Managing your team’s productivity while working long hours
Technology has been a game changer in helping us create and manage connected global teams, but it has also played a part in creating work cultures where employees are “always on.” The truth is, though, that long hours and busy schedules don’t always result in a productive workforce. In fact, often the opposite can be true. Without the right support and systems, your team could also be spending too much time on tasks that aren’t really driving your business forward, and too little on the things where they deliver the most value.
As a business that helps build global accounting teams, we know what it takes to ensure clients get the most out of an efficient, productive workforce. Here are our top 5 tips:
1. Get your own house in order. By that, I mean lead by example by setting frameworks around your week, boundaries with your time and structure to how you allocate the hours of your workday. It can be helpful to outsource calendar management and other non-productive administrative tasks to a virtual assistant, so that you can more deliberately focus your time on what matters most.
2. Do a workload review. Ensure that your team is focusing their efforts on the right kind of work for their role, and that it’s of most benefit for your business. Research shows that accountants and other professional service staff are spending up to 40 hours per month on admin-related work, instead of productive tasks. That’s a lot of highly skilled employees spending hours at high wage cost that could otherwise be spent doing work that is going to bring profit back into your business.
It can help to begin by asking your employees to track their time, so you can get an understanding on what work could potentially be passed on, or outsourced to other employees at a lower wage cost. Establish clear expectations about deliverables, and encourage discussion around what support employees need in order for these to be realistic.
3. Encourage regular breaks. Create a work culture that is conducive to your employees taking regular breaks throughout the day to refresh and recharge. As the saying goes, you can’t pour from an empty cup, and frequent short breaks can go a long way in helping employees stay focused, avoid distractions, and overcome tiredness or task fatigue. Even a walk around the block a couple of times a day can be the opportunity they need to get some fresh air, natural daylight, and the energy and headspace for fresh ideas or perspectives.
4. Promote a balanced lifestyle. A great work ethic is admirable, but can often lead to burnout – which is the last thing you need at times when the pressure is really on. We encourage our team members to take holidays before known busy times, or straight after. Even a three-day weekend can make all the difference in giving them the chance to recharge, reduce overwhelm and feel better positioned to tackle upcoming challenges.
5. Streamline communication. Effective communication is critical, but never more so than during busy times. To do this, ditch email as a communication tool internally for your practice, and instead turn to messaging platforms such as Microsoft Teams, Slack or Hangouts. These represent a really effective and efficient way for team members to connect, discuss projects or expedite discussions, without clogging up each others’ inboxes!
Emails act as a distraction to tasks, can hold up progress and can create unwieldy communication chains where important messages are missed. Instead, messaging platforms are an easier way to prioritize important communications while cutting out the unnecessary noise from your inbox, as well as providing transparency about projects to others in the team.
When you’re under pressure from the clock, or from clients, it’s about working smarter, not harder. For your practice, this could mean outsourcing non-productive tasks to administrative support team members, or it could also mean expanding your team with the help of qualified offshore accountants or bookkeepers.