Join us today for an episode about the ways working from home can help or harm your productivity...

Today's episode is focused on what you can do to let working virtual help instead of hurt your productivity...

In today’s episode about investing in others by stewarding your time, I talk with you about some of the productivity benefits of virtual work.  Some of the productivity disadvantages of virtual work. I share what you can do to make it the most beneficial.

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00:00:00 Thanks for joining me on episode 703 of the inspired stewardship podcast. I'm Frazer rice, author of wealth. Actually, I challenge you to invest in yourself, invest in others, develop your influence and impact the world by using your time, your talent and your treasures to live out your calling, having the right relationship with all of your gifts is the key to doing this one way to be inspired to do that is to listen to this,
00:00:27 the inspired stewardship podcast with my friend, Scott Mader, and then you also need to build in structure that helps deflect distractions. The biggest problem with telecommuting and virtual work is distractions. We have a myriad of distractions during the day, and it is so much easier to have them come into your work environment. Welcome, and thank you for joining us on the inspired stewardship podcast.
00:01:05 If you truly desire to become the person who God wants you to be, then you must learn to use your time, your talent and your treasures for your true calling in the inspired stewardship podcast, who will learn to invest in yourself, invest in others and develop your influence so that you can impact the world in today's episode about investing in others. By stewarding your time.
00:01:37 I talk with you about some of the productivity benefits of virtual work. I share some of the productivity disadvantages of virtual work, and I talked to you about what you can do to make it the most beneficial for you. As we talk about stewarding your time, wouldn't it be great if you could support this podcast and do it without just taking too long,
00:01:59 it turns out you can. All you have to do is use inspired When you're ready to make a purchase via Amazon and a small commission, we'll come back to support the show just that quick. If you enjoy the show, when you are ready to buy from Amazon, just use inspired You know, one of the areas that I spend a lot of time working with people in is productivity.
00:02:26 And I've been working from home for a while now, even before that became much more of a norm during this pandemic. And it's interesting to me, because back when I was in the corporate world, one of the biggest pushbacks that we had was against allowing people to telecommute. And when we did allow people to telecommute, we often would see an impact on their performance.
00:02:50 And so I began to look into the impacts of performance around virtual work. How does productivity change when you're working virtually and now as a, a person running my own business, which is a virtual business and has been since forever since the very first day I started it, I've seen myself how to implement some of these things as a person, but this also applies whether you're a team member in a company,
00:03:15 or whether you're a leader in a company or you own your own small business, and now have found yourself having to allow people to telecommute and having a virtual team. And the truth is there are some good things about virtual work, and there are some bad things about virtual work. And then there are some things you can do to actually make sure that it works to the best of its ability.
00:03:36 And we're going to talk about that today. You know, there's some research that came out during the lockdown and before it happened, whenever it was suddenly becoming clear that we were going to enforce some sort of lockdown and different people, weren't going to be able to come into work that normally would about 60 to 70% of employers surveyed said, this is going to devastate production.
00:04:00 This is going to create a situation where nobody is productive. And by June, whenever they were surveyed, about 26% was saying that they'd seen a negative impact in production. And when there's some studies and some surveys that have actually looked at performance indicators by people during the lockdown, initially you did see a large dip in productivity. I think part of that too,
00:04:27 is they were rolling out things. You know, people didn't always have a laptop when they first went home. If they worked for a corporate company and it took them a couple of weeks or even a month to get that to them, leaders were beginning to struggle with how to communicate with teams and team members were struggling around, what does it mean to be productive now that I'm working from home?
00:04:47 You know, the situation with kids and family changed where all of a sudden, you know, we were also homeschooling our kids and doing other things that we never would have had to do when we were telecommuting. And yet there was still actually over time by, by the end of summer, there had been an uptick in overall performance. But what's interesting is when you look at that data a little bit closer,
00:05:11 some of the studies that I've seen showed that the average performance more or less stayed the same. So that means if there was an increase, that means some of the high performing people pulled that up. They made up for the fact that there were some people performing much lower than normal. And that's what kept the average the same. It turns out that the way that performance was measured ahead of time,
00:05:37 the variability in it, in other words, the difference between the highest performing employee and the lowest performing employee was lower than it is during the work from home environment. And that actually, by the way, hold steady with what companies have seen when they went into virtual work, whether it was during the pandemic or before. Yeah. Virtual work does have an impact on people and not everyone's personality,
00:06:03 not everyone's home environment, not everyone's situation is conducive to virtual work. It informs performance, but it also informs and impacts mental health exhaustion, tiredness, this feeling of always being on, of having no separation between home and work. These are all disadvantages that people have during that virtual environment, the impact of family and kids and other folks on interruptions and disruption to the work can be much higher than when they're in the office because coworkers know that they're having an impact on employees.
00:06:41 You know, your three year old kid doesn't necessarily know that. And so of course, companies and leaders are challenged to find ways to deal with this, but it also turns out there's, there's some benefits to working from home. Some of the most productive people suddenly become even more productive. And I would argue that with the right support, even people that would have normally dropped off in productivity can find ways to increase their productivity as well.
00:07:10 Because the truth is that working from home does save you some time and some energy, in some ways you, you no longer have to drive in that commute is gone away. And even if your commute is five or 10 minutes, five or 10 minutes for five days a week over the entire period of a year begins to add up into some serious time.
00:07:30 You can also end up working a little bit more efficiently, where you're able to do some of the things like throw a load of laundry in and get it started during a work break. When you go to refill your coffee that you wouldn't have been able to do. So it actually turns out to be able to be arranged in a way that increases your productivity.
00:07:51 That's one of the benefits of virtual work well done, well supported with good leaders and good teams. It can become more productive, not less, but that only works if you've put some of the structure in place, because you see some of the disadvantages of working from home include a high factor of exhaustion. This is that zoom fatigue that people say, they feel the,
00:08:16 the getting to the end of the seventh conference call of the day, and just feeling like you're completely wiped out and unable to even stare at one more zoom screen, without your head exploding, people will talk about feeling less connected, feeling less plugged in with their team, having a feeling of being on their own and not being supported. And all of these mental and physical impacts create a situation where it's very easy for some team members to suddenly just kind of be sucked down a rabbit hole and feel much less productive and have an impact on this.
00:08:52 So what can we do about it? Whether it's you yourself, you're looking at your own productivity, cause these are all things you can do for yourself at some level, or whether it's you're a leader or company business owner, and you're doing this for your employees. Doesn't matter. We still want to do some of the same things. And the first thing is you want to begin to look at your employees probably more holistically than you have in the past.
00:09:17 A lot of times in the past, we would measure productivity simply off of the unit production. You know, in other words, the output, how many sales calls did they make? How many widgets did they produce? How many times did they get that report done? Whatever it is. It was an output focused thing. Even in a service business,
00:09:36 it was about number of customers touched or number of little pieces of the puzzle that that particular employee filled in. And you need to begin to add in some performance indicators around things like wellbeing and collaboration, how many touch points do they have during a day with other people within the company? How much do they have an opportunity to share and to talk to people not just about work,
00:10:04 but about how they're doing or how they're feeling, how much support do you have around them in terms of being able to handle the technology and the other problems that inevitably come up when you're working from home. In other words, you need to begin to build in very deliberately connection points between your team. This is where having that 15 minute morning huddle before y'all start the day virtually can begin to add benefits to the team.
00:10:33 You also need to really lean on your leadership team and make sure that they're up to speed. They suddenly need to begin to understand how to use technology. They need to have a digital set of skills. They need to be trained on how to have tough conversations in a virtual environment. Because let me tell you, letting someone go over the telephone or via zoom call is really different than sitting down across the desk from them.
00:10:58 And having that conversation. You need to begin to have leaders that recognize that different people are going to have different work styles and maybe even work hours. Sometimes that could be produced and be recognized and be allowed. And other times it can't, it depends on the structure of their job, but you need to actually work with your employees to help them develop their own working style that actually works for them in their unique environment.
00:11:27 You need to begin to build an even more recognition than normal. You, you lose kind of some of that spontaneous recognition that can happen when you're all in the workplace together. When you just walk by and give someone a Pat on the back and say, Hey, that was a really good job in the meeting the other day, you, you don't have that sort of unofficial recognition.
00:11:50 So you need to build it in very deliberately and create a way that people know that they're seen that they're heard and that they're recognized. And then you also need to build in structure that helps deflect distractions. The biggest problem with telecommuting and virtual work is distractions. We have a myriad of distractions during the day, and there's so much easier to have them come into your work environment whenever you're working from home than in the office.
00:12:25 But the truth is even in the office, even in a regular work environment, you have hundreds of distractions during the day. There's estimates of as much as 30% of the Workday being lost due to distractions. I've even seen a higher numbers than that. Well, you need to begin to look at how can I create connection points and check in points during the day that help people know that they're,
00:12:50 they're engaged, they're active, they're part of the team and they're focused building clear structure and communicating those expectations clearly ahead of time can help you do this. And if you're working from home all by yourself and you're running your own business, you need to create that structure for yourself and create some accountability around it so that you can be held to it and be as productive as possible.
00:13:18 Turns out productivity in a virtual environment can be a good thing or a bad thing, but a lot of it has to do with how you step back and set that up for yourself to make it as beneficial as possible. Thanks for listening. Thanks so much for listening to the inspired stewardship podcast as a subscriber and listener, we challenge you to not just sit back and passively listen,
00:13:50 but act on what you've heard and find a way to live your calling. If you liked this episode on the stewardship of time, be sure to sign up for our stewardship of time tips series, by going to inspired or texting four four, two, two, two time tips, and that'll get you our best tips on stewarding your time until next time,
00:14:24 invest your time, your talent and your treasures, develop your influence and impact the world.

In today's episode, I talk with you about:

  • Some of the productivity benefits of virtual work...
  • Some of the productivity disadvantages of virtual work... 
  • What you can do to make it the most beneficial...
  • and more.....

In teamwork, silence isn’t golden, it’s deadly. — Mark Sanborn

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About the Author Scott

Helping people to be better Stewards of God's gifts. Because Stewardship is about more than money.

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