Some colleagues have additionally began social video conferences, like logging on whereas consuming lunch to speak. Fridays have been designated no-meeting days, for folks to concentrate on a venture or recharge.
Another problem Microsoft found: When there’s no workplace to go away, the strains between work and life blur. The staff noticed a 52 p.c improve in on-line chats between 6 p.m. and 10 p.m.
For some folks, shifting hours is useful, as a result of they will take time in the course of the day for issues like train or little one care. But managers additionally needed to encourage work-life boundaries. One answer was to make use of a device that permits folks to jot down messages to colleagues that aren’t despatched till the following workday. Another was extra one-on-one conferences between managers and staff — individuals who had these obtained their work finished extra rapidly, most likely as a result of they had been clearer on their priorities, Ms. Williams mentioned.
Companies a lot smaller than Microsoft — just like the Key PR, a public relations agency in San Francisco with 16 staff — have landed on comparable methods. Because its work is in consumer companies and tied to the information, the Key PR can simply fall right into a round the clock schedule, mentioned Martha Shaughnessy, its founder, particularly when work and home are the identical place.
At first they tried letting folks decide their hours, permitting afternoons or complete days off, however discovered it was too laborious to collaborate. Now, they’re proscribing inside conferences to 10 a.m. to three p.m. That interval accommodates folks on each coasts and offers everybody mornings for targeted work and the flexibility to schedule time for little one care and different wants.
They’re additionally making an attempt to interrupt the sample of staff believing they all the time should be obtainable. It’s significantly troublesome for senior management to do, she mentioned. To drive it, for every week in August 1 / 4 of the corporate will take a compulsory week off. When staff return, they’ll begin four-day workweeks. On Fridays, Slack shall be banned and folks will take turns dealing with consumer requests.
“Most things aren’t as urgent as you think; they just happen to be in your inbox,” Ms. Shaughnessy mentioned. “We’ll practice passing the ball entirely from person to person, as opposed to all of us being on all the time.”