4 MINUTE READ
Email. Social media. Texting. Gossip. With so many workplace distractions it can often feel like office productivity is under threat. This threat needs to be taken seriously as maintaining a high level of productivity is critical for success in all businesses. If you sense that productivity levels in your office are beginning to decline, then something needs to change. But before doing a complete overhaul of your current office enviornment, consider whether you can make some small effort/big impact tweaks to increase your productivity.
Most businesses should be able to implement the following strategies with relative ease for a significant payoff in increased productivity.
Make sure everyone is taking regular breaks
Most workplaces now allow employees to manage their own schedules. While this gives employees a sense of autonomy, it often has an unintended effect on productivity. In a high-performing, high-stress environment oftentimes people don’t take any breaks at all. While you’d think that this would increase productivity, reams of evidence suggests otherwise. According to research there is an optimum amount of time you should be on break to maximise activity: 17 minutes. The experiment showed that employees were most productive when they worked for 52 minutes, then took a 17-minute break, typically spent away from the computer.
You’ve probably heard the phrase “A tidy house equals a tidy mind”. In the same way, a tidy desk often means a more productive workday. It’s easy for even the most organised people to let their desks get cluttered by papers, food wrappers, gadgets, and all the other bits and pieces that make their way into the office. A 2011 study published in the Journal of Neuroscience found that multiple stimuli in your line of sight compete for your brain’s attention. Every ringing phone, instant message, flashing email reminder, pile of papers, cluttered sticky notes, and memos posted on the wall draws attention away from critical tasks which in turn wastes valuable time and energy. At the end of each week, encourage your employees to take some time to organise their spaces. It doesn’t have to be a full-scale cleaning job, just enough to sharpen up the overall office enviornment.
Have a Set Workflow and Managerial Structure
All too often, productivity is severely dampened simply because employees aren’t clear on what they’re supposed to be doing at a given time. Workflows do change based on changing circumstances in your business, but you should try to codify them as much as possible. Clarify the chain of command: make sure everyone knows who they report to and avoid creating situations where employees feel like they have too many managers.
Coffee and pastries might provide short-term sugar rushes, but their long term impact on the overall health of your team can have a marked effect on productivity. However, snacking doesn’t need to be cut out completely – the social aspect of it helps to build a sense of community in the office. Just make sure the snacks in the office are healthy—fresh fruits, nuts, yogurt, and lots of water to your employees. These alternatives help avoid inducing an office-wide sugar-crash but still provide the energy your employees needs to get through the day.
Take Time to Point Out Successes
Let’s face it: even at the most exciting companies, working through long projects can feel like a slog. Whether it’s a product development team rolling out a new version of your offerings, a marketing team planning a campaign for branding your business, or even just an HR department building new training materials, sometimes it’s hard to stay focused and enthusiastic when every day starts to seem the same as the last. Keep your team energised and on task by keeping everyone regularly updated on each project’s progress. Knowing that they’re moving ever closer to completion and racking up successes along the way can be a major boost to morale, which is crucial to keeping teams engaged and committed.
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