How Tech Helps with Holiday Season Productivity

December 19th, 2018
How Tech Helps with Holiday Season Productivity

Happy Holidays!

2018 is almost over and with the holidays in mid swing, many of us will be looking forward to trading time at the office for time with friends and family.

Many of our posts focus on security and the cyber threats we face, but this article is about  using technology to help us streamline our efficiency when sleigh bells are ringing along with our work phones.

Around the holidays, attitudes tend to be more festive, the calendar tends to be more packed, and while it's the time of year to be merry, that can often translate to busy.

And work in major city markets like New York can take the balance out of work-life balance. To get it all done, home can become another office away from work. For example, as part of a distributed team, I am writing this from the comfort of my couch, but the trick is knowing when to work, when to rest and how not to blur the lines.

Toward November and December, we're balancing quality time with our loved ones, office parties, scheduling around bank holidays and vacation schedules, all while closing up one calendar year to bring in the next. It's surprising, with all the invites, RSVPs and events, we still wonder where the time between Thanksgiving and New Years goes!

So, how do we separate ourselves from the office when we finally break for the holidays? What are the advantages and tricks to making keeping family time fairly notification free?

Research has shown that disconnecting from email and other methods of communication can make us significantly less stressed and more productive at the office. even though the scientific backing is there, many of us are often hesitant to take the first step in putting up an appropriate out of office message.

The out of office reply

Many of us are hesitant to put up our out of office reply because we believe it could negatively influence our image or commitment levels. The truth is, if used effectively it could have the opposite effect. Using these autoresponders can create a social connection with recipients including colleagues, clients, and vendors. Whether they are used during typical work events like a meeting or the big moments in our lives like the birth of a child.

Sharing a small piece of personal information on ourselves or our company’s product can help strengthen a business relationship or the connection a client feels toward the company. When people feel positively linked to a business, they are more likely to want to do business with them.

The meaning of the reply

We feel that sharing an important piece of information about yourself could be a segue into a great conversation starter the next time you speak to the individual. Saying things why you're taking time away from the office, Where you're going on vacations and something you're looking forward to could all work to help build the relationship. It's a great way to be seen as an actual person and humanizes the transactions that are often times mundane.

Offer a Resource

Additionally, you can always offer up a resource in addition to your personalized message. Something like an alternative contact, fun fact or tidbit of information to help out whoever is messaging you. Here is an incredible example of one that we pulled from the internet that received an overwhelmingly positive response from people.

Hello! Our most recent study found that vacations are good for the brain and can increase performance at work. This calls for further research! I’ll be out of the office with limited access to email until [date]. If you need immediate assistance, please contact [my colleague.]

Apps, calendars, and sprints help workaholics celebrate smoothly

But how can we seize the day and still hit those deadlines? At the end of the day we are still New Yorkers, and some say separating us from the office is downright blasphemy.

If you simply must sneak away for some work or maybe check an email or two, we recommend using mobile technology applications like Slack and Asana to manage tasks in a manner that isn't too intrusive and still allows for people to work autonomously, while staying connected to team workflows.

Setting internal time away calendars can keep your team connected and serve as a bulletin board in relation to who's away when.

For companies with a short work week prior to the Christmas or New Years holidays, employing a "sprint" could be an effective way to manage a large task quickly. During a sprint, the team commits to finishing a set amount of work within the time agreed upon.

Each day there should be a brief and efficient stand-up meeting where each member will discuss what they have accomplished, what they are working on and what challenges they are facing. The meeting is straight to the point and clears the air on what works and what didn't. The system isn't one of a person dictating to another but more of a person commenting to themselves and their own work and everyone holds each other accountable.

More reading on sprints and time management:

Zappos used this system to launch an innovative AskZappos feature and wrote about the benefits of the work sprint in getting projects done in a timely manner.