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05/Dec/2016

Tips for Increasing Productivity in the Workplace

Author: Umran Mehmood

Productivity in the workplace can mean the difference between a business that survives and one that thrives. It is no secret that, when it comes to productivity, people have good days, and not so good days. But there are some things that employers can do to optimise productivity. Here are our top tips.

Promote good timekeeping

An office needs its staff to be ready to start work at the beginning of the day. This means: sitting at the desk, coffee made, ready to go. If the working day starts at 8.30, request that employees arrive at 8.15. This gives them 15 minutes to grab a drink, hang up their coats and get comfortable, for the day to begin at 8.30. The result? A precious 15 minutes extra at the start of the day, in which to set the tone of productivity.

Plan, plan, plan

During staff training and inductions, promote the value of planning. The first few minutes of each day should be dedicated to planning and time management:

  • Create a list of critical tasks that must be completed during that day.  Critical tasks are those that are essential for a project to move forward. This list can be done via a task management app, in a spreadsheet or a shared document, but needs to detail the prioritised tasks for each day.
  • Tackle the dreaded task first! Whether it is an unpleasant or boring chore, or simply so small that it keeps dropping to the bottom of the to-do list, most people have a job that has been hanging around for a little longer than it should. Encourage staff to kick off the day with that task; the feeling of relief and satisfaction as it is ticked off the list is a great way to start the day productively.
  • Prioritise all tasks in batches.  Some pieces of work may be more tedious than others, and the inclination can be to break them up into smaller chunks. However, research shows that working in batches is much more efficient than flitting from one task to the next, as it takes our minds a little while to readjust to new tasks. By getting a “clump” of similar work done in one go, staff will save on the “adjusting” time. With a few hours of back-to back meetings, half an hour to answer phone messages, an hour for emails, and a chunk of time set aside for reports, the working day quickly takes shape, becoming structured, seamless and efficient.

Be flexible – but make the first hour count

All employees have a “golden hour” in their day. This could be at the end of the day, when other colleagues have gone home, or at the beginning. For many, the first hour is crucial as it sets the tone of the rest of the day. Encourage employees to make the most of their first hour by ignoring phone messages, social media and emails and focusing on a plan for the day, starting with “the” dreaded task. If it is viable, offering flexible working hours can help your staff to work in the time during which they are most productive.

Enforce regular breaks

Enforced breaks? Surely that is counter-productive! Employers who ensure that their staff have regular short breaks are not just generous: they are ensuring that they get as much work as possible out of their employees. A ten-minute break every two hours to chat to a colleague, grab a snack, or just a walk around the block, can increase productivity and prevent careless mistakes caused by fatigue. It is also important to encourage staff not to take lunch at their desk – provide a relaxing environment where they can eat and chat, or promote eating off-site to ensure that staff return from their lunchtime refreshed and ready for a productive afternoon. Some organisations encourage team “walks”: just a mile a day is enough to boost the body and the mind.

Encourage a tidy and personal work space

Most of us have heard the saying “A tidy desk is a tidy mind”. Ask employees to make sure their desk is tidy to increase their productivity; some companies take this further with CDPs – Clean Desk Policies, which let employees know what is expected of them. What’s more, they will spend less time looking for things on their desk and more time working!  However, a dash of colour, a plant or pictures of family can help employees to feel more at home in their work environment which, in turn, will make them more relaxed and diligent. Take a look at our #DeskQuirks campaign on social media, which showcase eccentric desks from around the globe!

Whatever measures you take to ensure a productive workplace, one thing is certain: a happy workplace is an industrious one. However, the onus isn’t solely on an organisation to make sure a workplace is productive. Employers need to find that fine balance between discipline and warmth, that encourages work whilst rewarding staff. Equally, employees are responsible for their own time management and efficiency; operating in a way that increases your effectiveness at work will be sure to reap rewards.

If you believe your workplace enhances output, let us know on LinkedIn, Facebook, or Twitter.