Team Connectivity: How to Create Time To “Unplug”

team connectivityCollaboration in the workplace is center stage in the news, but experts say there are ways your team could be too connected.

Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer’s recent announcement that employees at the company would no longer be allowed to work from home has lit up the blogosphere with commenters complaining that the change dooms working mothers to second-class citizen status.

Mayer says the change is necessary to enable informal employee interactions that lead to innovation and a more engaged workforce. But perhaps the real issue in creating more employee engagement isn’t where you work, but how you work.

The latest Randstad Engagement Index Study has some interesting findings about what female employees value in the workplace and how they want to work. Working relationships are by far the most important factor affecting female employees’ satisfaction with their jobs. A whopping 87 percent say relationships with their coworkers impact their happiness at work, and 85 percent say relationships with direct supervisors do.

Half of the women say a work environment that offers flexibility is important to their happiness—and 49 percent say their company is flexible and accommodating when it comes to their hours or working arrangements.

But while technology is enabling a lot of that flexibility, it’s also the cause of a lot of dissatisfaction. Some 42 percent of women in the survey say they are struggling to disconnect from work during off hours at home. And a majority (68 percent) say technology’s blurring of the division between work and home is not making them any more productive.

Says Linda Galipeau, Randstad CEO of North America, in announcing the survey findings:

“Many workers mistake being busy for being productive. These are two very different concepts that—when looked at from an organizational standpoint—could have serious implications for a company’s bottom line.”

Whether your employees are in the office from 9 to 5, or you helm a virtual workforce that rarely sees each other in the flesh, is 24/7 connectivity taking its toll—on both you and your team?

If you or your workers are feeling overwhelmed take these steps.

Team Connectivity: Creating Time To Unplug

Consider How Connected You Really Need To Be

Break down the various elements of your business and how frequently they need to be attended to. Is it okay to check social media once or twice a day? Maybe you need to respond to customer complaints within the hour, while lead inquiries can wait 12 or 24 hours.

These metrics will differ for each business.

Figure Out How To Cover The Bases

If an element of your business truly requires 24/7 responsiveness, figure out ways to spread the responsibility among multiple employees so each person has some guaranteed downtime.

For example, if you’re a website hosting company and need to be there when a site goes down at 4 a.m.

Automate Where Possible

FAQs on your website, an automated phone tree menu or prerecorded hours and directions can all help answer customer questions while freeing employees for more important tasks.

Eliminate Redundancy

With so many ways to contact each other, often we overcompensate by emailing, instant messaging and calling each other about the same thing.

Set standards for what types of situations require each method.

Set The Example

If you’re addicted to urgency, your employees will be too. Your business will suffer from the constant adrenalin overload.

Lead by example. Set your own parameters for time off (like not sending work emails on the weekend) and encouraging your employees to do the same.

Is connectedness helping or hurting your business?

Plugged In Photo via Shutterstock

Rieva Lesonsky Rieva Lesonsky is a Columnist for Small Business Trends covering employment, retail trends and women in business. She is CEO of GrowBiz Media, a media company that helps entrepreneurs start and grow their businesses. Visit her blog, SmallBizDaily, to get the scoop on business trends and free TrendCast reports.