Let your team say “no” – and create better work


Let your team say “no” – and create better work

Stress kills. Here’s the proof.

And most of it can be avoided. But in the workplace, we put way too much emphasis on the task, and not the goal; on being busy rather than being successful. We say “yes” to more than we should, building our stresses.


Because we’re human. We’re social creatures, wired to please others and reap the rewards of acceptance. But if we say yes to everything, we’re probably going to start dropping the ball.

A lot.

This doesn’t just impact immediate performance – it knocks our confidence and chips away at our mental health. We become desk-bound, yes-bound and (for the bosses reading this) we become markedly less productive.

So, while you may want to hear a “yes” whenever you ask your team to do something, be aware that failing to say no wastes time, energy and resources. And it puts your team’s health at risk.

How do you solve this?

Make saying “no” part of your culture

If people at your company are too afraid to say no to you, then maybe you’ve got a culture problem – or at least, a personal branding and image problem. They’re seeing you as “The Boss”, not as a person they can be open with.

You can fix this with meaningful communication, levelling the playing field and stepping into a more human, leadership role than a “boss” one. Be kind, and show empathy; remember that we all come into the world the same way, and we all have to struggle with something. We’re all beautiful and flawed beyond our working personas.

Apply those rules to yourself, first and foremost. Be kind to you, or you can’t truly be kind to anyone else. You’re probably thinking “this is all very fluffy”. And yes, maybe it is – but this stuff actually works.

Self-compassion and kindness are the first steps to building confidence. Promote these principles at work, and you’ll have a team confident enough to say no to you – in a kind, compassionate and meaningful way.

Neglect this, and you’ll run several risks:

  • Everyone says yes to everything, even when they can’t do it
  • Mistakes start getting hidden – no accountability
  • Overwork and burnout, high turnover and churn
  • Awful morale
  • Poor performance
  • No understanding of your resource availability or lack of in-house skills

All of these are important points – but that last one’s of particular importance to us. If everyone in your company is saying yes, working miserable 70+ hour weeks in secret and they still can’t get the result, you’re about to learn that you need to hire. Problem is, you don’t have time anymore.

You can hire contractors to help; but wouldn’t it have been better if your team felt like they could raise this with you, long before it became a problem?

Teams: here’s how to say “no”

We’ve all been in a situation where our manager has asked for something, with a firm deadline. In all likelihood, you sighed and said “um” a few times, before eeking out a very sheepish “yes”.

And even if your manager has asked, in good faith, “are you sure?” – you’ve assured them, persuaded them, that you can. Even though it means sacrificing other projects or your own free time.

You take a deep breath and try to figure out how you’re going to cram it all in.

We’re willing to bet that you hit roadblocks, made mistakes, and generally felt really awful about that whole experience; even if you pulled it off. Most of the time, we don’t pull these projects off. We get called into meeting rooms, to explain that we bit off more than we could chew.


Imagine if you’d just said “no” – in a good, kind, meaningful way. With solutions, alternatives, workarounds. You and your manager would feel a whole lot better. You’d be able to find help or hire a contractor for the project. Success would have come at a far lower cost and risk.

So, how can you say no the right way, and be better off for it?

  1. Make it confident and constructive

Value yourself, be kind to yourself, make it positive. Focus on why you’re saying no – your integrity and quality of work, not workshyness.

  1. Give a clear reason

And keep it short. Show your work schedule, anticipate creeping tasks – give clear evidence that shows your availability isn’t open enough.

  1. Offer a solution

Can you aid the project in another way? Offer small but meaningful contributions that don’t see you taking on the whole project, but still add your expertise.

  1. Offer a person

If you know a teammate who’s better suited and has a clearer schedule, suggest them for the project – or refer freelancers that you trust.

  1. Be kind

Remember that “no” is going to be hard to hear. Even for the person running the show. Be understanding and empathetic. Try to see it from their angle: avoid accusatory language and “you/I” statements. Be thankful for being asked in the first place – and end it on a positive note.

Need a yes? Hire expert contractors

ClearHub specialises in finding the best Atlassian contractors – to fill skills gaps, relieve churn and reduce the chances of burnout. Want to know more? Get in touch with the ClearHub team today – call +44 (0) 2381 157811 or send your message to info@clearhub.tech. Let’s give your team the power to do more.

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Death to the Office? Hybrid, Remote and the Future of Working Together

Death to the Office? Hybrid, Remote and the Future of Working Together

The office as we once knew it is gone. But is it really dead?

Remote, hybrid and flexible working models are now the norm; 24% of businesses surveyed by the ONS stated that they intended to adopt more home working going forward. In the same study, 85% of workers disclosed their preference for a “hybrid” approach of both home and office working.

It looks like the office – although totally transformed – is here to stay, too.

With a greater demand for hybrid and home working, even among employers, greater flexibility in the workplace can only be a good thing – but will collaborative teams still thrive?

Concerns over collaboration, hard lessons over hardware

The WFH revolution hasn’t been without challenges. While some solo workers, contractors, entrepreneurs and startups are thriving, many people who once held office-based roles are feeling the negative effects of a corporate world without an office.

A study of 3,000 UK remote workers showed that 67% felt disconnected from their colleagues, while half (49%) said this sense of disconnection was having a negative impact on how they viewed their job. The ONS study found that challenges of collaboration were the greatest negative to remote and home working.

A study in Spain found that a third of households considered their remote working spaces inadequate – citing a lack of technology and resources, as well as not having the appropriate environment for their work.

How can this be remedied?

Video conferencing tools, like the now infamous Zoom and Microsoft Teams, are still the best answer to engagement and connection – but they require a cultural shift to be truly effective. Trust and teamwork are now the most important factors to success in the new world of work, where check-ins and feedback are vital to maintaining employee engagement. Honest reviews that focus on positive personal attributes, from managers who know their teams’ strengths and areas for improvement, will guide and engage people, even without face-to-face meetings.

The goal is to foster a positive remote working culture – free of paranoia and the sense of isolation. Inclusivity and giving everyone a turn to speak (in a manner which suits them best) will help bridge the perceived gaps in human interaction.

On the hardware front, cloud solutions, specifically those which integrate deeply with an organisation’s full software suite, are a key investment for businesses embracing the future of work.

Working together on projects in Confluence, a key pillar of the Atlassian stack, gives teams working remotely or in a hybrid setting the greatest possible collaborative environment. Atlassian Cloud migration is a game-changer for collaborative working over many types of hardware. Unlike other collaborative tools like Google Drive and Office 365, Confluence can be modified heavily with HTML and CSS, to suit any kind of workflow.

Confluence Cloud can be run as an app or in-browser, giving everyone in the team the same experience – regardless of the hardware they have – and all work is centrally managed and accessible, not just locally stored.

See also: How to hire Confluence contractors for a custom cloud implementation

But what about the lack of adequate workspaces? That’s where a hybrid model will truly shine – giving teams the flexibility of where they work from, with an option that gives them focus space and in-person collaboration. It also makes working with contractors much more streamlined, giving an opportunity for an excellent onboarding process and face-to-face working while letting them do the best job they can from the environment of their choice.

Best practices for hybrid working offices

Working collaboratively in the cloud solves many of the challenges of remote and hybrid working. But the office space you have – or decide to move to – needs to be optimised for it. Hybrid offices will be used differently from fully-staffed setups, to suit how people now work. 

It’s likely that fewer people will be carrying out solo, high-focus work in the office, but this should still be catered to. What teams now need are more collaborative workspaces, formal meeting spaces and better casual spaces.

One of the best solutions for open-plan environments is to build “sections” suited to different types of work. By clustering desks together, using booths, and arranging furniture or plants into borders, an office space can be optimised for hybrid working.

With dividers, booths and desks, focus spaces can be created where solo work can be carried out by anyone who still needs them. Active collaboration areas, with moveable seating, dividers, whiteboards, large digital screens and supplies, should be positioned further away from focus areas – and if possible, should have acoustic treatment applied to keep noise from travelling.

A space to hold private and confidential meetings is still a must, even with fewer people in the office – so don’t turn the boardroom into a gym just yet!

Last but by no means least, casual lounges, places to eat and recreational areas are vital to maintaining the bonds that make a team great. Take the opportunity to make these as engaging and comfortable as possible.

Hire Atlassian contractors suited to hybrid and remote working

ClearHub helps the world’s best companies hire Atlassian contractors, for custom implementations and cloud migrations – suited to the new ways of working.

Want to know more? Get in touch with the ClearHub team today – call +44 (0) 2381 157811 or send your message to info@clearhub.tech.