Productivity Tips from Industry Leaders

Productivity Tips from Industry Leaders

Companies across the globe have been forced to reevaluate their operations. The impact of COVID-19 introduced a stark new reality that caught many unaware and unprepared.
So, we turned to a few of our partners for their insight. We wanted to know how leaders across various industries are adapting to working remotely or from home.

Reducing distractions

Some leaders find it best to separate work and home life. “Create a home-office environment. Ideally, away from kids or family members”, says Vitaly Kolas, Senior Manager of Talent Acquisition at Fullscreen.

Other’s prefer a regimented workday. Yelena Yan, Director of PMO at iHerb says “What helps me is to draft a plan for the day to come with main goals to accomplish. There will be interruptions and unexpected tasks, but the main ones will keep me focused and give the satisfaction of accomplishment at the end of the day.”

Leonard D. Kim, Vice President/CTO Workforce Management at ADP agrees. “From my viewpoint, the amount of ‘distractions’ has increased by a factor of 3-4 times. Rather than trying to decrease the distractions, I found it more effective to plan my day more meticulously and stick to it diligently. For example, my kids may want to spend time with me to review their work and I've set aside ‘office hours’ so that they can prepare questions ahead of time and make our time as efficient as possible.”

Staying active while working from home

With gyms and fitness centers closed, it’s important as ever to stay active. “Before starting the day, do some stretches. Then at a fixed time (i.e. 5:30 pm) go for a walk, run, workout, bike ride, or play tennis”, says Shailen Mistry, CTO at ForwardLine Financial.

Leonard D. Kim found another way to exercise distantly. “Staying active and minimizing weight gain (a.k.a. Quarantine-15) has been a particular focus of mine during this time. I have a strong competitive spirit and I found that a community based challenge was an effective way for me to stay active. I've become an active Peloton rider at home and have completed a number of challenges and continue to push myself to place at the top of the leaderboard for each rider. It has been addicting and a whole lot of fun!”

Managing a team remotely

Managing a remote team isn’t new territory for some, but doing so from home brings new challenges. “My team is composed of several hundred people in multiple time zones and we were used to a remote-like environment to some extent. One noticeable change/difference was the increased number of meetings that used to happen "ad-hoc" in an office setting that has now become WebEx or Zoom meetings. One of the things that I've done was to create a ‘coffee machine’ group to hold open conversations and it has been one of the most active channels thus far”, says Leonard D Kim.

Shailen Mistry had a similar experience, saying “a lot more video chats and phone calls. It took some time to get used to, though now it is routine. It is important to keep the 1 on 1's going.”

Balancing distance schooling and work

Of course, the stay-at-home orders don’t just apply to businesses. School districts have sent students home, creating a new challenge for children and parents alike. Vitaly Kolas says, “I treat my kids' school schedules as I treat my work schedule: We have a start time, breaks, lunch, and end time. They have their assignments to focus on as I have my work to focus on.”

Yelena Yan also believes in creating structure. “Just like during regular school, there is the time needed in the evening to help out with homework. During the day, we aim to keep it where they have to learn and try to figure things out themselves or through their teachers online.”

Opinion on productivity while working remotely

Before the stay-at-home orders, most employees worked in an office setting. Some preferred it that way because they feel that working from home would reduce productivity. Yelena Yan doesn’t. “It seems that everybody works a bit more from home, but I think it is because people now can properly focus on addressing one conversation/task at a time, rather than too many things at once. Also, working from home highly depends on set processes and utilization of the right tools.”

Leonard D. Kim agrees. “My personal opinion on this is that there's a strong correlation between productivity and engagement and working from home has been a ‘perk’ that's contributed towards the engagement factor. Working from home has certainly given people more time but I've focused on aspects such as motivation, open communication, culture and engagement as core values that has kept our productivity levels strong.”

Keeping the team engaged

Keeping morale high is more important than ever. With less person-to-person contact, it can be difficult to keep people engaged. “It's important to still have team meetings. I like to go over how COVID-19 is impacting each team member, their family, and the community. It helps to create a sense that we are all going through this together even though we are not physically together every day”, says Shailen Mistry.

Vitaly Kolas keeps his employees engaged “By providing flexibility and have an open-door style of communication with the team. We have regular ‘touch base’ / sync-up meetings where I listen to the teams' concerns, provide updates, answer questions, and troubleshoot issues (if any).”

What’s something surprising you learned about yourself?

Yelena Yan: “Surprisingly, I learned to manage my time better (I guess because of less in person interruptions). But still, miss face to face time with team members.”

Vitaly Kolas: “Honestly, nothing surprising. I can be as productive working from home as from the office, but I find myself missing the camaraderie of working from the office.”

Shailen Mistry: “You save time on the commute which can go towards doing more work in the day.”

Leonard D. Kim: “In my 20+ years of working, I've finally experience what it felt to be "burnt out." I never knew what this felt like; however, after non-stop meetings (both at work and at home) and non-stop work (due to cancelled vacations), I was finally starting feel mentally and physically fatigued. In hindsight, I realized the commute to and from work (though stressful in its own right with LA traffic) provided some respite from my busy day and I've had to build this "momentary break" into my daily routine.”

One last piece of advice

Shailen: “Limit distractions.”

Yelena: “Plan your next days main goals, take recurring breaks, remember to get outside to "smell the roses" at least once a day.”

Leonard D. Kim: “Be intentional (plan diligently) on how you break up your work week (and weekends). Make sure you set aside time for yourself whether it's taking a walk or some form of exercise and make commitments with your family (whether it's a project or a backyard campout) so that the family has something to look forward to.”

Vitaly: “Being regimented is key!”

We hope you found these insights useful to apply in your current role or for the next one. If you're searching for the perfect role, or just need help navigating the post-COVID-19 employment environment, reach out to us today!