Routines are the backbone of the day-to-day. On slow days they can keep us on track and facilitate progress. When times are busier, they can help us streamline tasks and reduce unnecessary stress.

Since the pandemic has disrupted many of our routines and forced one-third of workers to work from home, the power of routines for organizational success has never been more clear. Keep reading to learn how routines can help leaders utilize their teams more effectively.

Routines vs. habits

A habit occurs at the subconscious level. They’re simple tasks, like making a cup of coffee or getting dressed for the day. A routine occurs at the conscious level. But like habits, they occur regularly and in much the same way.

Because routines occur at the conscious level, their foundation lies in a team’s values and goals. Routines play a crucial role in establishing acceptable norms and behaviors within the workplace, and these same behaviors help mold the company’s culture.

COVID-19 has disrupted the routines that once held us together. Many of us are missing the familiarity of commuting every morning, sitting at our desks, and having face-to-face interactions with the team. That means we need routine in our organizations now more than ever.

Routines are key to company culture

Veronica Gilrane, manager of Google’s People Innovation Lab, surveyed over 5,000 employees to learn more about the challenges of working remotely. A common complaint was that it was more difficult to forge new relationships and maintain existing ones.

The small talk before meetings, in cafeterias, and in hallways was missing from the virtual environment. Most of us overlooked the importance of these seemingly insignificant social interactions. Still, we felt their absence as it became more challenging to maintain that sense of connectedness that drives teams to success. Social interaction needed to become part of the routine.

Veronica found that leaders could have a profound impact on these social challenges by simply leaving time at the beginning of a meeting to get the conversation flowing naturally. This could be achieved with open-ended questions, like asking about someone’s day or plans for the weekend. You could even swap movie reviews.

This simple change to daily routines reinforced the collaborative culture Google is known for. Where some teams would rather not “waste” time and jump straight into the day’s agenda, leaders at Google saw this as a valuable use of time. It made teams feel more connected, promoting an environment where ideas could flow freely.

In the arena of routines, companies such as Good4work are offering plugins that are helping teams and organizations to put positive routines in place. Thanks to this system, teams are able to send kudos, thank you notes and offer feedback to their colleagues.

Why does your organization need routines?

Routines can greatly benefit your team, whether you’re working from the office or on a makeshift desk in your living room.

Increase productivity and reduce stress. With a routine, we don’t have to overthink the tasks that prepare us for the day. Studies show the familiarity of a routine can also be grounding during a stressful situation, making it easier for a team to adapt and remain productive.

Make your team stronger. If you introduce routines in a team working remotely, you can return a sense of camaraderie to the group dynamic. At the group level, they help us get into a workflow that aligns with the day’s goals.

Start the day with purpose. Even when a routine feels natural, it isn’t necessarily automatic. The conscious decision to come together as a group and practice a routine can help us focus on the most critical tasks at hand. It’s a great way to keep group efforts focused and put everyone in the right mindset.

Organizations can use routines to create the desired norms, behaviors, and attitudes best suited for the company — office or no office. Follow these tips to ensure your routines maximize team performance and business success.

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