The average worker is productive for 2 hours in their day. Your day starts at 7 am: commute for one hour, get settled for 30 minutes, emails for another 30, then there’s a meeting, then it’s tea time, then you start working for another 30 minutes, then Jane has a question, then it turns into a new task and on and on and poof! The day is over. The debate for more lax hours has gotten the most leverage now. Adam Grant (by now you can tell I am a fan) has been a big advocate for this, especially regarding creative work. But the thing is, how would the new system work for individuals who need routine in their lives?
Mark Divine (Staring Down the Wolf, Commitment 6: Excellence) advises that with innovators you need to balance between discipline and blind risk.
Think about it. Jordan B Peterson says that in any given organisation, most productivity comes from only 10% of your workforce. It’s a fact, you know you have that guy who can only qualify his work through the emails sent and not from an actual value. Every single place I have been, except for the first job which there were only three of us so there was no hiding, there has been that one person who got by on everyone else’s effort. Let’s have that one part of the negative 10%. Innovators are few, they ask more questions and shake up the status quo. Mark Divine (Staring Down the Wolf, Commitment 6: Excellence) advises that with innovators you need to balance between discipline and blind risk. Let’s have innovators as a neutral 10% because they could go either way. There are the busy bees who are always doing a lot and have grand ideas on what should be done but have little actual observable actions. That’s about 60%. They are probably the ones struggling right now as there are no 3-hour meetings to ideate. Next, we have foot soldiers. Some of the 60% fall in this category as they have ideas but not initiative and can flourish with directions. There’s a set of foot soldiers in another 10% who will do nothing unless specifically requested. This would probably be your casual labourers and day help, obviously, a messenger won’t send himself. Then the leadership, the ones who really make things happen top off the list of our final 10%.
A bigger company won’t adapt so easily. It’s built on a very specific foundation and, depending on the professions, has a strongly ingrained work culture of traditional working methods.
Now, these percentages are not an exact result but if you study your organisation, you can figure out who falls into what category. My partner has been brainstorming on how to restructure his business. Being in the office is not possible and productivity is integral right now. Luckily for him, his staff are mostly holding fort well though business development is struggling with leads have gone cold as they sort out their internal affairs. Nonetheless, there are still opportunities lining up. A bigger company won’t adapt so easily. It’s built on a very specific foundation and, depending on the professions, has a strongly ingrained work culture of traditional working methods. It’s impractical to imagine your average corporate culture switching to a new normal.
In a webinar I recently attended, someone raised an important point, that it may be many companies are panicking about sales because we have been running with the wrong strategy. Coke’s strategy is heavily dependent on an emotional connection and it was very easy for them to switch all their marketing towards a humanitarian aspect. Does your office base your productivity on visibility versus actual output? What is your personal accountability formula? The new normal is killing off the clock in and clock out work culture and there are too many of us reliant on this system.
Ultimately, productivity is the outcome of motivation, purpose and priorities tied into your time management.
So, I have two proposals. First, the system my partner has adapted for his business. They will be going to the office twice a week for planning and accountability then the rest of the week is for execution, pitch meetings etc. Of course, this is very easy to implement for a small business already working in the digital space. Also, it works for a team that has proven their remote productivity. So the second proposal is for corporate. There are different functions that can have its own system and productivity. Step one, the 6 hour workday with some good ideas here https://hbr.org/2018/12/the-case-for-the-6-hour-workday. I can personally testify to the Pomodoro concept when I latch onto an idea. Flexible work hours are another option; some people are night owls and do their best work at odd hours. Personally, three out of five days, I have done my best work by 11 am. Even in the spirit of team bonding, there is only so much time we can chat every day.
Ultimately, productivity is the outcome of motivation, purpose and priorities tied into your time management. If you have a strong reason why you are doing a certain task, you will focus on achieving it and will set aside the time and resources to get it done. Being too busy means you need to be clear on what is important and realign your motivation, purpose and priorities.