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Helping your talent focus in the remote world

Written by Andy Wilson on Thursday, 09 June 2022. Posted in Leadership, HR, People

You might find it surprising, but businesses are still trying to finalise their own remote and hybrid working strategies. With a wide range of tools, juggling meetings and information overload, the future of our daily work is still up for discussion.

Helping your talent focus in the remote world

You might find it surprising, but businesses are still trying to finalise their own remote and hybrid working strategies. With a wide range of tools, juggling meetings and information overload, the future of our daily work is still up for discussion.

These distractions create greater problems than just lost output - ultimately, it translates to lost revenue and growth as employees struggle to gain focus. 

As businesses try to create a balance between helping minimise distractions and catering to workers remotely and in the office, here are some important things leaders need to consider. 

Making your communication asynchronous

Businesses have become used to scheduling endless meetings, in fact, they have become a big part of today’s office culture. Although this may have been exacerbated by the pandemic, it’s important that businesses are thinking about the return on investment of this time and refocus on what is important.

At Dropbox, for example, we implemented Core Collaboration hours, 4-hour windows for meetings aligned across time zones, so that we could ensure that our live collaboration is meaningful. This is a simple and easy step for companies to empower their employees and prevent burnout when working from home, whilst also helping distributed teams protect themselves from the demands of round-the-clock availability from team members. 

Ultimately, shifting to a more asynchronous communication style can assist in eliminating unnecessary meetings whilst also helping co-workers play an active role in taking control of their time. By asynchronous communication, I mean any type of communication that isn’t made in real-time. This includes, for example, deciding to email your colleague a question, instead of scheduling a designated Zoom call. Asynchronous communication can happen over everything from email and messenger apps to task management platforms and document collaboration tools.

This flexibility can help employees regain focus and feel empowered to provide input on their terms (but to a deadline). It also shifts the focus onto work and output, and not just meetings. 

Rewarding your talent

Given the inflationary pressures on businesses and individuals, leaders also need to think about how they can reward their teams in new ways. For example, volunteer time off is a great way to drive team building, whilst helping the community - bringing teams closer, especially if they haven’t had the chance to meet in real life yet.

Company PTO (Paid time off) days are another way that you can help to reward teams, giving them a day or half-day in the summer to enjoy time away from work. Of course, there is a cost to the business, but rest and reflection help to bring new focus and motivation when your team members return to work.

Clear your mind: Routines to focus better 

Since employees own their time-management, decision-making, and multi-tasking capabilities, knowing how to regain focus is key. The best adjustments for focusing better are to do with working smart, reframing your day and prioritisation:

  • Streamline your to-do list: Focus on one goal at a time, fleshing out detailed steps for that particular project. 
  • Use your mornings wisely: Do your most thoughtful work in the mid-morning when you are most alert, then shift around your schedule to maximise the time you feel most energised.
  • Group together small tasks: Since important projects can get interrupted by small tasks and emails throughout the day, find a good balance by setting aside planned, chunks of time to complete minute-long tasks. This will help leave uninterrupted time for more thoughtful, creative work.

Remote and hybrid working are undoubtedly the ways that the vast majority of employees will choose to work in the future. So, understanding the levers that you need to pull to maximise these strategies is what will impact how your business will perform. Despite no single template for achieving focus in your teams, these key takeaways can help you get there.

About the Author

Andy Wilson

Andy Wilson

With over 17 years of working on broadcast innovation, early BBC iPlayer, product management, digital rights and the micro:bit for the BBC, Andy joined Dropbox from leading growth and technology delivery at the Digital Production Partnership, where he developed a new international format for exchanging video content and commercials. Andy now leads Dropbox UK.

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