With the impact of Covid19 on our workplace, the percentage of people remote working from home has skyrocketed. Working from home has its own unique challenges but if your goal is to increase productivity, it is important for you to understand how crucial the role habits can play.
The habits we develop can have a significant impact on our productivity. Our goal should be to replace bad habits that are often caused by reactive patterns of behaviour with good habits that will make us proactive and enable us to take charge of our own agendas.
While we are experiencing workplace changes, it is an opportune time for us to review our work habits to change any unproductive habits and build new more productive ones.
The following are 12 ways to form habits that increase work productivity.
Habit 1 - Start each day with a plan.
Having a plan can drastically increase your work productivity. A plan can enable you to focus on what’s important instead of getting distracted by unforeseen tasks that inevitably pop up.
It is a good habit to create a plan during the afternoon for the following day. Select any essential tasks that are crucial for you to finish by the end of the day and then block out times in your calendar to complete them. For the most important work it is suggested that you use the most productive times of the day when you are most efficient.
Remember, if you fail to plan then you plan to fail.
Habit 2 - Try to minimise distractions
Minimising unwanted distractions will help keep you on task and increase productivity. Wearing headphones when there are noise distractions or reducing visual distractions such as pop-ups on your computer screens are just a couple of simple ways to increase productivity.
Habit 3 - Concentrate on one thing at a time
Single tasking is one key action towards improving productivity. Research has shown that multitasking can negatively influence your productivity. You may think that by multitasking you will get more done, but when you jump between tasks, your cognitive processing is hindered and you are less productive. By focussing on a single task enables you to get into a deeper state of mental concentration and achieve your most efficient results.
Working deeply can take a lot of energy and effort so it’s important that you take breaks. The Pomodoro Technique provides a useful guideline when working intensely. Work 25 minutes of focused work, followed by a 5-minute break.
Habit 4 - Start your day early
Early in the morning is a time when it has been shown that your creativity and willpower is strongest. Coupled with this is the time of day when you feel fresh and energised. By starting early you can also reduce the number of interruptions you may get as emails, phone calls and personal interruptions become more frequent during the day.
Habit 5 - Time-blocking works wonders
Time blocking is an excellent way to organise your time more efficiently by assigning tasks to time blocks that you have divided the day into.
By time blocking you can be proactive by prioritising your most important tasks and focus on one task at a time increasing proactivity.
Habit 6 - Close your inbox
Email is one of those 21st Century tools that you could not do without but it can also be one of your biggest distractions. By time blocking specific times to check and reply to messages and having your inbox closed and out of sight for the rest of the day can be a significant habit that will lead to greater productivity.
Habit 7 - Take small steps
A huge project can often feel daunting and we begin procrastinating over it. We find other tasks such as cleaning out our desk or redesigning our work space to put it off. A more effective approach is to break the project into smaller achievable steps that forms a list of tasks that are much more manageable and motivational.
Habit 8 - Reward yourself
Create a positive mental cycle by rewarding yourself for completing work and doing a job well done. When you finish a task, reward yourself and this will make you feel more inclined and motivated to begin the next task. For mental health, the habits of treating yourself when you reach milestones and celebrating success will have a positive effect on future productivity.
Habit 9 - Eat smart
The World Health Organisation has estimated that eating the right food can boost our brain power by up to 20%. An important habit to increase productivity is to eat healthily and regularly. Choosing nutritious foods and avoiding sugary snacks that make you crash will help you work at your best. Skipping meals can make you tired, irritable and mentally fatigued negatively affecting your productivity.
Habit 10 - Exercise regularly
A healthy habit such as regular cardiovascular exercise can be a crucial factor in working productivity. Exercise can boost your memory, attention span, creativity and can also lower stress and improve mood - a plethora of positive outcomes to increase your productivity.
Habit 11 - Use productivity apps
If you want to be the best you can you need to take advantage of the best, most efficient tools that are available to you. There are many apps that are available to boost your productivity and you should be building your arsenal of technology to give you the edge in a very competitive market. A great example of this is Microsoft To Do. This app syncs between your mobile and desktop to help you keep on top of your to-do lists and organise tasks by stream and deadline.
Habit 12 - Delegate wisely
Taking the burden and workload of too many tasks can be anti-productive. If you are trying to carry too much weight on your shoulders you likely to crash and burn but by delegating wisely you can share this load. If there is someone else who is better suited to a job then delegate it. Smart delegation of jobs when needed helps you achieve your goals without sacrificing productivity.
By developing good habits you can build a productive workplace to help you work to your potential.
Collagis is committed to helping businesses like yours to optimise workforce and organisational effectiveness. We'd love to share with you how we can help you to improve productivity.
The Personal Efficiency Program (PEP) helps individuals and teams to improve personal productivity and gain back on average 2 hours per person per day for meaningful work. Ask us for more information about how this could help your organisation to thrive.
When & should we go back to the office?
COVID-19 has accelerated the transition to remote working, forcing companies to adapt or die. Those companies not re-imagining the way they do business in a digital world, will not find a place in this new reality. The office, customer events, the boardroom and the commute have all changed forever.
As with all things, there are pros and cons of this new way of working, prompting many to ask not when should we go back, but if we should?
Here’s a quick synopsis of how the argument is currently shaping up:
Enterprises are compelled to accelerate investment in contactless technology as well as re-engineer processes for the digital world. Whilst before it was a customer expectation now it is a customer necessity. Those that are doing it well are mindful to transform in the move to digital, not just shift and lift, to improve the outcome from the digital experience for both the business and the customer.
As the effects of the pandemic continue to change the way we work forever, putting people at the heart of what we do today is even more crucial. Whilst we move to a digital, always on environment, we need to find new ways to build human connections and provide new tools and processes that allow people to continue to perform at their best – efficiently and effectively in the new world.
Links to reference
The Psychological Impact of Hot Desking
Hot desking affects wellbeing for eight in 10 office workers
Working from home
Working From Home Increases Productivity
Why working from home is bad for productivity
Australians more productive working from home
Research: Knowledge Workers Are More Productive from Home
Connecting with Customers in a COVID world
Connecting with customers in times of crisis (McKinsey)
4 Ways to Reconfigure Your Sales Strategy During the Pandemic (HBR)
Eight ways to keep up with your customers during and after COVID-19
As seen in the Australian Financial Review
The “new normal” of work is more a work in progress than a done deal but there’s no doubt
that the momentum for change is unstoppable. A survey of 2,500 “working professionals” by recruitment firm Hays in November found that 61 per cent believe that a hybrid working model – part-remote and part-office working – is the most productive.
Hays managing director Nick Deligiannis says the rapid shift to working from home necessitated by the lockdown and social distancing requirements established that “a large percentage of the workforce can work productively and successfully from home”.
Hays research has also discovered that 47 per cent of employers, noting that productivity and
business continuity were not adversely affected by having employees working remotely, are open
to retaining working from home as part of their workplace mix. For many employees, according to Hays, overall performance, job satisfaction and work-life balance improved as less time was spent commuting or dealing with the distractions of office working.
The challenge for employers as the economy reopens is to strike a balance between the work
preferences of employees and the needs of the organisation. This is particularly a consideration
for business leaders who believe that having staff working in a central office has cultural, creativity
and collaboration benefits.
“Employers are looking to the future and how they and their staff can benefit most effectively
from this new way of technology-enabled working,’’ Deligiannis says. ‘‘Organisations everywhere will be going through this process ... [A] hybrid working model could be the ideal middle ground that allows
employees to work flexibly on certain days of the week then come together with colleagues in a
central workplace on others.”
The boon to employee productivity and job satisfaction has been one of the big surprises of
what has been widely dubbed “the great working from-home experiment”. A survey of 2800 knowledge workers in the UK, the US, Canada and Australia found that Australians were more productive working from home than their overseas peers. The survey by business transformation and managed services company Adaptavist found that 85 per cent of Australians, compared with the global average of 82 per cent, reported being equally or more productive when working from home. One-third of respondents said they were more productive than being at the office.
But there were also some downsides to digitally-enabled working from home: one-third of
Australian respondents reported stress arising from being “always on”. “An overnight transition has been forced upon the business world and companies have had to rise to the challenge by doing whatever seems to work immediately,” Adaptavist CEO Simon Haighton-Williams told the Australian Computer
Society’s Information Age.
“Now it’s time to reflect and analyse this, to see what positive patterns have arisen that we need
to reinforce and what negative patterns we see that need to be changed.”
Paul Ventura, managing director of management consulting firm Collagis, which specialises in
workforce and organisational effectiveness, says “everybody is trying to get their head around what
the new reality is going to look like”. “I don’t think there’s been a bigger or more profound adjustment, certainly not since the industrial revolution,” Ventura says.
“What’s happening now has been possible for a long time in terms of available technology but
what’s changed is the mindset around the workplace and employee wellbeing.”
Ventura says the “nature of work” has changed and “remote working is here, and here to stay”. “For many workers the commute will no longer be part of their daily life. For them, work has changed from somewhere you go to something that you do.”
While most employers are satisfied that the working-from-home experiment has been
successful, that recognition is just the beginning of the business transformation that needs to
occur as the economy reopens.
“Dealing with change, navigating the uncertainty and striking the right balance between the benefits of a flexible workplace and the needs of the organisation are the challenges
that now face businesses,” Ventura says.
“The working-from-home experience has created the momentum for change but organisations can’t afford to be too aggressive in pursuing new ways of working. “Changes have to be balanced, reflecting the
needs of employees, the needs of the business and the needs of the customer.”
For many organisations the transformations they embark on will not be limited to the workplace.
“There will be opportunities to grow and expand that weren’t there previously. Equally,
products and services that were a solid basis for growth in the past may no longer be relevant or
sustainable or may be subject to supply-chain disruptions,” Ventura says. “Some organisations will need to consider a change of business model.” Although questions about the future shape of organisations will be more complex for larger organisations, Ventura cautions that “fundamental change is important whatever the size of the organisation”.
The good news, he says, is that whatever form the “new normal” takes, the end result will be
“more efficient and more productive” businesses.
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