A Germany-based company has made a very bold move in helping vacationing workers unplug from work. Most people struggle with the idea of completely unplugging from work, even while laying on a tropical beach in front of a beautiful view. Even when we are supposed to be relaxing, we are constantly thinking about what might be going on back at the office. Car and truck maker Daimler is hoping to help employees really get away from work while they are on vacation with an auto-delete email program.
There are a few times in the year in which productivity dwindles. The holiday season is the most obvious, but many workplaces will shut its doors for the week. Summer months, specifically July and August, have a similar productivity decline. Perhaps most of us have yet to move on from our school days, in which our summers were spent riding bikes and playing sports until the sun went down. Whatever the reason may be, productivity dwindles during the summer and most employers don’t do much to encourage a little downtime during this period.
TED, on the other hand, is one of few that forces their employees to take a two-week summer vacation. Since the nonprofit has turned into a media giant in its own right, it requires that workers are always “on” to constantly update their website. So, employees will keep going unless they are forced to stop.
Many people, too many people, believe that working hard equates to working more, to longer hours, and a complete lack of a personal life. This doesn’t have to be the case — people can be ambitious while maintaining work-life alignment with the help of productivity tools and knowledge which allow people to get more done in smaller amounts of time.
Stress expert Jan Bruce, co-founder of meQuilibrium, says this is exactly what leads to overworked employees, which thus leads to higher levels of stress (which, in itself, comes with a long list of health issues). Bruce says there are two ways to overcome overworked employees — a change of policy from managers and an overall change in culture from leaders. She talks to us about balancing stress and how both employers and employees can change to combat burnout.
A major cause for disruption in employee happiness tends to be caused by a lack of communication between management and employees, and workers feeling as though they are disengaged and uninvolved in the way the company is run. To help companies of all sizes ensure employees’ voices are heard, Vetter has designed an online suggestion box.
The online application allows employees to submit their ideas. Others within the company can then login and rate and comment on submissions (which show up as anonymous during this process). Anything with a rating of two stars or higher is vetted. Management can then sort through vetted ideas and get a better understanding of what changes employees might want to make. Employers can also use Vetter to launch Idea Challenges, which alerts employees when the company is seeking out a creative solution to a specific problem.
Co-founder of Vetter Duncan Murtagh, spoke to us about how the online suggestion box can contribute to the overall productivity of a company, and he even shared some of his own productivity secrets.
For an entire workplace to be collectively productive, it requires a few key changes from management. This can include everything from benefits to office design and the use of mobile technology. Elizabeth Dukes is the co-author of Wide Open Workspace, where she looks at how the workspace has changed over time and offers tips to managers on how to increase productivity in the modern-day office. Check out the below tips on increasing workplace productivity from Dukes herself.