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Why Every Productive Leader Should Apply Jeff Bezos’s Two-Pizza Rules To Their Team

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Why Every Productive Leader Should Apply Jeff Bezos’s Two-Pizza Rules To Their Team

Pizza is one of my favorite foods and honestly speaking, who doesn’t love this yummy dish! Even when it comes to communication at workplace, I believe that everyone who aspires to be a productive leader should look into the famous two-pizza team rule.

Does it sound intriguing? Whether you have already heard about it or not, this rule is quite interesting and practical in today’s organizations.

What is the two-pizza team rule for productive leaders?

So, let’s get straight to the point. What is a two-pizza team rule?

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To put it very simply, this rule suggests that the number of people in a team should not exceed what two pizzas can feed! According to some experts, this number is 5, whereas others say it is 7. However, most agree on one thing. The number of people in a team should NOT exceed 10. Plainly put, it means the team members should be in single digit.

Wondering who came up with this unique idea? It was Jeff Bezos and who hasn’t heard of Jeff Bezos? He’s the founder and CEO of Amazon.com. Generally, when we want things to work well, it is said that communication should be increased. Jeff Bezos disagrees!

According to him, “communication is terrible!” There is a reason why he believes it. As team size increases, the quality of communication keeps deteriorating. This is particularly true in case of group meetings. In a larger meeting, people often do not speak up and fall to the tendency of group thinking. Contrary to this, in smaller groups, creative thinking flows and conversations between people are more productive.

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The relevance of two-pizza team rule in today’s organizations

Okay, so Jeff came up with the two-pizza team rule but how do we know that it really works? The biggest reason why we believe this, is the success of Amazon.com.

Furthermore, the two-pizza rule is now supported by ample research and evidence. The problems with larger teams have increasingly been pointed out by researchers and experts, leading us to believe that team size, in fact, should be small.

Researchers Bradley Staats, Katherine Milkman, and Craig R. Fox point out in their article “The team scaling fallacy: Underestimating the declining efficiency of larger teams” that when working in teams, there is a tendency “to increasingly underestimate task completion time as team size grows.”

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Obviously, when the team size grows, connections or links between team members increase. Due to this fact, the connections often become unmanageable. This problem was highlighted by J. Richard Hackman, who is an organizational psychologist and expert on team dynamics. As a productive leader, you want your communication channels to be clear and open all the time.

Another issue is that members in larger teams seem to be more stressed. When psychologist Jennifer Muelle conducted a study with people working in varying team sizes, she suggested that people experience “relational loss” as the team size grows. Due to the loss of closeness and bonding, people become more stressed in larger teams.

Applying the two-pizza rule to your company

Let’s say, we are impressed with the two-pizza rule now and want to apply it to our own company. What to do? How to go about it? Here are some simple, practical ways of doing it successfully.

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  • As the rule says, limit the number of people in a team. However, you might be wondering how to do it because of your organization’s structure or way of working. This can be done by forming sub-groups within larger groups. Sub-groups can be practically as effective as small groups and then they can interact within the larger group as and when required.
  • Plan some event when people can hang out together. Having smaller work teams or meetings surely does not mean that the employees in an organization shouldn’t socialize in larger gatherings sometimes. These events can foster organization culture and mutual values and can leave employees rejuvenated for further tasks.
  •  If the team is not coming up with enough creative ideas or productivity, you can try formalizing communication. You might wonder that this may lead to an increase in time wastage but trust us, sometimes formal communication, due to its lack of confusion, results in more organized work and great results.

Do apply the rules to your organization and share the results and your own tips with us.

Featured photo credit: by kevin dooley via flickr.com

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Lianne Martha Maiquez Laroya

Lianne is a licensed financial advisor, Registered Financial Planner, entrepreneur and book author.

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Published on September 21, 2021

How Remote Work Affects Your Productivity And Wellbeing (Backed By Data)

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How Remote Work Affects Your Productivity And Wellbeing (Backed By Data)

The internet is flooded with articles about remote work and its benefits or drawbacks. But in reality, the remote work experience is so subjective that it’s impossible to draw general conclusions and issue one-size-fits-all advice about it. However, one thing that’s universal and rock-solid is data. Data-backed findings and research about remote work productivity give us a clear picture of how our workdays have changed and how work from home affects us—because data doesn’t lie.

In this article, we’ll look at three decisive findings from a recent data study and two survey reports concerning remote work productivity and worker well-being.

1. We Take Less Frequent Breaks

Your home can be a peaceful or a distracting place depending on your living and family conditions. While some of us might find it hard to focus amidst the sounds of our everyday life, other people will tell you that the peace and quiet while working from home (WFH) is a major productivity booster. Then there are those who find it hard to take proper breaks at home and switch off at the end of the workday.

But what does data say about remote work productivity? Do we work more or less in a remote setting?

Let’s take a step back to pre-pandemic times (2014, to be exact) when a time tracking application called DeskTime discovered that 10% of most productive people work for 52 minutes and then take a break for 17 minutes.

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Recently, the same time tracking app repeated that study to reveal working and breaking patterns during the pandemic. They found that remote work has caused an increase in time worked, with the most productive people now working for 112 minutes and breaking for 26 minutes.[1]

Now, this may seem rather innocent at first—so what if we work for extended periods of time as long as we also take longer breaks? But let’s take a closer look at this proportion.

While breaks have become only nine minutes longer, work sprints have more than doubled. That’s nearly two hours of work, meaning that the most hard-working people only take three to four breaks per 8-hour workday. This discovery makes us question if working from home (WFH) really is as good a thing for our well-being as we thought it was. In addition, in the WFH format, breaks are no longer a treat but rather a time to squeeze in a chore or help children with schoolwork.

Online meetings are among the main reasons for less frequent breaks. Pre-pandemic meetings meant going to another room, stretching your legs, and giving your eyes a rest from the computer. In a remote setting, all meetings happen on screen, sometimes back-to-back, which could be one of the main factors explaining the longer work hours recorded.

2. We Face a Higher Risk of Burnout

At first, many were optimistic about remote work’s benefits in terms of work-life balance as we save time on commuting and have more time to spend with family—at least in theory. But for many people, this was quickly counterbalanced by a struggle to separate their work and personal lives. Buffer’s 2021 survey for the State of Remote Work report found that the biggest struggle of remote workers is not being able to unplug, with collaboration difficulties and loneliness sharing second place.[2]

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Buffer’s respondents were also asked if they are working more or less since their shift to remote work, and 45 percent admitted to working more. Forty-two percent said they are working the same amount, while 13 percent responded that they are working less.

Longer work hours and fewer quality breaks can dramatically affect our health, as long-term sitting and computer use can cause eye strain, mental fatigue, and other issues. These, in turn, can lead to more severe consequences, such as burnout and heart disease.

Let’s have a closer look at the connection between burnout and remote work.

McKinsey’s report about the Future of work states that 49% of people say they’re feeling some symptoms of burnout.[3] And that may be an understatement since employees experiencing burnout are less likely to respond to survey requests and may have even left the workforce.

From the viewpoint of the employer, remote workers may seem like they are more productive and working longer hours. However, managers must be aware of the risks associated with increased employee anxiety. Otherwise, the productivity gains won’t be long-lasting. It’s no secret that prolonged anxiety can reduce job satisfaction, decrease work performance, and negatively affect interpersonal relationships with colleagues.[4]

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3. Despite everything, We Love Remote Work

An overwhelming majority—97 percent—of Buffer report’s survey respondents say they would like to continue working remotely to some extent. The two main benefits mentioned by the respondents are the ability to have a flexible schedule and the flexibility to work from anywhere.

McKinsey’s report found that more than half of employees would like their workplace to adopt a more flexible hybrid virtual-working model, with some days of work on-premises and some days working remotely. To be more exact, more than half of employees report that they would like at least three work-from-home days a week once the pandemic is over.

Companies will increasingly be forced to find ways to satisfy these workforce demands while implementing policies to minimize the risks associated with overworking and burnout. Smart companies will embrace this new trend and realize that adopting hybrid models can also be a win for them—for example, for accessing talent in different locations and at a lower cost.

Remote Work: Blessing or Plight?

Understandably, workers worldwide are tempted to keep the good work-life aspects that have come out of the pandemic—professional flexibility, fewer commutes, and extra time with family. But with the once strict boundaries between work and life fading, we must remain cautious. We try to squeeze in house chores during breaks. We do online meetings from the kitchen or the same couch we watch TV shows from, and many of us report difficulties switching off after work.

So, how do we keep our private and professional lives from hopelessly blending together?

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The answer is that we try to replicate the physical and virtual boundaries that come naturally in an office setting. This doesn’t only mean having a dedicated workspace but also tracking your work time and stopping when your working hours are finished. In addition, it means working breaks into your schedule because watercooler chats don’t just naturally happen at home.

If necessary, we need to introduce new rituals that resemble a normal office day—for example, going for a walk around the block in the morning to simulate “arriving at work.” Remote work is here to stay. If we want to enjoy the advantages it offers, then we need to learn how to cope with the personal challenges that come with it.

Learn how to stay productive while working remotely with these tips: How to Work From Home: 10 Tips to Stay Productive

Featured photo credit: Jenny Ueberberg via unsplash.com

Reference

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