In today’s connected world an abundance of technical solutions exist to enhance productivity levels. In the Connected World Technology Report Cisco claims that today’s workers value flexibility as a priority, second only to salary. This combination of advanced technologies and employee independence can empower individuals to work effectively while alone. However, the question arises as to how leaders can continue to foster high levels of productivity, while supporting this popular style of working, and without without treading on toes or suffocating employees.
According to Deloitte’s HR guru Josh Bersin, the answer lies in the “application” of HR, and cloud-based solutions that will be essential for employee engagement in 2016. This could mean a lot for employer supervision and communications, too. The selection of tools is almost overwhelming – think Slack, Asana, Trello – and can even result in a higher flux of updates and distractions. Leaders want to ensure their teams have the freedom to innovate, while guaranteeing that projects are on track, deadlines will be met, and support is always available.
We examine the best pieces of advice from Andrea Loubier, CEO and Co-Founder of email task management system Mailbird. High levels of productivity are at the core of her product vision – and this is something she also translates to her everyday leadership of the team.
Mailbird is headquartered on the tropical island of Bali. The team is spread over four continents, with offices in Indonesia, the U.S., India and Europe – and their clients are global. As the leader of a distributed team, Andrea uses technology and new HR concepts to drive efficiencies for heightened levels of productivity.
The fundamental purpose of Andrea’s business is to drive improved efficiencies for SMEs, enabling the better use of their time. This is a mantra she lives by and has adopted for the management of her diverse and quickly growing team.
“Take the time to hire the right people. I’ve learned you should never rush these things.” Diligent testing and interviews, combined with assessing that prospective employees fit with the working culture, are essential. “Consider their passion for what they do, and the quality of their final outputs.”
Employee values have evolved alongside the flexibility that technology enables. “People are becoming location independent and can work from anywhere in the world, whilst remaining connected to family, friends and colleagues. For the workspace, this means freedom and flexibility which allows for global teams to be extremely agile.”
“We educate our team members in effective communication and time-saving. I also recommend task management tools such as Time Doctor and Asana,” says Andrea. Mailbird also promotes Holacracy – taking advantage of the flexibility it provides to give autonomy to individuals. This system of organizational governance distributes decision-making through a framework of self-organizing teams, rejecting traditional management hierarchies.
When it comes to project management, Andrea has a framework for the planning and implementation stages to support these teams. “We usually meet with the team and implement a tight agenda with solid topics, decided in advance to be discussed.” Allowing her team to work independently, she also stresses the importance of measuring and celebrating successes once the final product is ready.
Andrea’s efforts to provide an enabling culture for her employees reflect a shift in values and a growth in productivity. Today the global team of just 12 provides a service for over half a million users.
Employing capable individuals and giving them the space to innovate, while ensuring necessary support is available, is essential. Her approach is an example of how the leaders of emerging new businesses are pushing the boundaries of HR management, and developing new strategies with empowered employees.