In virtually every job, there’s an element of administrative burden. For research professionals, this includes the ancillary tasks of reading and replying to emails, making phone calls, following up on tasks, creating or updating spreadsheets or reports, collecting signatures, managing documents, and more. All of these tasks are important, but they can create an imbalance in workload and ultimately job dissatisfaction if not handled properly. 

Reducing administrative burden can help your team regain a sense of control and improve overall job satisfaction. It all starts with a few simple changes.


Automate Processes 

Manual processes take time and energy to complete. That’s just a fact. So, to reduce some of your administrative burden, it may be time to look at alternate options to automate and digitize your manual or disconnected systems. 

For example, think about how long it takes to route documents for review, approval, and signatures in person or through an internal mail process. Chances are, the process is time-consuming and labor-intensive, especially when trying to meet deadlines and work around busy schedules. By digitizing some of this work, your team can house these important documents in a centralized location with easy access by required stakeholders, which in turn will shorten the time needed to route and finalize documents, and reduce the stress involved in the whole process. 

Automated processes and systems also can help your team manage the communication between stakeholders to ensure everyone has visibility into the current status and all details associated with a research project. Not only do these tasks take time, they are inherently prone to human error. 

As an alternative, consider adopting a cloud-based solution, like the Cayuse Research Suite, to streamline processes, increase visibility, improve efficiency, promote better collaboration and communication, strengthen and scale your programs and most of all, reduce the pressure and workload on you and your team. Cayuse can serve as an extension of your team, taking on some of the administrative burden so your team can focus on more important activities. 


Boost Team Collaboration

Believe it or not, effective team collaboration can have a positive effect on your team’s ability to reduce administrative burden. When teams collaborate well together, they not only can proactively identify areas for improvement and come up with creative solutions, but also celebrate successes together and accomplish more than any one person could do on their own.

To help your team boost positive collaboration, consider trying one or more of the following ideas: 

  • Adopt a culture of collaboration. When everyone is encouraged and empowered to work together, the results can be truly amazing.
  • Provide shared tools for better, more efficient communication. Think outside of simple email and chat tools. Yes, those are great and familiar, but there are other options to help improve efficiency and visibility with communication. For example, leveraging a research administration solution like Cayuse can help your team collaborate on various activities throughout the research lifecycle, and maintain visibility for key stakeholders, ensuring everyone has access to the same information. This visibility, in turn, promotes healthier collaboration. 
  • Lead by example. Collaboration starts at the top. Show your team that collaboration is important by championing open communication, making time for group discussions, and enabling your team with the tools necessary to collaborate and communicate effectively. 


Block Time to Focus 

It’s easy for smaller tasks to consume our days when we don’t have a structure in place to create boundaries. As the name suggests, this strategy involves literally blocking time on your calendar to handle specific tasks. This enables you to focus on each project or deliverable without distractions, which will help you dramatically increase productivity. There are several methodologies to time blocking, including setting aside blocks of time for a specific projects or tasks (e.g., 30 minute block to follow up on signatures for proposal documents); designating an entire day or two to focus on projects, leaving other days open for meetings and other tasks (e.g., meeting-free Monday); or setting time limits to certain activities (e.g., work on X project for 60 minutes, then you can move on to another task). 

The purpose of time blocking is to help you gain control over your day. Start with identifying your priorities for the day or week. Do you have any major projects or deadlines coming up? Add time blocks into your calendar to give yourself dedicated time to complete those tasks. Overestimate how long things will take (at least to start). Next, look at your meetings. Is it possible to cluster meetings together? If so, this could help you free up time to focus on other tasks. We have all had days with meetings sprinkled throughout, making it challenging to get into a good focus state. Finally, think about when you’re the most productive. Do you find some tasks easier to complete in the morning? Great – schedule that in. 

Time blocking may feel strange at first, but before long, you’ll have a great system in place. Your team will quickly adapt to these new expectations and boundaries (and they may even follow your example to take control of their day, too!).

Administrative activities in research are essential. That said, they don’t have to be quite so draining on your team’s resources. By adopting technology to help automate and modernize your processes and communication, you will experience a significant reduction in administrative burden.