How to increase business productivity of hybrid teams
Traditionally, productivity referred to how well an organization converted input such as labor, materials, machines and capital into goods and services. While still true, it is narrow as it focuses on manufacturing processes. In today’s technologically driven economy, productivity refers to intellectual output. How can teams generate new ideas and implement them to increase the efficiency across many industries.
A hybrid workplace is a flexible workplace that is designed to support a distributed workforce of both in-office and remote workers. Where the pre-pandemic remote/in-office split may have been 20/80, the pandemic quickly flipped these numbers, changing to an 80/20 or even 90/10 split. With this rise in the proportion of work from home came the rise of the term ‘hybrid workplace’ and its importance in the quickly evolving workplace.
This blog discusses how businesses can improve the productivity of hybrid teams through processes, best practices and technology.
Why improve productivity
Improving productivity is important to organizations because increasing it can increase revenue using the same or fewer resources. Over time this translates to lower expenses and increased profits.
Four essential components of productivity
It is necessary to understand the four essential components of productivity before one can adopt processes, tools and best practices to improve productivity in the modern workplace.
1. Your ability to plan
To increase productivity, it is important to plan one’s activities strategically. It is very easy to get bogged down with work that is not important for the organization’s goals. To avoid this, you must make sure and plan each day strategically. Write down exactly what you want to achieve and prioritize the tasks in the order of importance. This will eliminate wasting time in unnecessary activities.
2. Your desire to remain focused
To remain focused, you need to work on just one project at a time. Don’t flit between tasks. Instead put all your attention on one task at a time until it is finished. If you have planned ahead and ordered your tasks based on priorities, you will be able to finish all the important tasks first without getting distracted thereby increasing your productivity.
3. Making the right choices
Time is the most limited resource that anyone has. To make the most of it you have to be good at choosing the right tasks to focus on first. Always focus on what matters by choosing the tasks that deliver the biggest bang for your limited time. Doing more of what matters in less time is the very essence of productivity.
The key to productivity is consistency. If you plan ahead, select the right tasks and prioritize them for just one day, you won’t succeed. You have to diligently follow this process every single day to deliver results. Consistency and commitment are key.
Three types of productivity
There are three types of productivity: technological productivity, managerial productivity and team productivity.
Technological productivity comes from using the right tools for the job. Managerial productivity comes from having the right skills and knowledge to assemble and drive a team to deliver organizational goals. Team productivity comes from all members of the team working collaboratively to meet management targets.
1. Technological Productivity
Technology plays a very important role in driving productivity. With globalization of work, technology is key to bridge time and geography between remote team members. However, using the wrong tools at work can kill your productivity. This is due to increased stress in using complex tools, and wasted time in searching for information across silos from multiple tools used for related tasks.
Here is a list of 10 best productivity tools that will help your employees to collaborate, manage time, remove distractions and organize their work better.
- Clariti — a free SaaS tool that brings all communications from email, chats, calls, cloud documents and social feeds to one place and links related communications in TopicFolders. This eliminates information silos and drives productivity by eliminating time wasted searching for information.
- Time Doctor — tracks time spent by the team on each project, client and task, increasing accountability and driving productivity.
- Brain.fm — is a productivity application that uses music to stimulate the brain and helps boost focus.
- Nebo — automatically formats handwritten notes to text saving time having to transcribe information by typing to an online text editor.
- StayFocusd — keeps track of all the sites you are browsing at work and automatically blocks sites that consume most of your time.
- HazeOver — when multitasking using multiple windows HazeOver removes all distractions by automatically highlighting the window you are currently working on and fades out all other inactive windows.
- Panda — go-to-app to keep yourself updated on all the latest news and industry insights in one place.
- Plan — calendar and task management app that makes sure you don’t let things fall through the cracks.
- Harvest — time management software that will put all your day-to-day activities in perspective and help you strategize your time better.
- Spark — helps automatically prioritize emails in your inbox by popping the important ones to the top.
2. Managerial Productivity
It is important for managers to be well trained in managing teams that are dispersed geographically. Gone are the days when everyone worked from the same location and managers could keep a close eye on what each of their team members was doing at work. There are four things that all managers must do to drive productivity of their remote team.
a. Providing autonomy
Providing employees with a sense of control and choice can lesson fight-or-flight responses from employees to change which result in reduced productivity. Allowing employees to design their own work environment, working hours or work flow is important for fostering autonomy.
b. Promoting intrinsic motivation
Autonomy with competence and relatedness creates a three-piece framework of intrinsic motivation. Managers can improve their team’s competence by giving them training needed to do the job. Employees can be made to feel connected or related to their job by making them understand how what they are doing relates to the big picture of the organizations long-term goals.
c. Recognizing sources of influence
When employees fail to perform it is important for managers to understand the source of failure. If it is motivation then it is important for the manager to communicate with the employee and make sure the employee feels connected to his/her work. If it is ability then the manager must make sure the employee gets the proper training.
d. Setting expectations and following up
Human beings like structure and certainty. Managers must set clear expectations to remove assumptions or guesswork that make employees feel like they have to second guess their manager all the time. Managers must set deadlines with specific dates and make sure to follow up at specific intervals to make sure everyone is on the same page.
3. Team Productivity
A collaborative team is much more productive than a hierarchical team. Unlike a top-down hierarchical team where the leader makes all the decisions, in a collaborative team, there is no leader and the group is self-managed with shared responsibilities. Collaborative teams are especially important in the hybrid work environment where everyone is geographically dispersed and it is very difficult for one individual to manage all the day-to-day tasks of each team member.
Collaborative teams help organizations in many ways including:
- a. Engaged employees — who are 38% more likely to have above average productivity based on a Gallup survey
- b. Attract talent — millennials relish the opportunity to engage, interact and learn from senior management.
- c. Increased productivity — implementing collaborative processes and networking tools improved productivity by 20–30% in global software development teams, based on a study by McKinsey & Co.
- d. Employee retention — according to the Work Institute an estimated 41 million people voluntarily quit their job every year. It is clear that the millennial workforce will not hesitate to change jobs if they feel the company is not the right fit for them.
It is clear that businesses need to rapidly adapt to the hybrid workplace where employees can be located anywhere and even work in different time zones.
Technology is the glue that binds remote teams bridging geography and time differences. Selecting the right tools for remote teams to communicate, organize and manage their work independently is key to driving productivity in the hybrid workplace.
Well-trained managers adept in dealing with employees who they see infrequently or in some cases never in person, are equally important to assemble and drive teams to deliver organizational goals.
Finally, implementing collaborative processes and networking tools improve productivity by helping employees feel connected and engaged in their work so they can perform independently without constant supervision by a manager.