There are two parts to productivity: getting productive and staying productive. The core issue is that office routines can become mundane. The same tasks day after day or a role that takes its sweet time to evolve in responsibility isn’t necessarily the most exciting circumstance to wake up to. And, yes – role diversity is the key to growing your people. Tasks that differ in mission, structure, and purpose keep employees engaged, especially when managers use their people’s feedback to help them curate a versatile to-do list.
However, to deny that we all go through a lull or dip in productivity would be naive. When reduced productivity isn’t tackled head-on, your people might be more easily distracted by elongated “what should we have for lunch?” debates. You, yourself might even be tempted to spend valuable work time watching a random YouTube video (Jenna Marbles, anyone?) when trying to evade a stubborn mental block or low energy levels.
Individual and team productivity can be tough to boost. The good news, though, is that we’ve got the best bob-related insight into productivity methods that align with our mission to aid the future of work. Our bobbers know best when it comes to practicing what we preach, so we did a deep dive into the different subsectors of productivity and how to manage it for greater efficacy.
Time management is tangible
Scheduling tips and rituals can help anyone maximize their productivity levels, given you know what tools suit your personal needs best. Our Product Marketing Manager, Karen Sheffer, loves flagging and color-coding her lists and starts her day by creating a plan of action – “I start my day sifting through emails, answering immediately if it’s something urgent, or flagging it for later if it can wait. I use Trello to manage my tasks and their priorities, using column names like ‘Next Up’, ‘In Progress’, and ‘Waiting For’ to keep track of all my to-dos. A habit I live by, though, is writing down every new task or project idea I have in a new Trello card so that I can turn those ideas into actions, and not let them fall through the cracks of my everyday workload.”
Dana Zelniker, Lead Frontend Developer, begins with checking emails and sorting her daily schedule, as well. However, as management, she assesses the projects that require attention from her team members. Dana explains, “I review the status of each of my team member’s tasks. I’ll go through them individually and see if they need my assistance or guidance but then, I’ll go over my personal to-dos and decide what should be completed by I leave the office later that day. To streamline my list, I divide it into small sub-tasks, defining each target which allows me to track my progress for the next few days.”
Marketing managers, developers, and designers aren’t the only ones who need to perfect a routinely ritual that keeps them productive. Reut Nakash, Hibob’s resident HR Specialist, starts planning her day the evening before – “I take about ten minutes before going to sleep to organize tomorrow’s high priorities. That way, I get into the office and already know what my schedule is [and how it’s going to unfold]. As soon as the office is up and running, items on my to-do list begin to flow more smoothly, and a feeling of calm sets in. But, of course, I still dive into everything with coffee in hand.”
When we manage our timetables we tend to notice the hour, too. Scheduling tips and rituals don’t have to be exclusive to early morning hours. Reut continues, “I’m definitely a night owl! I feel the sharpest and at my most productive, in the late evening. Morning hours are harder for me, so I prefer to set up lunchtime meetings.” While Verity Raphael, Senior Marketing Executive at Hibob, prefers rising and shining – “I’m 100% an early bird. I always try and complete my most challenging tasks first thing, and finish off the day with admin where I can plug in my headphones and get back into the groove.”
Work styles shape employee lifecycles
Work styles affect productivity levels long term. Knowing yourself, and whether or not your an independent or team-oriented worker is vital to success at a company. However, everyone has to make adjustments sometimes and be flexible depending on the needs of a project. Raanan Morag is a Product Designer at Hibob who notices that the amount of work he gets done in one day can be dependent on his personal work style, sharing, “In an open space environment, it’s important to balance team collaboration with quiet, headphone time that helps you focus. The best thing about Hibob’s office is that you can easily approach anyone when you need anything.”
Of working in a closely-knit department, Verity explains that “working in marketing requires so much collaboration, I work closely with my colleague Serena to focus on what we want to achieve as a team. Each project has a checklist, which we store in a time management platform called BaseCamp. It’s easy for our manager Katie to track our progress, and so satisfying seeing all the to-dos go green!”
Dana, on the other hand, harnesses a unique combo of both work styles – “I think I’m both independent and team-oriented, depending on the nature of the project. When I work on a development task, I’m very independent and prefer to sit privately and focus on the task. Managerial to-dos require more teamwork and communication, and also involves maneuvering between staff and other team leaders, typically collaborating with the product and QA teams. This is a necessary trait for leading a development team.”
Vacation, stay-cation… it’s all PTO
Paid time off is often neglected by employees because of the unrelenting social stigma attached. People normally fear that taking too much time away from the office means that they’re uncommitted to their work. At Hibob, we like to think differently. PTO is important when it comes to recharging your batteries. And, each bobber has their own way of preparing for a vacation. Raanan tries to “be super productive and cover all high priority tasks before leaving.” He says, “After trips, it takes time, but I gradually get back into the swing of things.”
Karen contributes more, and with an interesting viewpoint – “Coming back from a vacation is on the one hand, physically exhausting (when will we finally have vacations to recover from vacation?!). But on the other hand, I come back with a clear mind and excited to dive into my projects with a drive similar to what I experience in my first days of a new job.”
Change of pace = change of space
Productivity flourishes under several types of physical circumstances. Karen, for example, likes to shake up her office hour space – “I enjoy the benefits of a mix of work environments. I love coming to the office and having accessible collaboration with co-workers in either an open space or private environment, although sometimes concentrating in open space is hard. I like to mix in ‘working from home’ (WFH) days which help me get caught up on a lot of work. I find I’m much more productive when WFH. It also recharges me to spend a quiet day working at home, often in my pajamas from my bed.”
Working from home, staking out in a cafe, or maybe relaxing at the park (granted, you have WiFi access), are ideal ways to reset your productivity levels and find new inspiration. Maybe it’s an issue of overstimulation, or maybe feeling stuck inside is stifling to an employee who otherwise enjoys nature. It’s important to figure out where you best channel your energy and cipher it whenever possible.
Organize without wasting time
Staying organized is more difficult than assumed. It’s easy to create one list, then another, and then another, all in one notebook until they become convoluted in contradictory details and separate schedule times. So, how do we stay on top of endless to-do lists and calendar reminders in a way that sustains optimal productivity? Dana uses a few separate channels that span the old school methods of organization and new school methods –
“I write everything down so I don’t forget about it, and can make sure it receives the attention it needs. I write tasks at a high level in my notebook (both mine and my team’s), and I use lots of reminders via Gmail. Task detail and follow-up progress are made in Github. I would define myself as a very organized person who must have everything listed as my way of being the most productive.”
Productivity hack #6: motivation
When it comes to finding the motivation you need to get and stay productive, an employee can look above. From Verity’s perspective and relevant experience, “productivity comes from continuous learning and strength-based goal setting. My manager Katie is very good at sending my colleague Serena and I to educational events and courses, and works to our strengths (Serena focuses on design, data, and client marketing whereas I prefer copywriting and the European market). This keeps us both motivated, and we’re constantly teaching each other.”
However, HR and those at the management level can better help motivate and increase their people’s overall productivity without having to be asked. As a manager, Dana likes to push her team to take initiative – “I encourage all members of my team to be independent. Take a task and manage it from start to finish. Break down any to-do into small sub-tasks and keep updating its status. This way, I can track the progress pace, manage my time, and theirs, in the best way possible.”
As an HR Specialist who exemplifies the landscape’s transforming status, Reut takes notice of the people she’s taking care of – “I sometimes see employees who are overwhelmed by stress, and really, in a startup environment where the work is fast and the tasks are dynamic, you can easily lose focus. It’s important to understand an employee’s need for help even if the need is not clearly expressed. Of course, there are a lot of tips on how to promote productivity, but the best thing is to support the employee and create a process where decision-making is effective and simplified. This lowers the worker’s level of stress and the ability to think more clearly.”
To create and maintain a consistent state of productivity that surges across your workplace address the needs, work styles, and a general understanding of tasks with your people. bobbers try to keep a productive momentum as we constantly innovate the product we’ve built. We like to take advantage of the system we work with and adapt to other tools that also streamline our productivity long term. Our productivity methods don’t end with just Trello and Github, as mentioned by our people. Team collaboration and listening to our own internal guidance is a winning combination that allows us to centerpiece the company’s collective workloads, fueling projects across departments and teams.
Managers and HR specialists can work together to promote a positive productive mindset while appreciating the job everyone does around them. And, remember! Each employee – HR, department lead, or team member – should find the tool that keeps them steady and sure of their own work, knowing themselves and what motives them internally, in the process.