What Works: Candid Conversations About Modern Productivity

"What Works: Candid Conversations About Modern Productivity" header image

What’s keeping you (or your team) from doing your best work right now?

In this exact moment, why do you feel your productivity is not the highest it's ever been? Why is your energy level lower than it needs to be? And, why is that feeling manifesting itself into negativity that’s further keeping you from getting anything done?

Look, given the current circumstances in the U.S. (a global pandemic, a suffering economy, and widespread social unrest) it’s natural — even acceptable — to not be at your best right now. But if you’re an employee, a manager, or an executive at a business; you also know that this state of mind simply won’t cut it in the long term.

So, what can be done?

Well, the solution to increased productivity typically does not lie in working longer hours, increased oversight from management, or short-term “life hacks.”

The key to effortless productivity lies in an understanding of what’s causing productivity issues in the first place. Only through this understanding can you arrive at solutions that will help you or your staff enter a state of “flow” that will help you achieve the desired personal and organizational goals.

In today’s post, we’ll look at the realities of productivity in the modern workplace, external factors that influence it, and ways to help you get back on track.

What’s Influencing Productivity in the Modern Workplace?

Illustration of a person holding a laptop with a smile on the laptop screen

Increased Pressure to Perform in a Global Economy

Let’s start at the top.

In a globalized economy, there is much more pressure to perform because you’re no longer just competing with the other shops on your block. Now, you’re competing with organizations that have access to resources you may not have, governance policies different than yours, and of course, technology that could potentially make your product or service obsolete.

The need for continued growth, even in slow economies, weighs heavily on managers — who unfortunately can pass that pressure and stress down to their staff.

Politics

It used to be that politics, religion, and sex were taboo topics at the workplace. This doesn’t seem to be the case anymore — at least not when it comes to politics.

In fact, 56% of U.S. employees say the discussion of political issues at work has become more common, and 42% have personally experienced a political disagreement at work.

Perhaps it’s the recent social unrest sweeping the country, the increased amount of personal content we publish through social media, or even the fact that employees are increasingly looking to align their worldviews and values with the organization they work for. Whatever the case, it’s especially impacting the largest generation in the workforce today.

The 2019 Deloitte Millennial Survey reports a growing “uneasiness and pessimism” which is causing 49% of Millennials to say that they’d readily quit their current job in the next two years — if the opportunity presented itself. This is a steady increase from the 38% who said the same in the 2017 survey.

A chart showing the number of millennials who would quit their jobs if they could between 2017 and 2019

Political conversations are happening in the workplace, they can impact productivity, and leaders need to be prepared to deal with them as they arise.

Options for Remote Work

While many employees were exposed to the concept of working from home for the first time in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, many others have craved the opportunity to work remotely for a long time.

There is some debate amongst management professionals about the ability to increase productivity with remote working arrangements. However, there is no doubt that decreased commute times and flexible hours allow employees to increase their quality of life. In theory, if employees are able to increase their quality of life outside of work, they will be more refreshed and motivated when they need to focus on productivity while at work — no office building required.

Technology

No surprise here, but tech-enabled offices can have a dramatic effect on overall productivity — both positive and negative.

For instance, messaging and video conferring tools have both made collaboration between team members possible while working remotely during the COVID-19 pandemic. However, they have also made some employees feel like they are “always-on” and the real-time nature of the notifications is causing them a lot of stress. That, and it’s hard to take advantage of the ability to wear a hoodie while working from home if you’re constantly on video calls…

On the other side of the coin, technology can absolutely be a powerful source of good for your organization. Integrated technology systems are essential to collaborating with both coworkers and customers alike, which is part of the “new normal’ for businesses.”

Technology can also, somewhat ironically, create a more “human” approach to work — providing the ability to collaborate without having to leave your comfort zone. With the proper integrations and workflows, employees can actually jumpstart the work of their coworkers in other departments with seamless handoffs and automated tasks using technology.

At HelloSign, we strongly believe that a strong technological foundation is critical to increasing things like employee engagement, job satisfaction, and of course, productivity at work. For even more ideas about how tech-enabled workplaces foster engagement and innovation, check out all the writing we’ve done about intelligent business on our blog!

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