Productivity means everything to a team of any kind. But what does productivity actually look like and how can you boost it?
Especially in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, business leaders all around the world have had to give more thought to how they define their employees’ productivity as teams are forced to remote working. For many, this creates new challenges as we’re no longer able to see our colleagues face-to-face.
With this in mind, we’ve compiled a list of the five most important things to keep in mind if you want to understand and optimise your team’s output. These tips will provide a solid jumping-off point for you whether you’re home-based or working with your team in an office setting.
1. Encourage breaks and “offline” time
We all know how detrimental work stress and mental health issues are for your team’s productivity. A recent survey found that 82% of employees felt pressure to put in more hours when working from home during the lockdown, making it clear that too many employees face undue pressure either from their employers or, if communication is lacking, from themselves.
When you consider how hard it can be to “switch off” after work when your office is also the living room, a place that should be all about relaxing and spending quality time with family, it’s no wonder that many people are finding working from home stressful.
Similarly, many people feel the need to always be online and reachable when working from home so as not to come off as slacking off. However, it’s hard to get a big piece of work requiring concentration done when you’re constantly interrupted with message notifications.
That’s why it’s important for you as a team leader to underline the importance of switching off after the workday, turning off notifications when you need to and taking enough breaks.
While it might sound counter-intuitive, taking regular breaks will actually boost productivity since you’re not burning all your mental energy in one go. The Pomodoro technique where you work for 25 minutes without distractions and then take a five-minute break is a popular one, allowing you to reset yourself, stretch, get a cup of coffee and check your phone between intense bursts of productivity.
2. Delegate & give credit where it’s due
We get it – as the team leader or business owner, you see the projects your team takes on as your responsibility. However, you haven’t surrounded yourself with smart and capable employees for nothing, and you’re just one person – so don’t expect yourself to be able to do everything!
If you find yourself always tempted to “polish” work completed by your team members or assigning more tasks for yourself than is humanly possible to complete within the working day, it’s time to take a step back and trust that your employees know what they’re doing. Instead of making them doubt their own capabilities by constantly nitpicking their work, focus more on giving kudos for work well done.
By hyping up your teammates you’ll help boost their morale and productivity as well as fostering a more positive work culture.
3. Reduce unnecessary meetings
Especially now that working from home is becoming the norm, many managers are tempted to host more meetings than before to make sure everyone’s staying on task. But between your morning and evening catchups, meetings for different projects plus get-togethers before to prepare and after to regroup, it’s no wonder that many employees wonder when exactly they’re supposed to be actually working on the tasks assigned to them.
Before sending out that Outlook invitation, ask yourself a few questions: is the presence of everyone on the guestlist needed for this meeting? Do you have a clear agenda for it? Do you need a full hour for this meeting? Or even: could this meeting be a simple email instead?
These questions are a good jumping-off point to determining what the most important meetings are and avoiding unnecessary disruptions to your employees’ workdays.
4. Reconsider how you view productivity
Managers have been forced to reconsider the way they think about employee productivity during the COVID-19 pandemic. While in the past, many team leaders would see the time their employees spent in front of their computers as a sign of their productivity levels, they now can’t get the visual confirmation of seeing them at their workstations since everyone’s at home.
The truth is that the amount of time someone spent at the office was never a good indication of their productivity.
In reality, what productivity actually looks like will vary from role to role, whether that’s the number of client calls handled, articles written or the number of tasks completed on your project management app.
This is where a good productivity management system comes in handy: it’ll help you set the parameters for measuring success, keep an eye on how projects are getting on and offer kudos to high-achievers and additional support to those struggling with their workload.
5. Provide your team with the right tools
The right digital tools will help your team communicate better, be clearer about everyone’s responsibilities and complete tasks faster, whether you’re working from home or the office. From cloud-based productivity suites and instant messaging apps to project management software, there’s a whole host of tools available at a low cost or even free to help you track and boost your team’s productivity.
When it comes to measuring productivity, our very own tool Phoenix Team Analytics is beyond compare. It collects and analyses productivity data, delivering you a look into how your employees use their time, what your productivity baseline should be and where your team could improve.
Phoenix Team Analytics can help you create a balanced scorecard to measure the productivity of each different department and identify high-achievers and those needing a helping hand. This way, you’ll get actionable insights into your team’s productivity and how to boost it.