Here’s a look at three interesting stories currently in the news with ramifications for your team’s productivity.
1. Stop doing low-value work
You should identify and stop doing low-value work, writes Priscilla Claman in the Harvard Business Review this month, referring to work that means little or nothing to colleagues or clients. She notes that particularly prime times to take this inventory are when you’ve just started a new job and have a fresh perspective on what has to be done; when more responsibilities are added to what you already do, since that’s an opportunity to restructure your work; and when you’re just garnered recognition for doing a great job on something. As for how to do it, Claman suggests options including automating the work if you can; deciding on your own limits and sharing them with others; and “voting it off the island,” by asking the people you provide work to for input on which items are truly most important to them, since you might find out that they don’t actually feel strongly about all of it.
2. How to avoid the summer slump
With studies showing that the summer slump is a real thing that impacts people’s productivity, HigherVisibility co-founder Adam Heitzman writes in Inc. about how his company keeps people focused and productive when hot weather hits. He recommends relaxing your office dress code so that people are more comfortable when the thermostat rises; trying out flexible summer hours, such as closing early on Fridays; scheduling some employee appreciation events like a catered lunch or happy hour (pointing out that you might as well do it during the “slumpiest months”), but being careful to keep it optional; and in general making sure that you’re managing people well because frustrations rise in the summer. Heitzman’s article takes on each of these with more nuance and practical advice than you often see in these pieces; it’s worth reading.
3. Is your smartphone killing your productivity?
A majority of employers – 55% – say that smartphones are the biggest killers of workplace productivity, according to a new survey of hiring managers and workers released by CareerBuilder. Only 10% of smartphone users say that their phones impact their productivity, but 82% admit that they keep their phones within eye contact while they’re working. In fact, 66% use them multiple times during the work day, with the biggest draws being text messages (55%), weather (51%), news (44%) and games (24%).
Almost half of the employers surveyed said that smartphone use is diminishing the quality of work, with sizable percentages saying they believe the use is linked to missed deadlines, lost revenue, and harm to client relationships. Employers are trying to block this damage with a variety of strategies, including blocking particular websites and banning cell phone use at work. (The survey doesn’t seem to have addressed the idea of using effective management to counter the issue, such as holding people accountable to ambitious goals, deadlines, and a high productivity bar.)