Several months into the COVID-19 crisis, business leaders have gone from respond-and-adjust to looking for ways to thrive. There is no shortage of advice being offered on how to work successfully from home and how to maintain your team culture and productivity. What’s less readily available, however, is actual data from those who are already thriving.
We surveyed 500 executives around the world to gather some real numbers, and below are a few key best practices embraced by the majority who say they are finding success in moving their businesses forward. In a sense, this time of forced slowdown on both the business and professional front has people busy getting back to the basic practices that we have long known lead to success.
Adopt a Time Management System
One of the most striking findings from our survey was that 40% of executives say their productivity has increased since the pandemic began. More executives are finding time to retool their time management practices: Between February and May 2020, 18% of executives adopted a new time management system, bringing the total usage to 75%.
Of course, there are endless uses for the time saved by not attending in-person events or having to commute. So it’s worth asking why so many leaders are focusing on reconfiguring time management instead of fitting in another Zoom meeting, spending a few more minutes with family or adding another mile to their daily run.
My entire business is based on enhancing business productivity, but even I’ve spent considerable time enlivening my time management practices — I’ve gone so far as to retain a time management coach who has helped me over a series of web meetings. When I take a step back to consider why, the answer seems simple: When the economy slows or executives find themselves with extra time in the day, we default into looking for ways to invest in ourselves to get better positioned for the future. There is much we are losing in this crisis, including visits with friends and relatives, dinners out and the in-person networking. Perhaps this heightens our intuitive awareness of time as our most scarce resource; it just makes sense to invest in better managing it.
Delegate and Collaborate as Much as Possible
COVID-19 triggered an avalanche of business challenges that few executives were prepared to respond to. As a result, 47% of executives are seeking out more help than they did before the pandemic:
- 50% have sought more advice on strategic projects.
- 49% have offloaded more administrative tasks.
- 49% have sought out advice and direct support with staying organized.
As with time management, it is old news to any seasoned executive that delegation increases personal leverage. The solitude of working from home seems to be offering space to get back to this basic principle as a way to prepare for the recovery.
Invest in Your Business’ Future
Since February, 89% of executives have adopted new tools for their teams, and 83% plan to make additional investments in the next six to 12 months. While most of the investments were in tools such as task management and chat apps to aid remote work, over a third of executives are using this slower period to make time-consuming technology upgrades.
One of our clients who manages the sales team at a national insurance brokerage adopted a new CRM — a project that moved off the backlog because his team finally had the time to undergo the training and process development required to learn a new system.
Business leaders understand that their ability to enjoy the best results in an economic recovery is directly tied to their ability to continue investing in their businesses during the downturn or times of slow economic growth. During the COVID-19 crisis, this focus is getting an extra boost from massive government stimulus like the PPP, allowing companies that might otherwise be cash constrained to retain employees, outside consultants and contractors.
Prioritize Your Well-being
To sustain productivity and creativity over the long-term, we know we must also invest in our personal health and well-being. Since COVID-19 struck, 99% of leaders have allocated time for activities that foster their physical, emotional and mental health. These activities range from cooking heathier meals to, participating in COVID-related philanthropy – all activities that help executives remain positive through this stressful period.
It’s certainly empowering to enliven one’s time management practices, scope routine work for successful delegation and invest in one’s business. But as we go back to basics with these core business tenets, many of us are finding even richer ways to boost our personal well-being via strengthened connections with friends and family. I’ve heard from many executives who use Prialto that they are happily prioritizing family time – a sentiment echoed by one of my six-year-old twins last week: “I don’t like how boring things can be during the coronavirus. But I do love that Mommy and Daddy are home, always, and we eat dinner together every night.”
When it comes to personal well-being, it doesn’t get more basic than that.