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Why we think working out loud is really bloody important

Why we think working out loud is really bloody important

Why we think working out loud is really bloody important

By Carrie Kleiner for Box News

Sorry for (sort of) swearing. But sometimes, when you feel really passionate about something, a little mini expletive slips out.

And, when it comes to the practice of working out loud, I’m very passionate indeed. When I look ahead and see how the world is developing and changing, and how our expectations grow and change too, it’s easy for me to see why this practice is so important.

What I mean when I say working out loud

I first really learned about this practice when I worked as Head of Editorial at Government Digital Service – the part of the government responsible for transforming GOV.UK (amongst lots of other things).

There, our ‘charismatic leader’ (as we so fondly called him) Mike Bracken and his incredible team introduced the ‘publish don’t send’ rule. This basically meant that you had to stop before you sent someone an email and think – could I publish this information instead?

GDS’s only form of public communication was their blog (which I ran), and we took this idea as far as we could (within the parameters of the official secrets act).

Working out loud is precisely that – as you’re working, you share your thought processes, ideas, challenges, successes (and, crucially, failures too) with the big wide world. This helps with accountability, allows others to see what you’re doing and help if they can, and – even more importantly – it grows trust.

Trust makes the world go round

Working in government, you learn that trust is a pretty hard thing to get and an even harder thing to keep.

At GDS, working out loud was a way of us showing how, and why, we were making the choices we were. One affecting the lives of millions of people in one way or another. It was important to us that we showed our thought processes, but it had an added unexpected bonus: significantly reducing any negative press, speculation and questioning around our work. Because, essentially, we were answering questions and dispelling doubts before they happened.

Pretty powerful stuff.

Why this matters for us at Box Media

Ok, so Box isn’t a government department. And we are less likely to be hounded by the press (we hope!). But, it’s still important for us to share the way we work in the open.

Education is at the heart of our passion here at Box. We want to find a million ways to educate a billion people through enrapturing and immersive entertainment. We also want to share our expertise with anyone and everyone interested.

Giving away all our secrets

When you broach the subject of working out loud, some people immediately worry that you’d be giving away information or expertise that you could (or should) get paid for. Sure, by sharing the way you work, you might give a pretty decent indication about the way you do things, but for us, that’s a small price to pay compared with the benefits.

At Box, we’re all experts in our field. We’ve carefully hired the best and brightest minds we can find, so why not share a bit of that knowledge? We’re confident enough in our unique abilities not to feel threatened by sharing – we see it much more as an opportunity.

This sharing opportunity allows others to see what we do, understand our values and ethos, and decide for themselves if they’d like to work with (or for) Box Media.

How cool is that?

Just by sharing our ideas, processes, challenges and successes, we can build our business and find the right people to work with.

So, this is a bit of a call to action to ourselves. By writing this article, we’re committing to working out loud as much as possible in 2020.

If there’s something we do you’d like us to share out loud – get in touch @BoxMedia_io.

Assuming positive intent: a smart approach to flexible working

Assuming positive intent: a smart approach to flexible working

Assuming positive intent: a smart approach to flexible working

By Carrie Kleiner for Box News

We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again: the way we work is changing. 

As Generation Z starts flooding the workplace with their nomadic, culture-focused approach, we’re poised to say goodbye to set career paths and organisational loyalty. Instead, expect to see the new workforce jumping from role to role, chasing great culture, autonomy and financial security. And, if you want to stay in the game, you’d better start playing.

Why you need to care about the changing workplace

Here at Box Media, we’re pretty obsessed with the future of work. Not least because we spend some of our time hanging out in our experimental playground working with behavioural scientists exploring AI and robotics, and how they’re going to affect the way we work. 

We believe that the future will be a blend of human and machine, which will allow us to ‘be more human’. Moving away from menial, repetitive tasks, and focusing on using our knowledge creatively, we’re able to hone all-important soft skills into superpowers. 

Almost all industries are looking at ways to save money. Many are looking at ways to save the planet, too. Thinking about how to have a more flexible workplace not only suits the roaming tendencies of Generation Z, but it also gives us an opportunity to:

  • reduce our footprints in expensive city-centre locations
  • reduce our carbon footprints as a whole 
  • encourage a better work-life balance by letting people work locally

Sure, this comes with some challenges, but there’s a lot of scope to see things differently. We can improve our quality of life, reduce costs and increase productivity if we do things right.

Moving towards an outcome-led approach, and waving goodbye to presenteeism

‘Doing it right’ can be easier said than done, though. 

Presenteeism has long felt like an essential part of working life for almost every industry. 

Of course, there will always be some industries, jobs and roles that require you to be physically present. For example, I’m not quite sure how you’d serve lunch in a cafe, or care for people in a hospital without some onsite staff. However, even in industries where all you need is a computer and an internet connection, there’s still sometimes a tendency to need to ‘see’ your staff to know they’re working.

Firstly, if a member of staff is slacking off when they’re working from home, they’re probably finding ways to slack off when they’re working in the office, too. This is a management issue that can be dealt with if you’re: 

  • ready to have tough conversations
  • willing to set goals, targets, clear deadlines and objectives
  • able to put some trust in your people to do what is expected of them, even if you can’t ‘see’ what they’re up to

Assuming positive intent – even though your parents told you not to

One way to get the best out of a team, even when you can’t see them, is an approach called ‘assumed positive intent’. 

Put simply:

“Assuming positive intent means always starting from the idea that a person meant well or was doing their best, no matter what they say or do.”

We are brought up to mistrust people’s kind behaviour. We teach kids to assume that people have their own selfish motivations for their seemingly selfless behaviour towards us, and this mistrust causes misguidance. 

At work, that misguidance often manifests itself as a tendency not to offer yourself selflessly to others in case your actions are, themselves, misconstrued. This cycle then means you tend not to trust the people around you as a result. 

To break the cycle, you need to assume that your team are doing what you’ve asked of them. If you combine this with clearly defined outcome-based activities, you won’t need to keep checking in – if they’re not working like you assume they should be, it’ll become apparent very quickly. If this happens, you’ll need to tackle it head-on – but if you continue to anticipate positive intent, you’ll be able to have this conversation in a constructive and open, rather than accusatory way. 

Embracing flexibility to stay ahead of the game

Lots of horizon-scanning experts see flexible working as defining the future of work. Looking for the best candidate, without geographical restrictions, will help open up the ‘workplace’ more than ever before. Embracing a blended workforce of full-time, part-time, job share and remote workers will encourage true diversity, and make our workforce happier and more productive!

Some practical steps to get you started

  • don’t expect to change the world overnight – make small, incremental changes over time
  • make a plan – without it, your changes will fall through the cracks
  • involve your people – to realise long-lasting change you have to bring your team on the journey with you, help them feel part of the changes, and assume positive intent
  • lead from the front – if you don’t lead the changes and show your team how it should be, don’t expect them to make the changes on their own.