It is no more just that disruptive innovations are making way for new industries and business models by destroying old ways. The past two years have transformed how we function within our professional and personal lives. Today, time management is not only crucial to the way people work, but it is equally essential to the way they communicate or collaborate. As the dust has started to settle down, one fact that has made its way in is, “Power has shifted to virtual and remote.”
As companies head towards the Year 2022, it’s crucial that they break down silos, embrace remote working models, and transform the workplace to manage time effectively. How companies plan to invest in their employees will define how prepared they are for the new age workforce of the future.
What should be your prime focus?
As a high-achieving leader, the first thing you must focus on is the time management strategies in your organization. The success of your current and future projects depends solely on how effectively your employees manage their time. From collaborating with different teams to spending time on daily operational activities, tracking time helps companies detect and weed out the inefficiencies in their processes. In essence, effective time management ensures that your workplace is more personalized, efficient, agile, and flexible.
Most companies are fully aware of the innovations that are transforming the workplace and are quickly adapting to them to stay ahead of the competition. But innovation comes with a learning curve, and so the workplace of the future will be shaped by:
- Needs of the knowledge workers and modern tools
- Dispersed and upskilling workforce
- Artificial Intelligence and machine learning technologies
- Diversity and inclusiveness
- Workforce engagement and spending time effectively
Therefore, it is crucial to understand these changing dynamics and help your employees stay focused and productive.
Time Management and the Future Hybrid Work Model
There may be several employees in your organization who can accomplish much more in a limited time but are distracted by low-value work and other interruptions so they struggle to stay focused. Also, as employees work from home, the distinction between personal and professional time can easily get mixed up, leading to stress and low productivity.
It is imperative that businesses accurately track employees’ time to maximize productivity, especially when companies need to implement a hybrid work ecosystem quickly. How employees spend their time on different tasks and projects determines profitability, revenue, utilization, compliance, and more for an organization. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics report, an average employee spends almost two hours a day on non-work tasks. And in today’s competitive marketplace, you cannot afford to throw away this time to unproductive work. In addition, as industries are shaping their business models, there is a rise of knowledge workers who care about how every minute is spent on productive tasks. They need a modern tool that can give them back their time to be more productive. Imagine how much revenue you can generate if you could utilize this time on essential projects.
User-friendly and less time-consuming processes will improve the employees’ work-life balance and make them feel valued in the organization. As such, having clear time management strategies for business is essential for achieving the desired goal in less time.
Here are the top 5 time management strategies that can help you and your organization:
1. Audit Time and Schedule Tasks:
One of the major causes of lost revenue is the non-work-related tasks. Of course, it is not wrong to take a break and spend time on personal or social activities, but this should not bring down employee productivity to the point that they cannot focus on the work at hand. Therefore, as a leader, you must identify how your employees are spending their time to eradicate unnecessary burdens that hamper their productivity and delay project deliverables. You can further use this information to plan an organized and efficient work schedule for your employees based on their preferences. When your employees know where and what amount of time they need to spend on a task, it will boost their performance. Also, when you have insights into the time spent during the day, you can replan and restructure your employees’ schedule to align it with the organization’s goal.
Remember that correct scheduling is as important as tracking the progress of the tasks. You can plan learning sessions and set work priorities for upcoming days, weeks, and even months to ensure this. Keeping checks on future work will help you disperse the overall load so that every task gets completed on or before time. This way, you’ll be able to set up a more structured layout to achieve your daily goals, and employees will not be stressed due to overwork.
2. Use the Pomodoro Technique:
Francesco Cirillo coined the Pomodoro Technique in the 1980s. As Cirillo was battling to concentrate on his studies and complete the assignments, he promised himself that he would be committed to 10 minutes of focused study time, then take a break of a few minutes and start again. He used a tomato (Pomodoro in Italian) shaped kitchen timer to work as he planned, coining the term Pomodoro technique.
Using this technique, you can encourage your employees to work alongside the time—rather than against it. Employees can set a 25-minutes timer and then take a five-minute break. These time breaks are known as Pomodoro. Each Pomodoro represents a piece of work, and each break gives employees a chance to reset their brains and bring back their attention to what’s pending. An employee can have a more extended break of 15-20 minutes after four Pomodoro.
The Pomodoro Technique is beneficial in resisting self-interruptions and training one’s brain to focus on one thing at a time despite the distractions. This technique will work best when an employee is stocked up with many tasks or an enormous task. By taking a break from work, they can better manage their tasks.
3. Set Priorities with The ALPEN method:
The other method that your employees can follow is the ALPEN method. The ALPEN method will help your employees plan their day. It ensures that it is easier for employees to structure their day and keep track of their time. The goal of the ALPEN method is to improve employees’ performance while significantly reducing stress levels.
ALPEN is short for these 5 methods:
A – Activities and tasks – Create a to-do list of all your tasks.
L – Length of time – Estimate how much time each task will take to complete.
P – Planning for buffering – Add up some time as a buffer. Like 20% to solve any issues and 20% to take a break.
E – Establishing priorities – Set the priority of your tasks, e.g., if a task can be done on another day or can be assigned to a colleague.
N – Note-taking – Check back on tasks that you have already completed. Identify areas of improvement or what went wrong to improve it.
If you set ambiguous and unrealistic goals without a set deadline, you’ll not only sabotage your chances of success but also have demotivated employees. Working within time limits and adding up a buffer will help you motivate employees to work on a task. Your employees will be able to finish the high-priority ones first, and this way, their workload will be more structured and manageable.
4. Provide Flexibility to Employees:
Researchers have proven how human efficiency drops up to 40% while working on multiple tasks. Because of COVID-19, people are trying to juggle between home and office work which means that, at a given time, they are often unable to focus on one task entirely. The adverse effects of this can be seen on employee productivity and their mental wellbeing as well. Therefore, giving your employees more freedom in terms of organizing their own time can be extremely vital. Flexibility around their work timings is one of the valuable aspects that any employee aspires to, whether in a remote or a hybrid setup.
Employees can track and determine which of their hours are more productive and work accordingly. You can help employees prioritize their tasks as per the project, team, and organizational goals, which will help them visualize the future work and identify any obstruction they may encounter. With this, your employees will get a sense of responsibility, stability, and security in their work and feel obligated to become more efficient and productive.
5. Use Automated and Intelligent Time Management Tool:
An Artificial Intelligence (AI) enabled time tracking system will create a transformative approach to improving employee experience and efficiency. AI and machine learning (ML) can automatically harvest time data from users and systems, build a timesheet, and reduce employee interference to just a few clicks instead of manually entering information as traditional approaches follow. And there is a wide range of time management tools that can help you.
An automated and intelligent time management tool with the power of AI and ML allows managers to allocate tasks to their teams based on their skills and availability. In addition, this tool will give real-time inputs about each employee, project, team, etc., in your organization. It will also provide information about the task deadlines and possible completion times. With all this data at your disposal, you and your managers can plan their projects well ahead of time and achieve success.
However, you need to choose a tool that acts as a single source of truth for the time data, is easily configurable, and provides increased visibility, accuracy, and control. The tool should be scalable and eliminate the need for error-prone manual processes, multiple redundant systems, and cost-prohibitive customizations.
Remember, Time is the Greatest Asset – Plan it Well!
Just like money, time is both precious and limited. You may need more time, but you only have 24 hours each day. There’s no question that managing a remote or hybrid new-age workforce can be challenging. But, as organizations adapt the way they work and accommodate both remote employees and those returning to the workplace, it becomes crucial that you build your strategies keeping employees in mind. If not tackled correctly, managing projects within time and budget can become quite a challenge for your organization.
The benefits of effective time management include greater visibility, agility, and flexibility. When you are clear on how best to use time, you can help your employees become more focused and productive. Effective time management simplifies your goals and prioritizes your most important tasks, so you have more time to achieve bigger and better results. To learn more on how to enhance productivity for the “New Age Workforce,” download the eBook.