Friday Faves is our weekly blog series highlighting a few select pieces from the REG team’s reading lists. You can catch up on past Friday Faves on the archive

5 behavioural biases that trip up remote managers

Anne says: Many of us are still working remotely and will continue this pattern for quite some time. While people have adapted reasonably well under the circumstances, apparently managers of remote teams haven’t fared as well. We’ve mentioned workplace surveillance in previous Friday Fave posts, with various strategies deployed to keep tabs on people – just to make sure they’re sitting in front of their computers – but this article highlights further issues related to biases that impact remote managers. It’s important to remember that workplace bias is not new, however according to the article, applied to the remote context, many can be amplified and cause further errors of judgement.

The authors highlight 5 common biases that can be influenced by working in distributed teams. The main value the article offers is how to counteract these issues with practical advice.

Here’s a brief overview:

  1. Confirmation bias
    A tough one to overcome at the best of times. Working remotely means it’s harder to get feedback on ideas or get exposed to other people’s views. Apart from talking to yourself, the recommendation is to actively seek evaluation from others and really confront your decisions and motivations.

  2. Attribution bias
    I can understand how this can occur in remote working situations, where we attribute behaviours without taking into account the context or situation. The counteraction advises us to slow down and think about what might be happening for others in their situation. Avoid jumping to conclusions. What it doesn’t say is talk to each other – I would have expected this to be a useful strategy!

  3. Groupthink
    Groupthink is challenging in video-conference meetings. After we’ve experienced a dose of Zoom fatigue, it’s easier to just not speak up. The key recommendation here is to collaborate outside of meetings. Create specific areas where groups can share ideas and feedback before and after video hookups.

  4. In-group effect
    Another particularly difficult challenge for distributed teams – when new starters have never met or interacted with a team who already have established relationships from previous workplace contexts. The suggestions for onboarding and supporting new team members require effort and imagination – and concerted effort from everyone.

  5. Peak-end effect
    This was not a bias I was familiar with – the focus on recent effort and in most cases meetings that are convened to present deliverables or results. The bias occurs when it doesn’t acknowledge or distorts the effort that has gone into the project. When teams are co-located, this effort is visible through daily interactions. However, remote work can make this work invisible and only pay attention to the outcomes. The authors suggest regular performance evaluations and offering different ways of working.

In addition to all the above strategies, I would like to strongly recommend that the use of collaborative technologies and making your drafts and work in progress visible to the project team members will also provide transparency and the opportunity to gain feedback on concepts. This approach requires an intentional approach to working collaboratively, not just remotely and a reduction of reliance on continual video meetings.

As some people return to the office and work alongside their teams, I hope they’re provided with the time to reflect upon how aspects of working remotely were effective and what wasn’t constructive – including reviewing how these biases may have impacted your perspectives of others.

Read: https://hbr.org/2021/06/5-behavioral-biases-that-trip-up-remote-managers

It’s time to reimagine the future of work. Here are 5 ways to do it

Jakkii says: If the pandemic and everything that has come with it isn’t a driver to reimagine the future of work, it’s hard to envision what would be. While the great divide between frontline workers (broadly, essential workers) and desk-based, non-frontline workers has never been more stark, one thing the pandemic has clearly demonstrated is that we have the technology and the capacity to work from home – or, where it’s safe to do so, from almost any other location besides the physical office. Whether we want to, individually, or whether we would prefer to be in the office or some mix of options that suits our needs and the needs of the work we’re undertaking, now is the time to reimagine what work looks like in our teams and in our organisations.

The new ways of working often shattered long-held beliefs that virtual work wasn’t possible. Culture doesn’t exist within walls; it exists in interactions. If anything, culture became more pronounced as people worked differently this past year. Employees felt the true experience of what was encouraged, reinforced, or discouraged through virtual exchanges.

In this article on Fast Company, which focuses on reimagining work within our teams, the author takes the view that the past year (or so) affords us an opportunity now to take stock of what we have learned from our forced remote work – just as Anne discusses above. Whilst here in Australia many people have been already back in the office at least some of the time, I think the point remains as pertinent here as it does in the US (where the author lives) and in other countries that are just starting to find a path back into the office, not least because we are a long way from being fully vaccinated and we continue to see snap lockdowns like the two-week lockdown in Victoria that ended only last night.

While the headline suggests 5 ways to do it, I’d argue the piece only offers 3, as the first two “ways” are to not make assumptions and to involve your colleagues. They’re not methods, rather they form a basis from which to reimagine work, together. The author suggests:

  1. Inquire and reflect with individual check-in conversations

  2. Dedicate time for team reflection

  3. Define team norms for hybrid or virtual work

Nothing especially revolutionary there, though the author does propose five questions to explore under each of these, which I think are useful to give some structure and a framework for discussion and ‘reimagining’. Underpinning this, in my view, is taking an empathetic approach that seeks to understand the experience of employees and use that understanding to shape what comes next. This is, at its core, how we work in all our projects with clients and why we stress the need for research, even when (and sometimes especially when) organisations believe they know their people. Contextualised data, particularly contextualised qualitative data, allows for better decision making because we are able to make decisions based on evidence, not assumptions.

Seek to understand, then work together to define the next normal or the future of work for your teams. And, of course, get in touch if you need a hand with doing so, we’d love to chat further!

Read: https://www.fastcompany.com/90644843/its-time-to-reimagine-the-future-of-work-here-are-5-ways-to-do-it

Friday Fives

Hybrid workplace and the future of work

Remote work and the digital workplace

Communication, collaboration, engagement, and culture

Community management, moderation and misinformation

Accessibility

Privacy and data

Bonus: 10 years of data breaches in one image

Big Tech, tech and regulation

Social media

Extras

This is interesting: How pizza took over our freezers

Things that make you go hmmm: Welcome to Planet Egirl

Space: Europe will join the space party at Planet Venus

Podcast: Is there actually any benefit to being yourself online?

Friday playlist: Funk & Soul classics

Sydney Business Insights – The Future, This Week Podcast

This week: what do cabbages, eyes, cows and electric vehicles have in common? Stories of innovation and emerging industries on The Future, This Week.

Sandra Peter (Sydney Business Insights) and Kai Riemer (Digital Disruption Research Group) meet once a week to put their own spin on news that is impacting the future of business in The Future, This Week.

The stories this week

10:14 – Scientists turn cabbage into construction material stronger than concrete

14:25 – Scientists partially restored a blind man’s sight with new gene therapy

17:39 – The hunt for the master cow that will feed the world

27:58 – Electric vehicle startups hit speed bumps after raising tons of cash

Listen: https://sbi.sydney.edu.au/emerging-innovation-with-cabbages-eyes-cows-and-evs-on-the-future-this-week/


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