By Camille Preston, author of “Rewired: How to Work Smarter, Live Better, and Be Purposefully Productive in an Overwired World“
Smart, successful businesses, like smart, successful people, do things differently. They have success systems in place. They have strategies they use to stay focused and productive. And in the digital age, smart businesses, like smart people, use the wired world to their advantage by “rewiring” for success.
Rewiring means to establish clear, effective systems and strategies. These can be tech-based, like establishing clear e-mail protocols, or simple personal strategies, like keeping a daily planner. Either way, they are critical to success. And while all companies can benefit from success systems, creating a culture of productivity can be a matter of survival for early-stage companies, especially in the digital age.
The digital age presents a host of new challenges. Expectations have changed. We are now able to work 24/7 from anywhere. Information has exploded, as has the technology we use to deal with it. It all comes at us at dizzying speeds, and it is easy to become overwhelmed, overloaded, and overwired. As we navigate more information, more relationships, and more choices we need systems that help us be productive and successful to “rewire” the workplace to stay in control and improve productivity. And if you build and implement these right from the start, you will lay the groundwork for success.
1. Set boundaries and clarify expectations.
This goes for everything from work hours to e-mail. You need to be clear on what is expected and what the boundaries are, and then you must convey this clearly to your employees:
- What is an appropriate response time to texts and e-mail?
- What is the protocol vis-a-vis cc’ing? Who has to be in the e-mail chain?
- What are the working hours?
- When can people be off-line?
- When must they be available?
- When are you and senior staff available?
2. Give your employees the tools to focus and succeed.
Yes, people need hardware and software and all kinds of gadgets to get their work done. But consider the other tools they need—bandwidth, space, freedom, and opportunities to think deeply and circle back. So:
- Do you have a break room for employees?
- Is there somewhere they can go to rejuvenate and recalibrate?
- How can you encourage them to do one thing at a time, rather than multitask?
- What is your policy vis-à-vis their health and wellness?
3. Establish success systems.
Success systems are the simple things we do every day that lead to our success. These are things that are accomplished because they are “automated” so we don’t have to waste brainpower thinking about them. For example, on a very basic level, this might be something as simple as always putting your keys and gadgets in the same place every night, meaning you never have to look for them. On a personal level, this might be implementing an exercise plan that is scheduled into a calendar. Fitness gets accomplished and brainpower is not wasted on thinking, “Should I work out? If so, when and where? What should I do?” Too many degrees of freedom, too many choices, and we get distracted.
Organizational success means limiting distractions and wasted time by automating and organizing as many things as you can. For example:
- Establish clear and common protocols for naming documents. For example, Title year month day last name of creator: “MIT contract 2012_6_12 Preston.”
- Keep all supplies in a well-organized area.
- Make sure there is a clear leadership hierarchy and people know whom to contact.
- If you absolutely have to have a meeting, make sure you have a clear agenda circulated in advance and a clear start and end time.
- Schedule backups to your critical data. This provides peace of mind and greater focus. Set a time to back up the hard drives or use a cloud solution.
4. Get personal.
One of the biggest problems in a wired world is the lack of real interaction and person-to-person contact communication. Consider ways to get your employees talking with each other, in real time and space:
- Establish screen-free lunches or meetings.
- Establish a “no-intra-office-e-mail-day” where employees have to get up and speak to each other face-to-face.
- Host happy hours, ice cream get-togethers, or other social events.
Establishing a corporate culture of productivity starts with employing simple success systems that, over time, will help you and your company grow and succeed. Your rewired workplace can be one of improved efficiency, productivity and fulfillment for everybody. (728)
Camille Preston is author of “Rewired: How to Work Smarter, Live Better, and Be Purposefully Productive in an Overwired World“. She is the founder and CEO of AIM Leadership, an organizational development company committed to developing powerful, authentic leaders. She is a pioneer and specialist in the field of Virtual Effectiveness and regularly travels the globe to teach, train, and coach high-level executives on how to be more productive, purposeful, effective, and fulfilled. Her clients include NBC, Zappos, the Asia Foundation, MGM Mirage, Mars, Verizon, GE, Capitol One, the US Army, Harvard University, and others.