Getting Back to Peak Productivity After Your Summer Break

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Getting Back to Peak Productivity After Your Summer Break

It’s been a long time since we’ve celebrated the 4th of July fireworks. The laundry room is full of damp towels and bathing suits. And, the BBQs, outdoor concerts, and visits to the ballpark are winding down.

It’s a drag. And, while it was fun while it lasted, it’s time to get back to reality. But, of course, returning from your summer break is no easy feat. Thankfully, you can use the following nine tips to help you refocus and get back to peak productivity after your summer of sun.

1. Add a buffer day.

Flying back on a red-eye flight when you’re supposed to work the following day is rarely a good idea. You aren’t traveling across time zones? It’s still advised that you give yourself one buffer day between when you return from vacay and get back to work. The exception to the rule is if you are on a staycation.

How should you spend this day? Some suggestions would be to unpack, do laundry, get your home back in shape — run errands, and review your calendar. I’ve found that laying out my clothes for work puts my mind back in the zone.  You should also try to reinstate your routines, like going to bed at your normal time or resuming your workout regimen.

You’ll have a much easier transition from vacation to work when you take this extra day off. However, if you don’t have that time — don’t give yourself an excuse — just do what you have to and get back to work.

2. Clean and declutter.

Even if you left your workspace is nice and neat, spend your first couple of minutes cleaning, decluttering, and organizing. Examples would be removing desktop clutter, going through your drawers, and filing paperwork.

This may sound elementary. But, organizing your workspace unlocks the power of a “tidy desk, tidy mind” mindset. More importantly, this simple activity can help you build up momentum to tackle your priorities.

3. Make a list of active projects.

To get back on track, try to get a clear idea of what you left on hold while on vacation. In addition to helping you pick up the pace, this will prevent you from getting discouraged.

To get started, list all your active tasks and decide which steps need to be taken to resume them as soon as possible. If you really want to make this effective, start with the project that you enjoy most.

At the same time, don’t get too carried away. Rather, try to limit yourself to no more than three manageable tasks. You don’t necessarily have to focus on big goals. But, they should be achievable so that you’re making progress.

4. Get caught up.

Ryan Kahn, founder of The Hired Group and author of “Hired! The Guide for the Recent Grad,” recommends taking a step back before diving back into individual emails and projects.

“Figure out if there were any major events or changes that occurred,” he said. “This way, you’ll generally be up to speed before diving in deep into the day-to-day details of your work.”

Whether it’s through an informal team meeting or coffee chat one-on-one, this also gives you the opportunity to reconnect with your team. And, this may even assist you in getting back into work mode.

5. Keep distractions at bay.

Your inbox, Slack messages, and other notifications await your attention once you return to work. So, go ahead and catch up on these messages. After you’re all caught up, eliminate these distractions.

After all, how can you focus on more important tasks when communications are constantly pinging you from all fronts? The simple solution? Put your phone out of sight, close all nonessential apps, and inform others that you’re unavailable. You can accomplish the latter by blocking out your calendar or just closing your office door.

I’d also suggest that you schedule times to check your communications. Maybe during the first couple of days back, you could do this each hour or whenever you’ve completed a task. Answer any important messages you receive when you spot them. And, as for the messages that can wait, schedule a time to reply.

6. Take a five.

The human brain is incapable of focusing on a single task for an extended period of time. And, this especially after a long break like a summer vacation. So, as a result, your mind might wander, which will definitely hinder your productivity.

How can we avoid this? First, take short breaks throughout the day. That may sound counterproductive. But, these 2 to 5 minutes are needed if you want to reset your brain.

Consider setting a timer to alert you when you should take a few minutes to rest and recharge. Try deep breathing, stretching, or walking around your office.

7. Shake the rust off.

“During my years as a coach, when players enter into the preseason, they tend to have rustiness in two specific areas that stand out to me,” said Sharman White, head coach, Pace Academy (Ga.). “Those areas are ball handling and shooting. Those two skills tend to require the purest development when it comes to fundamentals and are easily detected when we evaluate our players early in the preseason.”

“To sharpen the skill of ball handling, we like to work on drills that require two-ball ball handling as well as weak-hand development drills,” adds White. “These drills help restore muscle memory as well as a keen sense of comfort with the basketball, which is needed as the competitive play nears.”

Obviously, I’m not talking about athletes like basketball players here. But, the concept is the same. If you’ve been away from work for a while, then it’s going to take some time to get back into a rhythm.

Go ahead and pace yourself. Take frequent breaks. And, give yourself time. You need time to reacquaint yourself with your environment and finding out what you missed.

And, don’t beat yourself up if you’re not working as fast as you normally do. Just like a basketball player entering preseason, you’re rusty. So, give yourself more time than you need to work on tasks until you’re back to game condition.

8. Perspective is key.

“Coming back from vacation is a great thing because you’ve had valuable time away to look at your working landscape differently,” states Carina Parry-Stevens for Productivityist. “When you return from vacation, you’re likely full of ideas.”

Instead of tossing them aside, “Take note of those little changes you would like to see that could improve the business,” she recommends.

9. Plan your next getaway.

You may have just gotten back to work. However, planning your next vacation can help alleviate the post-vacation blues. After all, having something to look forward to makes working a whole lot easier.

Best of all? It doesn’t need to be a long vacation either. It could be a day trip or a weekend excursion. But, again, the idea is to give you something else to look forward to if you’re struggling to get back into the swing of things.

4 Tips for Revamping Team Synergy Now

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Revamp Your Team Synergy

The whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Two heads are better than one. Many hands make light work.

There are so many ways we talk about working together, but one word seems to pop up a lot: synergy. However you choose to characterize work, synergy is the way companies get things done. Synergy leads to higher productivity, fewer duplicative efforts, and optimal use of talent. But these days, it’s not always an easy dynamic to achieve.

Remote and hybrid working arrangements can make achieving synergy among teams and across departments challenging. You might once have thought these measures were temporary and things would return to a pre-pandemic normal. But the workplace has changed forever, and your team’s expectations have changed right along with it. Here are four tips for revamping your team’s synergy now.

1. Give the Gift of Time

The pandemic has changed the way we think about time when it comes to work. Normal routines have been altered by closures, safety concerns, and the voluntary cessation of unnecessary activities. The distortion is particularly acute to those working remotely.

Nonetheless, work life goes on. There is still a need to schedule appointments, meetings, and interviews, even if they’re going to be virtual. These interactions still need to occur with customers, with clients, within teams, and across departments.

You can increase synergy by using scheduling software that uncomplicates the entire process. Give everyone 24/7 access to everyone else’s calendar, and anyone can put a meeting in an open slot. It’s also a hassle-free way to accommodate the work schedule for remote workers who may not be clocking in for a traditional 9-to-5 work day.

You can’t cultivate synergy without encouraging people to spend quality time together. If you give your team an easy way to make that happen, they’ll have more opportunities to collaborate. And that is the timeless way to make them measurably productive no matter where they are.

2. Blow Lines of Communication Wide Open

Clear, open, and honest communication is a cornerstone of team synergy. Without that type of communication occurring at all levels, teams become breeding grounds for misinformation. That, in turn, feeds distrust and anxiety, which are completely antithetical to creating positive synergy.

Synergy also relies on the exchange of information and ideas, so communication must be a two-way channel. You may be the person charged with setting goals for your team, but you shouldn’t do so in a vacuum. Remember, you’ve hired some talented people, so give them a shot at weighing in on the discussion.

Many team members may work remotely all or part of the time, so make sure your team has the tech tools they need to keep ideas flowing freely. Messaging, meeting, and collaboration software are essential to synergy.

One-on-one, team, and departmental communication isn’t as easy as walking down the hall anymore. Providing a safe space for frank discussion and expression of ideas, and the tools required to facilitate them, keeps everyone part of the conversation. Remember that many voices make for good synergy.

3. Switch Up the Players on the Field

You can have all the very best talent on your team, but it won’t be a winner without the right chemistry. Given the changes to the work environment, the formula might have changed. If so, you might need to switch it up to get your synergy back on.

Of course, the differences between individual team members are critical. A football team needs slow, fast, beefy, svelte, feet-on-the-ground, and fly-through-the-air players to win. A field full of quarterbacks only will fail miserably.

To foster your team’s success, you need to have the right combination of players in the right positions, using their individual strengths to play as a unit. A pre-pandemic team leader might need to take a supporting role due to work-from-home realities. Another might be stepping up in unexpected ways. Aim to synthesize everyone’s strengths while honoring the new realities of how they work. 

You are the coach in this analogy, which means it’s your job to shake up the lineup if the team’s synergy is waning. It’s OK if you don’t get the combination right the first time. But once you do, make no substitutions as long as your team is on a winning streak.

4. Empower Your People

There’s always the temptation for leaders to micromanage team members, but never more so than when they can’t keep an eye on them. Don’t merely resist the temptation. Do the opposite.

Lead with generosity by giving your team more control and being less of an overlord. You might be disappointed with some results but ridiculously delighted with others. You will be providing your team with some valuable lessons that will encourage them to be better employees.

Among the benefits of empowering team members are increases in creativity, collaboration, and corporate loyalty. This doesn’t mean you hand over total control, since, after all, the proverbial buck will continue to stop with you. Your empowered team will still count on you for input and guidance.

Team members are not unlike students who want to impress the teacher. But what they’ll realize is they can’t complete an assignment without the talent and insight of the other members of the team. For that, they need synergy.

There Is No “I” in Synergy

Synergistic results are unpredictable because you never know for sure what solutions will emerge from the intersection of diverse talents and skills. Not to worry — innovation is unpredictable.

What is predictable is that teams without synergy are lackluster and unproductive. Time, communication, and empowerment were easier deliverables back in the day. Although more challenging, they aren’t impossible to deliver now.

All it takes are the right tools, agile leadership, and a commitment to getting all those moving parts working together. The team may look a little different now, but there’s still no “I” in team — or in synergy.

8 Rainy-Day Initiatives to Add to Your Online Calendar

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Rainy-Day Activities for Your Online Calendar

There’s no need to wish for the rain to go away — especially right now — we need it so desperately right now. Not only is any precipitation great for the planet — but it gives you an excuse to tackle some indoor projects. The sun will be back soon, and you’ll have plenty of time for those outdoor activities.

Unsure of what to do with your rainy days? If you look around, you’ll always find something. It’s just a matter of finding a spot in your online Calendar. I like to have a rainy day list, so there is no decision to be made — just grab out your list, and you’re in business. Get your list ready now — have your tools in a to-go tote or to-go book bag — and you’ll be excited and ready to grab your supplies (which are always on hand) and go to work.

BTW — I also have a Windy and Snowy day Calendar list. It’s not that you’re stuck indoors, exactly — it’s that you can take a moment to think differently on your Rainy, Windy and Snowy days. You can vary your thinking process to keep your life interesting and supple — and add some deep joy on Rainy, Windy, and Snowy Days.

Rainy Day Ideas for Your Calendar

These eight indoor projects are great additions to your Calendar when rain is in the forecast:

1. Clean Up the House

No matter how hard you try, your home will never be entirely clean. So a rainy day is the perfect opportunity to catch up on house cleaning.

Plan a “spring cleaning” (or fall cleaning) in your online Calendar for the next rainy day in the forecast. Clean the countertops, dust the furniture, move the furniture and vacuum the carpets — and generally give your whole home a polish.

Home improvement projects are also great for a rainy day. Take this opportunity to do some painting or remodeling inside with the time you might’ve spent out in the yard.

2. Read a Book

Is there a book you’ve sworn to read that’s collecting dust on your shelf? Now’s your chance to finally crack it open. For one — if you really want to read a book, read it — don’t wait for a rainy day. But sometimes I find something wonderful in a book — and I save it for this type of opportunity.

There are so many great reads out there to choose from, from creative fiction novels to inspiring self-help books. Scheduling reading time in your online Calendar will make sure you capitalize on a rainy day opportunity.

Reading isn’t just an enjoyable pastime; it’s also incredibly beneficial for your health. Regular reading strengthens your mind, reduces stress, and may even help you live longer. That’s not to mention the lessons we can learn from the greatest minds around the world.

3. Have Some DIY Fun

Taking charge of a project and seeing it to completion can be incredibly gratifying. In addition, tackling a do-it-yourself (DIY) project allows you to develop your skills, discover new hobbies, and refresh your home.

There are countless DIY projects you can tackle. I like to watch for these projects at the quilt store and the hardware store — like watch for some crazy, wild creative pursuit. One time I took pieces of scrap metal (I cut it up) and threw the metal pieces against a piece of pine — then glued the metal on the board where it would have stuck in if I’d tossed hard enough.

It was a blast. When else would I feel I could just relax and do something free like that? Not with the hustle of work — no way — but a rainy day weekend was great. Perhaps you want to try your hand at woodworking to add some handmade decor to the house, or maybe you want to put together a craft to do with your kids. The possibilities are endless.

4. Prepare Next Week’s Meals

Meal preparation helps you eat better throughout the week. Put together a grocery list, put meals on the Calendar, and prepare them as a batch. With meal planning, you can control everything you eat, limiting the amount of fast food, snacks, and junk food you put into your body.

Not only will meal planning improve your health, but it will also save you money. Cooking from home is less expensive than eating out, although it does take some more time and effort. That’s why those rainy days are the perfect time to buckle down and get it done. Having meals ready for the rest of the week is worth it.

While you’re thinking about it, you can clean out the kitchen drawers and under the sink. If you’re low on sponges and disinfecting sprays, be sure you make a note on your grocery list.

4. Hold a Planning Marathon

This is where your online Calendar really comes in handy. When a rainy day disrupts your plans, take the time to make some new ones.

Your weekly and monthly plans can be as detailed as you’d like. When you hold a planning session, you’re able to fit more into your Calendar earlier so that other non-essentials take over your essentials. If you struggle with balancing your activities and responsibilities, then this is the perfect rainy day project for you

5. Clean Out Your Inbox

Managing your email can take a lot of time. If you run a business or work at one that relies heavily on email communication, you’ve experienced the overload and unanswered emails firsthand.

When a rainy day slows things down, take the time to clean out your inbox. Respond to all necessary emails and delete anything that’s not needed. You can even create some folders, such as “read” and “responded to,” to keep your inbox more organized for the future.

6. Make All Your Calls

Got a list of people you’ve needed to talk to? Give them a call while the rain pours down. You can reach out to partners or clients, but don’t forget to give grandma a call as well.

To avoid dropping in without warning on those who wouldn’t appreciate it, you can send scheduling links asking them if they are available for a call that day. Professionals like salespeople and investors can’t always take calls on a whim. You can schedule calls and get many people contacted, as you blast through your home cleaning if you put people on a Calendar schedule and keep calls to about 30 minutes.

7. Purge Your Paperwork.

If your filing system is full of old bank statements and mailers, take a rainy day and toss the junk. Keeping things organized saves you a lot of time and effort in the long run.

When the rain hits, block off time in your Calendar to go through your documents. Remember to save tax forms for at least three years. Shred or burn anything sensitive, so the information doesn’t fall into the wrong hands.

Conclusion

You may not be able to take off work on a rainy day — but learn to appreciate rainy days as your friend. If you live by the ocean — it looks overcast every day, and it’s not rainy. You can get so much done during a rainy day if you put your mind to it. To hold yourself accountable, schedule your activities in your online Calendar.

I also have a windy day schedule and a snowy day schedule on my Calendar. Windy and Snowy days look somewhat like my Rainy day schedule. I used to sell paintings — but I don’t anymore (It’s hard to make a living in visual arts). On Snowy days, I pull out my artwork tools and force myself to begin a new piece. Maybe this piece will be for someone for the holidays or for a client. On Windy days — I try to write a piece of music or practice the piano in a deeper way.

The main point is — use these days as a reminder: rainy, windy, snowy — and catapult your beloved work to a new level. You’ll be amazed at how much richer your life will be — and how much you can accomplish in a few hours spent differently on those days.

Using Wi-Fi Analytics to Improve Your Customer Experience

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Using Wi-Fi Analytics to Improve Your Customer Experience

Offering your customers free Wi-Fi is one way to make your customers’ experiences more comfortable and convenient. It’s also a gateway to a data goldmine you can use to drive repeat visits and improve your location’s offerings. With Wi-Fi analytics, your business can create highly targeted email campaigns, optimize staff scheduling, and gather in-store behavioral insights.

Capturing customer behaviors through your guest Wi-Fi allows you to see real-time data, something that many businesses are already doing. A Harvard Business Review study found that 58% of businesses used customer analytics to increase retention and loyalty. Real-time analytics were viewed as extremely important to improving the customer experience by 60% of companies.

Real-time data can reveal how much time customers are spending in your location(s) and how long they’re lingering in various areas. You can track who’s visiting your storefront for the first time and what percentage of first-time visitors come back. Wi-Fi analytics has the power to show heavy and slow traffic times and which customers are churn risks. As highlighted below, this type of data can pivot your customer experience from average to exemplary.  

Adjust Your Staffing Levels

It’s happened to just about everyone. You go to a restaurant with the expectation you’ll be in and out within an hour or so. But when you arrive, it’s obvious the staff is overwhelmed and can’t keep up. You can either deal with the long wait times and poor experience or leave and find another place to eat.

Wi-Fi analytics can help your business avoid these types of scenarios by syncing foot traffic data with your scheduling software. By seeing how many customers log into your guest network during different times, you can adjust your employees’ schedules accordingly. If the data shows peak traffic times are between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m., more staff can be scheduled then to meet demand. Your clients will be less likely to experience substandard service and delays.

If you operate more than one location, real-time data can reveal similarities and differences between them. Say your hair salon on the west side of town is constantly busy in the evenings. Your east side location tapers off during this time, but both locations experience high volume in the mornings. To help improve customers’ experiences, you could shift some employees from the east to the west location in the evenings.

Segment Customer Personas

Public Wi-Fi portal agreements are an opportunity to learn more about your customers’ demographics. These agreements are also an effective way to gather email addresses and build databases for digital marketing campaigns. Although some businesses simply let visitors accept terms and conditions to sign in, they’re missing out on valuable information.

By asking for some personal information during the sign-in process, you can learn about your clients’ characteristics. Data points like gender, age range, and zip code will allow you to start segmenting your customer base into various personas. You’ll also see whether the majority of your visitors fall into certain demographic categories, such as male or female. This kind of information could change the way you offer services or the types of products you carry.

Asking customers for their email addresses and permission to communicate with them enhances your personalization efforts. You can combine their purchase and on-premise behaviors with their demographics to deliver tailored messages. These touchpoints can encourage them to come back by suggesting complementary services and products. You can also use these messages to nurture the relationship with personalized offers and rewards for feedback about their visits.

Track Conversion Rates

Businesses that track conversions effectively send targeted promotions to customer segments via text message and email. People can look at the details through an online link and redeem offers at the physical location using a barcode. Once staff scan the barcode on a customer’s mobile device, the business can log which individuals converted.

Conversion rates for individualized or segmented offers tell a business a few things. They let the company know whether those customers found value in the promotion and whether it led to purchases. Conversion rates also reveal whether the messaging about the promotion did its job. This information gives the business the opportunity to target those who didn’t convert with different messaging or offers.

Wi-Fi analytics help you personalize offers after customers’ visits based on some key behaviors. This includes how long they browse in certain areas, how often they visit, and what times they come in. Your business has a greater chance of increasing conversion rates with offers that match those behaviors. A nail bar, for instance, can send a discount mini-pedicure offer to individuals who tend to stop by on their lunch break.

Identify Churn Risk

When customers stop purchasing from you, it can be because they no longer need what you offer. It can also be due to a bad experience or frustration with your processes. While customer surveys can identify some of these problems, their reach is often limited. McKinsey & Company reports that the typical customer experience survey captures only 7% of an organization’s customers.

As the report outlines, combining real-time data with other information can pinpoint customers who are at high risk of churn. For example, customers might browse your website for items to pick up later at your location. The website indicates the products they want are available, but when customers arrive at your location, they learn they’re out of stock.

Some clients might overlook this error on the first or second visit. Others won’t and will start looking for alternatives. By identifying individuals in the latter category, you can seize opportunities to implement recovery methods, such as reaching out to offer a discount on their next purchase. You could also offer to order the out-of-stock item(s) with express shipping to their home.

The power of using Wi-Fi analytics to improve your service processes lies in its real-time data. This information provides insights into how clients are responding to your business as they interact with it. When combined with other data, customers’ immediate and often unspoken feedback can lead to the creation of a superior customer experience.

Moving? Make it Easier With an Online Calendar

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Moving? Make It Easier With an Online Calendar

Moving to a new city can be equal parts exciting and nerve-wracking. It can also be a logistical nightmare if you’re not prepared for the challenge. There’s no need to make moving harder than it already is. You will likely. move many times in your life for a variety of reasons. Learn how to make the best of the moving process.

To make moving as easy as possible, leverage your online calendar. This wonderful time management tool will help you break down the project at hand, so it’s more easily managed. Check out these 7 online calendar tips for your upcoming move:

Go on a Shopping Trip

What kind of materials do you need to accomplish your move? In most cases, this means acquiring an absurd number of boxes and bags to store your belongings. However, if you don’t have enough, make a trip to get everything you need.

An online calendar can help you plan the most efficient shopping trip ever. Track the best times to miss crowds and traffic, and organize your to-buy list, so you don’t forget a thing.

Hold a Yard Sale

Getting rid of some clutter makes packing up a lot more manageable. Of course, you could throw some stuff away, but you might as well try and land some extra cash by holding a yard sale. Use your online calendar to plan your sale days in advance, leaving enough time to advertise it to the community.

For anything you’re unable to sell, consider donating it to a local charity. This will be one final act of goodwill before you pack up and leave the place you’ve called home for so long. If you have family and close friends around, you can send some gifts to them as well. Many young families will jump at hand-me-down clothes or baby toys.

Organize Your Packing

Once your move is in the works, you’ll need to start packing up your belongings. This will take a lot of time, and isn’t a task you want to put off until the last minute. To ensure it’s all done promptly, organize your efforts with an online calendar.

With this planning tool, you can set aside time every day to chip away at your packing. This way, you can log continuous progress up until the day of the move. Then, stick to your packing schedule, and there will be little to do once that day arrives, saving you a lot of stress and headache.

To further organize your packing, you can break down your time and where you concentrate your efforts. Your schedule can look a little something like this:

  • Monday – Pack any kitchen appliances and dishes you won’t be needing
  • Tuesday – Clear out and box up storage closets and bathroom cupboards
  • Wednesday – Pack the basement and deep clean
  • Thursday – Bubble wrap and box up pictures, wall decor, memory albums, books, and any fragile household items
  • Friday – Pack up guest and laundry rooms as deep clean

Of course, the days and tasks are totally up to you. The important thing here is that focusing on singular tasks will help you be more effective than just chipping away at random little things.

Plan the Trip

Does your move include a cross-country drive hauling a trailer of belongings? If you don’t have the necessary moving equipment, you’ll need to rent some. Moving companies typically charge by the day, so planning an efficient trip can prevent the costs from piling up.

Your online calendar will not only make your drive more efficient but more enjoyable as well. Plan hotel stays and stopping points along your drive, and you’ll make the trip in a timely manner. This will help you get some needed rest and make memories along the way.

Enlist Some Help

On the day your moving truck arrives, there will be a lot of packing and lifting to be done. To get this done as quickly as possible, you can enlist the help of family, friends, and neighbors.

To organize volunteering efforts, make an event in your online calendar. You can share this event with others to collect RSVPs and get all of the work done in a single time period. This will get all hands on deck to complete the project instead of a little bit of help trickling in here and there. You might even whip up a batch of cookies the night before to thank your helpers.

Execute Your Arrival

The move doesn’t end when you arrive at your destination. There will be just as much unpacking to do as there was packing. Everything you did to depart will need to be replicated for your arrival.

You can plan these efforts the same way you organized your leaving. Enlist help, have cleaning supplies handy, set time for unboxing, and make a plan to follow in your online calendar. This will help make it less of a chore and allow you to better settle into your new home.

Get Familiar With Your New Home

Unless you’re moving back to a previous residence, there will be a lot of unknowns in your new hometown. You will need to get familiarized with key locations such as gas stations, schools, and grocery stores. You’ll also be interested in hitting up local sites like movie theaters and parks for entertainment.

Schedule times to hit the town in your online calendar. This way, you can see as much as possible in the shortest amount of time. In addition, the more comfortable you get with your new surroundings, the sooner you can call it home.

Leaving one place in favor of another is a challenge in itself. There are so many things to get accustomed to, and the difficulty of moving shouldn’t stop you from making the transition as positive as possible. Use these tips and your online calendar to make moving a cinch, and get down to business in your new home.

5 Tech Solutions to Help Your Hybrid Team Work Together More Smoothly

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Tech Solutions to Help Your Hybrid Team Work Together More Smoothly

Working from home has kept individuals and families safe from the spread of the COVID-19 virus. At the same time, it allowed employees to make an income and contribute to the companies they work for. Home offices were set up in record time, and we discovered a whole new meaning to the term “business casual.” 

Since then, numerous workers have decided to continue working remotely at least some of the time. Shelter-at-home orders caused many to come to an important realization. Being closer to family, having more flexibility, and leaving their morning commute behind made them happier and more productive. According to McKinsey, more than 50% of employees would prefer to work from home three or more days per week. 

Demand for solutions that allow teams to collaborate across long distances in real time was high, and tech companies were happy to provide them. Now there are hundreds of team collaboration tools that span multiple uses and purposes. For those in leadership positions, learning how to leverage productivity software can make every workday more efficient than the last. 

In this article, we’ll talk about managing hybrid teams and what tech solutions are available to make every project run more smoothly. 

Managing Hybrid Teams in 2021

The pandemic undoubtedly forced companies to experiment with new ways of operating. Bosses got used to not seeing their subordinates at their desks, and employees became increasingly accustomed to working from home. 

When pandemic restrictions began to lift, it brought further change. The transition back to the workplace from all-remote work gave birth to an in-office and remote work experience. Leaders were faced with organizing hybrid teams with no definitive guidance to direct them. 

Feeling their way toward the optimal hybrid workplace, managers have had to balance the requirements of two groups of employees. Fortunately, there are many tech solutions that make collaboration across hybrid teams both effective and efficient. 

Hybrid Tech Solutions

Hybrid teams need specialized tools that cater to both in-office and remote team members’ needs without compromising productivity. Here are some of the ways that technology can help leaders manage their hybrid teams:

1. Team Communication

Effective communication is key to a successful hybrid working environment. Instant messaging platforms allow teams to communicate in real time. Questions can get answered in an instant, preventing project bottlenecks from arising. When team brainstorming is required, video conferencing tools enable both remote and in-office workers to participate equally. 

Popular apps like Slack and Zoom also offer integrations, making them easy to use in conjunction with your other collaboration tools. Other examples of team communication tools include Flowdock for messaging and file sharing and GoToMeeting for video conferencing.

2. Scheduling

Working remotely has some perks, but it’s easy to lose track of time and blur the lines between work and home. Keeping everyone organized and in step although working in separate spaces can be quite tricky. 

That’s where appointment scheduling software can come in handy, while also helping remote workers instill more structure in their workdays. Scheduling tools like Google Calendar, Calendar.com, and Appointment.com all provide digital calendars that sync across several devices, allowing teams to plan together. 

3. Project Management

Managing projects and tasks when your team members are separated by distance is no mean feat. Project management tools help leaders coordinate, monitor progress, and keep track of objectives no matter where team members are located. Managers can clearly communicate action items by incorporating tools such as Asana, Monday.com, ProofHub, and Trello into their hybrid workflows. 

4. Task Collaboration

Employees are often required to work together to complete certain tasks and create the best outcomes. Collaboration tools allow multiple people to create together. Tools like CodingTeam that encourage visibility are perfect for collective code building. 

Services such as Google Docs and Quip enable both in-office and remote employees to edit spreadsheets and documents in real time. They also allow you to transfer and share files with vendors or clients outside the hybrid office.

5. Team Learning

Collaborative learning solutions help teams overcome obstacles by ensuring that everyone is up-to-date on the latest policies, practices, and procedures. Additionally, platforms like Gong allow teams to leverage best practices from high-achieving performers so that everyone can increase their productivity and overall success. 

Transparency and teamwork are imperative in a hybrid workspace. Collaborative learning platforms help managers consistently enforce new policies and employees learn new processes, keeping everyone on the same page.

Conclusion

The pandemic caused a dramatic shift in how we do almost everything, including the way that we work. We learned that productivity is possible outside of the office. We also learned how much we crave human connection. Lucky for us, the increase in collaboration tools means it has never been easier for employees to work together, separately. 

In these unprecedented times, it is likely that hybrid offices are here to stay. Some employees prefer to work from home, while others thrive in the office. Still others enjoy the flexibility of being able to do both. Fortunately, these tech tools can help you work out the kinks as you navigate the new normal in the workplace. 

7 Ways Your Business Strategy Needs to Evolve in 2022

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7 Ways Your Business Strategy Needs to Evolve in 2022

The market is becoming choppier, travel is slowing down, and businesses like Lyft, Google, and Apple are postponing their return-to-office plans. How, in the midst of so much chaos, can companies expect to be able to form and cohere to a single business strategy?

The short, unsatisfying answer is that they can’t. A business strategy composed in January was probably in need of serious revision by the time July came around. This is poised to be just as true for next year as it has been for this one: COVID-19 isn’t going anywhere anytime soon, and uncertainties continue to abound. It’s time to call an audible on your business strategy in order to respond to current trends.

Here’s how you can do just that by evolving your business strategy:

1. Keep up with COVID.

This is the big, no-exceptions mantra that should ring out whenever it’s time to make a decision regarding business strategy. While major economies are unlikely to return to the harsh lockdowns of early 2020, the future trajectory of COVID-19 is something a lot of consumers are watching vigilantly. According to an ongoing survey conducted by Deloitte, some 51% of customers are concerned about their physical wellbeing when it comes to their activities, up from 47% a month prior.

Far too many businesses have been on the back foot when it comes to COVID-19, waiting for trends to appear before responding to them. Significant portions of your consumer base are taking matters into their own hands when it comes to COVID safety; if cases start to spike, they may be more hesitant to travel or perform business in person. Instead of working to accommodate those preferences as they arise, closely monitor your local and national situation and adjust your practices accordingly. If you’re not willing to take the steps necessary to make your customers feel safe and protected, they will find another business that is.

2. Complete your digital transformation.

Plenty of companies were transitioning to the cloud before 2020, but the events of that year just added more fuel to the fire. For most of the past year, developments like the rise of remote or hybrid working and virtual communication have been front and center of most companies’ business strategies. The reopening of the economy in 2021, however, has seen some businesses put a pause on their digital transformation for the time being — that’s a big mistake.

While the world may seem to be “returning to normal” for now, the future is all but certain to be one that happens online. Businesses need to transition to the cloud if they want to be ready for the next stage of digital commerce. For example, smart home and small business solutions provider Plume estimates that there will be 8.4 billion digital voice assistants in the world by 2024 — if your business is still married to brick-and-mortar operations, how effectively are you going to be able to respond to a consumer base whose primary method of purchase and research is digital voice assistants? The transitions that occurred in 2020 need to be accelerated, not halted, as 2022 approaches.

3. Don’t bet on rosy markets.

When the stock market plummeted in March and April of 2020, it seemed like the global economy was going to be in the dregs for some time. Little could anyone anticipate just how untrue that would end up being: the recession of 2020 ultimately lasted just 2 months, the shortest in US history. Growth since then has been on a sharply upward trend, and plenty of business leaders are getting ahead of themselves in expecting this growth to continue unabated for years to come.

Predicting the trajectory of the economy and the markets that comprise it is almost impossible, and there’s reason to be skeptical of those who forecast halcyon years ahead. Legendary Boston-based money management firm GMO recently predicted that the S&P 500 will have lost half of its inflation-adjusted value by 2028, for example. Don’t build a business strategy on a foundation of optimism alone. Create workflows and operating principles that can work in both good and bad times, and your business will be able to ride both the crests and troughs of whatever waves may come your way.

4. Meet your customers where they are.

In 2020, businesses had to be able to reach their customers at home if they wanted their attention. In 2021, customers were more eager than ever to get out of the house and head to businesses directly. Which of these routes is more likely for 2022? What about the 2020s in general? How can businesses expect to cope with the uncertainty of consumer behavior?

Sticking to your storefront may ultimately cause more trouble than it’s worth. Indeed, Bloomberg reports that the e-commerce industry could be worth over $16 billion by the year 2027, with few signs of slowing down in growth thereafter. There’s nothing wrong with returning to normal for a while in the next few quarters. However, don’t bet too much on brick-and-mortar making a long-term comeback. Make your way to the cloud; your customers will be waiting for you there.

Consider offering a hybrid option. You would be accommodating both customers who want a traditional in-person experience, and those who prefer to do things virtually. Be sure not to neglect the latter in favor of the former, though. Doing so is equivalent to adopting a business strategy far too near-sighted for long-term success.

5. Adjust to new social media practices.

Social media usage is booming across all platforms. However, that doesn’t mean you can just post-traditional content and expect higher levels of engagement than before. As users grow, social media trends and practices evolve. The posts that accrued big engagement in 2018 will probably not make the same kind of splash in 2021.

This is perhaps most true in the ever-growing world of social media influencers. Just a few years ago, they were objects of fascination or derision in most marketing departments. But, businesses dismiss them at their own peril. A Google-commissioned survey from Ipsos found that 40% of millennial YouTube subscribers say that their favorite creator understands them better than their friends — that level of trust and engagement is way more likely to get a customer’s attention than promoted tweets ever will. Don’t let a dynamic business strategy become sclerotic when it comes to social media.

6. Respond to changing employee priorities.

It’s not just consumers and markets who have had their trajectories changed by the past year. Your employees have likely undergone a few changes themselves. Quality of life is increasingly privileged over big salaries and flexible work over traditional office setups.

In fact, attempting to quickly re-transition to the way things were before may cause quite a bit of consternation among your team. A recent survey from The Morning Consult found that 39% of workers would consider quitting if their bosses forced them to give up remote work and return to the office. This isn’t just true for your current employees either. Prospective hires will also be expecting accommodations when it comes to remote and flexible working options. Businesses too set in their ways when it comes to cubicles and the 40-hour, 5-day workweek risk creating business strategies already out of date.

7. Think global, stay local.

It’s an oft-employed maxim that the world is constantly getting flattered, and not in the literal sense. It’s becoming easier all the time to communicate and do business across borders. At least, it was before COVID-19 struck. Disruptions to travel and international shipping meant that businesses once again needed to refocus their efforts on local and domestic markets.

What about 2022? Should companies bank on the reopening of borders and flourishing of international business or play it safe with nearer markets? Unsurprisingly, the answer is a bit of both.

Don’t abandon your local operations in the hopes that your business’s horizons will broaden in the near future. Instead, continue to nurture any and all existing customer relationships. And, do so while waiting for a good time to begin expansion further afield.

Make sure your business strategy reflects this by emphasizing operations you know can be sustained into the future while probing for potential opportunities down the line.

Anyone who tells you that they know what 2022 will look like is lying. The uncertainty that plagued 2020 and 2021 isn’t going anywhere, and your business strategy needs to be composed accordingly. Prepare your company against whatever may come, and expect solid growth in return.

How Entrepreneurs Can Clean Up Their Calendars

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How Entrepreneurs Can Clean Up Their Calendars

Entrepreneurship is one of the most admired aspects of the American dream. Without hardworking men and women with dreams and passions — coupled with astounding drive and work ethics — we wouldn’t have many of the things we enjoy today. Think of your favorite brand and remember that before it became mainstream, it was a lowly startup backed by a bold entrepreneur.

While entrepreneurs are rightly praised for their accomplishments, it can be difficult to be in their shoes. A lot of blood, sweat, and tears go into entrepreneurship. All that effort can get exhausting. It can also get confusing when calendars are packed end-to-end with meetings and events to keep track of.

Time management is key to entrepreneurial success. Here are six ways active and aspiring entrepreneurs can clean up their online calendars to help them achieve more while stressing less.

1. Implement Color-Coding

Color-coding is a simple organizational system that will bring your calendar to life and keep it better organized. All you need to do is group your tasks together in a way that they can be identified with a single color. Once you get used to this new system, one glance at your day will give you all the information you need. 

For example, you can separate most of your tasks into three main groups, such as team huddles, client meetings, and administrative tasks. Each group will have its own color, like red, yellow, or blue. A stream of yellow for next Wednesday lets you know right away that you have a bunch of client meetings coming up that you need to prepare for.

Once you’ve implemented your color-coding strategy, you’ll begin to think about the tasks you put into your calendar more carefully. More methodical thinking will keep your calendar clean and organized even as you splash it with colors.

2. Batch Tasks Together

Speaking of grouping tasks together, not every single to-do item needs to have a designated space in your schedule. There are many instances where you can batch tasks together to condense your calendar and prevent clutter. 

It would be silly to create a calendar event for every email you plan to send throughout the day. Not only can you schedule a time to do all your emailing, but you can also batch that with other administrative tasks to get them done at the same time. If you don’t want to forget important details, use the notes section of your digital calendar to make to-do lists that accompany your task batches. 

3. Create a Separate Calendar

Many online calendar apps allow you to create multiple calendars to organize your time. With multiple calendars, you can clean up one messy calendar by dividing it up. To ensure double-booking doesn’t occur, keep these calendars synced even if you don’t view them together at the same time. 

One of your calendars can be designated for all your personal affairs. Track birthdays, anniversaries, sporting events, important school dates, and more here, while keeping all of your entrepreneurial activities on a separate calendar. If you really want to go all out, you can create separate calendars for each department of your budding organization. 

4. Learn How to Delegate

One reason entrepreneurs’ lives are so grueling is that their plates get overloaded, especially in the early stages of a startup. Entrepreneurs are product developers, marketers, HR representatives, and salespeople all at the same time. The sooner you can delegate some of these tasks to others, the sooner you can clean up your calendar and clear your head. 

Learning how to delegate is a process. Many entrepreneurs don’t want to let go of their responsibilities because they only trust themselves to get the job done. Just remember that you’ll become more effective as you pass on assignments and focus your attention, and your calendar, on fewer projects. 

5. Make Time for Yourself

Entrepreneurship is often a 24/7 job. Building a business from the ground up isn’t easy, and it takes a lot of time and effort to become one of the few who enjoy long-term success. Prioritizing your mental health and physical wellness will help ensure long-term success by staving off burnout and keeping your mind in top shape.

This is different from just creating a separate calendar for your personal events. You need to intentionally make time for yourself in your calendar. Schedule a date night with your significant other, allot time for exercise, and even schedule some evening hours to read a book. These blocks of time will help with your work-life balance and clear your calendar of unnecessary busywork you continue to pile onto yourself.

6. Lean on Automation

Any task that you can automate can be taken out of your schedule, which leads to a more open calendar. Not only that, but automation will keep your business running even without your constant supervision. You will be able to accomplish more with less effort.

No matter your business model, there is some business task that you can automate. You can add a chatbot to your website to answer frequent customer questions without the need for a human representative 24/7. You can automate email marketing campaigns and sales outreach. Find ways to automate your growing business, and these tasks and others won’t be taking up calendar space any longer. 

While it’s good to fill your time with productive activities, an overstuffed calendar can be counterproductive. Use these tips to clean up your calendar and keep it that way, so you can focus on your performance as an entrepreneur and not your ever-changing schedule. 

Instilling Generosity Into Your Leadership Can Help Your Company Succeed

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Instilling Generosity Into Your Leadership Can Help Your Company Succeed

Bad bosses foster bad blood throughout the whole team. That’s not just theoretical, either — it’s been proven again and again. For instance, a Gallup study showed lousy managers contributed to about half of their organizations’ resignations. But to be honest, not all supervisors belong in a Dilbert cartoon.

Take you, as an example. You’re reading an article on moving your leadership level up a notch. So you’re not exactly shying away from self-improvement. But, at the same time, you might not be aware of one attribute that could ratchet up your ability to lead: generosity.

Instilling Generosity Into Your Leadership

What makes generosity such a powerful force when used by leaders? For one, it’s unexpected in a delightful way. When most people describe their bosses, the word “generous” doesn’t spill from their lips. Maybe they say “kind” or “driven” or “smart,” but they rarely talk about a team leader’s or executive’s generosity. This shows how much of a unicorn trait it can be.

Secondly, generosity tends to promote a ton of goodwill. There isn’t an in-person or remote office on the planet that couldn’t use an extra dash of positivity. In fact, infusing a spirit of generosity into a workforce can create a domino effect. As workers experience generosity from their leaders, they tend to pass it around, too.

Finally—and on a personal level—being generous is good for your health. One psychological study on volunteerism found a correlation between generosity and a longer life span. Consequently, practicing generosity regularly could allow you to lead more people toward their dreams and goals over your lifetime.

But how do you put generosity into action? To help your company succeed, you’ll need to make more than just a few small changes. Like most behavioral changes, you need to practice some patience and diligence.

Help your company succeed by forging ahead with a few steps.

1. Redefine your idea of generosity

First thing’s first: To become more generous, you have to know what generosity is.

For example, many leaders would call themselves generous because they hand out year-end bonuses. Yet, according to Jason Jaggard, founder of executive coaching firm Novus Global, wealth can be broken down into different vehicles. The vehicles include energy, knowledge, and opportunity, and they can have just as much (or more) impact than spreading cash.

It’s important to open your mind to thinking of generosity from all angles. For example, when you mentor a struggling coworker, you’re generous. When you’re introducing a neighbor to someone who is looking for a worker with the neighbor’s skills, you’re generous. These actions might not seem extraordinary, but they indicate your willingness to serve.

2. Put a premium on listening

Generous leaders listen. In fact, they listen often, and they listen well. They don’t just hear the words others are saying, but they look for context and opportunities to help. At this point, 83% of workers want their bosses to provide more input. An excellent way to help others is by listening to them carefully and then responding with kindness, honesty, and thoughtfulness.

Listening helps reveal your generosity to your employees.

What does listening show your employees? First, it tells them they’re valued. You actually care. Secondly, it proves that you’re open to learning something, too. Third, it builds your relationship with your people. And that relationship may mean the difference between them staying for years or moving on to a different employer.

3. Go beyond being commonly empathetic to becoming high-level empathetic

We’ve all heard a lot about the importance of empathy in the workplace, especially after the 2020 pandemic. Empathy doesn’t end with just understanding others’ emotional states, though. You can use your emotional intelligence as a springboard to transform someone’s personal or professional life.

Let’s say you have a salesperson who’s been underperforming for about a month. You know that something’s happening, but you don’t know what. So, therefore, you talk with the salesperson and find out he’s going through a divorce and is trying to move out.

Rather than just offer some extra PTO or the ability to work remotely, head down a more generous route. With his permission, you could put out feelers with friends who are landlords or need long-term house sitters. This is a way to be generous through your network. It shows your empathy doesn’t end with the words, “That’s too bad.”

4. Hand over the reins

One thing about leaders, particularly entrepreneurs, is that they tend to be selfish when it comes to leading. After all, they’re leaders by trade. It’s who they are, and they like being at the front of the line. Yet taking up the spotlight isn’t very generous, is it?

Quite honestly, much leadership in business causes others to shrink up and lose initiative — which will surely hurt innovation, morale, and employee engagement. In addition, when you injure anything in your employees, it doesn’t help your team succeed; it’s also not going to help your company succeed either.

When appropriate, give people the chance to lead. This doesn’t mean anointing them as CEOs for the day, though. Instead, hand out projects and delegate key responsibilities. To be sure, sometimes your employees will falter or even fail at their assignments. You have to be okay with that.

Your overarching objective isn’t for them to be perfect, but for talented workers to have the chance to wow the world. So don’t be surprised if this type of generosity allows you to unearth some potential future executives among your personnel.

5. Act protectively with your people

It’s funny how often corporate leaders will stick up for their services and products, but not do the same for their high-performance workers. Ouch. Don’t be “that boss” who throws employees under the bus.

Stick up for your team members when it’s appropriate, even if that means that you’re going to have to go out on a limb. In other words, extend your generosity like a blanket that offers security, and shows that you aren’t a fairweather founder.

Will there be times when you don’t agree with something a staffer has said or done? Absolutely. And you may need to make difficult choices. However, you don’t have to allow angry customers to trash your employees just to make a sale.

If you believe your employees are in the right, say so. You’ll be amazed at the loyalty you can foster by moving to the same side of the table as your crew. Furthermore, fostering a company culture of true teamwork will also help your company succeed in the long run.

6. Spotlight generosity when you see it –and aim to imitate it

When you hear about another leader doing something generous, talk about it in glowing terms. The same goes for any act of generosity you spot among your workers. By communicating your appreciation for generous decisions, you’ll show just how important you place generosity.

In time, you’ll probably start to see people make more generous moves as a result, which will ultimately help your company succeed.

At the same time, be sure to model the generous behavior that moves you deeply. For example, if a colleague volunteers at a shelter, you may want to see if the shelter needs additional help. Of course, you don’t want to step on (or try to “one-up”) your coworker’s generosity, but you should be open to helping.

Generosity in the workplace is kind of like one of those beautiful weeds in your yard that you can’t help but admire. It sprouts, spreads and reseeds at a high-paced level if you let it. To start a new era of generous habits among your team right now by auditing and augmenting your own generosity as a leader.

Video Credit: nik fowler-hainen; prezi; thank you!

Image Credit: fauxels; pexels; thank you!

How to Effectively Measure and Track Employee Productivity

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How to Effectively Measure and Track Employee Productivity

Prior to Covid-19, employers were increasing efforts to monitor the productivity of their employees. In fact, according to a 2018 Gartner report, 50% of 239 large corporations admitted that they were monitoring their employees. In particular, the content of their emails and social media accounts. What’s more, these companies also stated that they monitored who their employees utilized and who’s meeting with whom.

According to an Accenture survey of C-suite executives one year later, 62% of their organizations collect data about their employees. Of course, the pandemic has only accelerated employee monitoring. And, it hasn’t exactly been smooth sailing.

An ExpressVPN survey found;

  • Even though 83% of employers think employee monitoring is unethical — 78% use monitoring software.
  • More than one-third of employees believe their employers don’t monitor their online activities, and 15% don’t know it’s possible.
  • The majority of employees (56%) feel stressed and anxious about their employer monitoring their communications. Moreover, 41% wonder if they’re being watched, and 32% take fewer breaks because of it.
  • The majority of employees (48%) would be willing to lower their salaries to prevent surveillance. In fact, 1 in 4 workers would take a cut of 25%.
  • Employees admit that 41% of their recorded work calls contain evidence that could lead to their termination. Additionally, 37% of employers claim to have used stored recordings as evidence for firing.
  • Moreover, employers use stored emails, messages, or calls to inform their decisions regarding performance reviews (73%) and to track potential worker unionization (46%).

So, what’s the answer here? After all, with the latest wave, companies may be rethinking their plans for re-opening. But, even when things do return to normal, remote work, or at the least hybrid offices, are here to stay.

At the same time, employers will need to measure and track their team’s productivity without making them feel anxious. It’s certainly a precarious situation. But, you can use the following ten techniques to make this possible.

1. Set clear expectations and reasonable deadlines.

I’m still baffled at how many leaders and project managers still fall into the trap of not setting clear expectations and reasonable deadlines. In my opinion, these topics should always be a top conversation priority — regardless if your team works at the office or works remotely.

If you tell your employees what you expect from them, especially in a remote working environment, they’ll be happier and more productive. If “the big talk” is an area that you’re struggling, try using the following;

  • Focus on clearly defined objectives or goals.
  • Objective and goals should be specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound.
  • Explain the “why” behind your expectations so that they know that their work is meaningful.
  • Provide examples and access to the right tools and resources.
  • Agree on reasonable deadlines.

2. Arm yourself, and your team, with the right tech.

“Having a surplus of communication and collaboration tools is great,” writes Deanna Ritchie in a previous Calendar article. “At the same time, you don’t have to collect them all. We’re not talking about Pokemon here.”

“Instead, limit the tools that you’re using,” Deanna recommends. “Besides decreasing distractions, it prevents everyone from bouncing back-and-forth between tools. Furthermore, it can also help reduce information overload.

Some suggested tools to measure and track your team’s productivity include;

  • Calendar can automatically schedule meetings. More importantly, with its analytics feature, you can see where your valuable time is being spent.
  • Slack is a popular messaging tool that allows you and your team to communicate and collaborate in real-time.
  • Basecamp is a project management tool designed to keep everyone on the same page.
  • Hub Staff is packed with features like time tracking, screen recording, employee monitoring, and scheduling, and payroll software.
  • Google Drive will let you and your drive collaborate on online documents together.
  • Kickidler is more than just employee monitoring software. It also comes with time tracking, employee productivity analysis, and efficiency dynamics. The Autokick feature will notify employees of their productivity stats or if they’ve been on a website too long.
  • Time Doctor is a time tracking application. It also breaks down how much time has been spent on a specific task or project.
  • Teamwork allows you to track every of your team and convert that into invoices.

3. Trust is a must.

“Trust is the foundation of every relationship in our life,” says Jen Fisher, U.S. chief well-being officer for the consultancy Deloitte. “Every positive relationship starts from a place of trust.”

Work environments built on trust are healthy and productive, adds Fisher, co-author of Work Better Together: How to Cultivate Strong Relationships to Maximize Well-Being and Boost Bottom Lines. Moreover, trust is perhaps more important than ever during this uncertain time caused by the pandemic.

“The pandemic has catapulted us into the future in many ways,” she says. “With uncertainty, you need trust and meaningful and supportive relationships.” And, you can build trust with your remote team by;

  • Reduce your team’s stress by not micromanaging, be respectful of boundaries, and communicating frequently.
  • Help them learn and grow by offering frequent feedback.
  • Get to know each team individually, even if it’s a virtual one-on-one meeting.
  • Again, have goals, objectives, and expectations that are crystal clear.
  • Share your expertise, but also admit that you don’t have all of the answers.
  • Freshen up your virtual events and meetings, like sharing achievements or going on a virtual field trip.
  • Be consistent, such as always being respectful of their time.

Above all else, be transparent. If you’re monitoring your team, let them know this in advance. And explain to them that they’re not being monitored to spy on them. Rather, you need this data to eliminate time wasters and bolster their productivity.

4. Focus on measuring outcome, not input.

“Employee monitoring was pervasive before the crisis,” notes Ryan Wong in Entrepreneur. “In 2018, research found that 50% of large corporations were using email monitoring and location analysis..” However, “in the early months of lockdown, use of monitoring software skyrocketed, with industry leaders like Teramind and ActivTrak reporting record increases in sales requests.”

“For employers, monitoring tools might seem a useful stopgap at a time when teams aren’t in the office,” he adds. The problem? “Time spent at a keyboard or in front of a webcam is hardly indicative of performance or productivity.”

Monitoring in this manner is actually detrimental to obtaining the results you desire. Employees who are aware their keystrokes are being tracked, for example, are incentivized to produce high-volume work that has little commercial value.

“The deeper issue is that, in many ways, we’ve measured productivity all wrong — confusing inputs for outcomes,” states Wong. “Even tracking ‘hours,’ the oldest of workplace metrics, is fundamentally misleading. Just knowing someone has worked a 40-hour week gives little insight into what they actually accomplished.”

The better approach? Measure and reward business outcomes. “These will differ from business to business and employee to employee — and that’s precisely the point,” he explains. “Taking the time to first define what success looks like, and then finding ways to measure — is the surest way to boost output. Handy schema like KPIs, OKRs, and KRAs, all circle around this central premise.”

5. Reward quality, not quantity.

When it comes to your employee’s work, it’s important to find a way of measuring quality. As an example, think about the customer service you provide. Your brand’s reputation depends on it, but it’s hard to measure.

With that in mind, consider quality when putting systems in place to track employee productivity. And, ask yourself, “What can you do with it to track job performance?”

For instance, is there any feedback you received from a distributor regarding an employee who went beyond the call of duty? While your employee might have needed more time to complete this level of work, the value you received is incalculable. And that should definitely be measured and rewarded.

6. Use positive reinforcement.

It should come as no surprise that happy employees are more productive. However, happiness doesn’t always mean giving them a raise. While that can help, you can increase employee happiness through positive reinforcement, such as;

  • Showing compassion, empathy, and gratitude
  • Focusing on meaningful work
  • Treating employees with respect
  • Not blaming others for failure
  • Providing constructive feedback
  • Rewarding good work with acknowledgment or promotions.

7. Manage task distribution.

Identifying each employee’s strengths and weaknesses can be accomplished by analyzing the data. For example, you might notice that one team member completes a task much faster than anyone else. Ideally, you should give this employee all these responsibilities going forward to increase your team’s productivity. By doing this, everyone will have more free time in their schedules, which will increase productivity.

Understand why your weakest performers are less productive than other team members. For example, perhaps they’re having difficulty with certain programs, applications, or tasks related to their work. In this case, you may consider training them to improve their skills and increase their productivity.

8. Measure both short-term and long-term.

Track-specific key performance indicators for both short- and long-term goals.

Recognizing small accomplishments will keep employees motivated to work towards bigger goals.

Furthermore, this presents an impressive picture. While it may not seem obvious, the little things can have a huge impact on pushing your team towards the big goal.

9. Eliminate time-wasters.

Analyze the data to see where your employees spend a lot of time. For example, you might want to restrict employees’ access to these websites or apps during the workday so that they aren’t distracted.

Data may also indicate that certain clients are taking up a lot of your employees’ time, making them less productive than they should be. It’s possible that your business isn’t even making money from that client. As such, it may be worthwhile to revisit a time-wasting client relationship to make your team more productive.

10. Focus on the bottom line.

Increasingly, small companies are focusing on their bottom line instead of the hours worked by employees. This allows them to track progress while ensuring that their employees have more flexibility — mainly how and when they work.

Moreover, there are several cost benefits to having a remote team. This includes reducing rent and utilities, cleaning services, food, and taxes. In fact, the average real estate savings with full-time telework is $10,000/employee/year. Additionally, remote teams tend to be more productive. They’re also less absent, more likely to stay with your company, and would prefer working from home than accepting a pay raise.

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