Here’s a look at three interesting stories currently in the news with ramifications for your team’s productivity.
1. How to fend off a time-wasting colleague
No one intends for their communication to be burdensome, notes Dorie Clark in this Harvard Business Review piece on how to fend off a colleague who keeps wasting your time. “But some of your colleagues may simply be less busy — or less efficient — than you are, and their insistence on stopping by your desk to chat or bombarding you with needless information about projects you’re working on together can quickly deaden your productivity.” She suggests some kind but effective strategies to deflect these incursions, including making a point of not defaulting to a phone call when email will do (and she has great suggested language for doing this), strategically delaying your responses to “cool their ardor,” and if necessary being direct about your preferences for how you work together.
2. Video conferencing might not have the benefits you think it does
If you think video conferencing is a productivity tool that helps mimic the benefits of in-person conversation, like being able to see facial expressions and body language, think again! Writing in Slate, L.V. Anderson points out that video conferencing “combines the worst aspects of all other methods of communication.” People are often so distracted by and self-conscious about the camera that their visual cues don’t actually transmit useful information, and research even shows that when we’re watching someone on a screen, we’re more likely to rate them as less attentive and friendly than when we’re talking in-person. Moreover, notes Anderson, “The social benefits of in-person meetings—the strengthened sense of camaraderie—are entirely absent from video calls. … At the beginning of all the video conference calls I’ve been on, people sit stone-faced and silent, their eyes most likely focused on some other window on their computer screen, as they wait for the team leader to arrive and begin the meeting.” She suggests asking whether we really need to see small reproductions of each other’s faces in every meeting – or rather an old-fashioned phone call might suffice.
3. If you have a remote personality, working in an office can make you miserable
Some people have the right personality to work remotely, while others are better suited to working in an office, says Leadership IQ founder Mike Murphy in this Forbes piece. That’s not surprising – but here’s where it gets interesting: When remote-inclined people – who are self-motivated and don’t mind reduced collaboration and support – work remotely, 43% say they love their jobs, and only 15% dislike or hate it. Make those people work in an office, though, and only 24% love their jobs. Now let’s turn to the people whose personalities are better suited to working in an office. When made to work remotely, 31% of this group loves their jobs too (versus only 19% when working in an office). “Apparently, it’s better to have an office personality and work remotely than it is to have a remote personality and work in an office,” says Murphy. “We learned … that office personalities do a much better job adapting to the remote work freedom of fewer rules than do remote employees in adapting to the constraint of in-office rules.”