How awesome would it be to sleep soundly at night knowing that you have accomplished all your goals today? Imagine the satisfying sigh as you kick back and enjoy a chilled glass of your favourite drink, knowing that you were at the top of your game and finished all your tasks efficiently and effectively.
How about your employees? How is their office productivity? When you think about them coming to work from 9 am to 5 pm you may think they put in about 7 hours of work each day, considering they get an hour break for lunch.
This is a very misleading calculation however, because believe it or not, most employees are only productive 2 hours and 53 minutes of their office time. This says a lot about office productivity and how much it needs to be improved.
To help you achieve this hard feat, we bring you a comprehensive guide on how to increase productivity at work and lead a happier life.
Let’s Start By Defining Productivity
Productivity is a word you’ve heard and read about more times than you need to, but what exactly is it? How do you know whether you or your employees are being productive? Is it determined by how fast a person works? Maybe it’s by how well they do it? How about meeting deadlines?
Productivity is a combination of several factors, which include motivation, willpower, time management, focus, mental readiness, among others. Hence, to increase productivity, you need to improve more than one of these factors.
Tracking employee productivity can be quite a challenging feat, even with numerous employee tracking software. You first need to understand what drives or halts productivity to know which areas to address and improve.
What Will You Achieve By Becoming More Productive?
To start with, you’ll save plenty of time. Projects will complete faster, you’ll save money, and best of all, you make more of it. You see, when you finish projects faster, you take on more without the need for additional employees.
Besides all that, there is something about accomplishing tasks that leads to satisfaction and boosts motivation. This motivation will fuel productivity the following day, which will lead to a self-sustaining virtuous circle. Let’s address these roadblocks and how to conquer them.
Address the Matter of Distractions
The first order of business is cutting off distractions from your workplace. How often do you wander off into the blissful world of social media? How often do your employees do it? One of the most effective ways to track technological distractions is by using a PC tracker.
This app will give you a peek into the productive and unproductive activities your employees are engaged in. You’ll also know how long of a break they always take away from their computers to show inactivity. With this information in hand, you’ll handle distractions easier by blocking the websites that may be inappropriate and limiting social media time.
The thing is, you cannot eliminate distractions completely, so this should not be your goal. Instead, aim to minimize them. There is a very thin line between productivity and negative performance, and you’re likely to get the latter if you force yourself or your employees to spend all their time concentrating on work.
We put off important projects only to start working on them close to the deadline, and it leaves us feeling not just guilty, but drained. Some people struggle with it every day, and it’s a very tricky habit to kick.
But why do we do it? You already know there is a deadline and the consequences of not meeting it, and yet you happily watch YouTube videos that usually have nothing to do with you. You can try the 2-minute rule and prioritize the most important tasks first thing in the morning.
You can also try to meditate or use time tracking software to keep your employees productive. There is so much more you can do to beat procrastination in the office. Still, putting off tasks is natural and something you should expect when it comes to employee productivity goals.
Set Appropriate and Realistic Deadlines
You may not know this, but deadlines have so much to do with office productivity. If they are short and unrealistic, they’ll kill morale.
On the other hand, if they are too long, then there won’t be any pressure to even start on the projects. If you make the mistake of showing your employees that you can always get deadline extensions, then deadlines will lose meaning.
Of course, once in a while, it’s allowed because you also want to avoid stressed employees, but it shouldn’t be a habit. Setting effective deadlines is something you need to learn. You can use project tracking tools, but you need to ensure you set realistic deadlines.
Break Large Projects into Small Tasks
What happens when you work on long and complicated projects? Yes, it happens with employees to so you need to make projects manageable. It’s easier for them to stay on track and work with smaller chunks. Beyond that, ensure the work is concise, clear, and feasible, so they are well aware of what’s required of them.
You see, the human being’s concentration span only runs about 90 to 120 minutes. Long projects will lead to more interruptions, while short tasks will provide a sense of accomplishment. They’ll want to finish one task at a go before getting a break in order to get closure, which is what you should aim for.
Get Regular Breaks
No, taking breaks is not counterintuitive. You see, nearly 90% of employees claimed they felt refreshed and ready to get back to work after a break. 81% of those actually felt the desire to be active employees because lunch breaks were observed. With carefully planned regular breaks, you can go from 40% to 60% productivity.
The one-hour lunch break is an obvious start, but it doesn’t end there. Your productivity tracking software should tell you when to set more breaks.
For instance, if you notice that employees start checking on social media sites at 11 each day, give them a break during that time, and possibly one more after the lunch break. This alone can boost employee office productivity by a long shot.
What? Another counterintuitive tip? Multitasking is the epitome of efficiency. Or is it?
What you may not know is that multitasking outweighs your ability to handle tasks simultaneously. When you or your employees multitask, you are likely to reduce productivity and increase your susceptibility to distractions.
According to a study, multitasking is actually a waste of time. Employees waste time transitioning from several tasks, and this can impact their overall performance negatively. Assign one task and set a reasonable time limit, then assign another task.
Customize Your Office Environment
Office productivity has a lot to do with the environment you work in. Some things can be inhibitive to productivity depending on individuals. You may work well in an organized work area, while a colleague or employee may thrive in creative chaos.
This is not to say that the office should be messy. It should demand a level of presentability. However, give employees the freedom to be individuals and allow them to customize their space in a way that will enhance productivity and performance.
Equip Employees with the Right Tools
Even with the right skills, your employees need the right tools to be more productive. The right software can make work easier and lead to a streamlined workflow. To start with, get time and productivity tracking apps, but don’t stop there.
You also need to have collaboration tools to promote teamwork and communication apps to keep them in touch. Whether you work in the office or some of your employees work remotely, communication is critical.
Offer Training and Support
You may not have considered this, but the reasons why some of your employees are unproductive is because they lack the skills necessary to be more efficient. Entry training is more important because some employees may not know how to use certain tools and apps. For instance, screen sharing is an important collaborative strategy, so teach them how to share screen on a Mac Setapp.
With productivity software, it’ll be easier to tell which employees need to be supported. Initiate training programs in your workplace, and you may be surprised at the productivity boost.
Offer Rewards When Due
We cannot stress enough how important motivation is in the workplace in terms of increasing office productivity. Start with evaluating your employees on a regular basis to know about their progress. There are many ways of achieving this goal, like using productivity tools, client reports, leader feedback, and personal observation.
With results in hand, you’ll know how and where to improve. Rewarding your high-achievers is a good thing as well. It’ll make the employees feel appreciated and give them an incentive to be more productive.
Ready to Improve Your Office Productivity?
As you can see, there is so much you can do to improve your office productivity. Go the extra mile and brainstorm ideas with your employees. Allowing them to come up with strategies on their own about increasing productivity will make them feel that they matter to your company and their ideas count.
Still, don’t expect them to be 100% productive because that is an unrealistic goal. You should also not expect immediate results as it’s going to be a long process that should be a long term goal.