The term Work Hack is derived from “Life-Hack”. “Life-hacks” are strategies to make everyday life easier. Work hacks are analogous strategies to make everyday work easier. It is about intelligent, simple methods to be more efficient and, if possible, more effective. If it is determined in the organizational context that a collaboration situation or a process is to be improved, it was common practice for a long time,

  • to perform an analysis phase first,
  • then to form hypotheses, on the one hand to identify the causes of the problem and hypotheses on how the problem could be solved.
  • Then a concept was usually created and only in the last step was a change process started.

Today this form of change is called “Radical Change”. Anyone who has ever experienced such a process knows that this procedure takes a very long time. The people who carry out the analysis are usually external. In addition, they often have “no idea” of the problem in terms of content. The change process is prescribed or announced, the employees often see no benefit in the process.
The resistance of the employees is almost pre-programmed and well-intentioned initiatives are nipped in the bud because of effort or resistance.
Meanwhile there are also other forms: The term “work hacks” describes a “try and error” procedure:

Nobody knows whether the idea works – it establishes it for a trial phase, the team tries out what works, conducts a review and decides whether the method is retained or not. In short review loops, the method is improved until the respective work hack provides a real benefit. If necessary, an established process will also be changed if the work hack works.

The big difference between work hacks and change processes is that work hacks can be tried out immediately. The change is “minimally invasive” and should bring about change in small steps. There are also no “ready-made” solutions. Each team has to find its own way to work for this team.

Some classics
Improve collaboration through a more meaningful meeting structure:
Instead of weekly Jour Fixes in which everything is discussed, introduce three meeting categories:

  • A form of “daily”: short operational coordination to know who is working on what and who needs input or help from other team members at short notice.
  • Regular meetings to exchange operational information and monitor progress, similar to a Jour Fixe.
  • Regular meetings to review team collaboration and define improvement actions – similar to a retro in the SCRUM context.
  • Regular meetings with longer time focus to work on strategy.

Each of these meeting categories needs different ways of thinking and working. When everything is packed into a meeting, productivity is guaranteed to decline.

  • Each team needs to find out for itself what these meetings should look like in detail. This includes
  • What time frames are appropriate? (daily, every 2nd or 3rd day, weekly etc.)
  • Which contents should be discussed where?
  • Who should attend which meeting?

The type of documentation
There are many different ways to organize tasks and document the results. Only the team can decide which system or documentation type is appropriate for the team. Since Microsoft released the new Apps Teams and To Do in Office 365, each team should also think carefully about which system the documentation will be based on, as technical support also has an important role to play in working effectively and efficiently.

Meanwhile, there are some literature and reports on the Internet about “typical”, “dead-proof” or “securely effective” work hacks. We recommend that you look at your “pain points” in the team and think together about what would make your life easier. Keep in mind – the smaller the intervention, the better.

In addition – the intervention should be the responsibility of the team itself and should be implemented. Develop the appropriate method, try it out and risk the change.

If the work hack works – great, keep it up. If the work hack does not bring any improvement – no problem either, dare a restart.

Just don’t lose courage.