Disruption is as much a part of business as anything else.
Whether it’s supply-chain issues crippling your logistics, a recession eating into your bottom line, or a communication blackout caused by a server crash - you need to be prepared for anything.
While succession planning and other forms of proactivity can be key for keeping your company afloat when you’re hit with sudden change, you also need to think about day-to-day operations and short-term solutions such as monitoring remote employees.
In this guide, we’ll walk through best practices for implementing and maintaining sustainable productivity in your business, and explore how agility could give you the cutting edge you need to thrive in difficult times.
A Primer on Workforce Agility
If you want to weather the storms of disruption that frequently come and go in business, you can’t afford to be passive. The best way to combat unforeseen disruption is to take a proactive approach and educate employees on what it means to be agile and adaptable in the face of unexpected change.
So what exactly does it mean for a business to be agile?
Agility in business is the practice of finding a cutting edge through innovation and adaptability, rather than relying on age-old traditions and standard processes.
As outlined in McKinsey’s Enterprise Agility report, agility can help you transform a stagnating business model and prepare for uncertain times by boosting employee engagement and workforce productivity.
Here are some other benefits of workforce agility:
- Boost customer satisfaction through a customer-centric approach.
- Enhance operational performance through transparency.
- Increase efficiency with less confusion surrounding cross-functional collaboration.
How to Promote Company-wide Adaptability with Agile Practises
As McKinsey’s Impact of Agility report shows, it isn’t enough to expect agility to slowly take shape in your organization. You have to be proactive and empower your team leaders with the strategies and tools they need to take control of any emergent situations.
Here are some agile practices your team leaders should be familiar with:
Choosing the Right Agile Framework
To give your team leaders the best chance of leading their teams to success in times of adversity, they need to know which agile framework best suits their team members.
Here are three of the most common agile frameworks:
The Kanban framework is common in software development, but also extends to general project management due to the widespread popularity of Kanban boards. With Kanban boards, you can customize and assign action items and notify team members of actions they should take next.
The Scrum framework is centered around self-reflection and outlines how independent thinking ties into an effective collaboration strategy. Within this framework, team members have clear roles, and sprints play a significant part.
SAFe (Scaled Agile Framework)
SAFe is best suited to enterprise-level teams that require company-wide alignment, shared information access, and robust ways to collaborate with other teams and departments.
Implementing Agile Sprints
A team that understands and uses agile sprints can get a lot done in a short space of time. As such, if they’re ever in a position where they’re suddenly inundated with several new projects, they can laser down the work efficiently and thrive in the face of disruption.
What is an agile sprint?
It’s a short timeframe within which a team will complete a specified amount of work.
Essentially, agile sprints are an effective way of breaking down large projects into digestible stretches. With a whole team focused on a single part of a project for a set period of time, it’s easier to enter a flow state and reach high levels of productivity.
To build a culture of sustainable productivity in your workforce, it pays to listen to your customer base.
When you ask your employees to spend time nurturing productive relationships with customers, it can boost engagement levels as the barrier between your company and its customers is reduced.
With customer-centric collaboration in an agile framework, the goal is to keep in constant communication with your customers to make sure everything is as it should be. This way, bugs or errors in software can be quickly addressed, concerns dealt with, and suggestions heard.
Best Sustainable Productivity Tools for Teams
Aside from creating an agile workforce that thrives in times of adversity, what else can you do to create sustainable, productive teams?
The best way is to equip them with the right tools to carry out their day-to-day responsibilities and collaborate effectively with their coworkers.
Here are some of the best tools to support an agile workforce and create teams that stay productive in the long run:
1. Project Management Platforms
Most project management platforms are built to support agile frameworks and, as such, can be seen as workforce optimization suites that streamline workflows.
When you onboard a team in a project management platform, you can take control of your workload with the following features:
- Planning and scheduling action items and meetings through a shared calendar
- Assigning tasks to team members and setting up dependencies for efficient approval processes
- Communicating status updates with comments, labels, and notifications
Agile sprints are easy to implement with these platforms, so an unexpected project landing on a team leader’s desk can quickly be uploaded into the software and divided into suitable subtasks for team members.
When used in tandem with employee tracking apps or productivity tracker apps, your average project management solution can become a central pillar of sustainable productivity.
2. Communication Hubs
Every team needs a centralized communication hub - somewhere they can go to stay in touch with their team leader and coworkers.
The advantage of using software for this, such as Slack, is that you can have all your work-related conversations in one place. Say you want to message someone from HR but tracking down their email address would take a while - with Slack, you can just navigate to the HR channel and pop your message there.
The use of context-specific channels allows you to drop in and drop out quickly so employees don’t get caught up squandering time with work about work activities.
Plus, the best way to bounce back after a bout of disruption is to have a quick and clear way to communicate the course of action with your team.
3. Employee Monitoring Solutions
Time tracking software and employee activity monitoring solutions give you the power to effectively measure workforce productivity.
Take employee tracking tool Insightful as an example; here are just some of the features you can use to identify performance trends and monitor the ebbs and flows of office worker productivity:
- Access the real-time Insights tab to monitor employee computer use and see how much time they spend on various apps.
- Measure productivity in real time to detect changing trends that could indicate signs of burnout or overworking.
- Label activities as ‘productive,’ ‘neutral,’ or ‘unproductive’ on a team-specific basis so you can ascertain how much each member is contributing day by day.