Our culture is embedded in the idea that the more you work, the more you succeed. With the introduction of smart phones and laptops, we can now work any time, anywhere. But does working and being “on” 24/7 actually create more productivity or are we in need of time to recharge. According to an article published on CNN today, Microsoft ran and experiment at their offices in Japan this past summer where they allowed their workforce to work 4 days a week and take Friday off as a day to rest. The results…an astonishing results was a 40% increase in productivity. One of the requests they had was to shorten meetings to only 30 minutes and spend less time responding to emails.
What if our culture shifted away from as many meetings to fewer, more productive meetings? If we had 30 minutes, an intentional invitation list of decision makers, an agenda for the meeting with goals and key decisions to be made, how much more could we accomplish. When I worked in a leadership position, I spent at least half my day in meetings and at least another quarter of my day responding to emails, and worse, I oftentimes spent my evenings getting through the remainder of my emails because a cluttered inbox drives be crazy! I implemented a policy where I only allowed myself to check emails first thing in the morning and then again around lunchtime. I turned off my email notifications and even slack. These are all distractions that get us off task and result in us having to spend time remembering where we were before the distraction. The other problem with slack and email beyond the reduction in productivity, is the impact it has on our professional relationships. When we are no longer interacting with our coworkers in person, it has an impact on our overall happiness as that is a big part of a company culture and personal satisfaction.
So, what if we decide to turn off email and instant messaging platforms and actually walk over to another person’s desk. Rather than 5 email exchanges and 30 minutes of wasted time, maybe you can get an answer to something or a decision made in 5 minutes. And maybe you will be happier, because you will be able to ask that person how their weekend is and have more personal connection with your coworkers. Another great idea is to set aside 15 minutes every morning to write a to-do list and prioritize the most important things.
If we do these things, can we actually shorten our work week and be more productive? Even better, will we have more time to recharge and spend time with family and friends. Worth a shot right? Let’s see how many other companies try this out as Microsoft leads the charge.