I was listening to this podcast while doing some hands on experiments at work and it resonated with me as it points to a few things I have been thinking lately.
First, lets start with clarifying that according to Adam Grant and the people he interviewed, there are three items of importance for well being at work. These are purpose, people and priorities.
Making sure that the team has purpose can be done in several ways. I would highlight making sure that the mission and values (i.e., company culture) are clear and the basis for interaction and decision making. Another way (mentioned in the podcast), which I would welcome dearly, is to give employees the possibility to allocate 10% of their working time to a personal project. For this to make sense to the employer, the “personal-project” cannot interfere with the regular work on company’s projects, and should have the potential of becoming of interest for the company. As crazy as this sounds, there are good examples of side projects that turned out of benefit for the company, such as “Gmail”. For these projects to be useful, people need to earn their manager’s trust before they can embark on a side quest. Also, they need to show commitment and to keep the information flow quite high with a dedicated sponsor and other team members that can establish connections needed to advance the project and help with decision making.
Priorities is also a great topic. On the podcast, it was mentioned that if there are multiple projects that need to be done and enough people with similar characteristics, asking people if they prefer a certain project over other is a great strategy. This flexibility could even be used as a reward to compensate for well delivered goals.
However, the example that really made me think, was that of creating three types of time: quiet time, collaborative time and off-time. Off-time is really the most basic: no work after “working hours”. As for quiet and collaborative time. This becomes complicated in big teams and with new remote-work and 4-day week policies.
Quite time is time dedicated to focused and creative work that should be done in isolation, whereas collaborative time includes meetings and creative time in group, with people who have different backgrounds and experiences.
Combining several things I have been reading and listening to, and without crediting the work, because I tend to remember ideas but not authors, a possible way to ensure a good separation between these two types of time would be by having dedicated days to be in person in the office, such as Tuesday to Thursday during which meetings are scheduled and creative-group work is also schedule. In person time helps with learning/mentoring, and specially with trust development, as mostly these are a product of interactions and we are still hard-wired for face to face interaction. Another good point of this podcast is that everyone needs some predictability and scheduled collaborative time does not kill the creativity that arises from spontaneous interactions. As a bonus, by allowing people to have quite time to advance their projects, it ensures that there is no need to abdicate from “off-time” and that people don’t feel the need to multitask in meetings.
If I think about my work habits. I am still trying to find what would be my preferred way of organising work. But all of this sounds incredible close to it.