How productive are you? It’s a simple question that most of us struggle to provide a concrete answer to.
Mastering productivity has become an essential part of our daily lives – we devour books, podcasts and TV series in pursuit of becoming more organised and efficient. Keeping pace with the hustle and bustle is key to both personal and professional success, however, sometimes it seems easier to get cracking on ‘all-the-things’ rather than thinking about how to carry out tasks more effectively.
These executives at leading tech companies reveal their top tips for driving productivity, both for themselves and their teams and their wider company’s:
Dustin Moskovitz, CEO and Co-founder of work management tool, Asana
Ban meetings one day a week
My biggest hurdle to productivity is interruptions. To accomplish something that requires deep thinking, I need to have at least an hour–ideally two to three–of contiguous free time on my calendar. This requires careful planning of group meetings that I do need to attend, and diligence to avoid unnecessary engagements.
We practice “No Meeting Wednesdays” to ensure that everyone at the company gets a large block of time to focus on heads-down work without having to fit it in between meetings. This may be our most valuable cultural practice, and I encourage every company to consider adopting it.
Additionally, we reflect frequently on whether our group activities are getting enough ROI to justify the interrupt and time expenditure. Recently, we decided to cut the number of all-hands meetings almost by half to give more time back to the team for focused work.
Jeff Paradise, Chief Revenue Officer, Pipedrive
What you don’t spend your time on is just as important as what you do spend your time on
One of the main productivity hacks I’ve learnt is to keep two clear lists of tasks: one personal and one professional. I have over 150 employees on my team and need something which gives me a clear overview of today’s and this week’s ‘must-dos’. I wouldn’t be able to handle all of this successfully without a tool that helps me stay organised, keeps track of all projects, and addresses crucial priorities in a timely manner.
My advice for driving new levels of productivity is finding a system and platform that helps you to be mindful of all the tasks at hand. Look for ways to automate some of the more time-consuming activities that usually hinder your workflow, as this will help you to direct your time toward the higher priority assignments and free you up for building relationships with your clients, new-business prospects and colleagues.
Peter Arvai, Co-founder and CEO, Prezi
Create long term plans
Be clear on your long-term strategy and goals. Spend time thinking ahead about what you want and how you went to get there. With clarity of where you’re headed long term (and doing the hard work in advance), you can make the right decisions when you need to – quickly and easily.
Stuart Templeton, Head of UK, Slack
Working for a company that is focused on making people’s working lives more productive, it’s hugely important to me to set an example to my team and clients, bringing my productivity A-game.
As an increasing amount of our mundane tasks are automated, knowledge workers are moving away from a daily routine, taking on more creative and human roles. But, I’ll be the first to admit productivity is not just about the tools you use and saving time through clever tech, it’s also about making time to ensure you’re more alert and ready for work.
I’ve made a conscious effort to introduce exercise into my daily routine. Three times a week I’m on my new static bike at 6am, riding for an hour. It takes some discipline, knowing I could have an extra hour in bed, but it’s worth it for clearing my head and feeling ready for the working day come 9am.
Another trick to staying productive at work is being able to say ‘no’. This year I plan on keeping my diary totally free of meetings every other Friday, giving me time to catch-up, plan ahead and focus on important tasks at hand, so that I can enjoy the weekend and switch-off.
Alan Gibson, Senior Vice President – EMEA, Alteryx
Enable all employees to extract valuable insights from available data
You can’t manage what you can’t measure goes the saying, and measurement is all about the right data. One of the factors behind stellar profitability (and productivity) is the availability – and the ability to manage – data. The ultimate value in data is when it becomes ubiquitous, so it’s no use for just a few people to be able to manage complex data analysis whilst the rest of us wait for the answers to our questions.
Business leaders of today and tomorrow need insights at the speed of business so everyone needs access to the data they understand and work with as part of their everyday roles. With data scientists in short supply, everyone has the ability to become a citizen data scientist, or everyday analyst as long as they can dive in on the right analytics platform, to bring meaningful results utilising advanced analytics – without the need to write or understand code. Putting barriers in their way like making people learn to code snuffs out the creative, detective spark that fires up the people that just HAVE to know the answers to questions.
As it’s those people working hard to drive value in their organisations and discover new insights, it’s wise to steer them well and set up a collaborative culture where anyone can improve their productivity by questioning company data and discovering trends and insights to make great results.
Carl Standertskjold, Corporate Segment Marketing Manager, Sony Professional Solutions Europe
Optimise your workplace environment
While individuals and teams might be the primary drivers of productivity, how the environment within which they operate is set up and functions is almost as important. Too often do organisations only focus on how employees are going about doing their work, rather than on the tools and technologies at their disposal. Connected professional displays, advanced room booking systems, high-end video conferencing technologies and more are all a part of an effective, efficient and productive workplace ecosystem. If businesses want to truly tap into and unlock hidden pockets of productivity, then they should make optimising the workplace environment a priority first.
John Morrison, Senior Vice President EMEA, Extreme Networks
Build a robust digital infrastructure
Friction-less working has long been considered a gold standard for productivity. Breaking down geographical barriers and organisational silos to empower collaboration and seamless access to information, data and insight is not only central to digital transformation, but to unlocking new levels of productivity inside and outside your organisation.
Whether friction is eliminated through the cloud and edge computing or the implementation of progressive technologies like IoT, machine learning and Artificial Intelligence the core principle remains the same: none of this is possible without the right network in place. The network sits at the heart of any transformation journey no matter how simple. Only with a robust digital infrastructure and high-performance connectivity can you seek to unlock the productivity and efficiency savings that technology offers.
John Titmus, EMEA Director, CrowdStrike
Understand the threats to your business
Productivity isn’t only about what the individual employee can control – outside factors affect the ability of the workforce to achieve consistent success. Research from the Ponemon Institute (an independent security research firm) indicates that security teams can increase productivity by an average of 56 per cent if they adopt solutions to improve endpoint visibility, threat detection and clarity around security incidents. Some next-generation anti-virus solutions have seen customers report a 75 per cent increase in productivity. It all comes from being able to identify cybersecurity threats to the organisation before they disrupt the working environment – or before they destroy valuable data.
It’s becoming clear that human productivity is entwined with technology efficiency. In the cybersecurity domain the threat of zero-day attacks and new variants of malware mean that a workforce can be made unproductive as fast as an email can be sent or a malicious link shared over instant messaging. AI and cloud-powered solutions enable organisations to react in real-time to threats, monitoring the environment and stopping threats and breaches before they break out into serious threats.