As a Senior Business Analyst at pMD, I am always on the lookout for ways to improve efficiency, optimize process, and continually make things better. While looking out for patterns and opportunities, I tend to reflect inward to see what more I can do to make my own work more efficient!
Our amazing office culture landed us as a Best Place to Work on several honoree lists (you can read more about that here!). However, you may or may not know that here at pMD we are always on the go. Whether it is working on the plane, working somewhere in the USA, or working from home for the day, I am always looking to get the same, if not more, productivity as when I’m in the office. Doing a quick Google search for the best advice, I saw a trend with suggestions to make remote work as much like the office as possible: sticking to a schedule, dressing the part, staying organized, etc. While all very good tips to keep in mind, here are three of my favorites!
Tip #1: Stay Connected
It is so easy to send an email - it’s fast, convenient, and you can re-phrase or edit what you want to communicate prior to sending it. In a software company that has HIPAA-compliant Secure Messaging, we love technology! However, it is amazing how much we don’t realize that we learn from everyday office chatter and face-to-face communication. Anyone here at pMD will agree that face-to-face communication always trumps electronic communication.
In fact, this study by Mahdi Roghanizad and Vanessa K. Bohns shows that face-to-face communication is 34 times more effective than email. Plus, it’s always great to catch up and maintain your relationship with your co-workers.
However, when traveling or working remotely, in-person conversations aren’t always possible, so try to jump on phone calls whenever you can. In the office setting, we have the ability to take a look over at someone’s desk to see if they are there and can walk over and ask a question. It may seem a little daunting these days to pick up the phone and cold-call a colleague for a question but the worst that can happen is that they don’t answer! It will be faster, more efficient, and likely better understood to have a conversation over the phone rather than through email.
If possible, amp up the technology usage to opt in for a video conference. Department and company meetings are a lot more impactful when you video chat face-to-face or are present for the (not so) subtle body language that may not always translate over the phone.
Tip #2: Take Breaks
Taking a day to work outside of the office, whether it is for business travel or a home office day can be a great way to really control your environment and get some quiet time. However, I sometimes feel a little guilty that I am spending the day in yoga pants while my colleagues are in the office and so I try to make up for it by being overly productive. On busy days with a lot to do, I am inclined to power through my tasks, working for hours at a time, non-stop. Unfortunately, I’ve learned that this is not the most efficient or productive way to get things done.
This study by Atsunori Ariga and Alejandro Lleras researched the effects of task performance with and without breaks. The participants were asked to perform a task, requiring their attention for 40 minutes. Only one of the groups (called the ‘Switch’ group) of participants had 2 short breaks within that time frame. The group with built-in breaks maintained their level of performance while the others showed a noticeable decline in performance over time as shown in the graph below:
Whether the break is just to get up and grab another La Croix or take a stroll through a giant inflatable colon, take the time for those quick breaks. Your productivity will thank you!
Tip #3: “What can I do to make this more fun?”
My good friend, Kristen Zavo, bestselling author of Job Joy, recently posed this question as a response to someone asking about how to get motivated to be more productive. My initial reaction, probably similar to most, was a bit skeptical... It sounds good in theory but I have stuff to do! Kristen talks about upgrading your environment through music or venue changes and rewarding yourself for getting through less desirable to-dos with a more fun task or lunch as ways to increase the fun factor.
Let me tell you, hands down, this has been one of my favorite tips!
While working remotely, it can be either very distracting or very dull and monotonous if you are holed up in yet another hotel room. Finding that fun helps you gain focus or engagement that can bring your productivity to the next level. Obviously, I love the fun (as you can see by above photo) but I also like to challenge myself and exceed my goals.
My favorite way to mix it up and make it exciting is what’s called “gamifying” my work. Sometimes this looks like a fun checklist to get through multiple tasks or stages of a project. Other times it is getting competitive against my prior performance or a group of colleagues (friendly competition, of course!).
If I am looking to focus and need to get away from the distractions, my go-to is working outside. The sunshine and fresh air have a wonderful calming effect that helps me key in on my next steps and make a 30-minute work session both productive and inspired.
That’s it - my three favorite tips! While I may not get to use each of these everyday, it is a goal of mine to incorporate them as much as possible into my work day so that I can continue to be both productive and efficient!