March 31st, 2021

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How to Get Employees Warmed Up to Hot Desking

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As companies bounce forward from disruption, there are more demands placed on employee productivity and efficiency. All too often, this results in feeling overwhelmed — caught in a web of endless emails, excessive meetings, and unexpected phone calls.

Enterprise and individual productivity shouldn't be a battle. In fact, they rely on each other. When the two aren't in sync, one often acts as a barrier to the other. 

Here's how to align the misaligned, balance the workload, and unlock the full potential of both individual and enterprise productivity.

Obviously, the goal of every business is to be as productive as possible at both levels.  You need your individual employees to accomplish their daily responsibilities more efficiently if you expect your business to be more productive.

Yet, many enterprises are going about this all wrong. Considering what technology allows employees to do — work remotely, switch between spreadsheets, reserve desks, automate reports — things that weren't possible 20 years ago, you may assume that productivity has increased. But it hasn't.

The latest data from the United States Department of Labor shows that even with the technology boom, overall labor productivity fell 4.2% for the fourth quarter of 2020.

What does this mean for you? Well, it means you likely need to shift your productivity focus and how you manage it. Most executives believe enterprise productivity is simply the cumulative effect of individual employee productivity. And while that's certainly a factor, it's not quite that simple.

There’s a difference. And understanding these differences will enable you to foster both productivity types within your organization — which ultimately benefits your employees and your company's overall profitability.

What is individual productivity?

Some define individual productivity as getting a ton of stuff done in a timely manner. To others, it means setting and accomplishing personal goals. We say it’s a combination of the two.

Individual productivity in the workplace means completing tasks that put you closer to accomplishing your set goals in a timely manner and helps bring more balance and simplicity to your work-life.

When an individual's work depends on the works of many other people, what happens if an employee comes into the office to find there aren't any desks available? Or if communication breaks down? Time wasted. Money wasted.

Every company should encourage and make individual productivity possible by providing the right working environment and technology. From the C-suite down to the lowest employee on the totem pole, achieving personal productivity means employees have greater focus and are able to produce more results faster.

What is enterprise productivity?

Enterprise productivity is commonly interchanged with terms such as 'organizational productivity' and 'enterprise performance.' Every enterprise has a different definition of enterprise productivity and while there's no standard definition, it's easy to get the gist. Some organizations say enterprise productivity revolves around efficiency and working smarter. Others claim it means a lasting value that’s produced when you properly balance increased profits with effective use of assets.

It doesn't matter how you define enterprise productivity. What really matters is asking yourself this one question: What work drives value at my company?

It's tempting to think of productivity at the individual level. Your employees may be highly productive — in terms of getting a lot of their own work done. Of course, that doesn't do much good if what they're doing doesn't actually drive value to the company.

Don’t be like this billion-dollar tech company that found out 50% of their employee time had been spent engaging with partners — $200 million of annual employee time — and this time had zero correlation with their enterprise value.

Rather than waste a significant amount of time and money, find the right balance between individual productivity and enterprise productivity.

Fostering enterprise and individual productivity

A focus on individual productivity is a worthy and needed goal because improved productivity means you have highly engaged and happy employees, while a focus on enterprise productivity is what makes enterprise businesses competitive and sustainable.

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Company executives are constantly pressured to magnify workplace productivity and growth while optimizing their resources. But given that 41% of the global workforce is considering leaving their current job within the next year, according to Microsoft's newly released report, it's time to rethink that strategy.

While it's hard to know for certain why people are ready to find a new role, LiveCareer's recent study may hold the key: 29% of employees said they'd quit if employers forced them to give up remote work entirely. 

It’s clear that your focus needs to be on fostering both individual and enterprise productivity to really gain a competitive advantage in today’s highly-competitive business world.

So where do you start? Here's how to encourage both types of productivity:

Step 1: Shift to an organizational mindset

According to Microsoft's 2021 World Trends Index — which analyzed more than 30,000 interviews in addition to activity data from LinkedIn and Microsoft 365 — leaders are out of touch with their workforce. Sixty-one percent of leaders say they're "thriving" right now, compared to less than 40% of non-decision makers.

For staff, 54% of whom reported feeling overworked, longer hours might have long-term consequences on their satisfaction at work, overall individual productivity, and the success of the company.

Those findings are supported by several recent studies, including a survey of over 13,000 professionals conducted by Asana. Their findings show nearly 3 in 4 workers experienced burnout as the number of employees working longer hours increased an alarming 87% since the start of the pandemic.

Being at the top of the company, your attitudes affect everyone else’s. Instead of thinking about productivity at the individual or team level, maintain an organizational mindset. Then, get every employee in every department to shift from their personal productivity mindset to an organizational one as well.

It’s human nature to be a little focused on what tasks you need to get done in a day or what needs to happen for your specific department to meet its goals. Show your employees what's in it for them! Demonstrate how an organizational mentality benefits them individually on top of benefitting the whole company.

Step 2: Master the art of effective communication

When a company prioritizes visibility, the first step is having effective communication. Clear and effective communication is the key that unlocks true productivity. If employees are regularly reporting to department heads and teams are holding regular meetings to discuss progress on projects, then everyone is staying up-to-date and in the know on what’s happening around them.

In a post-pandemic survey of over 4,000 employees, a staggering 95% have been equally or more productive while working from home. But the same survey also found a large portion of the workforce genuinely misses coming into the office — mainly for the social benefits.

With that in mind, you can expect employees to use the office for collaborating, seeing their coworkers in person, and a chance for the "water cooler chats" they've been missing for the last 12 months. Make sure people have what they need to be productive in the office. Invest in collaboration tools, like real-time communication apps and meeting management software, to facilitate better teamwork and team unity, which leads to better individual and enterprise productivity.

You’ll know your efforts have succeeded when the gains of individual productivity actually add up to your enterprise-level ones.

Step 3: Utilize tools that enable total visibility

The right tools always help you get the job done (and done better). In this case, you need tools that will provide complete visibility into the daily work that’s being done and whether or not there's value being created.

You need workplace analytics, so you and everyone else has a better, clearer understanding of your company’s day-to-day activities. Visibility eliminates uncertainty, which has an extensive impact on your business structure and processes.

Step 4: Rethink what productivity means for a flexible workplace

For most organizations, a hybrid workplace will address the evolving needs of the workforce far better than the traditional 9-5 work schedule that requires employees to be in the office each day.

One way to ensure success for the hybrid future of work: Flexible seating.

If you're not sure how to get your employees warmed up to idea of hot desking, this free guide walks you through everything you need to know about making it work for your team.

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