In August 2019, we are only just learning, Microsoft Japan experimented with a 4-day work week, and reports are suggesting productivity jumped 40%. The aim of this exercise, it appears, was to closely examine work-life balance and see if spending reduced time in the office would boost creativity and productivity. Under the ‘Work Life Choice Challenge 2019 Summer’, Microsoft closed its offices every Friday that month, giving paid leave to full-time employees.
For any employee, a 3-day weekend sounds like a dream scenario. But evidently, this is a win-win scenario for employers and employees. Now contrast this with our workdays in India.
If, like me, you have been working in the Indian corporate sector for the past decade or so, you will recall that 6-day work weeks were pretty much the norm in most organisations until a few years ago. That’s right; working Saturdays, or at least half-days on Saturdays, were very common. In fact, it would be safe to say, that it was only during the decade of the twenty-tens, particularly after the 2008-09 economic slowdown, that organisations started to see the benefit of cutting back on the wastage of resources on this additional workday.
The big question here is: are we likely to see the 4-day week make its way to India any time soon? Your guess is as good as mine, but until we can count on Fridays as a day off, here are some steps you can incorporate to take charge of your productivity during the work week.
Create slots for replying to emails
In our work milieu, there is no designated flow of emails. You could either choose to spend your day responding to emails, or get your work done. Personally, I prefer to allot slots in the day for responding to emails, while keeping an eye on something that might be of priority. This gives me control of my workflow, rather than handing over the reins of my time and energy to every incoming email.
Take time to define your agenda for the day
It takes precisely 10 minutes of jotting things down to define your priorities for the day. You’ll find that it will give you tremendous clarity on how you should spend your day and define clear goals for your team too.
Do the same with meetings
Have you ever been in meetings that lasted way longer than they should have? Do you recall feeling frustrated and struggling to catch up during the rest of your day? A clearly-defined agenda for meetings, which you can perhaps share with other participants, ensures that everybody is on the same page and shows up prepared. As a result, you will be able to wrap meetings up faster with a true sense of accomplishment at the end of each meeting.
Technology is your friend; know when to be physically present
While nothing can beat physical presence, it’s important to know when you can save time by scheduling a Google Hangout instead of battling your way through 2 hours of drive time for a 20-minute meeting. Making a pitch or trying to get in with a new client? Sure, go the extra mile, but save yourself the effort if the agenda lends itself to a video call.
Respect time; hit that schedule button
While creating time slots to reply to emails will certainly boost your productivity, it’s important to be mindful of everyone else’s time too. Nobody likes to wake up to emails at 2 am, just because you had a eureka moment. For moments when you are struck by such inspiration, hit the ‘schedule send’ button so that the email lands in your colleague’s inbox at a reasonable hour.