Outsourced IT for Nonprofits, Creative Agencies and Tech Startups: How to increase your team’s productivity in the cloud
Some days can feel like a never-ending story…of distractions. Unfortunately, that’s because they often are.
According to The Harvard Business Review (HBR): “The average employee is getting interrupted 50-60 times per day, and most of these interruptions are unimportant.”
More alarmingly, “Research across several other surveys suggest that employees — from IT professionals to health care providers — are interrupted every six to 12 minutes.”
AND EVEN WORSE: Every time you‘re interrupted, it costs you an average of 25 minutes to get back on track.
Here are some key ways to help your staff maintain better focus:
Communicate less often, but more effectively
Excessive, ineffective communication is one of the worst distractions. You’ve probably experienced this. From long, rambling meetings to decentralized communications across multiple platforms (e.g., Slack, MS Teams, Skype, email, phone calls, video conferencing, etc.) to a lack of clear, consistent progress tracking on projects.
While it’s true that communication is the glue that keeps teams working together, if it’s not supported by a centralized communication platform, proper expectations and etiquette, it can easily become part just another (or 50) distractions.
Prioritize concise, effective communication by implementing the following:
- Create remote communication protocols for your team. There are so many options to consider when creating a communication protocols. Some ideas include setting up “core hours’ when workers are expected to be available for any meetings, collaboration needs or questions. Or maybe, based on the nature of your work, your staff can spend most of their time on asynchronous work and respond to emails or IMs within 24-48 hours. For more ideas, click here. The key here is to assess the nature of your work and your staff’s needs. We suggest getting team feedback on what they need in terms of communication when creating your protocols.
- Outline the proper tool etiquette to centralize and streamline all communications. This means if you use an IM platform, email, video messaging or other communication tools, be sure to outline why, how, and when to use each one. Then, make sure that all of your team is appropriately trained to follow the etiquette. Again, dis, getting feedback and buy-in from your team will ensure greater adherence to tool etiquette.
- Cut way back on meetings. Seriously, they’re stressing everyone out. AND be sure to stick to the agenda and allotted meeting times. Reducing meetings isn’t a new or radical idea. For example, wildly successful entrepreneurs like Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos, and even former Yahoo! CEO Marissa Meyer, all believed in strict agendas and cutting back on meetings versus the alternative. Next time you decide to plan a meeting, think twice. Maybe an email would work just fine. If not, then really consider who needs to be there. Do you need 10 people or would just two suffice?
Educate and support remote workers on how to create distraction-free work spaces and habits
It’s important to proactively engage your team in conversations regarding distractions to increase focus on a regular basis. This will not only lead to greater productivity, but can also help alleviate potential burnout caused by working more hours to make up for time lost to distractions.
Be mindful and empathetic when engaging remote workers in these conversations as they can tend to overlap with home life distractions and our experience as being humans interested in new, shiny objects. That being said, here are some basic practices that could help your team.
- Create and adhere to a regular schedule and ask family members and loved ones to get onboard.
- Take breaks and know when to call it a day to rest and restore attentional stores.
- Block out time to complete tasks that will ignore all distractions unless it’s an emergency.
- Install an internet blocking tool such as Freedom or disconnect from the internet depending on the work you’re doing.
- Consider removing all social media apps from both work and personal phones to make it harder to access and be distracted by them.
If you’re looking for more great suggestions on working smarter in the cloud, check out Steve Glaveski’s The Remote Working Playbook.
If you’re looking for more support in helping your team work smarter in the cloud, we invite you to schedule a free consult with Gerson here.