The light at the end of the tunnel is shining bright, so bring on 2021 and the chance to see one another in the flesh, sooner I hope than later. Meanwhile, as most of us are still tethered to Zoom, staycations and home-screaming, (I mean -schooling), it’s a good time to review my top 10 productivity tips based on real data.
Today I would love to talk about how CEOs should manage companies through data — what we are hearing from BIG companies — as well as what we use at Time is Ltd. to improve our own productivity. By the way, have you got the chance to see my #emailproductivity tweets?
But first, hitting the news… 📰📰📰
- Darren Murph, head of remote at GitLab, on HR predictions for 2021 — “The burden for productivity will shift further towards leadership. This requires an end-to-end tool, workflow and communications audit to ensure direct reports have what they need” and are able to “share work early, often, and transparently.” I wish every company had a Head of Remote with these objectives!
- Help Your Team Beat Working-from-Home Burnout, Bobbi Thomason, PhD says: ASK questions. Not all employees are going to let you know how they’re doing. Enable REAL flexibility. Working from home ≠ flexible hours. Encourage mental breaks and quality time off. Logic, right? Yet so important to remind ourselves, managers, to do that.
- The Future of HR Tech — Rick Hammell, the Founder and CEO of Elements Global Services, shares his top priority for 2021. Numero UNO: the well-being — both physical and emotional — of his employees. Research shows mental health is taking a nosedive during COVID-19. The fear, frustration, and the anger is piling up for employees trying to juggle work with family. Curbs on freedom have also spurred unprecedented levels of depression among the workforce.
AND NOW THE JUICY STUFF! 🍊🍊🍊 What did we learn from 2020?
1. Conferences, the mainstay of networking, evaporated. How did we react?
The pandemic caused us to stop traveling and we saw a steep decrease in the size of our external network. No more in-person schmoozing with clients, partners, or influencer connections.
The green line in the graph below, which represents the external network of our most senior people at Time is Ltd., decreased significantly.
To compensate for the decline, we invested heavily in digital marketing. We have thousands of new contacts and are able to digitally meet the world! But quantity is not quality, so we can’t wait to deepen relationships with old-fashioned shoulder rubbing in 2021. Or maybe just some enthusiastic elbow bumping?
2. We zoomed in on product development
Like many of our clients, we have hunkered down and spent a majority of time focusing on improving our product. As the graph below shows, meetings and calls were mostly across teams as we are linking data insights with the team that designs dashboards. For me as a CEO, this data shows that we are really focused on product development. And what do we have to show for it? “We calculated the optimum amount of uninterrupted time required for a team to succeed on its mission. Drumroll…And.the number is: “ IT DEPENDS.” If you are a maker, your needs will be different than if you are a manager or salesperson. We also uncovered 50 metrics (and a way to get them) that can spell life and death for your company, such as collaboration overload, onboarding speed, micro/undermanagement, employee overtime, focus rate, and collaboration patterns.
3. Space to innovate vs. answering your 300th email of the day?
The focus rate of our team — (you can read how to calculate the collective focus time of employees on our blog) — decreased quite a bit during the pandemic. Focus time is UNINTERRUPTED quiet time for strategizing, planning and coding. Think of it as Me Time for the brain. The majority of our distractions came from Slack, although meetings were the main source of distractions for leaders and managers. (Time spent explaining the difference between past perfect continuous and past perfect simple to a minor is sadly not included in this graph). The good news is, when we look at these numbers, we know exactly why our teams were so busy with meetings and Slack. Their “distractions” tied in directly with our goals. Do you know how much time your teams spend on internal communication? We guarantee when you find out, you’ll need a strong drink of something! 🍺🍺🍷🍷☕☕🥛🥛
4. Onboarding during a pandemic? Find creative ways to expand the internal network of your new hires.
Time is Ltd. hired quite a few tech folks in 2020, and we need to make sure they are well integrated into our teams. We see the same issue is of great concern to our clients, as onboarding was one the biggest pandemic challenges for companies. We have been analyzing how employee networks develop and we can’t wait to share our insights in future newsletters! It’s no surprise newbies have smaller networks in their first six months than veterans. But we have found that outside of our own company, remote work can slow network development to a snail’s pace. People aren’t finding out what different teams are up to in the usual ways — during after-work drinks, over a coffee, competing for the microwave — and that’s a significant onboarding disadvantage. One way we help new hires feel connected is through strict use of Slack channels. New employees are added to relevant groups so they can look back into their specific topic without clutter, and they have access to all of the colleagues who work on their project. We encourage everyone to use the channels instead of direct messaging so that newbies are kept in the loop!
What are your biggest concerns about productivity in 2021? Reach out to me at email@example.com (or just comment below) and I promise our team will help you achieve your goals.