticket? What you have to do anyway So that helps make sense. And specifically a utilization. There are all sorts of complex formulas, I’ve seen that calculate it. And that is up to you, as long as it’s easy to report via bright gauge, report, an Excel spreadsheet, whatever your utilization metric is. But it can be just as simple as Brooke said,
Brook Lee 35:20
and if yours is more complex, perfectly fine, but you need to be able to explain it to your employees, there’s nothing worse than me being held accountable for a number that I don’t understand how you got that number. So if it’s a lot of spreadsheets, if it’s a lot of pivot table, if it’s a lot of whatever, you need to be able to have a method to explain it to your employees so that I know where you’re getting that number from, if you’re asking me to be accountable for something, I need to understand where that number comes from, so that I can make sure I’m delivering. Um, another one that we use a lot in invoices is a ticket resolution count? How many tickets are we expecting you to solve today, this is much more common on a help desk or a to one or a live answer type situation. Again, the same principle is going to apply if I’m asking you to solve 12 tickets a day, if you’re on the Help Desk, I still need you to solve 12 tickets a day when you’re at the house. Again, just trying to throw out some different KPIs. So you can think about things different way everything’s not tied to utilization. So there’s lots of different ways to slice and dice how we want to measure productivity for our employees. Another one is phone call support, again, much more applicable to a live answer Help Desk type, or somebody that’s on the phones. This one is, is if I get 100 calls a week, and I got five people on that team, everybody should be answered about 20% of the calls. It’s not going to be the same every single week. But if you have one person that’s answering a ton of calls, and one person that’s only answer and 9% of the phone calls, you’re going to need to have a conversation because we want to make sure that everybody’s kind of pulling their weight doing their fair share. So if we’re gonna have a live answer, and people are on the phones, this is another type of a metric that you can measure.
Allen Edwards 36:55
Yes, sir. I think of KPIs as a three to four legged stool. Any one KPI is probably not sufficient to see to tell the whole story because you can, you know, do greater utilization, but fail to answer a single call while you’re on Help Desk. So that’s why I usually find the three to four. And also watch out for the opposite. As a manager or an owner, you probably don’t get a lot of numbers, that’s fine. It’s great to have metrics to help tell you the story or to help manage your team. But it’s just it should just be three to four, where you’re measuring their performance everyday and holding them accountable versus a troubleshooting tool or a way to find problems.
Brook Lee 37:33
Agreed. Alright, the Forgotten metric. One of my favorites, he sets employee satisfaction. This is a metric a KPI, whatever you want to call it. But you need to know how happy your employees are. Because numbers are going to tell you I read an article today that it’s more than 65%. We’re having an issue with retention rate, that seems to be the overriding concern with HR teams, small businesses is Okay, great, we got the employees, how are we going to keep them. So the same thing applies when you have people that are in office, maybe you have some that are remote, maybe you have some that are hybrid, maybe you have a combination of all of these employees. And I have a couple of clients that do that. So we have a you know a big smattering of people that we’ve got to figure out how are we going to make sure that everybody’s happy. Um, there’s a couple of different ways to make sure that we’re taking care of that. The number one thing we recommend is employee check ins. This is where you are having maybe a service manager or an operations manager depending on the layout of your company and how your accountability chart looks. Having regular check ins with your employees, these can be monthly bi weekly. Again, it’s however you want to slice and dice it but it needs to be regular, it needs to be recurring, and you need to not skip it. The check ins are important for a couple of different reasons. A you want to make sure that you know the the metrics are being hits, the person is being accountable for their job, they’re being productive, they’re doing what they need to do to be part of the team. Another important piece of this is you need to check in on the employee. When Alan and I teach check ins the first part of the check in for me is all about me checking on the employee and telling them you’re giving me feedback as well. I always do the metrics at the end. Because I need to know how are you doing? How’s work going? How are you working from home? How is the transition? You know, how are you know, the family life that people have to come up with childcare? You know, asking those questions because I care about them as an employee. They’re not just a number on the metric. Yes, that’s part of the things that I need to use to make sure that they’re accountable for their role, but I’m concerned about them as an employee. We had a client that due to the lockdown for the state that they were in, everybody had to go home and work remotely. This particular company, this MSP, they had a lot of single people who Then at home by themselves all the time. And we saw a spike in people that appeared to, I’m not gonna say fully depressed, but they were not very vocal anymore in the chats, when you talk to them, they just didn’t seem to have that same energy. So working remotely and being isolated was an issue for them. And by having those check ins, we were able to recognize that pretty early, a couple of them, we recommended them to go into some counseling. And then as soon as it opened back up, where we can bring maybe a couple of people back in the office, based on the space and social distancing, those people were now at the top of our list to get them back into the office so that they had that atmosphere, so they weren’t isolated at home. But the only reason that we knew that is because we were doing the check ins and actually checking on employees to make sure that they were doing okay,
Allen Edwards 40:45
maybe this is an important corollary, maybe the manager has to be noisy too. For the remote workers. I don’t mean like nitpicking nagging, but just like, Hey, how you doing? Check it in, I haven’t been.
Brook Lee 40:57
And I recommend to do. Yes, I messaged people in slack and teams or whatever, but I do a ton of video calls. I want people to see my face and need to see their face and ask how they’re doing and you know, have that sort of interaction, even if it’s virtual, so that you’re not feeling isolated by yourself. So I completely agree, it’s definitely on the service manager, you know, service coordinator operations person to make sure that you are also checking in on people and being noisy and you just don’t leave them kind of out there on an island by themselves.
Allen Edwards 41:30
Every now and then I will go a whole day back to my meetings. I’m like, man, I haven’t seen Adam burger Veronica in a day or two. And I have to stop myself and go, Hey, how’s it going? By the way, I have an opening at x time, we’d love to chat, just to make that connection during the week.
Brook Lee 41:47
And Eureka process. We have a couple of meetings on Friday that are internal. One of them is we work on internal processes. But a lot of times that’s just for the four of us, maybe we haven’t seen or talk to each other all week except in teams. So it’s, you know, maybe the first 15 or 20 minutes, we’re just kind of, Hey, how’s it going and haven’t seen it a couple days? How’s your week? You know, what are you doing this weekend just to try to make that connection and still feel like you have that office camaraderie that sometimes gets lost when you go into that remote environment.
Allen Edwards 42:15
I was actually recommending to a client today that you know, you have a lot of great structured meetings, they follow our process are doing well. Maybe you need an hour a week of unstructured meeting, like just get together and say hi, and what’s going on? What are you thinking it can be business related, that’s fine. But give it a chance to go off the rails as well. Obviously, we’re a bit highly processed here. So I have a tendency to be a little too on the rails.
Brook Lee 42:39
Um, another way that we can work on employee satisfaction is virtual team building. I am going to let Veronica and Adam and Allen weigh in on this one because they did a virtual team building events with the little Oculus quest things. So do you guys want to talk about that? And I know whatever the Oculus quest thing, but still, you can talk about it and kind of how it went and what y’all did? And if it was something that we might recommend other people. Ah,
Allen Edwards 43:07
so when you said virtual team meeting meeting, you meant virtual reality team building.
Brook Lee 43:13
semantics, do you know what I’m talking about? It’s the things that y’all are wearing. Just talk about it?
Allen Edwards 43:18
Yeah, we, we looked into virtual reality as a method for getting together and collaborating. I think the results were maybe we’re not quite ready for that for what we want to achieve. But I think we had a blast trying to figure it out together, it was almost more like having a 3d puzzle party. Veronica, what were your thoughts.
Veronica Dunn 43:41
Um, it was a lot of fun. I’ve never met Adam in person. But I had the feeling that I was, you know, sitting right next to him, which was very surreal and strange. But it was a lot of fun. And we even have pictures together. And it’s weird and funny. I liked it a lot.
Allen Edwards 44:03
Just sort of looking at a couple of the apps we played with some were really good at working in virtual reality, but not collaborating. And others had this type of collaboration that we weren’t accustomed to. I think what I was looking for was a really cool shared whiteboard, which we did not quite achieve. Um, but it was nice. Adam would sneak up behind me and I would hear his voice coming from back here like, Whoa, how are you doing over there?
Brook Lee 44:30
That is so freaky.
Adam Edwards 44:32
I do think the whiteboard is better in teams. And we use it pretty often to just draw things. But in VR, it was cool to have a different kind of setting like Veronica was saying, and we were near each other and it felt like we were working in a room because we were in the design space, which was pretty cool. But like also other things that we do are, could be virtual team building events where we’re where you know, it’s some Work aversary which was who was Veronica’s recently her work aversary. And then you know, we have been to happy hours in the past. It’s just just a good time to hang out and enjoy each other’s company and and talk. It’s been fun.
Brook Lee 45:15
So when Veronica and Adam and I decided to do this, I decided to go Google and see what is what is everybody else doing for these events? Oh, one that was my favorite was you’re on mute work from home Bingo. I thought this was hilarious. So everybody gets this bingo card at the beginning of the week. And when you hear these things during meetings during the week, then you cover up the bingo card, and then I’m thinking we’re going to give somebody a gift card or something like that. Because these, these phrases may not have been common a year and a half ago, but now they are in Ron Carbone for this before this meeting. And we were just dying, laughing. You know, I’m going to share my screen. Oh, wait, I have a hard stop. Because that’s what Alan says all the time, I got a hard stop at two o’clock, because he always has some meeting to go to. So it’s just kind of funny the terminology. Another one that I found was the virtual teams, you don’t know what I’m talking about. Another one is a virtual team scavenger hunt. This is maybe where you’re asking people to find things online. Again, just another way to kind of jazz things up, a lot of this is going to depend on you knowing your employees, and what they’re gonna think is fun and not fun. Some people are gonna go kicking and screaming and not want to do it. But if you throw some prizes behind it, you might be able to get people involved. And then they might realize that it might be fun. And then we did the virtual reality one test drove that that was pretty cool. Another one is the sort of virtual happy hour after work. Maybe you get everybody on a zoom, I have a client that does virtual game nights. There’s an app that they use, and they’ll go do I think they played clue last month, like the board game, but it’s available virtually. So everybody was able to join in, and they had a big game of clue with the company. So there’s lots of different ways to do it. So be creative. It’s nobody’s, nobody’s going to die. If we play mute, you know, work from home Bingo. And you might be able to find some people that are gonna think that it’s fun. And again, just to let people know that you’re trying to think outside of the box, and you’re trying to come up with different ways to make them be engaged with their other employees that may not be in the building with them. virtual team scavenging. Okay,
Allen Edwards 47:13
team, let’s go and look in our ticketing system to see for timing, give me the last tickets there. You find it you win, just stop.
Brook Lee 47:23
That’s not how this works. Okey doke. So who has questions, who has feedback? Who has comments? This is a free for all. You can ask anything and everything. And we’re pretty much an open book here at Eureka process. And we will share any of our experiences or advice. If somebody has questions. Do we have anything on any of the groups, Veronica that anybody submitted? Any questions? so far? No. Okay. Michael, you got anything for us today? Any questions?
Michael C. 47:56
I don’t think any questions, I find it very helpful, especially with some of the virtual stuff I hadn’t thought of. We thought we wanted to do it, I want to try and figure out ways to spice things up like that. But you know, we’ve looked at the virtual learning, you know how to implement something like that kind of doing a round robin with the different employees. So each meeting, they’ll have a little section where they will teach something, a teaching moment.
Brook Lee 48:31
I have a client that does that. So once a week, it’s a virtual learning. So everybody joins in, it’s usually one of the senior engineers, people kind of just throw things in a virtual bucket. You know, I got stuck on this. I don’t really know how to do this. And then that team will pick a topic to teach once a week. I was also going to say the the prizes. Sometimes that will get people to come to things don’t always do something virtually, yeah, you can give them a virtual gift card. People love getting stuff in the mail. I don’t care what they say people love seeing ups come up and they have some box of stuff for them. We did a contest at a client that Alan and I worked with, it’s in the Midwest and they had a contest and we ended up sending them a box of sweet treats from Savannah River Street sweets here in Savannah. So we sent them a big box of candy and cookies and things like that as the prize for the team that won the contest for so you can always do stuff personally. But again, people love getting stuff in the mail. So you know if there’s anything that you can do like that, that’s also a cool thing to add to it.
Allen Edwards 49:31
We’ve had one client in the West Coast to this is really mid pandemic, they, the service manager delivered a pizza to every single employee in person at a five minute chat to the window through the door. They went above and beyond, above and beyond a bit extreme but you know so as being in the middle of a pandemic a bit extreme. So I don’t know if you can do that all the time. And that was definitely the right place the right time. That’s awesome. Our policy Here’s four worker bursaries, we have a pizza party, and Veronica goes to the hell of scheduling four simultaneous pizzas to arrive. And trying to do one of those in Canada at that, which is quite challenging.
Brook Lee 50:14
We Eureka process, we are all virtual. We live all over the United States, and one of us is in Canada. So, yep, the guy in the yellow jacket. Um,
Allen Edwards 50:25
so we are not explains on I’m an American, though I just happen to be living in Canada.
Brook Lee 50:31
Yeah, he’s from here. He’s from Savannah, a little town outside of here called Richmond Hill. But he’s been splitting between Canada and Mexico for a couple of years now. Um, so we’re all the time trying to think of different ways to make sure that everybody’s communicating. And again, I would much rather just do a quick zoom call or a team’s call, and hammer out a question and issue somebody not understanding something, then send a ton of emails or a bunch of messages back and forth in slack or teams, Adam and Veronica, we do it a lot, Alan, we’ll see. I’m just like, dude, I have no idea what you’re asking me, can we just like chat with him, let’s just hop on a call and get it done. So I do think that you need to make sure that you’re having plenty make the time to make those video calls, even though it’s an extra step to make the video call, I think it has a big impact.
Allen Edwards 51:18
Yeah, I’ve actually been shocked to see as a recent occurrence, how many of my, my clients I’m meeting with, and none of the employees have video cameras. And they’re, you know, some of these are multi site locations, even if they’re all in the office have different offices and like this is a big personal touch in a relatively inexpensive purchase. So that’s a piece and Brooke I maybe we should add to this conversation, the always on portal idea and the pros and cons of that one. portal, where there was a video conference running 24 seven, or maybe.
Brook Lee 51:54
Um, so we have a client, that all of the employees minus two are remote. And when I say remote, they’re scattered across the world. This clients when I first went to go help them a couple years ago, they start a virtual office meeting in the morning, and it runs all day long. Everybody has a separate monitor, it runs constantly. So if I get up from my desk to go to the restroom or get a water, people can look and see that I’m not sitting in my chair. So clearly, Brooke is not available to chat because she’s not sitting there. When I first came to work, I thought, Man, this is super stinking weird. And then once I got the hang of it, I was like this is the best thing since sliced bread. Because you can clearly see when I’m not at my desk, and when I’m on a call, or when somebody is working with a client, they just hit the mute button. And then the rest of us can continue to chat. So if there was some news thing from the night before a football game, and we it’s just it’s the same as us just kind of sitting in a common area together having a conversation. I really, really liked it. I wish more people did it. Again, it took a while for me to get used to it. But once I got the hang of it, I absolutely love that concept.
Allen Edwards 52:59
So we don’t use that internally for us. And it’s strictly because like for me, I’m on another video call seven hours a day, and the restaurant a varying amount of calls as well. So it’s been more difficult, even though we’re still considering it. What about those? Some folks have been resistant that like Oh, they feel like we’re spying on them? How do you respond to I understand the sentiment, but that’s not what it’s about or how it’s used.
Brook Lee 53:26
I agree. And I think it’s it’s got to come from it’s got to come from the top. It’s got to come from ownership leadership, that that’s not what this is about. And that same concept applies to people that when they’re thinking that we ask them to put in time entries that I’m micromanaging you I’m not I just need to know what you did what you did. So if something happens, we can go fix it so that I can send the right bill, whatever. So to me that the same sort of mentality applies. And the reason I’m saying this, because I was a client last week, and a lot of people thought that the reason I’m asking for time entries is because I want to micromanage their work, and say, Oh my gosh, you spent 10 minutes too long on this particular ticket. That’s not why I’m asking for this time entry. I’m asking it because we need to document we need to have change management, I need to be able to build correctly, etc. The video thing, I think it has the same mentality. I’m not there to micromanage. I just want to be there. So if somebody needs something, you can just, hey, Brooke, I got a question. You know, do you have time for me? And I can say yep, I got a call in five minutes. And then I can help you. It’s making sure that we’re setting the tone that it’s a collaborative environment and not a micromanaging environment. So you want to make sure if you’re the manager, the operations manager, and you see me get up and go somewhere and come back, I don’t get some messages says Brooke I saw you out of your your deals from 11 to 1102. Okay, I went to get a drink of water you need to be careful and you know, walk that line with caution.
Allen Edwards 54:47
I think that’s a lot of what the KPIs help with as well. Right. You have expectations to meet that are well defined, easy to measure. If those are met, it’s okay if they’ve gone from 11 to 11. No to exactly. I don’t even have to Give you a reason as far as I’m concerned. Nope.
Brook Lee 55:04
And again, it’s it’s a trust relationship, the biggest part of making sure that everybody’s on the same page with the trust is making sure that we have everything documented, make sure that we’ve got the policies in place and make sure that it’s been delivered and understood by all and allow people to ask questions, because I wrote the ESOP, maybe it makes sense to me, but when I’m delivering it, maybe a couple people like this is kind of fuzzy, I don’t really understand what you’re saying here. No reason for me to get defensive about it. If those two people don’t understand it, more than likely somebody else is not going to either, how can I make it more clear? How can I deliver it in a manner in this document or in person so that it’s very clear what we’re doing? The processes that we are using the work from home policies, the KPIs that we have, all of those are available, Veronica, is when we get done with this particular webinar, she will send those out via email. So we’re making all of those things available to everybody. So you have all of the information that we have.
Adam Edwards 56:02
Note on the set and visibility. I thought it was interesting that from a manager’s perspective, you want to know where your employees are, what they’re doing, what they’re working on how much time you’re spending on things. So you wanted those metrics to help run your business. As from the employees perspective, they want to know that they can reach their manager that they can get questions answered, they know what’s expected of them. They have a proper, like policies like this in place, so they understand what their expectations are for working in home and understand the ins and outs of their jobs that they are responsible for and being held accountable to. So it kind of works both ways, where everybody just wants a little bit of communication and understanding around. This is what we’re doing. And this is why we’re doing it. If they’re responsible for KPI, how can they affect change to that number? And it’s it just seems interesting to me that in both directions, people are just looking for communication. It’s pretty cool. I frequently hear when I when I see some some negative reset scores or negative employee satisfactions. I just want to know if I’m doing a good job. Yep. We tend to manage by exception, that’s human nature. And it’s efficient. Frankly, it’s not effective. But it’s efficient. To just oh, this, this is wrong, let’s fix it. This is wrong. Let’s fix it. And we don’t tell them you’re doing a good job. And KPIs and metrics can help with that, like, hey, you’re hitting this number. This is a good job. Thank you.
Michael C. 57:31
What have you seen out there for asset tracking, I know c sat is pretty mature.
Brook Lee 57:38
One software application that’s a common amongst a couple of people that we consult with is a tool called tiny pulse. I think Alan and I have used that before as well and another MSP that we were at, um, it sends out you can customize emails, and it goes out to various employees, you can ask, you know, whatever questions you want, there’s an app available on the phone. So there’s a lot of different ways to do it. And one of the big questions is, How happy are you at work? We asked that one once a month. So there’s an application for that. I have another client that has a, I don’t want to it’s not a mailbox, but it’s where you can submit a virtual feedback and it’s anonymous. So they have an internal tool for that. The tiny pulse the one of the reasons I like it is because it’s 100% anonymous, if Alan sends out a tiny pulse and ask everybody Hey, how was last month, and I reply back last month stank, I hated it. I didn’t like this, that the other, unless I put my name on it, he has no way of knowing if it was me if it was added if it was Veronica, it’s an anonymous way to be able to give feedback, both positive and negative. But I think a lot of it is is you have to develop the culture of wanting the feedback. Because if you don’t have the culture, no matter what, in my opinion, no matter what tool you use, it’s not going to work. If we haven’t developed the culture of we want your feedback. We can’t act on everything. But 100%. I want to hear stuff that you’ve got to say,
Allen Edwards 59:05
I think crew who does that too. I’m sure there’s other reset tools.
Brook Lee 59:09
There’s probably a ton out there. So I’m familiar with,
Allen Edwards 59:14
as Brook was alluding to priority when it comes to an employee satisfaction measuring tool is anonymity. And workload. How much extra work are you asking them for? To do it so well, like about tinypulse? as it tries to ask you one through 10 question, it should take about 60 seconds or less once a week to give your feedback. Some of them are a little bit longer, and you get a less response rate than those. And to get anonymity you typically have to have a certain number of people, usually at least five, I would even recommend 10 or more before that becomes powerful. And if you ask for feedback, you have to address it or you’re actually going to erode culture further. Absolutely. Sometimes Sometimes addressing it as I look. I see your concerns. I can’t fix this right now. And this is why, okay, well, that’s the beginning to address the concern versus just ignoring it and doing nothing about it. Why do we even bother filling this out? Another big point is the best cultures, the best companies do not require such a tool. If you truly have to weigh bidirectional feedback, no sense adding this tool to the mix. But if you’re having trouble getting there, start with this. It’s a great public forum to show people. I’ve asked, you spoke, I listened and we acted. I think both those tools have ways of marking like, oh, here’s a suggestion somebody gave us. Here’s what we did about it. So that you can actually see progress over time and get those those
Brook Lee 1:00:45
four that we started using was the Kaizen board that we tried one time,
Allen Edwards 1:00:49
though, which board
Brook Lee 1:00:50
the Kaizen board to Kanban board? No, I thought it was the Kaizen board where you could have sticky notes and you would put sticky notes on there, and people would, you know, the leadership team would move them along, and you didn’t have to sign them, you could just put a sticky note with an idea. And
Allen Edwards 1:01:04
it sounds similar to Canva. And the idea of being there are lanes of progress. And you can take the sticky note, move it from left to right, showing progress is being made ending and complete.
Brook Lee 1:01:15
If you have an office for the people that are watching today, if you’re going back to an office, that’s also an option. There’s also virtual options for those type boards where people can anonymously put up a suggestion or complaint or a Hey, it’d be cool if we have this kind of a thing. So there there are virtually as well as available, like a physical board if you’re going to do something in office.
Allen Edwards 1:01:35
Right. Again, the key is anonymity.
Brook Lee 1:01:39
One of the things that we did not not at a time we did not talk about today is if you’re going to ask people to fully come back into the office, and things worked well remotely. I think we need to explain why. If you’re asking your employees to come back to the office 100% everybody worked remotely from home 100% clients were served, nothing happened you everything went along swimmingly. And now you’re asking people to come back into the office, I think you as an owner, you need to give some sort of explanation as to why you’re asking your employees to do that. Because if I work remotely from home, and everything went great, and I was more productive than I was before, why do I have to come back? That would be my question to Allen, if I was my supervisor, why are you making me come back? I worked well, I was not an on site person before. So why do I have to come back?
Allen Edwards 1:02:28
So a, obviously, if we had the KPIs in place, I wouldn’t, I would have empirical evidence that she’s actually working better. So I would make that decision. Mostly. Some that I’ve heard is like, Hey, we need to collaborate with the team, or we’re not getting the mentoring of our junior text language like
Brook Lee 1:02:46
never whatever the reason is, you want to communicate just like we were talking about, Alan mentioned about the communication, if you’re going to make a change, to go back to the way you were before, or you’re going to have a hybrid thing. Make sure you’re communicating the why as much as you can, when we put a metric in place, anywhere that we consult with, I always explain the why when I start measuring something, I explained the why. And I explained to all the engineers and technicians, how am I getting this number, there’s no reason for me to hide it, there’s no reason for me to not tell you where the number comes from, I’m asking you to be accountable for it. So in the same respect, if somebody is asking you to change how you’re working, just I mean, doesn’t have to be the old the nuts and bolts, but tell them why we’re asking them to come back. I think another thing is to consider the hybrid environment, I think a lot of people that I’ve talked to, that were not full remote before are moving to that model. Um, maybe I’m a tier two tier three engineer and I’ve got to do some project heavy lifting, so I’m gonna maybe have to physically be in the office. So I schedule it maybe two days a week, I work from home three days, I’m in the office, so that you still offer people that kind of work life balance, that’s on the bingo card, because I think that was a lot of people, when they started working from home realize that that was a balance they had of being able to be at home and seeing your kids go off on the school bus or come back or you know, do other things like that. And you’re still meeting your KPIs and everything else. So how can we make it work for everybody work for the leadership of the company work for our clients and work for the employee? So what kind of a solution? Can we even if you got a patchwork something together what works best for y’all one size does not fit everybody?
Allen Edwards 1:04:23
I think the biggest question that I’ve seen that I honestly don’t have a good answer for yet is what do I do with my office space? It companies are generally still growing like gangbusters hiring, hiring, hiring. Many of them still have offices and even if they’re in a hybrid model that they like to bring the team together from time to time at least. Well, how do you plan your office space for when you normally have 20 people in the office at a time but you have 40 staff and you wanna bring them together from point to point?
Brook Lee 1:04:53
That’s a question we got to hammer out. Yeah,
Michael C. 1:04:57
we do have that that going on with us. You Because deliveries are a big problem, and we have people working from home, but I have an empty office, but yet deliveries need to be made. Can you ship that stuff to the employees house? Which are dead set against? Or where? How do you get the product in their hands? And the other question that surprised me that I thought was really a slam dunk is just asking them what they prefer. It never occurred to me that I could have somebody working at home that doesn’t prefer to work at home, they want to be back in the office.
Brook Lee 1:05:33
I did hear that from a lot of people, a lot of employees and people that I’m actually interviewing for the screening. They’re asking, Hey, is this full remote? Or can I go to the office because some people know, I don’t work well, remotely, I had several people that were like, I just don’t, I’m not productive at home, I prefer to be in an office. And I work better that way. So I think that’s a wonderful way to approach it is just to talk to your beliefs, and see if you can get some feedback and use that to make some decisions. doesn’t play well with others.
Adam Edwards 1:06:03
But there’s also there’s also a few weird cases where people fight coming back to the office. And as soon as they get there, they’re like, Oh, wait, I missed this. This is great. Yeah, a couple of examples of this my previous MSP, that I worked for it. There, they were on a hybrid model for as long as I was there. So the, probably seven, eight years ago, they were already in this hybrid model, their technicians were on a weekly or two week or bi weekly rotation. So it’d be two weeks in the office two weeks off. So we’d have different shifts of technicians coming in. And then anybody that was an admin position, would usually be in the office two to three times a week. And then working remote the rest of the time, we did have get togethers at least once a month where we bring everybody into the office. So we didn’t need as much office space. As as you know, normal company wanted, everybody was on site. And you had to plan for that. We also shared an office with one of our clients. So there were some, you know, common spaces, and we had to be respectful of them, and their space. So it was a compromise all around. But it did kind of work. The issue was when we started growing, and we we started acquiring more and more inventory in our office, then we did need a place to store that. And we had to accommodate this growth that we were going through. So you know, I was a service manager at the time. And I gladly gave in my office to put a couple technicians and I was like you guys are billable resources you guys coming in. So I would just kind of like float around wherever there was an available desk, and we kind of made it set up that way everybody had laptops, there was docking stations to just pop down. You have to be intentional about it. But it is possible if you’re trying to kind of grow into this. We ended up sacrificing a couple offices for that inventory. As we’re crying, acquiring larger and larger clients, their equipment would come into our office and we need a place to put it in store, keep it safe, and get it configured before it got shipped out again. That’s my long term investments at four years, I think now’s the time to buy commercial office space. Okay.
Brook Lee 1:08:17
All right, we’re getting we’re close on time here. So I want to do some housekeeping things for Veronica. Our next it dog webinar is going to be August 25. Ray Orsini is going to be there from YT voice. I don’t think we have a topic yet. But we would love to encourage everybody to sign up on zoom. You’ll be able to vote in the polls via the zoom app. You’ll get some updates from us early so you know what’s going on. And Veronica is going to have some kind of cool prize for the next one. So I’m pretty stoked about that.
Allen Edwards 1:08:49
Yeah, so I work with with Ray and many other MSP vendors on a Slack channel, we communicate back and forth. And I heard that Ray was the king of process and his company that he’s growing for the last 10 years. And so I he and I are going to talk about exactly that. Like how do you build processes into any business and what does that gain you? I actually hear he just started a four day workweek himself.
Brook Lee 1:09:15
See, I’m thinking like jeopardy. I’m gonna you know, Veronica is gonna have questions y’all are gonna buzz in and that’s how we’re gonna determine who’s king of process. All right,
Allen Edwards 1:09:22
I like it. Oh, crap, competitive. Your study.
Brook Lee 1:09:26
Say that should get you moving. Um, also, if you have ideas, things that you would like for us to put on for an IT that webinar by all means, send us an email, Eureka Eureka process comm just like we want to get feedback from our employees, we love to get feedback from all of the members that we have in that group. So if you have something you would like us to tackle or dive into, or go get some more information on and deliver it to the group, please send us an email. We would love to hear about that. Veronica, anything else? Great. Thank you. Any question? Sir, any comments before we wrap up for today? Thank you guys. I really appreciate it. All right, we will see y’all next month and everybody that attended virtually live on Facebook. Thank you very much. We appreciate it. And we’ll see you all in August.
Allen Edwards 1:10:15
Hasta la vista
ITDUG is a Facebook group for sharing tips and tricks for documenting IT systems using any documentation platform. Recommended for IT Service providers, including internal IT departments.
The group originated by Tracy Hardin, IT/MSP owner in 2018 to co-learn ITGlue and later adapted it into a forum for all IT documentation platforms. Shortly thereafter, Eureka Process joined as co-admins. ITDUG now has over 3000 members and growing!
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