9th August 2018
Digital magazine and website, Computer Weekly, ran a recent article about a new Microsoft function that nudges employees if they’re sending emails outside their usual working hours. It also reminds staff about tasks they need to tackle or complete. Part of Microsoft’s 365 cloud services, the feature, called Teams, is intended to improve efficiency and combat the stress that comes with consistently working late.
Technology is fast becoming a weapon in the struggle for a healthy work-life balance. Indeed manufacturers of smartphones and tablets are under increasing pressure to address our tendency to check our phones, tablets or e-readers (whether for work or play) last thing at night. The blue light emitted from their screens has been shown to disrupt sleep, and even delay it by up to an hour.
In addition, many companies have a culture of working late to contend with. Just one more thing that can lead to employee burnout. Time spent hanging around the office when you’ve completed your daily tasks or worked your hours just because others are still at their desks, are rarely productive either – they’re more likely to lead to resentment and stress.
Whether or not you implement Microsoft’s new feature, you may still want to take steps to ensure your employees are learning to work smarter not harder. Here are just a few ideas you can implement.
If Microsoft isn’t your thing take a look at other technology solutions that may help you run a tighter ship. Focus on tools for communication and productivity – there are plenty of programmes, software and apps that have been created to help your people organise their time more effectively.
If staff appear to struggle to get started in the mornings or complain of not being able to sleep because they’re always stressing over the things they need to do the following day, suggest they write a to-do list before going to bed to unclutter their minds and help them sleep better.
If you don’t already, start setting deadlines – they should be strict, but achievable. Tell your staff that they may manage their own schedule within the given timeframe. That way they’ll be more likely to use their time productively rather than procrastinating and having to scramble at the last minute.
Consider adopting a more flexible approach to the working day if your business allows for it. Will parents of young children work more effectively if they can work around the school run and sick days? Will staff who have a lengthy commute be more engaged and efficient if they can work remotely a couple of days a week?
Finally, back to that culture of working late: you need to lead by example and if you rarely leave the office until well past dinner time most evenings, no doubt your employees feel under pressure to do the same. Encourage a work-life balance and you’ll very likely see productivity and engagement increase and stress levels and resentment take a dive.