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I’ve been responsible for pushing some inadequate cultural behaviors in my past. As a leader it was my fault, and to this day I have to constantly remind myself that a little word or phrase that I unknowingly pass off to my teams can have significant impact on our culture. Let me tell you about such a word that should never be intertwined with work:

                                           “FAMILY”

Yes, FAMILY. Here’s something I hear often (and have been guilty of using once or twice in my days)- welcoming new employees and saying “Welcome to the [insert_your_company_name_here] Family”.

Sounds very inviting, I know. It’s like joining a tight knit circle that makes you feel privileged, right? But here’s the thing…it’s setting the absolute wrong precedent. Family and colleagues are very distinct designations. Every aspect of those relationships is different. The conditions that each bring are different and should not be mistaken for the other.

There are very different expectations or rules (or lack thereof) with your family than there are with your colleagues.

Don’t get me wrong….we’re all about family at Aufsite. Work/life balance is a real thing here. But your family are the folks back home.  There are very different expectations or rules (or lack thereof) with your family than there are with your colleagues. This also explains why so many people have difficulty working from home. Because mixing the two is a bad idea for a number of reasons. This is not to suggest working from home is bad in any way. On the contrary, I’m a fan. But reality is home and office share the same juxtaposition as family and colleagues, wouldn’t you agree? So speaking of the two as the same lends to blurring those lines. 

When we show up to the office, remote or not, we want to be fashionably early not late. We want to have our agenda planned and we want to conduct business. As we work, our mindset has to be flicked to professional mode. Home mode is a different attitude altogether. Even when it comes to the lighter stuff like humor. It’s fun to be light-hearted at times. And we can joke with colleagues but we have to recognize our boundaries and the dire consequences of overstepping those boundaries. 

Those rules require us to be a lot more astute at work. They aren’t always easy but they are the checks and balances that save companies from lawsuits and help their teams stay focused. Which leads me to the next important point – focus is a limited resource. Staying focused takes a lot of energy which can actually be quite draining….so when you go home, the reverse should apply….don’t be so “astute”. When you’re home, you frankly don’t want to make decisions because you spent the entire day doing just that. It also means its ok to not show up to dinner right on time…you can be fashionably late. This is because time with your family should be about comfort, affection, pleasure, rest and dare I say a bit of laziness.

That’s exactly why as leaders we have to enforce that distinction for our teams. We have to breed for a professional environment and push for certain behaviors through the right rhetoric. Carrying baggage from work to home or vice versa will likely lead to serious problems so why would we want to make the two synonymous? With our teams at Aufsite, we make it clear…we’re not your family. Your family is at home, they are your escape, they help you recharge your batteries.

We are there to drain them. Well, to some degree. Life is not always peaches and cream. Some of us can’t recharge enough at home and I get that. That’s why we like to take it one step further by breaking up the office time into two distinct parts- The churning hours and the learning hours (~60% and ~40%, respectively).

During the churning hours our teams focus specifically on knocking out accumulated tasks or what ever work they have piled up and in the learning hours (slack time) the teams focus on learning something new or just taking a break. I’m a firm believer that 4 to 5 hours of focused work is more fruitful than 8 hours of distracted work.

I can’t give metrics on how this approach has increased our productivity simply because we’ve adopted this learning approach from day one. So there is nothing to compare it to in our environment. But what I can tell you is that from my 20+ years of experience in the IT industry and working with all different types of teams, this one is pretty phenomenal and always delivers.