Maintaining Productivity in Disruption

As I wake up in the morning, I take a second to remind myself that this isn’t a dream. We are now all learning to live and work in a new environment that is still changing by the day. With a cup of coffee in hand, I turn on my laptop, start reading emails and think to myself, how will I remain productive during the day, and how might I stay motivated to do this?

Being productive gives us a sense of purpose, belonging and achievement in life. It helps to create a positive culture of engagement. This is inherently something, as humans, we crave. So what can we do to maintain productivity in times of disruption and uncertainty?

There are a number of steps I take, that could be beneficial for all.

  1. Get the basics right

Many of us are already nearly one month into working from home. It all happened so fast we were somehow multi-tasking between building our desks and setting up our workstations to our liking, while at the same time meeting the usual deadlines and expectations our jobs entail. Now a month in, it’s time to take a deep breathe in, and go back and check you are happy with the way you are working.

Is my workspace well set up? Does my email signature include my contact details? Do I find a good quiet spot for my phone calls?

  1. Connect with the purpose of your job

Being  clear on why you’re doing what you are, helps to keep you motivated and passionate about your work. As a starting point a good idea is to write down your personal purpose and reflect on how this links to the purpose of your job, team or organisation. From being the desire to advance your career, or as simple as wanting to put food on the table for your family, use these ‘motivators’ to fuel your purpose.

It’s also important that if you are comfortable then share these ‘motivators’ with your colleagues. While what drives us differs, seeing similarities between yourself and other people helps bring teams together.

  1. Focus on outcomes

Focusing on outcomes is essential to driving individual and team performance and productivity. You will have your own way to achieve your outcome. Ensuring you have a set of goals in place that are well defined and “SMART” (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time-based), will mean that you have a clear focus on what you need to get done. It’s important to note that in  a virtual work environment, you will need to spend more time upfront with your team discussing and agreeing goals and outcomes, including expectations for working relationships.

It’s important you actively seek and provide feedback and encourage your team to share progress transparently and openly. When providing feedback, make sure it is specific and balanced with relevant examples. Try using the SBIN technique – Situation, Behaviour, Impact, and Next Steps.

  1. Encourage creativity and innovation

History repeatedly reminds us that in times of volatility, creativity and innovation help lead us to solve new problems.

Brainstorming problems with colleagues as well as  identifying and implementing new opportunities in your workplace will be a catalyst for improvement in productivity. Better yet, try using a team collaboration tool for a team idea generation challenge. This is a great way to keep everyone energised, promote diversity of thinking and build collaboration. Some teams at KPMG are exploring the use of collaboration platforms for socialising, including a trivia challenge. Don’t forget to share your new ideas.

We should also be actively seeking new learning opportunities. For example this might include  inviting colleagues from other teams to join our online meetings to provide and progress new ideas.

So, as we turn our attention back to the task at hand be it that presentation pack to be completed, or meeting preparation to be done, let’s encourage ourselves and others to connect, focus and be creative as we navigate this new environment.


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