Setschedule CEO Roy Dekel on How To Boost Employee Productivity Amidst the Pandemic

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( — October 3, 2020) — The pandemic changed the way people live and the way business is conducted. Thousands of establishments have shut down, and millions of employees have lost their jobs. 

Small businesses that rely on providing in-person services are the industry demographic that has suffered the greatest impact. Now more than ever, managers and leaders must find or forge a path that builds momentum for their teams. It is important that managers are equipped with leadership skills, productivity optimization strategies, and communication tools that will enable them to lead their teams to a place of productivity, connectedness, and well-being.

Roy Dekel, CEO and co-founder of SetSchedule, a software company that specializes in connecting home shoppers with top rated real estate agents in their area, knows that the impact of the pandemic is the new reality. “When you focus on adapting and leading instead of reacting, you’ll set yourself up for long-term success.” Despite the challenges that the new economic landscape presents, Dekel has found that there are ways to boost employee productivity amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.

Equip Employees with Technology and Tools

In times of uncertainty, optimizing the tools that teams already work with or have access to can prove to be a game-changer. “Digital tools and apps we use on a regular basis are a great place to start,” when talking about structuring a collaborative digital landscape. “Chances are you have a handful of tech tools you use everyday that offer lessons everyone can apply, as long as you ask the right questions.” 

Dekel and his team communicate using the Slack communication platform. Remote employees can collaborate through instant messaging, ask questions to a group or direct message an individual in the organization and get quick responses. Slack also has integration capabilities that enable teams to share files easily via Google Drive or Dropbox, along with other third-party workflow tools. 

The remote team at SetSchedule also uses TimeDoctor, a browser extension that helps teams be more productive. The platform only tracks time spent when team members are logged in. If the employee ends up on a non-work-related website, they receive an automated reminder to stay on task. 

These are just two examples of many powerful digital communication, file sharing, and time tracking tools. It can be difficult for new business owners to successfully manage a remote team. Micromanaging can demolish morale, while a lack of accountability can place an unidentifiable strain on the business. If business owners are hesitant on how to manage a remote team, equipping tools that inspire communication, collaboration, and self-management are key. 

Make Mental Health A Priority 

Stress can have a profound effect on a person’s health and work output. According to the American Journal of Managed Care, nearly 7 in 10 employees indicated that the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic is the most stressful time of their entire professional career, which has aligned with stark increases in new prescriptions of antidepressant, antianxiety, and anti-insomnia medications. 

Dekel understands that mental health correlates directly to production standards and urges employees to maintain social relationships. He suggests that employers be mindful of their employees’ mental health and behaviors, and to encourage interaction through virtual meetings. 

“It’s important to handle the stress of uncertainty in a healthy way,” said Dekel. “Free video chat platforms like Zoom or Google Hangouts let you have face-to-face conversations with friends and family you’re unable to visit. Rather than a text, email, or phone call, video chats make your conversations more personal and intimate.”

Establish a Designated Workspace

The shift from a traditional office environment to a home office can come as a shock to some employees. It’s much easier to slack off, work from bed, or stay in pajamas all day when working from home. While those options sound enticing to some, they may not always be the most productive way to engage in work. 

Creating structure is key for productivity and health. According to the Harvard Business Review’s Guide to Being more Productive,Plan for In-Person and Digital Interactions

As businesses reopen and people begin to cautiously leave their homes, managers and employees must be increasingly respectful and aware of the status quo. There is no returning to work just like the old days. People are hesitant to return to social norms, and businesses must enforce mindful standards that accommodate the new normal.

“Adapting to change is one of the foundations of American business,” stated Dekel. He urges leaders to implement digital solutions as long-term practices, and not just as a pivot. “Even if your business plans to return to a regular, in-person work environment, you should expect to rely on virtual communication with clients and customers in the post-pandemic world.” 

For businesses that implement digital shifts while opening their doors, managers and employees must be prepared to read body language and social cues. “Handshakes and embracing will become rarer as people worry about spreading germs or disease.” Take a note from the customer and let them lead the flow of the conversation. 

Businesses should be proactive and train employees on creating a safe, inviting environment that will enable them to do their jobs and interact in-person. The fear that people harbor as they put their mask on and buckle up, makes every employee a salesperson that sells trust. The first pitches are all nonverbal and solely depend on the business’ cleanliness of the environment, the social distancing practices, and the sanitization procedures in place. 

Look for Opportunities

Businesses can now apply for grants and loans at novel pandemic-priced repayment rates. Teams are sourcing new methods of connecting with their audiences. Other businesses are offering unique ways to help their local communities, much like Dekel’s idea for the SetSchedule Continued Community Support, in which local businesses can offer their goods or services to be contracted by SetSchedule for the upcoming fiscal year. To stimulate the local economy, SetSchedule will disburse the agreed-upon funds once the application is accepted, regardless of when the applicant will fulfill their end of the contract.

Dekel understands that every problem has solutions for those that look for them. “Innovation is the creation birthed from destruction. Every crisis offers opportunity.”