By John Rampton, the founder of Palo Alto, California-based Calendar, a company helping your calendar be much more productive.
Workplaces can often experience collective burnout, and it’s no surprise that this also includes leaders. In order to keep everyone productive, leaders must be able to implement policies that allow for successful work-life balance and workplace productivity. If employees experience burnout, it is only a matter of time before leaders will also. Existing somewhere on the spectrum between allowing for a flexible schedule and strictly enforcing office hours, the following productivity-focused methods are four ways leaders can help their teams be more productive.
Dedicated Work Time
Most workplaces have their set and permanent working hours. Though you might have an opening time and closing time, it’s important to still encourage your team to try to stick to that and not work overtime. Leaders can help their team accomplish this by having a “dedicated work time.”
For example, this can be something like having every afternoon to always be clear of additional meetings and projects. This way, your team can log very focused work hours. Avoid planning meetings or company events during this time, and also try to be available for employees during these hours if they have any questions.
In addition to encouraging blocked work time in your office, you can also promote the use of a team calendar. This will give everyone the opportunity to collaborate and ensure there are no overlapping events or meetings scheduled during this time. Besides collaboration, having a shared calendar promotes mutual respect between team members. This also promotes an atmosphere of acknowledgment and awareness of each other’s time. Your team will appreciate the fact that you value their time and team members will collaborate better together.
No Meeting Days
Meeting-free days are something that is often undervalued in the workplace. Having a dedicated meeting-free day, or multiple meeting-free days is a great way to keep your team happy and productive. For example, I try to only have one team meeting at the beginning of each week. In this meeting, we discuss all updates from the previous week and keep action items updated so we know what needs to be done that week. Holding unnecessary meetings is frustrating for team members because it disrupts their productivity.
Keeping meetings to a minimum is best because employees can get more accomplished. Meeting-free days are great because employees can count on that day or days to be able to be more productive. Aside from the meeting-free days, make sure the meetings you do have are worthwhile for everyone. You can make sure they are worthwhile by keeping them organized and straight to the point. Surprisingly, with organization and planning, teams can actually get most of the important announcements covered in an hour or less. With less time spent in meetings, employees are often more productive in their roles.
Team lunches, happy hours, game nights and other somewhat structured team events are a great way to get your team to bond and collaborate outside of work. Your team will appreciate being able to sometimes get away from the office for team-building activities. It’s awesome for your team to be able to connect outside of the workplace. Moreso, bonding is non-negotiable for teams who want to collaborate well together. Sometimes, a change of scenery does wonders for team productivity.
Even if your team occasionally talks about work during this time, they still are in an environment where the mood is lighter and they don’t feel tied down to their desk. Being in a different location can also promote motivation and creativity. While it’s not the main goal to have your team discuss work outside of work, it happens. That can be a good opportunity for your team to collaborate. Once they’ve had a chance to connect and potentially collaborate outside of work, they’ll likely feel more refreshed and motivated to be productive when they get back to the office.
Surprise Days Off
Leaders can encourage more productivity by surprising their employees with time off. A lot of people have plans or tasks they need to get to, so it’s a good idea to give them a little heads up so they can arrange their schedules as needed. For example, if you want to grant your team some time off in the afternoon, tell them in the morning. This way, they can get more accomplished before the afternoon and catch up on non-essential tasks the following workday. Surprising your team with time off is an amazing benefit, among many others, that you can offer. Just be sure they know to get their bases covered before they’re offline.
In addition to surprise days off on random days of the workweek, you can also use this method to support them in the harder times. Last year, with so many things happening in the world, my team was struggling. One week, I decided to tell them to take off a Friday and enjoy the outdoors. After all, it had been a rough few previous months. They had been working hard and performing so well, a long weekend was well-deserved. I wanted them to take time to regroup and have a day to themselves. My team really enjoyed the time off, and I loved hearing about what they did with that time off. The following workweek, my team was happier and more productive.
Your team will appreciate your effort to keep them from experiencing burnout and also to provide them with ways to be more productive. No overworked team is a productive team. You’ll never need to micromanage your team to make sure they are performing well. You only have to give them more opportunities to rejuvenate. Your team’s performance will likely improve, having been given proper time off. Thus, it’s a mutually beneficial method for you and your team.