Distractions, dawdling, daydreaming and dithering. There are plenty of reasons why people put off doing what they should. It’s one thing when they do it on their own time, but at work, it represents a significant cost to the employer.
Here are a few tips to boost productivity at the workplace.
1. Set the thermostat at 77 degrees Fahrenheit.
Comfortable employees are efficient employees. Make sure the office is not a frozen tundra by setting the temperature at 77 degrees Fahrenheit, a temperature that boosts productivity according to a Cornell University study. Researchers found that cooler temperatures could increase a worker’s hourly labor cost by 10 percent, whereas the warmer temperature saved employers about $2 per hour. Not only did employee productivity increase, but so did the quality of work, with typing errors decreasing by 44 percent at the warmer temperatures.
2. Have a comfortable breakroom.
Humans need some downtime to stay fresh and motivated. Encourage employees to take regular lunch and rest breaks to maintain balance so they can be productive when they need to get work done. Allow them to check their phones and use social media on breaks, so these distractions won’t be as tempting when they’re working.
3. Use automated features to streamline processes.
Show employees how to maximize their productivity by teaching them how to set up email filters that can automatically delete or categorize certain emails. There are also tools available to save time by speeding up typing. Gmail’s “canned responses” allow users to save common emails. Similarly, TextExpander for Macs and FastFox for PCs insert boilerplate language or other common snippets into messages.
4. Use collaboration apps.
Effective use of project management applications can boost productivity by providing a central place for shared notes and files, assigned tasks, and posted status updates. Systems range from full-fledged project management tools like Wrike or Basecamp that offer interactive communication as well or online services like Google Docs so colleagues can work together on materials at the same time.
5. Keep I.T. working.
Avoid downtime due to technology issues by keeping all operating systems up to date with antivirus protection; it may also be wise to have spare hardware on hand, just in case. Most workplaces should use cloud-based, SaaS employee management systems to keep track of employees’ time and HR functions, such as payroll.
6. Minimize meetings.
Endless, pointless meetings can be unproductive, draining, and demoralizing. Make it a point to minimize face-to-face meetings, and invite only those who need to attend. Schedule shorter meetings by setting an agenda for the meeting and sticking to it. State the purpose of the meeting at its start to ensure that everyone stays focused.
7. “Eat the frog”.
Teach your staff to follow author Mark Twain’s colorful advice about how to prioritize your day: “If it’s your job to eat a frog, it’s best to do it first thing in the morning. And if it’s your job to eat two frogs, it’s best to eat the biggest one first.” In other words, tackle your biggest, most challenging, and most unpleasant tasks at the start of the day so that they don’t loom over you. Taking action is key. Instill discipline in your workforce by encouraging them to “eat the frogs” without wasting time thinking about or avoiding difficult, unpleasant, or tedious tasks.
8. Consider offering flexible hours.
If possible, consider offering employees flexible hours so they can work at a time conducive to their personal schedules and one that minimizes their distractions. Some people find they are more productive in the morning, while others are better in the afternoon or evenings. If it works for your company to allow flexibility, then you may well benefit from increased productivity.
Make this year your most productive yet by creating a positive work environment, motivate employees to give their best, and encourage your employees to work smarter, not just harder. Remember to keep up-to-date on compliance by subscribing to receive updates for your state.