Some Good News: Productivity Is on the Upswing—Here’s How to Tap into Yours
As you well know by now, the pandemic has brought with it myriad challenges that will likely continue to affect us for years—regardless of how soon we have an effective vaccine. But these strange and unprecedented times have also ushered in some unique benefits that are definitely worth noting, especially when today’s twenty-four-hour news cycle is bringing you down. And when it comes to professional progress, this one is a biggie: productivity.
Chances are, whatever your industry—from medicine to finance, real estate, and everything in between—you’ve attempted to improve it. After all, it’s key to everything you do: results, revenue, you name it. Turns out, while many may have guessed that working from home and other pandemic-induced changes may have put a damper on productivity, the opposite is true. Let’s look at some of the latest insights on how we’re doing more with less:
Our workdays are longer. For many of us at Advantage, our car-based commutes have instead become a much shorter trip—namely from our bedrooms to our couches or home offices. And we’re not alone. Stanford economist Nicholas Bloom reported this summer that as much as 42 percent of the American workforce is working from home full time.
Think we’re clocking in for fewer hours a day as a result? Not so. In fact, a recent study of 3.1 million workers around that world found that our workdays are an average of 48 minutes longer than they were prior to the pandemic. That means we’re each eking out a little more than we were before every single day, which could add up to significant gains over time.
We’re meeting more often. Without many face-to-face interactions to enjoy, we’ve really come to value our trips to the grocery store, socially distanced outdoor gatherings, and yes, even video calls. And it’s a good thing, because we really are meeting more frequently. And while those meetings are slightly shorter on average (about twelve minutes less than they were previously), there are more people on the invite list, with an average of two more people coming to each meeting we hold.
We’re talking to more people.
In addition, we’re sending more emails (5.2 percent more a day), to more people (2.9 percent more recipients), and conducting more communications more often—especially after hours (when we send 8.3 percent more emails than we did before COVID-19 hit).
So, what does this mean for you? While it’s important to be mindful of burnout with those longer days (see our piece on how to get a handle on that here), you also have more opportunities to connect with more people who can help you accomplish your goals. Let’s talk about how:
Be strategic about those with whom you’re connecting.
You may be seeing and feeling the effects of others’ need to connect in the form of more meeting invites and requests in your inbox. And by the same token, you may be flooding others with your own attempts to make contact. While it’s great to engage with people and in ways you may not have otherwise, think twice before you accept and send. You always want to make sure you are reaching out to the right people—and vice versa, that you’re the correct person when you’re on the receiving end of a particular piece of communication. Why? Making sure that your connections are strategic will save you time and increase the likelihood that you’ll get the results you need.
Determine the best format for your interaction.
The other aspect of ensuring you’re making effective connections is choosing the right format. What kind of interaction is required? Can your question be answered with a quick email? Does it involve some detail, and thus merit a phone call? Or would being able to see your colleagues or clients make a big difference in conveying the information at hand? Choose carefully. Even though we’re looking to make up for some of what we’ve lost via Zoom, no one wants to sit through an unnecessary video session.
Respect their time—and yours.
Without dinner plans and a plethora of weekend outings to look forward to, you may be tempted to schedule those meetings and phone calls during off hours—figuring that others are probably stretching their days, just as you are. But before you book a dinnertime video session or schedule that quick call prior to eight in the morning, pause. Just because more of us can be available at an unconventional time doesn’t mean we want to be, or that we’re not already occupied with other obligations. Making meaningful connections also involves respecting boundaries and keeping others’ needs and limitations in mind. Trust us, pushing that call an hour, or holding off on having that meeting for another day may make a tremendous difference for someone else…and lead to more business for you.
So, what’s the bottom line her? The best way to optimize productivity is to choose wisely—the who, what, and why still matter. And when you take that into account, you’ll be unstoppable.