Here’s a look at three interesting stories currently in the news with ramifications for your team’s productivity.
1. Is keeping work and life separate more trouble than it’s worth?
You’ve probably heard for years that you should keep work at work so that it doesn’t invade your home life. But research suggests that trying to maintain rigid boundaries between work and home can actually make you feel more stressed. If you think this sounds counterintuitive (as we did), David Burkus explains in the Harvard Business Review that when you’re engaged in one role (say, your home role) and you have thoughts related to another role (such as your work role), you experience a “cognitive role transition,” which can cause stress. “Even if the transition is brief, it can deplete the energy and focus needed to perform at work,” writes Burkus. “You have to make an effort to push (the thought) back out again.” Researchers actually found that people with looser boundaries between home and work were less depleted by these transitions. “It may be better to allow employees’ minds to wander and take occasional phone calls from home rather than set up policies that establish strict and inflexible boundaries, which could discourage the development of functional ways to juggle both,” they wrote.
2. Millennials want peace and quiet, not foosball and office snacks
The media in recent years would have you believe that the way to attract millennial workers to your company is to provide foosball, snacks, and maybe some office Nerf guns – and definitely set them up in open office spaces to promote the constant collaboration we’re told they want. But in news that probably won't surprise people who work with actual millennials, research from Oxford Economics says what they really want is peace and quiet. In fact, when asked to rank the factors that are most important to them in a workplace, the most important thing they cited was “the ability to focus and work without interruptions” (chosen by a walloping 50% of millennial respondents, versus 29% for all age groups). Guess how many chose amenities like free food? 0%.
The researchers also found that millennials were especially likely to wear headphones to drown out noise or to leave their desks to find quieter space to focus in.
3. How to cut down on back-and-forth emails
Ever find yourself sucked into a seemingly never-ending email exchange that goes back and forth way more times than it really needed to? Lea McLeod, writing at The Muse, has four tips to minimize and shorten those exchanges. Her suggestions include distilling your questions down to something very clear and specific (not, for example, just “thoughts?”); not soliciting questions when you don’t need to (for example, go with “let me know if you want to talk further” rather than “does this make sense to you?”); and making sure that your subject line includes the deliverable, the urgency level, and the timeline (for example, “event program due to printer Friday – your sign-off needed by Thursday”).
Want to give your coworkers the gift of productivity? Share the Productivity Power Pack with them (3 free eBooks with expert advice on enhancing your productivity).