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Getting Things Done: Improving Productivity in your IT Department

October 01, 2013

We don’t know about you, but we’re always fascinated by the literature out there about how to get things done better and faster. IT in particular can always benefit from increased efficiency and productivity; it’s just figuring out how to do it that’s the tricky part.

Here’s what works for us at York (we like to think of ourselves as a productive bunch!) and what we’d like to try out: 

What Works:

Breaks for Movement.  Physical movement can have a striking impact on productivity. Whether it’s lunchtime yoga, a quick walk around the outside of the building, or even the stairs instead of the elevator on the way to lunch, we’ve found that our brains are much more productive when we get ourselves moving throughout the day. There’s science behind this too—movement increases your intake of oxygen, which can be the equivalent of another cup of coffee.

What We’d Like To Try:

A Bouncy Chair! Sounds goofy, but sitting on an exercise ball instead of a chair forces you to sit up straighter, and sitting up straighter can provide an instant boost of focus. IT folks who sit all day can struggle a lot with back pain and like distractions, so we’re really interested in this idea.  Still not convinced?  Exercise-ball-chair bases now exist, so your seat won’t roll away when you get up.  While it may not work for everyone, there’s a chance it could totally change the way you feel about sitting all day.

What Works:

Workplace Flexibility. We’re strong proponents of getting things done, and sometimes the best way for that to happen is from home. IT obviously requires a certain amount of connectivity and a certain amount of physical presence, but we’ve found that balancing being in the office with being off-site leads to happier, more productive folks.

What We’d Like To Try: 

Making Our Spaces Even More Productivity-Friendly. Whether it’s just a desk, a cube, or a whole office, having a great workspace makes a big difference in your output. It’s important to contrast your monitor(s) with less eye-straining, stress-inducing pieces: plants are a great example, as well as the omnipresent family photos. Have you considered a little vision board, reminding you of where you want to go and what your dreams are?  We’re also working on our offices in an effort to create spaces to foster creativity and collaboration—opening up walls, letting in natural light, and the like.  

What Works:

Open Communication. It’s of paramount importance that folks are able to connect easily. Whether you accomplish that through well-written emails, phone calls, texts, or desk-side chats, there needs to be a way for people to connect simply and effortlessly, so that questions get answered faster, assignments are handed out clearly, and people don’t feel isolated (which can be a problem in IT).

What We’d Like to Try:

More Face Time. Touching on that last point about isolation, all the communication forms in the world don’t hold a candle to the power of a face-to-face conversation. No matter what we have to do (whether it’s buy a flight, make Skype work, or walk next door) it’s so important that folks get a chance to interface in person. While it may seem counterproductive to use time in this way, we firmly believe that in a field where so little face-to-face is actually required it’s even more important to make the effort to communicate in person. It’s much easier to ask a favor of or do a favor for someone you’ve met in person, isn’t it?  

What improves your department’s productivity? What holds you back? Let us know in the comments!

Posted By: Madeline Stone


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