21. Setting Office Hours

Tuesday, September 05, 2023

Smooth Operator/Podcast/21. Setting Office Hours

21. Setting Office Hours


One of the biggest mistakes that I see entrepreneurs make when they start working remotely is that they start to think that they need to be available all the time. They allow themselves to work around the clock and have no boundaries to when they’re willing to be available to their team and company.

Worse yet, far too many business owners and managers end up extending that same expectation to their own teams.

What’s your relationship with setting office hours?

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Hello, welcome to smooth operator, I'm Adam, your host, thank you so much for taking the time out of your busy day to listen to this episode, I hope it's valuable for you is certainly valuable for me putting together and really kind of unpacking some things regarding this topic, which is our office hours, it was not the most fun episode to put together because I have not always been the best at this.

And, you know, being firm about when I was going to be available and when I was not going to be available. And that's really hurt me in many ways. It's really resulted in some, you know, some burnout periods, a bit of resentment towards people that I've worked with. And just some negative stuff that comes up not only within my business life, but also within my personal life where I wasn't able to be as present as I really needed to be and that it's not fair. To my team. It's not fair to me, it's not fair to my family. It's not fair to anyone, but it's me projecting this thing that I did when I started working remotely. And this is the idea that I had to be available all the time. There was no my and my job was important. I mean, maybe that's like self importance that we put onto ourselves, where I felt like I had to be available because something if something did come up, I wanted the team to know that they could come to me. But what ended up happening was me putting that into the world. Me projecting that Adams always available. Adams always working, you can always reach out to him and he will solve the problems for you. It did two things, it enabled team members to always know they could reach out and they there was no such thing as bad time. And they weren't challenged to necessarily figure things out for themselves. But worse yet, it set the perception that my expectations were that there were no boundaries, that my expectations were, you will be available if I Slack message you at 11 o'clock at night, or seven o'clock in the morning, when you set that expectation, because that's the way you're living.

That's the way you're operating, your team will reciprocate. Your team is looking at you if you're a leader, and you have any number of people working under you, any number of subordinates, what your team is doing is mirroring your habits. They're mirroring what you're putting into the world. Because you are setting the standard. You're setting what is right, you can write up a policy letter after policy letter saying these are office hours, this is what we do. It doesn't matter. If you're not projecting that yourself. If you're not living that, and what ends up happening, you get burnout. Your team gets burnt out, they get ready to quit. They get to the point where they're just about ready to go off the handle. The moment they face the smallest little bit little bit of adversity in their job, because you've built up that pressure keg. They haven't been able to release that and neither have you. Let's talk about some other things, man, because this is so critical when you put it in that perspective of what is it I'm projecting in the world around this? And what expectations Am I living? To overall dude, when you do live this way, when you are projecting this in the world, what are you doing? You're risking a lot really, you're far less reliable to your team members because you aren't operating from that place of your highest self. You're constantly in the turn, you're constantly in the trough not recharging your batteries, not giving that full of life that you need to be the full person that you are. That makes you less motivated to get the job in, you know, you're more likely to come into work and I can put this off to later which ends up meaning you procrastinate throughout the day. Have you ever done this where you know you're going to be working late at night and something comes up. I probably should respond to this email. But I could go get it later. Which you end up doing, you end up getting it later.

And once you're in that habit, it's very hard to get out of that habit. You're also far less likely because you're always running on 100 you're always running a full seam What happens when you really need to be running at full steam when you enter crisis periods when your enter those sprint periods that we get into in business? Sprint's are a thing, like sometimes you just got to put down your your head and get to work. But that's not all the time, when you're in regular standard operating times, when you're in what we used to call. You had peacetime operations or stability operations in the military, like you would take time off. I do remember as I was, I was in a really high op tempo job for a while where I should basically seven eight months a year overseas constantly and never really stopped. Just year after year after year, you can expect to be gone for seven to eight months. The key was when we were home. I don't remember ever saying that Pat the office past like two or three o'clock unless we're in a school. But other than that, if you were just at the office for the day doing a regular Garrison day, they wanted to get you home because they want you to go recharge those batteries. So saving yourself, getting that getting that breather, when things aren't so hectic means when shit does hit the fan, you're able to react and you're able to act from your best self. This includes things like taking those days off, taking your holiday and saying no, this is a holiday I am taking the day off, you're gonna have to negotiate of coverage, if you do have things going on in the company that are do need attention, that can all be done. When you respect your office hours when you do days off, when you take holidays, not only will others respect your office hours, but they'll also end up setting their own.

And that's really the biggest part of being a team leader. Running a team is making sure that what we're putting in the world not only served us well, but is that model that we want our team members to follow. Without this, you'll be at the whims of everything that's going on in the external world you'll never own your life in time is the most valuable asset that we own. So really, I mean, even from right now I'm working continuously to improve my relationship with time, my relationship with my calendar in my schedule, by making sure I'm blocking things out of my calendar, making that firm, structuring my life around my set times. So when I am in the office, when I am on the computer, I'm indispensable. I am able to put everything else aside because I've already taken care of that. I did that during my downtime. I took care of that little thing, that little chore that my wife needed done for the house and took care of that on the Sunday when I had my family day planned. And I had that list of task lists I had to do for the homeowner, honey do list if that's where you want to call it. I took care of that. And now it's done. As you're leading other people, be sure this is reflected throughout your team not only verbalize it, verbalizing it is important. And reiterated and reiterated and reiterate it. I've said more times than I can ever recall.

It's definitely more than a weekly thing where I will remind people of, Hey, make sure you're taking time to yourself. Make sure that we have coverage. But make sure that you get that day off. Make sure you requesting your holidays. You know, let me know the days you're going to be out so we can arrange coverage for you let me know in advance. All the more better. And when people do request those big times off for full vacations where they want to take their family somewhere, man, we would celebrate it on the team. Like it was encouraged. Hey, bring your family photos. When you come back. We want to see what you're up to. We want to hear about what you did. And we had you covered this whole time. So how's that all sit with you? Like how do you feel about Office Hours not only for yourself, but for your team? It's definitely one of those things we can only we can all Gary Vander chuck it as much as you want. I really do respect Gary Vee. So if I ever rip on him a little bit, it's it's just a matter of when you do hit those sprint periods where you got to be available, where you have to push hard. The only way you're going to do it is if you're charged. If you've taken care of the rest of your life. So that you can be available you can put your head down and just work your face off. When that's what the job needs. That's what your students needs client needs. team needs. When that's needed.

You're able to do that because you've recharged so set your office hours make every I mean they made it kind of easy for us now where you can set those hours on your slack and not be notified outside of those hours. And be ultra liberal about it, you know, make it reasonable, where it may not be a nine to five, I don't know if nine to five is always feasible in most remote working environments, especially if you have team members in different time zones. But at least think if nothing else, start to think of flex hours that you are definitely not available. And you make that clear, you block everything out. And you're unreachable, you're able to do those things, I think you're gonna find you're a lot happier, you're much more motivated when you're in the seat, and your team is going to then, in turn, do the same thing to you.

Alright, thanks so much for joining this episode. We're gonna be doing daily for least. Gosh, I'm aiming for a year. I was doing some reading over the weekend, rereading all of the Russell Brunson books as I'm getting ready to go down to Funnel Hacking live in a couple of weeks, where I'll actually get the chance to walk across that stage and claim my two comma Club Award. So really looking forward to this one, this is going to be a great conference. So I've been rereading all of my Russell Brunson books and Dan Kennedy materials. And it's funny, Russell said, like, You got to be publishing every day, you have to be putting yourself out because you're actually going to find your voice through that, that that whole process. And the funny thing is just to this episode, gosh, I'm getting like all behind the scenes. This is like the fifth take I've done because I couldn't quite get it right. It's not the easiest subject to talk about, because it's a little bit, you know, esoteric, and hand wavy, versus like real actionable things. But I guess the real actionable things I can kind of leave you with is just start with your calendar, block out times, and put family time on there. And, man, what difference that makes when you do get that notification family time? Oh, yeah. Well, I'll get so used to acting on our calendars. Why not make it work for you. Alright, thanks so much again, and I will see you tomorrow with our next episode. And until then, we'll see you later.

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