By Neal - 5/19/2021
This year has seen an unprecedented increase in the number of employees that are working from home. More and more businesses are opting for work-from-home programs and remote offices, but one big issue has arisen from this - a decrease in productivity.
Luckily for us, we have been working from home for a while now. However, because we were narrowly focused on building our Spider Solitaire platform, we lost sight of the fact that more could be doing more to boost our overall productivity.
The pandemic and overall shift from in-office work to at-home work sites changed all of this for us. While so many companies were looking at ways to implement a remote work program, we shifted our attention to improving our remote work productivity.
While implementing productivity enhancement measures can be a relatively easy task, measuring whether these strategies are working can be considerably more difficult. We wanted to make sure that all of our efficiency measures were paying off.
Looking at a key performance indicator like engineering velocity in our development department allowed us to precisely track how much work was being accomplished during work sprints. By comparing the amount of time it took to perform specific tasks during a timed sprint, productivity could easily be studied.
It was much more challenging to gauge productivity and efficiency in other departments of our organization. Take marketing, for example; while the success of marketing campaigns can be tracked easily, it is much more complicated to determine how productive the employees are in creating these campaigns. Depending on the complexity of each program, some work may take longer than others. Instead, we decided that the best course of action would be to allow employees to participate in anonymous self-assessments and have them rate their productivity levels of specific metrics and performance indicators. We also took into account overall employee engagement.
Over the past year, we determined that developer velocity increased by 20%, employee engagement was up 23%, and through worker self-assessment results, productivity levels rose to 26%.
Here are the main strategies that we implemented to make these unexpected changes:
It's no secret that this pandemic has had a significant impact on everyone's mental health the world over. It has brought forth feelings of insecurity and vulnerability and instilled fear and foreboding in everyone. Stress levels are the highest they have ever been, and knowing this, we wanted to do everything we could for our employees to ensure that their mental health was stable and they felt safe in their jobs.
As an early start-up company, we did everything we could to reassure that our employees' jobs were safe. We also offered free counseling services and access to doctors and therapists. Many of our employees utilized these services to get support during these difficult times, and even those who didn't have peace of mind knowing it was there if they needed it.
Taking regular breaks while working is extremely important, and we understand this. It gives your mind some time to relax and helps to keep you from burning out, increasing overall productivity throughout the day.
We have made it mandatory to include a five to ten-minute rest window at the end of every working hour to ensure our employees get the breaks they need. We encourage them to get up and stretch, go for a quick walk, have a bite to eat, or play an online game.
At the onset of the pandemic, we quickly realized that not everyone would be available to work their regular pre-pandemic hours. Having children at home meant that some people required a later start to their workday.
To rectify this problem, we encouraged all of our employees to be available between the hours of 10:00 to 12:00 and again from 2:00 to 5:00. This allowed regular check-ins and the ability to communicate throughout the day and provided the flexibility for employees to deal with other responsibilities while at home.
When the pandemic first hit and a complete remote work strategy was implemented, we found ourselves spending the vast majority of the day on video meetings. This seemed like the perfect solution at the time, but we quickly found out that it was hampering our overall productivity level.
Many employees found it difficult to find the time to get their required work done outside of the meetings. Others weren't seeing a lot of value in the sessions that were being held. We listened to our employees and drastically cut down on the number of video conferences, scheduling only the most important, just a few times a week.
Since everyone had begun working independently, it became critical to keep communication channels open. Since we were no longer implementing frequent video meetings, we started utilizing chat programs so employees could keep in touch. Sending messages to one another was a much more efficient method of communication.
We also began an end-of-day email update program. Employees now generate a short, 100-word email about what they have accomplished during the day and send this out to the rest of their team members. This allows everyone to quickly see how specific projects are progressing and helps to keep everyone accountable.
It isn't easy to know which of these strategies had the most considerable effect on productivity. We believe that all of them, combined with listening closely to our employees' needs, has had an enormous impact on how efficient we have become as a company.
With the work-from-home trend still going strong, with no end in sight in the near future, we believe that continuing to focus on productivity measures and not being afraid to try out new techniques will help us and others continue to thrive in this ever-changing environment.