New Articles

Strategic Time Management for Startup Success: Navigating Productivity, Growth, and Remote Teams


Strategic Time Management for Startup Success: Navigating Productivity, Growth, and Remote Teams

One of the most important factors in the success or failure of any startup is time management. If time isn’t managed effectively, productivity and therefore profits will decrease. This is especially true of companies that employ remote workers, which can make monitoring the workforce even more difficult.

Companies must also manage the extent to which they monitor their employees. A 2014 study by Accountemps revealed that 59% of survey respondents stated they had worked for a micromanager in the past. Of those, 68% said it lowered their morale and 55% stated that it lowered their productivity.

The Startup Tempo: Unique Time Management Challenges

As most startups operate at a much faster pace than established businesses that have been around for years, their time management systems will be vastly different than those of their more seasoned counterparts. The system will also be harder to navigate, with a lot of trial and error before the most efficient plan is devised.

First-time entrepreneurs in particular will find it difficult to properly manage their time for a variety of reasons, including relative inexperience, not knowing whether a potential problem need to be prioritized or backburnered, and the standard growing pains endured by every startup in its infancy.

Another major challenge is finding the right balance between solving immediate, urgent issues and long-term planning. Sometimes, the easiest solution that solves a current problem will cause difficulty months or years down the road. Similarly, focusing strictly on the distant future could prove catastrophic in the present or near future.

Remote Work and Startup Culture: Striking the Right Balance

Ever since Covid-19 changed the work landscape forever, more and more businesses have begun to transition to remote work, either partially or fully. Embracing remote work has now become essential for startups, as a recent study by Robert Half shows that 34% of employees would prefer to quit a job that required in-office work in favor of one that allowed them to continue working from home.

Some of the major benefits of a remote work setup include higher employee morale, lower real estate costs for the startup (due to the lack of required office space), and higher employee retention rates. The drawbacks include managers having to get creative about ways to keep employees on task, a potential lack of motivation for easily distracted employees, and greater difficulty in communication between employees collaborating on a project.

That being said, one of the easiest ways to overcome these potential issues is to put into place a work culture that is designed to foster communication, both between employees themselves and between workers and management. If employees understand what is expected of them, respond to messages from colleagues in a timely manner, and employee tracking software is used, the negative aspects can be severely neutralized.

Time Tracking as a Strategic Tool, Not a Surveillance Tactic

One of the biggest misconceptions that employees might have about monitoring software or time-tracking programs is that their primary focus is to spy on them. In reality, their actual intended purpose is far less sinister. When used properly, they are a valuable tool that can benefit both employer and employee.

Employees who know that these programs are in place will be more productive as they’ll be less likely to use social media or visit other distracting websites using work devices. Employers will be able to see how employees are spending their time and understand how each employee completes their tasks, which can assist with future project planning and time management.

For example, let’s imagine an employee who has been assigned five independent tasks to be completed in an eight-hour shift, which can be completed in any order. First, the information from the software will reveal how much time was spent completing each task, from which management can determine how long similar tasks will take in the future.

Secondly, the program can reveal in which order the employee completes the task, which gives the company insight into their thought processes. This information can then be used for future projects. If the employee chooses the Excel spreadsheet-based tasks first, the company knows the employee likes working with Excel and can delegate similar tasks to them in the future.

Another important piece is the length of time it takes the employee to finish their work. Some office employees will finish a day’s work in six or seven hours, then spend the rest of their workday on social media instead of starting new tasks. If the information reveals

Building a Results-Focused Team: Trust, Autonomy, and Accountability

For a remote workplace to be successful, there must be a culture of both trust and autonomy. This starts from the top, with management trusting their employees to accomplish their goals independently, correctly, and in a timely manner. In turn, employees must trust their supervisors and coworkers to give them the tools and support they need to do their work.

If these conditions are not met, distrust will grow, morale will drop, and productivity will eventually be reduced to potentially unsustainable levels. Many startups have failed because employees feel like their bosses are constantly watching over their shoulders and don’t trust them to make the right decisions to accomplish their goals. They then either find a job with a different company or employ the TikTok-inspired trend known as “quiet quitting”, where they reduce their productivity to the lowest acceptable level to avoid being fired.

Similarly, if managers or supervisors cannot trust their employees, too much time can be spent making sure that the work is being accomplished, which can result in lost productivity from their other duties.

The goal for any startup should be to maintain a system of accountability that does not interfere with the employee’s creative processes. Since every employee will work differently according to their personal strengths and weaknesses, many businesses have learned that a “one-size-fits-all” model is unsustainable, particularly in remote workplace environments. It is a difficult balance, but an essential one.

One example of a popular startup that has embraced a results-oriented work environment is JL Buchanan (JLB), a retail consulting firm that embraced working from home even before the pandemic. CEO Susan Hoaby told CNN in an interview that autonomy is the key to her business.

Employees don’t need to request time off, as the focus is strictly on whether or not the work is accomplished. One of her employees worked on a Paris vacation without incident without Hoaby even knowing she’d left until she’d seen the employee’s post on Instagram. Of course, this may not work for every business even though it has produced excellent results for JLB.

Perhaps the greatest example is GitLab, a DevOps platform used by many Fortune 500 companies. When the startup was founded in 2014 with its only employees being its two cofounders, all work has been completed remotely. Six years later, the company had grown to 1300 employees who lived in 65 countries around the world. It is one of the largest remote-exclusive companies in the world with roughly 30 million registered users.

The company’s founders have explained that although a remote-only environment saves them money due to reduced overhead, lower waste, and employee flexibility, the most important aspect of the policy is employee empowerment. The company’s handbook states its desire to have its workers see themselves as people first and employees second.

Growth Mindset and Time Allocation: Prioritizing What Matters

One of the biggest factors in time management is the “growth mindset”, which means that tasks must be prioritized with the overall goal of growing the company in mind as the primary factor. If a company and its employees aren’t managing their time properly and giving more weight to more important tasks, the company won’t be able to grow.

For example, imagine an employee has been tasked with working on a presentation for a venture capital firm that’s interested in investing in the company. However, they’re also working on several other projects of lesser importance, like organizing spreadsheets or doing data entry to be analyzed for future projects.

Naturally, the presentation to the venture capitalists is the most pressing issue for the employee to complete, as the other tasks can be completed at any time. Should the employee choose to focus on those lesser tasks, the presentation might not be the best it can be or, worse, might end up unfinished by the time the meeting takes place. The end result could be disastrous for the company’s future.

This is a rather extreme example, of course, but the logic can apply to any number of other situations. In general, businesses need to allocate time and resources between innovation, operation, and future growth. The right balance can be hard to achieve but if a company isn’t focused on the future as well as the present, the result can be stagnation and eventually lead to its downfall.

Time Management Tools for Startup Owners: From Apps to Techniques

There are many apps and programs that help a company’s time management, such as employee tracking software that can show how an employee is spending time on their work devices and will dissuade them from using social media or engaging in other distractions during work time. They can also reveal how much time an employee spends using each program, which can give broader insights into how long it takes an employee to complete a task, among other things.

Of course, the specific needs of the startup will be the determining factor in which tools should be used for time management. If deadlines are frequent and unmovable, a higher level of supervision and communication may be needed, at least at the start. If the work is less time-intensive and the focus is strictly on the quality of an employee’s work, more leeway could be granted.

It may require a lot of trial and error before finding the perfect solution, but if the company’s employees have a high enough level of trust in management, they can give honest feedback and help speed along the process. This is not to say that management should always bow to workers’ demands, of course. Instead, management should work to find strategies that keep their employees happy and productive.

One popular method of time management is the Pomodoro Technique, which involves setting a timer for 25 minutes, blocking out all distractions and working exclusively on the task for that time, then taking a five to ten-minute break as soon as the timer goes off, then repeating the process until the task is complete. After it’s done, the employee takes a break of roughly 30 minutes before beginning the next task.

Another option is time blocking, which involves splitting a period of time like a day or a week into blocks, during which time the employee focuses exclusively on a single project or task. For example, if an employee has three tasks that will take roughly the same amount of time each to complete in a standard 8 AM to 5 PM workday, they could work on the first task from 8 to 10, take a 30-minute break, work on the second project from 10:30 to 12:30, take lunch from 12:30 to 1:30, work on the third task from 1:30 to 3:30, then spend the last hour and a half reviewing the work they’ve completed that day to make sure it’s ready to turn in.

For employees who want or need a little extra structure, goal-oriented planning may be the best strategy. This involves taking a project or objective, splitting it into smaller tasks which are then prioritized by level of importance, and completing them in order according to a schedule based on an estimate of how long each task should take.

Remote Leadership in Startups: Navigating Challenges and Facilitating Collaboration

Proper leadership can be difficult to achieve in any business, but a remote startup has its own unique sets of challenges that must be overcome. Unlike established businesses that have time-honored traditions and years of experience to fall back on, startups generally have to learn as they grow. That learning curve can be difficult, especially after the business takes off and it has hundreds or thousands of employees across the country or even the world.

Communication and collaboration are the two primary keys to success when navigating these challenges. If the leadership can clearly communicate the company’s goals and expectations, their employees will have a better understanding and will be less likely to feel confused. Instead of simply giving workers a list of tasks to accomplish, it is better to explain why the tasks need to be done and what the overall goal is, so that employees will feel included and will be more invested in making sure the project is executed successfully.

Time tracking is one of the most valuable tools for facilitating transparency and cooperation within remote teams. It allows managers to have a fuller understanding of how employees complete their work and, if employees understand they’re all part of the same system, they know that their coworkers’ time is equally well-spent. This can prevent them from feeling jealous or like they’re being singled out.

Conclusion: Nurturing a Time-Conscious Startup Culture

There are many aspects to running a successful remote-based startup and although there’s no “silver bullet” that will magically solve all of a company’s problems, successfully managing time is perhaps the most important key to success. Prioritizing the most important tasks for the present while also continuing to look towards the future will help ensure the company’s place in its industry for years to come.

Happier employees are generally more productive, which is why fostering a company culture of transparency, trust, and autonomy can make the difference between a startup’s success or its potential failure. Although management should not always bow to the whims of employees, especially since they might not all agree on a particular issue, it is important to get their feedback and try to incorporate it into the business’ overall strategy when possible.

Employee tracking software can help achieve that delicate balance by helping managers ensure that employees are being truthful about their time management. In the words of Benjamin Franklin, “trust, but verify.” These programs can also be used in tandem with other strategies, like the Pomodoro Technique, to ensure that the team is running as efficiently and productively as possible.

Startup owners should aim to adopt a balanced approach that leverages time tracking as a strategic tool to foster growth, innovation, and a positive team culture. Balance is truly the key to a successful startup, as focusing too much on one side or the other could lead to long term and unforeseen consequences.

By using these strategies and understanding the importance of time management in remote work environments, startups can continue to thrive, operated by happy employees who can do their jobs in the way that works best for them.

Accessible hazard

Creating an Accessible Warehouse for Workers with Disabilities

The warehousing industry faces a growing labor shortage, yet many facilities are overlooking a ready and willing workforce. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, just 19.3% of people with disabilities are currently employed. At the same time, 877,400 people with disabilities are actively looking for work.

These workers could help warehouses become far more productive, but the facilities need to become more accessible first. Accessibility issues are common in the industry, and they stand in the way of hiring these eager employers. With that in mind, here are seven ways warehouses can become more accessible for those with disabilities.

Customize Mobile Computers

Mobile computers are some of the most important tools in the warehousing business. Despite how crucial they are to the job, many facilities may not be getting all they can out of them. Their default settings may limit their accessibility, leading to errors and inefficiencies.

For example, the text on these devices’ displays is often small, and scanning distances are short. This can make it difficult for workers with visual impairments to read correctly and lead to discomfort for those with restricted mobility. Using computers with longer scan distances and customizing them to show larger text will solve these issues.

Text-to-speech options, high-contrast displays and customizable color coding are other personalizations that could make these tools more helpful. When they’re easier to use for more workers, picking and related processes will accelerate.

Employ Robotic Assistance

Another way to make warehouses more accessible is to capitalize on automated systems. Some tasks, like picking items off high shelves or moving heavy materials, may be too physically strenuous for some workers. Automating them, at least in part, can open these tasks up to a broader workforce.

Musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) account for one-third of all worker injuries and illnesses and often come from overexertion. If workers have a disability that limits their mobility, they’re at even higher risk of these injuries. Automating processes likely to cause MSDs would then make workplaces significantly safer and more efficient.

Automated guided vehicles or powered forklifts could also help workers with disabilities move materials throughout the warehouse. As an added benefit, these technologies make workflows faster as well as more accessible.

Rethink Shelving

Some facilities may need to reorganize or redesign their shelving systems. If items are too high or too low, workers may need to bend over or reach above their heads to retrieve them. While some exercises can improve flexibility by 25%, these actions can still be hazardous, especially for workers with disabilities.

The most frequently picked items should be between waist and chest height. That way, workers can reach them without overextending themselves. Shelves can use automated retrieval systems to grab higher-up items to make the most of vertical space. Alternatively, facilities could implement mezzanine racking.

Mobile shelves that shift to meet workers according to their specific needs could also help, though these may be more expensive.

Replace Stairs

Capitalizing on vertical space is one of the best ways to optimize warehouse layouts, but it poses a problem. Stairs are an obstacle for workers with some disabilities, so they limit who can access which items. As a result, they can hinder a facility’s productivity, keeping it from getting the most from the whole workforce.

Stairways are unavoidable, but warehouses can replace some of them with ramps. Some facilities may be able to install elevators as well. These options are more accessible, letting any worker reach higher-level items if necessary.

In addition to making warehouses more accessible, traveling up a ramp is often faster. They also allow for more vehicle traffic between levels, making automation more efficient.

Provide Wheelchair-Friendly Transportation

If warehouses have company vehicles for employees to use, they should consider wheelchair-friendly options. These cars are of limited utility if not every employee can drive them. Adding at least one wheelchair-friendly vehicle makes them more useful.

In today’s market, warehouses have plenty of options for wheelchair-friendly transportation, too. Companies can outfit most vehicles with hand controls, and multiple systems exist for helping wheelchair users into the driver’s seat.

Having an accessible company vehicle could also improve worker morale. When employees show they appreciate their workplace, they’ll be more productive as a result. Warehouses and their workers will benefit all around from these changes.

Enable Multiple Picking Methods

Picking is often one of the most inefficient processes in a warehouse. Similarly, it’s also one of the most frequently inaccessible for workers with disabilities. One of the ways to address this problem is to use multiple systems that account for everyone’s needs.

As mentioned earlier, some mobile computer displays can be challenging to read. Pick-to-light systems could replace text-based solutions, guiding workers to the correct items without reading a small, possibly low-contrast screen. These systems also typically improve pick rates by 30%-50%, so they offer multiple benefits.

Voice picking systems are another alternative. Offering voice, light and traditional systems will let workers use whichever works best for them. That way, no matter what conditions an employee deals with, they can work efficiently.

Keep Aisles Wide and Open

Many warehouses reduce their aisle space to accommodate more shelves. However, this can make facilities less accessible for workers with some disabilities. Keeping them open allows for smoother traffic and easier picking.

If aisles are too narrow, workers with wheelchairs may not be able to pass through if there’s another employee there. Similarly, those that need to use robotic assistance tools may not have room to maneuver. Making aisles wider lets any people and machinery pass through more easily, removing this barrier.

Wider aisles also let workers pick items off low or high shelves without taking up as much of the path. That way, more employees can reach objects without impeding the productivity of others.

An Accessible Warehouse Is a Productive One

When warehouses become more accessible, they can welcome more workers with disabilities. This benefits both parties, giving people a source of income while helping employers overcome persistent labor shortages. Facilities that already have disabled employees can help prevent injury and become more productive, too.

Changes like these let employees work more efficiently and safely. As a result, overall morale and productivity will improve. No matter what a warehouse’s workforce looks like now, improving accessibility could boost their efficiency.

supply chains

What Will the WFH Trend Mean for the Economy and Global Supply Chains?

A lot has changed over the last year and a half. When it comes to businesses, supply chains, and the UK economy, no one could have anticipated the changes we’ve seen throughout the pandemic. Although lockdown restrictions are now all lifted, not everything will go back to “normal” straight away. Working from home, for instance, is something that is set to continue for many workers.

Despite government officials urging employees to return to offices, there is clear reluctance. In one YouGov survey, one in five people said they wanted to continue working from home full time after the pandemic. On top of this, 57 percent of workers in the UK say they want to have the option to work from home after the pandemic at least some of the time. This represents a huge shift of opinion in comparison to how people felt about remote working before the pandemic. Before 2020, two-thirds of workers said they’d never worked from home before and only 11 percent of employees worked remotely full time.

With the shift to home-working set to continue, we are left wondering what impact this trend will mean both for the UK economy and for global supply chains. Let’s find out more about the impact home-working has had so far and what it might mean for the future.

Productivity rates

One major concern that many CEOs had at the beginning of the pandemic was the potential fall in productivity that working from home could bring. Despite concerns, there have been mixed results so far. While many companies have noticed a decrease in productivity, some reports claim that working from home can boost employee engagement and productivity. With one report stating that a quarter of companies in the UK have seen a downturn in productivity, however, it’s reasonable to be hesitant about the future of remote working. This downturn is likely to mean that the economy could continue to struggle, even with the restrictions completely lifted.

Public transport

Another reason that many are concerned about the ongoing impact of home-working is the impact that WFH has had on the transport sector. The transport sector has been damaged by the lack of commuting and could struggle to bounce back. As a result of home working, commuter numbers dropped by a quarter. However, the government is still being urged to spend money on public transport in a bid to encourage people to return to offices.

The move from city centers

Another concern about remote working is the impact it can have on city-center businesses. With many cafes and restaurants designed to cater to office workers, the economic impact of WFH on the service industry has been stark. An example of the impact that deserted city centers have had on food and drink businesses can be seen with Pret a Manger. This chain recently unveiled plans to expand beyond city centers to keep up with the shift in working practices.

Impact on global supply chains

The COVID-19 pandemic had also had an impact on global supply chains, extending to many different industries. From food and drink distributions to engineering equipment supply chains that transport hydraulic cylinder parts, the shift to working from home has changed the way global distribution works. Although many people who work in supply chains have carried on work in person throughout the pandemic, those who have shifted to remote working have experienced difficulties. According to one survey, 57 percent of supply chain and logistics professionals said that collaborating with colleagues while working from home was one of their biggest challenges. However, there was an even split between people who said they felt equally as productive in their roles and those who said they felt less productive. Although individuals within the supply chain industry have faced difficulties, the biggest hits that supply chains have taken throughout the pandemic are related to worldwide trade restrictions that are forecasted to lift after the threat of COVID-19 has subsided.

Although WFH might be the perfect solution for many businesses, other industries are likely to take a hit. Ultimately, each CEO’s policy on remote working must be drawn up in line with what is right for them, their employees and the local economy.