How Some Companies are More (and Staying) Productive in a Pandemic

In a NYTimes piece, “Are Companies More Productive in a Pandemic,” Chegg senior executive Nathan Schultz recounts how he thought productivity would plummet 15 to 20 percent when the company started working remotely in March. Initially, he corresponded with the team more judiciously but found out that it didn’t work. When he eased off, he noticed something: projects were getting completed ahead of time. 

Taking away commute time plus long meetings, long-winding coffee breaks and unnecessary other procedures, many employees have found more time to hunker down to doing actual work.  

It turns out that not only one company but one other big company, Cisco, has noticed the uptick in productivity.  It discovered that customer service representatives are taking more calls with high customer satisfaction ratings. 

Still, there has to be a long-term study to determine why more people are turning in good work. It’s possible that the huge number of layoffs could be scaring people to act with more urgency and activity. With unemployment benefits ending in July, people feel less secure about their future and are pulling out all the stops to do a good job at work.

Not all are productive, though. Some can get lost in their home distractions, others may need to have a mental health check, as it’s inevitable others would likely be affected by the current coronavirus crisis and persistent bad news. 

Others are suffering from having to manage their employees the way parents dot on their kids. On top of work, the company’s top leaders sometimes feel like they’re looking after them like their children. 

Of course, big companies have solid work policies in place to keep their employees productive but small companies may need some guidance to help them stay on track. Here are some tips from Forbes:

1. Set a firm purpose. Focus on what really matters, going over goals and objectives once again while also addressing current problems and challenges. Welcome suggestions and new ideas. 

2. Have an agenda for meetings well ahead of time. Why? Without in-person interaction, fellow global mobility professionals would need some time to prepare their own ideas or thoughts. See if you can frame the agenda items as questions. This will make people feel they’re part of the meeting and not just being dictated to. 

3. Keep meetings short and organized. How do you manage lots of people on a virtual call? Watch this and see how it just flows…smoothly.  See if you can do 15 minutes or less, depending on the number of people. Other matters can be emailed. One way to stay organized is to Google Doc talking points and share them on screen, so everyone is not just looking at each other but reading a piece of document that needs to be addressed or prioritized. 

4. Assign tasks to each participant. Everyone will have different proposals to discuss and put into practice.  The following week, everyone can state the actions they took to improve that metric, and hopefully, as a team, they would have reached the goal and will feel accomplished. 

5. Give everyone permission not to attend. Someone may feel slighted by not being part of the meeting, while others will feel it’s a waste of time. Think about who will benefit from the meeting and not just add people because they don’t want to leave someone behind. Email everyone in your team with the option for some to have a meeting with you separately.

6. Have you tried quick video reports? For those who miss in-person interactions, this is one way to personalize your work with team members.