Employees of Odsherred Municipality’s city council, employment agency, and department of child and youth services were dealing with an overwhelming amount of email. In addition to the many hours employees were using each day on their Inbox, they were also spending a lot of time in Outlook’s calendar section scheduling meetings and finding vacant meeting rooms. Several employees found themselves wasting half the day just managing their email and calendars. The municipality wanted to improve productivity by reducing the time people spent on email or by increasing the amount of email people could respond to in the same amount of time. For some, spending less time managing email would enable them to spend more time on other tasks; for others, being able to respond to their email more quickly would mean they could increase the quantity of email that they could address each day and, thus, respond faster to inquiries from the general public.
Skills Creator ran a ÔÇ£Work Smarter in OutlookÔÇØ workshop for a selected group of municipal workers, primarily from the most email-addicted departments: the city council, the employment agency, and the department of child and youth services. Before giving the class, Skills Creator interviewed a cross-section of employees to better understand their issues and needs. They then modified the course to optimize its relevance and resonance for this audience. The employees attended a full-day workshop that focused on the topics they wanted to address. The employees learned a more systematic approach to email management, an easier way to create meeting requests, and how they could see meeting rooms and participant availability in the same view in Outlook’s calendar section. They also learned how to create multiple task lists, manage and prioritize tasks in Outlook, and to use the Notes section (instead of a notebook) to store the information they regularly accessed. One month later, Skills Creator visited each employee that participated in the workshop to see how well they had implemented what they had learned. Working one-on-one with the employee at their workspace, they were able to offer additional advice and share tips on how each employee could further optimize using Outlook.
Workshop participants gained new insight on how to manage their email, appointments, and tasks in Outlook. Employees that worked a lot with planning meetings benefitted dramatically from what they learned in the workshop, saving, on average, five minutes per meeting creation. While aspects of the course were more applicable to some roles than others, every employee was inspired to be more productive in their daily tasks.