Have you ever felt like no matter how much you work, it’s just not enough?
Who am I kidding? You might be feeling it RIGHT NOW while you’re reading this article. Despite the working hours getting longer in our quarantined WFH routine, the days seem shorter now. What does workplace flexibility have to do with all this? Let us understand why and how does it happen in the first place.
If you’re like me, you probably try starting your day with all the morning energy and freshness, despite being sleep deprived. Instead of diving right into the pending tasks, you make sure you check if there’s anything urgent in your emails or if someone commented on your social profiles.
The next thing you know, it’s already 2 hours past your working schedule. (Great!) Now that you started late, you know you are going to finish off late, but wait- you’re suddenly working faster just before the lunch hour.
And what was that thing you were going to look into today? You were thinking about it yesterday evening. What was it again??
Okay, I know you got my point- your day can never seem less scattered; it doesn’t matter how hard you try.
Our studies show that average employee productivity lasts for approximately 2 hours, 48 minutes every day. No, it doesn’t mean you cannot be more laborious. But it would be better to shift those painstaking tasks during your peak working hours.
EmpMonitor believes that employee productivity increases when focusing on peak hours instead of grinding for the whole day, thus making it very crucial to introduce workplace flexibility.
Instead of pretending that you have all the time on the earth and wondering where it all went, you should rather start aligning your body’s internal clock with the tasks. It is the exact reason why we suggest all the employers for introducing workplace flexibility in their remote and office staff.
When and How is more Important than How Much you Work!
The main issue isn’t that you get less than 3 hours of optimal performance- it is that you fragment your productive hours into chunks of 15-20 minutes in between all the calls, meetings, and other distractions that surround you.
I know you think you’re different, but you’re just as human as any of your colleagues.
There is a huge, HUGE difference between 3 hours of focused work time and a collection of 5-10 minutes chunks. As a matter of fact, over 40% of employees cannot stay uninterrupted for more than 30 minutes during a typical workday!
Here’s everything that contaminates your limited working hours:
Context Switching: When you bounce between your current tasks, upcoming work updates, emails, checking the previous work, guiding the peers, etc., you exhaust up to 20% of your productivity.
Attention Residue: Our brain cannot do tasks all of a sudden. Some studies show that we take about 23 minutes to regain our focus after an interruption.
Productivity Shame: On average, we spend about 46.9% of our day thinking about something other than what we are doing. Splitting attention like this will lead you to take longer in completing tasks. So you will always stay stressed about working more.
On the other hand, having workplace flexibility will assist you in dedicating the most favorable and intense hours in completing the tasks faster.
There are two things that affect employee productivity here:
When do you stay the most focused?
How do you protect your focused hours?
One has to be too naive to think that they can stay productive throughout the day. It would be better if we accept our limitations and optimize the day accordingly.
How to Improve Employee Productivity without extending Working Hours- A guide to Workplace Flexibility
Two to three hours of focus can yield more results even in a day loaded with calls, meetings, emails, and pending tasks.
“Two hours where you can really get into the problem yields solutions that are going to be better than if you spent 10 hours broken up by meetings and bouncing around on Slack channels.”
– Alex Pang, Author
Every employee feels like they would work themselves to death someday. An employer can avoid it by introducing workplace flexibility, especially this COVID-19 time. Here are the 5 steps that will assist an employee in doing so:
1. Find your Optimal Working Time:
Every human body has a different internal clock, set and shaped according to years of similar routine and the person’s adaptability. We all, thus, differ in our performances at any particular instance throughout the working hours. A morning bird may feel more energized as soon as they switch on their systems, while a night owl may peak their productivity just before the lunch hour.
Observe your working pace and attention span during any typical working day to determine your peak hours. Focus on how your Circadian Rhythm (internal clock) works, and work according to your chronotype.
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There is more than a single factor that determines your sleep cycle and peak working hours. But if you’re not very sure, morning and evening hours are usually the most productive. Focus on them.
2. Surround yourself with the Right Conditions:
Okay, let’s assume that now You know your peak productive hours, what next?
You need to provide yourself with the optimal conditions that allow you to take advantage of your time. You have to consider everything- from how and where you work to making sure you keep the distracting levels low during peak hours.
For instance, if you stay productive during the morning, staying up late at night will affect your work. You won’t wake up at the right time, would probably feel dizzy during the first half, and finish off lesser tasks than anticipated for that day.
Try to avoid external distractions as much as possible. If working from home, try to work in the quietest room with fresh air and light. Remove the things that catch your attention, like your phone (or your puppy).
Apart from blocking your external distractions, you also have to block your inner distractions. For instance, stop checking again and again on your social media, Quora answers, emails, your to-do list, etc.
3. Choose a Daily Highlight:
Now that you know the right time and right way to focus, you must decide what deserves your attention during those hours. There’s absolutely no point in pushing yourself to stay productive without taking breaks. Employee productivity depends more on the way you manage your hours when you don’t take breaks for a long time at a stretch.
The goal here is to use your peak hours to get the most work done. This way, even if you eat away the rest of the day with meetings, calls, and other distractions, you can look back at these hours and realize that you got some important work done.
A highlight is any pending task that requires your immediate attention due to any reason. It is something that requires your undivided focus for any given day. It could be something that is:
1. Satisfying: A task or a project that can make you feel accomplished at the end of the day.
2. Time-sensitive: Something that is nagging you for a while, for instance, a deadline or a new task.
3. Joyful: A task that makes you feel happy about the way you spend your day.
Keep in mind, irrespective of whichever point you choose from the above to spend your time on, that time needs to be respectful and sacred. For instance, if you work with a team, make sure you reserve their peak hours and don’t disturb them with calls, texts, etc. This way, you can ensure higher employee productivity over time.
4. Rely more on your Body Clock than the Physical Clock:
While we are talking about the 2-3 peak hours as a guide through our discussion, it is not a rule that the body is bound to follow. Forcing yourself to work, even when losing focus, will only lead to more burnout, especially when working from home. As a result, there would be no use of introducing workplace flexibility.
We would recommend you to listen to your body, instead, and give yourself the time to reinvigorate. Sticking to the clock can’t ever be the solution here.
Just as you discover your productive hours by observing your optimal working times, you must also learn to observe the energy dips in your regular schedule. An average human body craves for a break after every 90 minutes of intense work.
The body usually sends signals like feeling hungry, sleepy, distracted, losing focus, etc. Learn to listen to these signs, take a quick 10 mins break, walk around, drink water, lay down, reset your energy!
One of the pros of having workplace flexibility is the number of extra hours you get to make up for your loss, in case you get insanely distracted during these breaks and drift off your focus when working again.
5. Optimize your Work Day according to your Personal Productivity Stats:
Finally, what would you do with the rest of the day?
Following all the steps mentioned above does ensure that you feel more accomplished and meet deadlines at the end of the day. But it surely doesn’t mean you have to stop there. Use the rest of your time to catch up with the rest of your tasks, meetings, work updates, calls, etc.
Use the same technique to identify the highs and lows, match the tasks according to your shifts as follows:
1. Schedule your calls, meetings, emails, etc. during the lower energy hours.
2. Perform the lesser important tasks during the higher energy hours (not the peak hours).
3. Take breaks when you know your brain cells are barely surviving (for instance, that hour after the lunch!).
Make the most out of your workplace flexibility; it doesn’t matter if you’re working from your office or the home. Organizing your productive and non-productive hours according to the scheduled tasks of the day is an inevitable step in improving the results. However, one needs to follow this routine every single day, or else you can never witness a visible increase in employee productivity.
Look into your employees’ screens and keep a tab on their activities in real-time with EmpMonitor. Get regular screenshots, statistical productivity analysis, internet browsing status, and many more with us.
More Time = More Work
Having an intense focus on your work is a superpower today, and it has nothing to do with the number of hours you sit in front of your system. Find out your peak hours in your Circadian rhythm and work accordingly to meet deadlines faster. Introducing workplace flexibility is fundamental in establishing this kind of work culture. EmpMonitor is here to assist all the corporations in increasing their employee productivity.
Do you have something to add? Did I miss something? Drop your suggestions in the comments below. I would love to hear from you!