In March, when many teams moved to work from home for the first time, I heard a lot of questions from clients about how to know if their teams were still producing. After all these months, the results probably speak for themselves—as in, you know by now if team members have found ways to work productively outside of the office, and you hopefully have addressed performance issues with anyone who hasn't.
The questions are different now; the focus has shifted from, “How do you know if they are productive?” to “How can we keep them productive for the long haul?” As the reality sets in that many workplaces will remain at least partially remote well into next year, leaders are wondering about how to keep workers healthy, happy and productive in their new work environments over time.
Here Are 7 Tips to Keep Team Productivity High:
- Keep Your Rhythms. If you were having weekly team meetings, monthly learning sessions, quarterly planning meetings, or daily huddles when you were all in the office, keep those routines intact. Encourage team members to stick to the same work routines at home that they used when they were in the office. If you always checked emails first thing and then tackled the number one item on your to-do list in the office, do that at home. If you used to have a 3:00 pm coffee break in the break room, set up a standing Zoom link for those people who want to casually connect over coffee at 3:00 pm.
- Encourage Frequent Breaks. While it seems counter-intuitive, few things are as important for productivity than taking breaks. Our brains can only focus for so long before the quality of our attention and effort begins to suffer. Stretch, go outside, connect with a friend, meditate. If you can, schedule breaks for team members to get up from their desks and avoid burnout.
- Don’t Skimp on Space. Ensure your team members are adequately equipped with a comfortable work station at home. If they need a second monitor or a better desk chair, arrange for them to be able to pick up what they need from their office to bring home. Having a dedicated workspace where they can focus and work comfortably is essential for productivity.
- Communicate Consistently. You may find that you need to invest more time communicating with your team and establishing channels and dedicated times for them to communicate as well. If you were all used to sharing a collaborative workspace before or even in separate offices where you could pop in for a quick question, you might need to set up some more formal cadences for communication.
- Clarify Roles & Goals. In order to be productive, the team needs to know what to work on and why it’s important. Many companies are restructuring or running with fewer resources, and roles may have shifted in the last few months. You may assume everyone knows what to work on, but verify that everyone on the team understands his or her role and what the key responsibilities and desired results are. Also, if you are changing strategic direction or launching new products or projects, ensure the team knows how they are expected to contribute and what success looks like on these goals. The last thing you want now is for your teams to work on the wrong things or waste time wondering what’s most important to do now.
- Share Support Resources. If you have an employee assistance program or other mental health benefits for your employees to help them manage the stress and mental health impacts of the pandemic, make those readily available and easy to access.
- Work on Team Mojo. Keep a close eye on team dynamics. Do you need to mix up your meetings and add a fun icebreaker to energize the group? Can you show appreciation by giving everyone a Friday afternoon off to rest and recharge or surprise everyone with a lunch delivery to their home during your next meeting? Can you plan a safe, socially distant team outing for much-needed face-to-face (or mask-to-mask) time? Look for ways to keep your company culture strong and your team feeling the love.
Having the right systems and tools in place will help you with each of these tips. Consider a strategic management platform like Rhythm to keep your team aligned around the most important projects, continuously communicating and keeping each other updated on progress, and remaining accountable to the rhythm of work that made your team successful in the first place.
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