Get Reworked Podcast Episode 20 Guest Angela Ashenden

Get Reworked Podcast: Why Collaboration at Your Company Is Complicated

August 11, 2021 Collaboration and Productivity
Mike Prokopeak
By Mike Prokopeak, Siobhan Fagan

Get Reworked Podcast Guest Angela Ashenden
From established tools like Slack, enterprise giants Microsoft Teams and Google Workspace, and emerging whiteboard tools like Mural, we have more ways to collaborate at work than we've had before. But that doesn't mean we've got it all figured out.

In this episode of Get Reworked, Angela Ashenden, principal analyst in the workplace transformation practice at CCS Insight, shares why the technology is important but it's the human element that is perhaps the most tricky in the new world of collaboration.

Listen: Get Reworked Podcast Full Episode List

"There is this increasing requirement on managers to learn new skills in order to cope with the changes in the way that teams work today and the way that people work," Angela said. "And as we go into this kind of hybrid work environment, then there's a number of new things that come into that picture as well."

Highlights of the conversation include:

  • How collaboration is changing inside organizations in response to technology innovation.
  • The ways management needs to change its approach to collaboration in hybrid and remote work environments.
  • When asynchronous collaboration makes sense and when it makes sense to collaborate in real time.
  • The critical importance of workplace agreements and policies that spell out collaboration expectations.

Plus, co-hosts Siobhan Fagan and Mike Prokopeak talk with Angela about her skepticism about the rise of mental wellness apps and reflect on their takeaways from the first season of the podcast. Listen in for more.

Have a suggestion, comment or topic for a future episode? Drop us a line at [email protected].

Tune-in Here

Apple Podcasts icon
Breaker Podcast icon
Castbox Podcast icon
Castro Podcast icon
Google Podcasts Icon


Overcast Podcast Icon
Pandora podcast icon
Pocketcasts Podcast icon
Podcast Addict icon
Radio Public podcast icon
Spotify podcast icon
Stitcher podcast icon

Show Notes

Episode Transcript

Note: This transcript has been edited for space and clarity.

Angela Ashenden: Historically, and certainly for as long as I've been tracking the collaboration space, the focus has all been on collaborative work and the value of collaborative work and working as a team and all the rest of it. And I think that the value of that individual contribution has been de-prioritized within that, and yet, it's still extremely important because some people perform their best when they're in conversation with others.

Other people, that's not the case. You know, they need to have that time to step away to kind of allow the thought process to happen, to kind of think through things and then bring it to the table when they're ready.

Mike Prokopeak: Welcome to Get Reworked, your guide to the revolution of work. My name is Mike Prokopeak, and I'm editor in chief at Reworked.

Siobhan Fagan: And I'm Siobhan Fagan. I'm the managing editor at Reworked.

Mike: Get Reworked is our podcast, brought to you by Simpler Media Group, where you'll hear from industry pioneers leading the way into the future of work, reshaping not just how we work, but also why

Siobhan: We just heard from Angela Ashenden. Angela is our guest today and she's a principal analyst in the workplace transformation practice at CCS Insight where she specializes in enterprise collaboration, employee experience and the future of work. Angela is based in the UK and she's got over 15 years experience as an industry analyst for enterprise software, advising clients about technology and adoption best practices in the areas of collaboration, innovation and more. Before joining CCS Insight, she held roles at MWD Advisors and Ovum.

Mike: Alright, Siobhan, are you ready?

Siobhan: Yes, I am, Mike.

Mike: Alright, let's Get Reworked.

Siobhan: Welcome to the podcast, Angela.

Angela: Thank you. It's a pleasure to be here.

Siobhan: I'm really happy that you're here today to talk about this topic, asynchronous collaboration, because it's kind of having a bit of a moment. And it's coming from a few different dynamics. We've had this whole period of working from home in the last 18 months, and the promised flexibility around that. But asynchronous tools aren't really anything new, are they? I mean, look at email, our favorite workhorse of the digital workplace. So what exactly is new this time around?

Angela: A lot of it is against the backdrop of what we've seen. Firstly, I think in the collaboration technology market overall, because we've have had this kind of real shift towards more real time, your synchronous collaboration, over the last few years. Not just the video communications, which we've all become so reliant on last year or so. But text-based chat is becoming much more central to the way that people are collaborating. And you see some of the success of things that Microsoft Teams and also Slack, that's kind of become central to the way that organizations are starting to work now.

And I think that shift, that immediacy, is all about accelerating decision making, being about speed and urgency getting everything done. And I think once the pandemic came along, and we kind of got those rising pressures of working from home and all the challenges that we've had along with that, and concerns about people's well being. And we've had things like burnout starting to come out. And that awareness that being always on and always immediate, is not really particularly sustainable. So I think that's kind of the key.

And I think before, the way that we looked at asynchronous tools, particularly things like email, they were that way because that was the only option. That was the default at the time. It wasn't that that was a specific design choice or advantage. So now we've kind of got the situation where we've seen how it was done that way, we've tried immediate and now we need to kind of take the best of both worlds and make it into something that actually works in a way that is healthy for everyone and kind of allows everyone to operate in a way that makes sense, depending on what they're doing. And I think that's kind of the key.

And I think the other thing to kind of bring into this is that we're actually already seeing this kind of technology coming through in that that well-trodden path where we see consumer tools coming into the enterprise. This kind of audio/video messaging is something I've become really aware of with my children who are both teenagers, and they use this kind of technology quite a lot, and so that's now coming into the enterprise, too. So there's a number of different factors involved, I think.

Siobhan: Do you think that it's actually working, though? I mean, it has a lot of promise, but I just noted a few of the words that you said in that first part where you were talking about pressure and people being burned out, and the need to be always on, and trying to strike that healthy balance. Is asynchronous collaboration delivering on that or are you seeing some shortfalls there?

Angela: Well, two things. Firstly, honestly, the new wave of asynchronous is so new, there's not actually that many people who are really using it that way yet. The functionality is in there and there's a lot of interest in its potential. But actually, some of the announcements we've seen recently — Slack's capabilities are really new, we've just seen today Cisco's announced its own asynchronous feature, Vidcast. So a lot of these tools are quite new into the market, and we know that adoption is fairly slow. So I think it's probably premature to say that they're not working. I think there is definitely going to be an adoption curve associated with them because it's not just about learning to use those tools, but it's learning to work in a different way. So I think there's still potential there. But yeah, we're definitely not there yet.

Mike: You mentioned that you have teenage children, and you see them kind of using these tools more naturally as part of just their daily lives. Are you seeing any use cases coming out of how they use things that you think are illuminating for corporations as they look to operate a little bit more asynchronously, and with video as a piece of that?

Angela: Which, you know, is funny, isn't it? I mean, I think there's not really some obvious ones in terms of the way they do it. It's more how you would think about it. So they will record a message and send it to a friend, and then they'll record a message and send it back to them, it means that they can be doing other things at the same time. And that's kind of the key.

You're starting to see some examples in businesses of where this is relevant. And the obvious one is people working on different time zones. So if you are finishing your work at the end of the day, and then someone else's online, once you've gone offline, and they're dealing with in-between time, you can share your thoughts and your perspectives. And then the conversation takes place over days rather than over minutes. But it kind of gives you a bit more of a personal conversation than you'd have if you did it in an email, for example.

And the point is, I think more about allowing people the time to not always respond immediately, and to give them time to think before they respond. There's lots of different scenarios for that, and people who are not the kind of people who will put their hand up in a meeting and offer something, never mind in a conference call, which seems to increase the pressure, I think. So there's a lot of different situations where it becomes really, really important. It starts to bring in an element of inclusivity that's kind of been forgotten about, and which becomes so much more important in a world as we're going into this kind of hybrid work world where some people are going to be together in the office, but some people aren't. So you need to level the playing field in some way, and I think this is just kind of one of the levers that we've got to help with that.

Mike: Yeah, that's interesting that you mentioned inclusivity, and some of the other things you're mentioning about allowing people to respond in their own time, in the sense that it's not necessarily the technology that's the issue. It's the management and the expectation that is the issue for a lot of companies, you know, managers expect an immediate response, or at least that's the impression that workers may have, and or that, you know, hey, we're giving you the tools, you should have no barriers to your communication, but not understanding necessarily people might have different communication styles or different comfort levels with it. So do you have thoughts on how to kind of address that human aspect of this, the management aspect of this, and how to sort of set yourself up for success, given all these new tools?

Angela: A lot of it is simply ... simply (pause).

Mike: It's all very simple, right?

Angela: Yeah. But it's just awareness, I think, is at the heart of it. And so there is this kind of increasing requirement on managers to learn new skills in order to cope with the changes in the way that teams work today and the way that people work. And as we go into this kind of hybrid work environment, then there's a number of new things that come into that picture as well. Back in the social collaboration days, the big point is about getting your managers on board and helping them to understand the benefits not just to them, but the benefits to them if their employees embrace this technology, or this way of working is really critical. And companies that were successful in that world were the organization's where the management was really bought into it and kind of going along with it, rather than kind of trying to push against it.

I think that's always going to be an operational challenge for making this a success. But on the plus side too, the changes that so many businesses have gone through in the last year or so has created this break from the status quo that has been that way for so long. You know, so many things have changed in that time. Actually, we're at a point where people are a little bit more open to change now than they maybe were. So perhaps now is a good time to start exploring some of those new ways of working because everyone is already adapting.

Mike: Angela, I'm wondering if just to sort of bring it back into the inclusivity question. If asynchronous collaboration, if done right, could potentially open companies up to having employees working in other areas. It's something that's come up throughout this last year that the opportunity with remote work is broadening the pool of people who you can hire, with this be a further tool in a company's tool belt to support This?

Angela: Oh, yeah, absolutely the potential to be able to have meaningful conversations that are not in real time, I think is incredibly critical in that, you know, particularly, I think a lot of the discussions around where to hire, they tend to be within a country as far as I've seen, rather than between time zones. But I'm sure that there are some scenarios where that is applicable, where you've got the chance to engage more kind of multi-regional team or people who are working on different things at different times, not just in different time zones. So I think it's definitely part of the arsenal, yes.

Siobhan: So we've discussed some of the positive aspects of asynchronous collaboration but I'm wondering if there are any downsides. I'm thinking about potential overload. You talked about how your own teenagers are multitasking while they are using these tools. And I'm wondering if that would be the case in the workplace, which we all know, multitasking is not particularly productive. Also, it just becomes less efficient if you're juggling multiple conversations or multiple tasks at the same time.

Angela: Yeah, and I think that is definitely going to be the case. I mean, for one thing, depending on the tool that you use, it's another tool you've got to learn to use. So where you create that, where you surface that, how you access it, all of that, if it's not part of your primary collaboration tool then it creates complexity, which kind of potentially slows you down so there are some limitations around that.

And yeah, definitely, the overload challenge doesn't go away. And particularly if video messaging was to take off in an organization, your Slack channel, your Teams channel becoming inundated with messages from other people, that's going to be just as overloading as getting messages all the time. So I think there are still concerns with it. And I think as ever, it's about how fast can you run. How quickly can you digest these things.

And I think, again, one of the biggest issues with it is changing people's behaviors to be more ... recognizing that because they've sent you this message doesn't mean that you read it or listen to it straight away. And so it's those kinds of pieces that I think are still behavioral that need to be acknowledged, and not just kind of be acknowledged generally, but almost you need to have some sort of agreement, and maybe just within your team environment in terms of the expectations there. If you receive one of these things what does that mean? How quickly are you expected to respond to it and things like that. And so some of those things, almost need to be codified in some way in order for them to really get the full benefit, I think.

Mike: That's actually a conversation Siobhan and I are having internally within our own company about meetings, and when does it makes sense to have a collaborative meeting with people live? And when does it make sense to do things asynchronously? And, you know, we've all sort of heard the phrase that, "this meeting could have been an email." And I'm wondering if you have ideas about when it makes sense to use asynchronous collaboration, and when it doesn't? When does it make sense to actually meet in person or on video if it needs to be live?

Angela: So that two things are that I mean, obviously this will depend on the individual, depend on the role that they are carrying out, depend on the situation, the project. There's so many different factors that come into it that make it really difficult to kind of create those kind of hard and fast rules.

But I do think the importance of in-person meetings over video meetings is still critical. And that's going to be something that we've seen quite clearly come through that, for all of the video communications that we've had in the pandemic, when people there meet up in person, there's like this kind of, that's what it was like, I remember this, and there's something and it's almost something biological that meeting up in person creates that sense of familiarity and connection that we don't seem to be able to replicate online yet. So there's at that level, that is still really critical. It's not always possible but I think it is still really, really important.

In terms of when you should have a meeting, that will come down to, as I say, particular types of roles. So for example, in creative industries video communications are probably far more common because if you've got a team that is working on a short term project, or working on the same thing at once, then having them all synchronously working on a video call makes a lot more sense. For teams where it's much more broken up into different parts and different people responsible for different things, then the asynchronous element of it makes a lot more sense. You know, if you can get work done in between having those interactions, then you should do that. It's better to do that than to spend time on a meeting where you're not really being particularly productive.

So there are sort of elements like that, where it's more about what you're doing and who you're doing it with that will determine what makes most sense.

Siobhan: In your response to Mike, you were talking about how sometimes the activities that are done on meetings are better done individually. And I'm wondering if as part of this new way of thinking about and approaching collaboration, if perhaps we need to be taking more consideration of that time alone, focused working without people, and then bringing it together.

Angela: Yeah, and I think that's an interesting one because historically, and certainly for as long as I've been tracking the collaboration space, the focus has all been on collaborative work and the value of collaborative work and working as a team and all the rest of it. And I think that the value of that individual contribution has been de-prioritized within that.

And yet, it's still extremely important because some people, depending on the personality of the individual, you know, some people perform their best when they're in conversation with others and their ideas and the development of progress effectively happens in conversation. And so they need that connectivity in order to solve the problems that they're trying to solve. Other people, that's not the case. You know, they need to have that time to step away to kind of allow the thought process to happen, to kind of think through things and then bring it to the table when they're ready.

And I think recognizing that neither of those things is wrong, that different people deal with these things in different ways. And even there will be some people who, depending on what they're doing, will prefer one for some situation and the other when they have group things that need to be done. So I do think it needs to be reinstated in terms of that kind of importance of time to think and time to focus and time to get things done, particularly given that there's been so much recognition that because we're using technology to do our work so much now that the friction from context switching between different tools, doing all of those things, it kind of distracts from actually what we're trying to do. So in a way, just stepping away from that, giving a bit of focus time will deliver huge value.

Mike: From a company somewhat new coming into the collaboration tools market, not necessarily collaboration. I think everybody sort of has to work collaboratively, collaboratively in some sense, but actually starting to use the tools. Do you have guides or thoughts about setup of that process?

Angela: One of the key challenges and I'm not necessarily the best person to answer this question, but one of the challenges is the balance between providing a structure up front that people can fit into, but also providing the flexibility for you to be able to create an environment that adapts as you become familiar with it, but also as you change your way of working, because I think, this is kind of the key, is recognizing that you can't, going back to this codification, you can't define up front exactly how you're going to work in these tools, because a lot of it comes with experience and how one organization works is going to be different to how another organization works, even within the same tool.

So I think that kind of flexible approach and knowing that starting small and building out is always a good place to start in terms of the structure of your environment, but recognizing that it will adapt and change and that that's okay, and that you can move on. If it stops working for you, that flexibility is really, really important.

Mike: Yeah, I mean, I think that a lot of companies sort of get locked into a tool with, for example, to pick on Microsoft for a moment here, a lot of IT departments are tied into a Microsoft environment so that Teams kind of became just a thing that we brought in, we're not going to go out and get something else because we're already operating with this in the Microsoft environment. And Microsoft made it really easy for us to integrate this. If you do have kind of a blank slate in a way, what questions should you ask your vendors?

Angela: Well, again, I think that flexibility is important. If we need to adapt the way that we use it, how do we do that? That's something that some of the tools are not very good at at the moment to be honest. But I think understanding the challenges around how the tools work together with the rest of your environment is really important. How easy is it to get the integrations in place, especially as we shift into this digital workplace collaboration, hub type world where we're kind of integrating a lot of tools together into our collaboration platform? That seems to be a huge opportunity in a lot of organizations seeing the potential there.

For me, honestly, I've been in this market for too long, because it just makes me hark back to the days of portals. But you know, but the idea of how it connects these things together and gives the tools to employees to have the flexibility to define their own workflow, to define how these tools connect to each other and their processes, rather than them adapting their processes to these tools is really, really critical. So I think those features are things that should be prioritized and understood clearly upfront even if they're not necessarily implemented straightaway.

Siobhan: Angela, I want to return to the question of behavioral change that you brought up earlier. And I'm wondering if we have a manager out there who's listening to this and they are trying to rethink their collaboration process. Perhaps they're office is about to reopen and they're going to have people inside the office and they're still going to have some people working from home. What is the best way for them to identify these different working habits of their employees while balancing that with the needs of ongoing productivity?

Angela: Some of it will be expressed preference. So some people will know that they like to work in a team. And I think a lot of it has got to be about not drawing assumptions about the way that people work, but learning from working with them and identifying, and then this is kind of interesting for me because I think this will start to change some of the characteristics that are needed for good management, I mean, they've always been needed, but recognized in good management is that ability to understand your team and to be able to support them in the way that they need to work.

You can't really draw a single rule for this is a characteristic to watch out for, as much as kind of learning from working with them, from recognizing when they're becoming uncomfortable, from seeing when they are most commonly participating in conversations, what is it that draws out the nuggets of gold that are in their brain, and kind of building on that. And I think it's not an easy thing to solve and it takes attention and time to do that well. But all the best managers, that whenever you speak to someone, is my favorite manager was this, and that is those kind of characteristics where they understand what they're trying to do. And they're open to supporting them whatever makes sense for them. So I think it's about that kind of awareness and recognition in the way that people are working and kind of go with that flow.

Siobhan: It's making me think of all the complaints about Zoom fatigue and similar over the last year, where oftentimes the fingers are pointed at the technology, but it's probably as much of a management problem as anything else.

Angela: It definitely is. I mean, the technology is a part of it. I do think there are elements of the video calls element, which that sort of pressure of being in the spotlight effect on those video calls is really draining and even you know, outside of work, I saw it with my kids, that feeling everyone's looking at you. And you know, when you're in a meeting the focus is not on you as an individual necessarily if you're not the person leading the meeting. And I think that feeling that you're always in the spotlight is really important. Plus, you know, as an aside, always seeing yourself, that video of yourself in the corner on screen is, personally I think that's horrendous. But you know, it doesn't help your your ability to cope with that situation.

Siobhan: I don't know if you ever saw the show, The Jetsons. But here in the US that was big when I was younger, and Jane Jetson had a face she could put on before going on to video screens. And I can't tell you how many times over the last year, I wish I had that.

Angela: That innovation. That's what we need now.

Mike: I wish I could just turn it off. So I mean, I know I can turn it off but then I can't help but know that I can turn it on. And then I can't help but look.

Angela: Some of the tools now allow you to, sorry I can't remember which ones, but some of them allow you to to switch off your personal video. But most of them, if you switch off video, you're switching off for everyone, not just for yourself. I'm OK for other people to see me on video, I don't want to see myself.

So it's that kind of element which I think is important. But that aside, we have got into an awful lot of bad habits with the way that people have used Zoom because the early days of that pandemic, the Zoom and Teams meetings and WebEx meetings, and you name it, there's so many of them, that became a bit of a crutch because we needed that human interaction. We needed to see people and remind ourselves that we weren't on our own in our little room anymore. And so we needed that. But it has become like a terrible habit every conversation you had was booked into your diary, you know, it was a formal meeting in your calendar. And you kind of got to the point where you're back-to-back-to-back-to-back calls, and not all of them like we said before, not all of them needed to have been a 30-minute meeting or an hour meeting or whatever they were.

And so I think we're in the position where we now need to start changing that way. We are changing the way we were going to work as we start to see some people going back to the office at least some of the time. So we need to break that habit and shift the way that we think about how we connect with people and why we're doing it. It used to be the day would be you pick up the phone and ring someone but that my experience is that doesn't happen so much anymore. It's scheduled. It's in your diary. It's formal. So I think that there's lots of different pieces in there.

Mike: We're actually in an opposite situation. If you see your phone ringing, you don't answer it. There's no way you take that call.

Angela: Isn't it crazy?

Mike: I'm glad you brought up talking about sort of the more human side of this, the individual who's on the receiving end of a lot of this collaboration because I want to ask you specifically if you see some gaps in the market today for collaboration, and needs from an employee point of view that aren't being met through the tool that should be thought about and worked on? We are at this pivotal moment where at some point in the near future companies are going to be returning to the office, even though they're kind of continuing to punt that ball down the field a little bit, but it's going to happen. So what do we need to be thinking about from an employee point of view? What are the needs that aren't being met through collaboration?

Angela: Some of them are partly about the technology and they're partly about the changes to the way that we're working. And so that kind of social interaction piece is the biggest thing. We did a survey we published the beginning of this year, social interaction being the biggest challenge that people faced working remotely, and that will continue to be the challenge for those people who are not in the office, even if it's only part of the time. How to enable that connection through the tools because, again, because the technology has focused on this team collaboration, it's about productivity about getting work done, you can use the tool for social conversation. But that's not really what it's geared up for. So I think those elements are important. Now we need to find a way to enable those better through the technology. So that's really important.

But I think the other thing, which has kind of been, we've had it for a while, again, back in the social collaboration days in terms of expertise and profiles, and recognizing, understanding people by what they do, where they work, who they work with, those kinds of things, and being able to know who you're talking to, and learn about the people that you're working with based on their identity. And there have been ebbs and flows of technology that have tried to do this over the years. And it's kind of falling into the background a little bit.

Now we see people like Slack doing a bit of that, they acquired a company a year or so ago to the directory sort of area. Microsoft does it in terms of the profiles but they're not really front and center. And that not really kind of geared up as being a way of connecting people a way of enabling those relationships. It's also really important from a business standpoint too, because as an organization I want to be able to find people with expertise within the organization or build a team based on people's knowledge and background and what they did before they joined our company, not just what they've done since I've been there. And being able to recognize those knowledge gaps in a business, those are really important gaps in this area of technology broadly, at the moment.

I think the one that we've seen popping up, and it's still not fully solved, is that kind of area about that creative activity. So innovative work, creative work, we've seen a huge spike in use of tools, that kind of online whiteboarding type tools over the last year or so. Again, it's the idea of having a shared whiteboard is in itself is not new, but the way that it works, the new tools are really driving this idea that you can actually work in parallel but also potentially at the same time with other people in these tools and work collaboratively, even if you're not in the same room.

So I think things like that are really, really important still. And there's still a huge amount of opportunity in those spaces and we're going to see Miro and Mural have both had huge amounts of investment over the last year or so. This is a big market that's just about to kick off. That's going to be an area there's going to be a huge amount of growth and innovation.

Mike: It's a really key point I think you just made it's really the showing your work part of asynchronous collaboration. And that's kind of what the video messaging is about, right? It's like, you can sort of demonstrate you could do a screen capture and show somebody how to do something and then share that asynchronously. That's really kind of where a lot of it comes to life.

Angela: Yeah, it does. And I think it's because instructions are kind of one of those interesting elements to because you can tell people how to do something, but showing someone how you've done it is completely different. You know, even though you look at areas like IT support and how often that kind of remote control where they just, it's just quicker for them to do it for you than it is for them to show you how to do it. So those kind of elements, they're still kind of gaps and opportunities in terms of how we can do those things better. And it's only with the sheer volume of people who have been trying to do these things remotely over technology that has triggered the demand for it, not the need for it. The need has already always been there. But that demand that widespread demand has really escalated.

Mike: At this point, Angela, we'd like to play a little game with you to wrap up this conversation. We do something called underrated/overrated in the podcast, where we're gonna throw a few topics at you and we're going to ask you to kind of give us your assessment of them. Do you think it's underrated this topic or do you think it's overrated and a little bit explanation. Are you willing to play along with us?

Angela: Yeah, go for it.

Mike: Alright, I was reading a little bit about your analysis on the digitizing the physical workspace aspect of return to the office where companies are sort of mapping their physical space, and then creating a virtual version of that. Do you feel like this is kind of underrated or overrated as a trend?

Angela: I think it's overrated. It's one of those things where it seems like a great way to combine the two worlds but actually the way that the two worlds work differently. So having a digital office in the sense of your organization's primary processes and applications being digital first, so that that's where you start, that's where everything is and so therefore, it doesn't matter whether you're in the office, or whether you're at home, or on the road or wherever else, the process is the same way. That I think is extremely valuable, but trying to sort of replicate real world scenarios in a virtual world is a bit bit Second Life for me.

Mike: Second Life, I haven't heard that term in a long time.

Siobhan: Bring it back. Actually, is it still around?

Angela: I think it is. Yeah.

Siobhan: So the next one, Angela, I think you've got a horse in this race, underrated or overrated? Four-day workdays.

Angela: Oh, underrated I yeah, I work four days a week. I find that better work-life balance with working four days versus five, I think, is definitely from my perspective, I think it's great.

Siobhan: Do you think the fears of lack of productivity or drop off in productivity are unfounded?

Angela: Well, it's one of those scenarios where I'm sure there are examples where you can prove that four days worth of activity is less productive than five days. But depending on the work that you're doing, taking a day off in the middle of can be hugely valuable for productivity. So that's the way I do it, I take a Wednesday off and then I have a break in the middle so I come back fresh on a Thursday. So I think there is that element of if you recognize that you need to give your brain time to think effectively, and that running at a full power all the time is eventually going to burn it out, then you can be more productive that way. And I think that's important.

There'll be arguments from an office perspective that in order to process X number of activities, you need to so many days and so that will always be a factor. But that doesn't mean to say that you have to have each individual working those five days to do that. So I think we kind of need to be thinking about the flexibility in terms of having the right people doing the job is more important than making sure they're doing it five days a week.

Mike: Alright, we've actually had a couple conversations on this podcast around wellness and well-being and in particular, mental wellness and well being and actually that's come up today in our conversation as well. There's been a flood of technology in this last year and a half to help with that with wellbeing apps that can be used for check-ins on mental health and mental resilience. Do you feel like these apps and the technology solution to wellbeing is underrated or is it overrated?

Angela: Probably going to be really unpopular for this but I think it's overrated. I love the sentiment. The idea is great that we should be looking at how we use technology to improve well being. I'm just not sure that the apps currently in the market are the way to do it. I just don't think people will use them. I don't think they'll be effective. So perhaps I'll be proved wrong, but my sense is that they look good from an employer standpoint, the fact that you've invested in a tool to do this, but whether or not they actually make a difference from an employee perspective, is yet to be proven. 

Mike: Are you long term bullish, you know, I mean, maybe short term a little bit skeptical, but long term bullish?

Angela: It depends on how they evolve. Because if they stay, if it's still just about my app tells me when to get up and move around. When my watch does that, to me, it drives me nuts. Things like that I don't think really solve the problem. If they can get past that and use the technology to recognize when people are getting stressed, for example, in that scenario it makes more sense to me.

Siobhan: It's time to stand up, Angela. Just kidding.

Mike: Angela, thank you so much for joining us. If folks want to find out more about you, where would you recommend they go?

Angela: Well, you can find me on LinkedIn, my profile there. I also tweet on Twitter, @aashenden. And then, of course, I've written articles on Reworked and I've also posted to our CCS Insight blog. So you can read more about my research and what we're currently looking at by going there.

Mike: I definitely recommend that folks check that out. Thank you once again for joining us, Angela.

Angela: It's a pleasure.

Siobhan: Thanks, Angela.

Mike: Siobhan, the thing that strikes me about all of these conversations we've had throughout this season one of our podcast is just how much the human element is so absolutely critical to this. We have incredible technologies. When we're talking about asynchronous collaboration, we have options like we've never had before. But so much of it boils down to what we do with it, how we actually build it into how we manage people and how we manage our work. It just keeps coming back to that for me.

Siobhan: It's so true, Mike, because every time we try to focus or double down on that technology, everyone's like, Uh huh, now let's talk about the managers. Now let's talk about behavioral change. So I think that this is such a dynamic area, and I'm looking forward to seeing what happens next.

Mike: Well, that concludes season one of our podcast. Siobhan, I've had a little bit of fun. How about you?

Siobhan: This has been awesome. Honestly, I have had so much fun with our guests, with our audience. The interaction that we've received has been wonderful and we'll take more, and I can't wait to see what we do with season two.

Mike: We'll be taking a break. We'll be back in September with more topics, more ideas, and hopefully some great people that you can learn from.

Siobhan: In the meantime, if you have any ideas on any of the above, drop us a line, we can collaborate asynchronously.

Mike: Well done.

Siobhan: Have a great summer, Mike.

Mike: You too, Siobhan.

Mike: We encourage you to drop us a line at [email protected]. If you have a suggestion or a topic for a future conversation, we are all ears. Additionally, if you like what you hear, please post a review on Apple Podcasts or wherever you may be listening. And be sure to share Get Reworked with anyone that you think might benefit from these types of conversations. And then finally, be sure to follow us at Get Reworked on Twitter as well.

Thank you again for exploring the revolution of work with us and we'll see you next time.


Featured Research

Related Stories

No Parking sign against bright blue cement wall

Collaboration & Productivity

It's Still a Good Time to Introduce an Asynchronous Work Policy

couples swing dancing as shot from above

Collaboration & Productivity

Communication and Collaboration at a Crossroads

Woman sitting at a table smiling at someone on laptop video

Collaboration & Productivity

Rethinking the Role of Meetings in Digital-first Workplaces

Digital Workplace Experience Q4: October 12-13, 2022

DWX22 - Q4