Post lockdown productivity challenges
Lockdown restrictions posed productivity challenges to many businesses.Whilst challenges have now largely been overcome. There has been a great deal of talk about the ‘new normal’ and what that might look like. A few months later and business are now starting to offer hybrid roles as default and in some case roles are fully remote working. Hybrid roles are a mix of being in a company office space and working remotely from a home or shared location. There will be great challenges to both businesses returning to office, and those remaining a work from home collective.
IPSOS MORI also conducted a survey in 2021 to show the following information on remote working:
- 57% of business feel unaffected.
- 11% of business feel their situation has improved.
- 59% have had to or will revise their business strategy.
- 38% will be decreasing workforce size or physical office space.
- 30% are increasing workforce size (remotely).
- 39% of business have not changed at all and will not be changing.
In our tenure of serving different industries. We have been able to see recurring traits in businesses that report high time slippage and productivity drops. The items below discusses some of these and strategies to overcome them when returning to office.
We get it. It’s great to replace screen time with actual face-to-face time and there is an amount that we encourage. It’s essential to rebuild cross department relationships and encourage staff morale. At the same time, there will be meetings that will simply be unnecessary. These meetings quickly build large time slippage across the year. For example, a quick 30-minute meeting once a week for a year equates to 1,560 minutes of meeting time, 3 days of work time assuming an 8-hour day. Imagine this scaled into multiple meetings per week and the results start to become rather worrying. The good news is that meetings can be streamlined through efficient preparations. For as many meetings as possible, try to set a prior agenda to allow non-affected team members to opt out. Similarly,encourage team members to avoid impromptu or ‘walk by’ meetings and instead schedule them.
Occasionally, staff may fail to record these meetings in their time sheets, leaving holes in the business data. Encourage your team to track any and all meetings they cover, whether they are internal meetings, client chargeable or simply pitch time. A previous blog of ours discusses different strategies in ensuring team members that timesheets are there to help the business, not critique or call out. The direction instead should be on ensuring team members that sufficient resource is available to prevent staff burnout that post productivity challenges.
Whilst your team are getting used to a change in normality after a period of uncertainty, there is a stark requirement for reassurance and clarity. Returning to the office may mean that some individuals have shifted dynamics, your team may also have changed in size. Providing detailed information describing procedures and role requirements will help team members. We also recommend setting out a primer for your team on new policies or processes when returning to the office and make sure it is available in advance, with a repository for any questions or recommendations. By clarifying any changes or procedures, there will be a reduced requirement for meetings based on fact finding missions.
Ensure you have set budgets
Being prepared for an unavoidable scenario, you can plan your known resources to ensure you are better equipped for any new leads of business. For example, knowing what percentage of your team have been fully utilised will ensure you have the information available to know whether the right time is to recruit, or if your business has capacity to take on board a client of a substantial size. Resource planning is the process of tracking and scheduling different team members hours, to ensure work time, costs and billable utilisations is accounted for. Whilst planning budgets, you will know how long certain categories of work will take, planning in essential workflow items and mitigating a buffer for any unforeseen productivity challenges.
Advertising budgets, architectural plans and consultant work is increasing to a pre-pandemic level. To ensure your business and your team are ready for an influx of new work, look into staff utilisation against planned hours. How many of your team members have the capacity to take on additional billable hours? If you need to recruit additional talent, you may already know if the budget is there but how long does your onboard process take. If you have cultural adoption processes, how many hours does this utilise before the individual is ready for client facing work.
Analyse those budgets
After a month (or several) back, you will have collective data available to see how your internal turn around times have evolved. Immediately, you will have critical time intelligence data for your internal reporting. These insights can help identify productivity challenges against expected margins. Initially, we would advise breaking down your data into monthly blocks. However, once you are comfortable breaking it down into rolling week blocks to pinpoint trends. It’s important to look for both the good or the bad.
Collaborate with colleagues
Auditing financial information can be difficult, more so in a business with multiple departments and offices. It is often helpful to work with your colleagues within other roles to gather and interpret the information.
Analysing trends with different perspectives can help realise the bigger picture. Yes a project may have burned through double the expect time, but there may well be a good reason for it which can be avoided in the future. Furthermore, it invites teams to see the bigger picture. How the time intelligence data is feeding key business decisions
Encourage your team to take some of their annual leave
This point may sound controversial, given that you may have just had your full team return to operation. The reality is however that this may be overwhelming to your team who may be experience some level of fatigue. Furthermore, post pandemic stress is impacting many people in different ways. There are lot of noticeable trends through staff that have not had adequate downtime and the productivity and drive of those members. Ensure team members are taking appropriate leave, whether that be an early finish once a month to a half or full day off.
At Tempora, we happily share our experience gained in over 15 years of serving clients. If you would like to schedule a call, to discuss our recommendations. Why not book in a meeting to your availability on our contact page.