Research shows that office workers cannot concentrate at their desks. By Brian de HaaffCo-founder and CEO, Aha!
Have you seen any of these gimmicky office designs? Candy dispensers in conference rooms. Hammocks and indoor treehouses. Tech companies tend to be the worst offenders with the startup favorites: beer taps and table tennis.
Maybe there is fun for a moment when the candy bar drops — but does all that money spent on gimmicks deliver anything meaningful for the people who work there?
I have to wonder why company founders are trying so hard with these in-office “perks.” I get that the goal is to create collaboration and fun. But I think this is doing more harm than good. And research shows that the problem is only getting worse.
In fact, one study found that the number of people who say they cannot concentrate at their desk has increased by 16 percent since 2008. Also startling: The number of workers who say they do not have access to quiet places to do focused work is up by 13 percent.
It should not matter where people are getting the work done — as long as they are focused and working hard each day. This is one of the reasons why we founded Aha! on the premise and promise of remote work. Remote work is working for us. We are one of the fastest-growing software companies in the U.S. and a 100 percent distributed team.
I am not alone in this belief. Plenty of studies and surveys show the power of remote work when it comes to productivity.
Here are three reasons remote workers outperform office workers:
With no office distractions and greater autonomy, remote workers have the freedom to get more done. This is something most people crave. According to a nationwide survey, 65 percent of workers said that remote work would give their productivity a boost. Another 86 percent said that working alone allows them to hit maximum productivity.
Despite the distance, remote workers make the best teammates. This is because that distance demands more communication. Without being able to lean on physical proximity, remote workers must reach out to one another frequently and with purpose. This leads to stronger collaboration and camaraderie. And all those long-distance video chats? An astounding 92 percent of workers say the video collaboration actually improves their teamwork.
Office life is littered with absences — workers who are calling in sick or sneaking out early to run an errand or get to an event on time. But remote workers do not need to make excuses. Since they are not tied to an office, they can design their workday to meet the demands of their lives. If they have a cold, they can work from home without spreading the germs to others. And if they need to run an errand, they can handle it quickly without losing a workday. This ultimately makes remote workers more present for their work and team.
These are just a few of the reasons that I say the most effective workers are the ones who do not work in an office. Remote workers are able to cut through the noise and focus on what really matters: meaningful work and being happy doing it.
No beer taps or hammocks necessary.
Remote workers or office workers — who do you think is more effective?
Last modified: October 2, 2018
Sarah K. White – Senior Writer, CIO | FEB 21, 2018
Growth and change are inevitable in IT, but transformational leadership can inspire workers to embrace change by fostering a company culture of accountability, ownership and workplace autonomy.
What is transformational leadership?
Transformational leadership is a leadership style in which leaders encourage, inspire and motivate employees to innovate and create change that will help grow and shape the future success of the company. This is accomplished by setting an example at the executive level through a strong sense of corporate culture, employee ownership and independence in the workplace.
Transformational leaders inspire and motivate their workforce without micromanaging — they trust trained employees to take authority over decisions in their assigned jobs. It’s a management style that’s designed to give employees more room to be creative, look to the future and find new solutions to old problems. Employees on the leadership track will also be prepared to become transformational leaders themselves through mentorship and training.
Transformational leadership model
The concept of transformational leadership started with James V. Downton in 1973 and was expanded by James Burns in 1978. In 1985, researcher Bernard M. Bass further expanded the concept to include ways for measuring the success of transformational leadership. This model encourages leaders to demonstrate authentic, strong leadership with the idea that employees will be inspired to follow suit.
While Bass’ model dates to the ’70s, it’s still an effective leadership style practiced today — this style of authentic leadership never changes, just the environments it’s used in. It’s applicable across every industry, but it’s especially vital to the fast-paced tech industry where innovation and agility can make or break a company.
Transformational leadership characteristics
According to Bass, these are the hallmarks of a transformational leader that sets them apart from other leadership styles. A transformational leader is someone who:
Encourages the motivation and positive development of followers
Exemplifies moral standards within the organization and encourages the same of others
Fosters an ethical work environment with clear values, priorities and standards.
Builds company culture by encouraging employees to move from an attitude of self-interest to a mindset where they are working for the common good
Holds an emphasis on authenticity, cooperation and open communication
Provides coaching and mentoring but allowing employees to make decisions and take ownership of tasks
For a look at how to draw out your transformational leadership qualities in your resume, see “IT resume makeover: Highlighting transformational leadership.”
Transformational leadership in IT
Although the concept of transformational leadership can apply to every industry — including healthcare, education and government agencies — it’s increasingly important in IT as companies embrace digital transformation. Adapting to rapidly changing technology requires innovation and strong leadership to stay ahead of the curve and to remain competitive.
As leaders in IT, CIOs are responsible for setting the example as transformative leaders — especially considering they’re largely responsible for digital transformation in the business. Gartner reports that 40 percent of CIOs are leaders of digital transformation in their organization, while 34 percent say they’re responsible for innovation. Inspiring and motivating employees is an important puzzle piece when planning out digital transformation, as success depends on everyone buying into and embracing growth and change.
While there is certainly a growing need to keep an eye on the future — whether it’s security, new technology or shifting platforms — not every part of IT will benefit from transformational leadership. Some processes, procedures and development projects require more structure, consistency and reliability; this is called transactional leadership.
Transactional vs. transformational leadership
Transactional leadership is the exact opposite of transformational leadership — it relies on motivating employees through rewards and punishments. It requires supervision, oversight, organization and performance-monitoring. This leadership model doesn’t try to innovate. Instead, it’s rooted in keeping things consistent and predictable over time. Errors and faults are closely investigated, and the overall goal is to create efficient, routine procedures.
This style is best suited to departments or organizations that require routine and structure — areas where businesses want to reduce chaos or inefficiency. But it doesn’t allow for innovation or future planning the same way transformational leadership will.
Transformational leadership, on the other hand, supports agile environments, especially where failure carries less risk. You want the development and maintenance of a current product to remain consistent and error free, but you don’t want that to hinder the progress and growth of future updates and improvements.
Transactional leadership takes care of creating a consistent development process, while transformational leadership leaves people free to come up with new ideas and look at the future of products, services and ideas.
Training and certification
Although transformational leadership skills are considered soft skills, there are still plenty of resources, certificates and training programs aimed at developing transformational leaders. Here’s a short list of online resources to earn training and certifications in transformational leadership. However, it’s likely you can find an in-person training course at a local college or university in your home state.
Georgetown University School of Continuing Studies: Institute for Transformational Leadership
Georgetown University School of Continuing Studies: Certificate in transformational leadership
University of Notre Dame Mendoza College of Business: Executive certificate in transformational non-profit leadership
Coursera: Transformational leadership: Developing others
University of Washington: Bothell School of Business Transformational Leadership Development Programs
The Great Courses: Transformational Leadership: How leaders change teams, companies and organizations
Examples of transformational leaders
Harvard Business Review analyzed companies on the S&P and Fortune Global 500 list to uncover the best examples of transformational leadership. These businesses were judged on “new products, services and business models; repositioning its core business; and financial performance.”
Jeff Bezos, Amazon: Harvard Business Review attribute’s Bezos’ “insider, outsider” status as part of what makes him a great transformational leader. As someone who jumped from the finance world, he brought a fresh perspective to e-commerce through years of experience in a different industry.
Reed Hastings, Netflix: Hastings tied for first alongside Bezos, and for similar reasons. Hailing from the software industry, he wasn’t rooted in pre-established process and procedure in the television industry.
Jeff Boyd and Glenn Fogel, Priceline: Boyd and Fogel reinvented travel reservations by charging lower commission fees on reservations, but focused on smaller niche markets (inns, B&Bs and apartments), eventually spawning Booking.com.
Steve Jobs and Tim Cook, Apple: HBR points to Apple as an example of “dual transformation”: Jobs innovated on original Microsoft products while also building a software ecosystem. Cook has extended on Jobs’ vision, maintaining a focus on innovation, software and brand loyalty.
Mark Bertolini, Aetna: Bertolini is known for his realistic management approach in the healthcare industry. He says his goal is to build strategies around a realistic vision of the future.
Kent Thiry, DaVita: Thiry managed to take a bankrupt company and turn it into a thriving business through firm core values that included “service excellence, teamwork, accountability and fun,” according to Harvard Business Review.
Satya Nadella, Microsoft: Nadella started at Microsoft in 1992 and worked his way up the corporate ladder, eventually running the business’ cloud computing efforts, which landed him the executive position.
Emmanuel Faber, Danone: Faber started out as an architect for Danone and earned the CEO job after he helped develop the company’s vision to turn the company into a sustainable health and nutrition company.
Heinrich Hiesinger, ThyssenKrupp: Hiesinger become CEO of ThyssenKrupp in 2011 and helped alleviate pressure from Asian competitors in the steel market by embracing newer forms of manufacturing, including 3D printing – “new growth areas” that now make up 47 percent of the business’ sales.
Last modified: September 27, 2018
A Bright Future For Learning And Development Is Sparked By New Technology
According to Training Magazine’s 2017 Training Industry Report , the overall training expenditures in the US went up 32.5% to $90.6 billion dollars last year, and learners are getting on average 4 hours more of training than last year.
With these increases, individual companies are spending more per learner — $1,075 compared with $814 in 2016. Companies are getting increasingly serious about their training.
They’re also focusing now, more than ever, on aligning training with business objectives and goals. This means more than simply closing employee skill gaps and making sure employees are up to speed on corporate software — companies are also concerned about bigger issues like leadership succession and organizational change. Over 70% of senior executives responding to a survey by training company ExecSense said that leadership and strategy were their top priorities when it came to executive learning, and 58% of them plan to increase L&D spending in 2018 .
But effective training isn’t just a matter of more dollars in, more knowledge out. To meet these targeted business goals most efficiently, many companies are looking to online training tools and technology — particularly for smaller and mid-sized businesses (SMBs). SMBs spend a higher portion of their budgets on learning technology than larger organizations do, according to the 2017 Training Industry Report.
And that number seems like it will be going up. Of the companies Training Magazine surveyed, 38% anticipate purchasing a Learning Management System in the near future, while 37% anticipate purchasing other online learning tools and systems.
Turning To Technology
Cloud-based LMSs with built-in authoring tools make developing training programs budget-friendly and effective. L&D departments can easily upload existing content and deliver it across a range of devices and platforms, enabling access without the need for costly training seminars. This also lets L&D departments offer “just-in-time” content to keep learners up to date.
But modern LMSs don’t just make it easier to deliver content to learners. The best systems allow L&D departments to take advantage of modern research on how people learn in order to create the most effective lessons. Embedded multimedia, quizzes, and discussion platforms keep the learner interested and encourage them to retain the materials more completely.
Detailed reporting on learner progress allows the L&D team to fine-tune courses. Learner progress reports pinpoint places in the course where learners are struggling, while engagement data provides understanding about how effective certain elements are, such as video content vs interactive text.
All of this creates a more user-friendly course for learners. White labeling allows companies to brand courses for a seamless experience, an application program interface (API) and Single Sign-on (SSO) capabilities let companies implement contextual training across the entire user journey, from awareness to onboarding and retention.
Better ROI For Organizations Of All Sizes
As a result of these developments, we’re seeing a shift in how L&D can be used to grow businesses of all sizes. In the past, multi-channel training programs for the workforce, business partners, prospects, and customers were produced only by huge organizations. Now even small and emerging L&D teams can take advantage of these powerful training opportunities and gain an edge over their competitors.
Because of the advanced nature of available technology, measuring success is much easier. Forward-thinking L&D departments aren’t just analyzing learning metrics like course completions and quiz scores, they’re measuring things like retention, productivity and time to value to demonstrate the return on their training investments.
This is another factor that allows companies to decrease their spending while achieving better results — more accurate reporting tools allow L&D teams to truly understand what’s going on, without having to throw around money to test solutions.
With all these developments happening today — and with more just around the corner — it’s understandable that people are getting excited about the future of Learning and Development.
New tools — with sophisticated new technology under the hood — are making it not only easier for L&D teams to do their jobs, they’re providing opportunities for innovative companies to push ahead of their competition. And as the technology continues to evolve, we predict the future will only grow brighter.
Companies like Airbnb, Lyft, and Shopify are all using innovative training methods to fuel their growth. To learn out how to start training just like them, take a look at The Beginner’s Guide to Creating an Online Training Program.
Last modified: September 20, 2018