Woohoo! Finally, it seems like we’ve reached a turning point. Maybe it’s all that stimulus money flowing, but we are SO ready to get back to normal, albeit a “new” normal.
Along the way, we learned a thing or two about working from home. And rumor has it, many folks are actually MORE productive when they’re not at the office.
Whatever your opinion about the matter, one thing is for sure: IT MSPs have some big decisions to make about what their new normal will look like going forward.
How will the workweek be different? Should employees keep working at home – either partially or completely? No way? Yes? Maybe?
What Happened to All that Work from Home Productivity?
We’re hearing that some workers felt very productive at first. But now, it’s wearing off and those pesky old habits are creeping back in. Or is it life (Kids, Fridge, etc.) creeping back in? Could it be a result of the Hawthorne effect**?
**The Hawthorne Effect, Explained:
The term was coined in 1958 by Henry A. Landsberger when he was analyzing earlier experiments from 1924–32 at the Hawthorne Works (a Western Electric factory outside Chicago). The Hawthorne Works had commissioned a study to see if its workers would become more productive in higher or lower levels of light. The workers’ productivity seemed to improve when changes were made and slumped when the study ended. It was suggested that the productivity gain occurred as a result of the motivational effect on the workers of the interest being shown in them.
This effect was observed for minute increases in illumination. In these lighting studies, light intensity was altered to examine its effect on worker productivity. Most industrial/occupational psychology and organizational behavior textbooks refer to the illumination studies. Only occasionally are the rest of the studies mentioned.
Although illumination research of workplace lighting formed the basis of the Hawthorne effect, other changes such as maintaining clean work stations, clearing floors of obstacles, and even relocating workstations resulted in increased productivity for short periods. Thus the term is used to identify any type of short-lived increase in productivity. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hawthorne_effect
Personally, I think it is all the snacking that is finally catching up with them. If that sounds like you, check out Jill Cruze’s website: https://seekinghealth.org/physician-directory/jill-cruz-2/
Finding a Balance in Productivity
Others are really wrestling with the million-dollar question:
In the new norm, what is the best, most productive balance between working from home vs working from the office?
For me, the reason working from home is more productive is that it is so easy just to step into my home office and do a little more work. This comes across as being more productive, when in actuality it is just working more hours (or at the very least, being productive during commute time).
Yesterday I was talking with an MSP, and Jeff (the Ops Director) and I were brainstorming this very question. For them, there was no drop off in productivity, but they did notice a drop off in collaboration and comradery.
Another client noticed that the morning huddles (read “Mastering the Rockefeller Habits”) were much more efficient when working remotely than when in the office. Everyone is on time and focused on the conversation (or it at least appears to be).
So, what is the best model? Here is what Jeff came up with…
The New Schedule for Working from Home
Mondays: Work from home.
The weekly ticket tidal wave normally happens on Monday. If Techs working from home are more productive, then it makes sense to have them work from home on Monday. Plus, you can recoup some of the drive time on the day you need it most.
Tuesday: Not discussed, but most likely another Work from Home day…
Wednesday and Thursday: Work from the office – but should it be a full day or half-day?
We settle on full days. Why? Because having the Techs pack up their things at noon and drive into the office and then restart their day, just seemed like it would break it up too much.
Besides, there is a chance they would be engaged in something before and not be able to disengage then drive in and reengage from the office. All that would cause too much disruption, and it provides a poor Customer experience. A compromise might be to schedule on-site work in the morning, and then after the onsite engagement, have them come into the office for the afternoon.
Why is having the Techs in the office on Wednesday or Thursday afternoon so important? Well according to another MSP, it is the weekly Wednesday (or Thursday) afternoon ticket killing party.
What this MSP does is block out Wednesday afternoon for working on the Ticket Backlog. It looks like this:
No project work, no normal ticket remediation, no excuses.
Of course, if a Critical request comes in, it will be addressed by someone leaving the party, but other than that, it is all hands on deck!!
The Afternoon Ticket Killing Party Process
The process for the afternoon Ticket Killing party starts with scheduling a Non-Project Ticket Backlog Live Report to run first thing in the morning the day before.
The Live Report shows all the non-project tickets that are over 7 days old, starting with the oldest ticket first. This is sent to all of the IT Service Delivery Team as the list to be worked on the next afternoon.
What’s amazing is that the collaboration, on the best way to remediate, typically starts shortly after the report comes out. Techs seeing their name on the list start thinking about what is needed to complete the engagement.
If they need help, they can reach out to a more experienced Tech to let them know- “Hey, tomorrow in the party we need to talk about this.” Both of them process possible solutions, then in the afternoon they can work together to close the ticket.
The Service Coordinator looks over the list and also sees what can be done to close the Waiting tickets before the party starts. The results: no non-project ticket is over 20 days old.
Note: check your open tickets and see what the average age is – this is huge and something you may want to adopt going forward.
Full Focus Fridays: With a 3rd MSP this week, we discussed Full Focus Fridays, where everyone comes in, focuses on closing open tickets, pizza at lunch and beer at 3 pm (I am in – what about you?). This would also be the day to have a PM meeting, Lunch-n-Learns, collaboration rooms, Mission/Vision/Core Values/Culture/Hedgehog/Flywheel review, etc.
Fridays are more relaxed and after a hard week, typically, some of the afternoon gets blown off. It does not have the Ticket Killing energy/mentality, but it would be a great day to build the comradery and Company community.
A Rundown: A Week in the Life of a Typical MSP
So, what does the week look like?
Depends! Are you looking for a 1 to 4, 2 to 3, 3 to 2, 4 to 1 Work-from-Home to Work-from-Office Ratio? Or do you need something with even more flexibility?
Here are our best recommendations:
- Monday: Mandatory Work from Home.
- Tuesday: Onsite, Office or Work from Home – up to the Employee.
- Wednesday: In the Office and schedule an afternoon non-project ticket backlog killing party – all hands on deck, no excuses!!
- Thursday: Onsite, Office or Work from Home – up to the Employee.
- Full Focus Friday: In the Office and used as a no-email collaboration day; including all the various types of meetings discussed above (and please do not forget the pizza and beer – the Techs sure won’t.).
What are your thoughts? Let me know if this sounds like a good idea or not. If you need to discuss more before making a decision, feel free to reach out to me.