Here’s a look at three interesting stories currently in the news with ramifications for your team’s productivity.
1. The best actions for your productivity when you return from vacation
My favorite tip in Bill Murphy’s Inc. article about how to be productive after returning from a vacation is the suggestion to return to work on a Wednesday or Thursday, so that you only have to work two or three days before you have the weekend off – to help ease back into work rather than shocking your system with a five-day work week. The article has other great tips too, like grabbing 60 seconds with key colleagues for “the must-know highlights” from while you were out, reading emails in last-to-first order (since many issues will have been resolved by the time you’re back and you want those updates before you spend time responding to earlier messages), and have at least two high-priority meetings scheduled for right when you come back so that you get excited and re-engaged more quickly.
2. Political talk at work is negatively impacting employees
The political discussions at work that are being generated by this year’s presidential campaign is making many American workers feel stressed out and less productive, according to a new survey from the American Psychological Association. Nearly half of the workers surveyed said that colleagues are more likely to discuss politics at work this election season than in the past. 27 percent said they’ve experienced negative consequences of political discussions at work this year, including having difficulty getting work done, producing lower-quality work and being less productive overall. More than a quarter have seen or overheard coworkers arguing about politics, and about 1 in 10 have gotten into an argument themselves. One in five reported avoiding some coworkers because of their political views. And younger workers (ages 18-34) were more likely to say that political talk has negatively impacted their work, with 24 percent saying they have been less productive (24 percent), 21 percent reporting a decline in their work quality, and 19 percent reporting having trouble getting their work done. The survey didn’t find significant differences in responses broken down by political party.
3. How to spend less time in meetings
Spending too long in meetings seems to be a fact of office life, but Phil La Duke offers up three recommendations in Entrepreneur to significantly cut back on how much time you devote to them. In addition to calculating the actual cost of meeting time (attendees’ salaries administrative overhead, broken down to an hourly rate and multiplied by the length of the meeting), he suggests asking these four questions to determine whether a meeting is really needed: (1) Is the communication primarily one-sided? If conference call participants are largely on mute, there’s probably no point in having the meeting. (2) Is the meeting in the guise of communication? “There are far better ways to communicate than dragging people together against their will,” he notes. “If all you want to do is to communicate, send a memo with directions to a website to visit or person to consult with, for additional information.” (3) Is there a matter that needs input from the group? (4) Will the time be well spent? Using that dollar calculation for the cost of people’s time, ask yourself whether you’d spend the same money hiring outside consultants for the results you anticipate getting. “In most cases you probably wouldn't,” writes La Duke. “It's like a having a color printer, far more documents get printed in color simply because it's available, with not so much as half a thought given to the additional cost.”