Maximize productivity with a hybrid work schedule
Welcome to phase two of the pandemic work cycle, where people and organizations reflect on how work will be structured in the future. The consensus seems to be that there will be around one-fifth of the population who will strongly prefer working entirely from home, another fifth who will prefer to return to the office, and three-fifths who will prefer a hybrid schedule that combines work from home and work in the office.
The success of working from home came as a surprise to most executives. A big surprise is that productivity has increased, not decreased. A second is that the majority of employees really like it. (An unexpected result, according to our research, is that employees’ perceptions of their bosses have improved.)
A surprisingly more productive solution
Working from home has many obvious advantages. It starts with avoiding the time, expense, and drudgery of a commute to and from work. Several other benefits occur. There is, in our view, an important dimension of working from home that may not be so obvious. In most cases, when working from home, you have more control over the type and frequency of interruptions you experience. (Yes, we know that a pet can appear unexpectedly or a young child can barge in. But, in general, you can close the door without offending anyone.)
Interruptions hurt productivity. When someone is working on a report, preparing a presentation, or trying to brainstorm a complex issue, having a colleague for an informal conversation or someone calling on the phone can lead to a definite drop in the quantity and quantity. the quality of what you were. Make. When this happens multiple times, overall productivity collapses.
Studies by researchers found that when students who wrote short essays were interrupted for a minute with a different task to complete, and then resumed writing their essay, they showed a significant drop in performance. And this despite the fact that they had more time to compensate for the interruptions. ,
Most executives agree that part of the perks of being in the office are the social bonds that form in the occasional interactions that occur. Conversations in the dining room and kitchen are valuable. But the value of time in the office can also be enhanced if we learn to better control interruptions. Put a note on your door saying, “Work on a project until 12:30 pm. Contact me after that. Or, if you have an enclosed office, just closing the door sends a clear message.
Apple CEO Tim Cook wakes up at 4 a.m. every morning. When asked why he was doing this, his response was that he had more control over his morning than the rest of his day. It’s one way to avoid interruptions. For those of us who prefer to sleep longer, we need to find other ways to avoid being interrupted and have better control over our work environment.
A productivity lesson from history
The story of Ulysses is the classic illustration of the importance of controlling your environment to manage your behavior. Odysseus wanted to hear the hauntingly beautiful music of the sirens, but he knew it attracted sailors to steer their ships towards the rocky shore. His solution was to be tied to the mast so as not to be able to turn the helm. Then he ordered the sailor’s ears to be filled with wax so that they could not hear the siren song. The ship sailed safely near the sirens and was able to enjoy their music.
Our solutions for controlling our working environment will undoubtedly be less dramatic, but hopefully effective. This will make office work more efficient and help make the hybrid work schedule an optimal solution.
1. Draheim, C., Hicks, KL and Engle, RW (2016). Combination of reaction time and precision The relationship between working memory capacity and task change as a case example. Perspectives on Psychological Science, 11(1), 133-155. doi: 10.1177 / 1745691615596990
2. Foroughi, CK, Werner, NE, Nelson, ET, & Boehm-Davis, DA (2014). Do interruptions affect the quality of work? Human factors: The Journal of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society, 56(7), 1262-1271. doi: 10.1177 / 0018720814531786