Keeping your team productive while at the office comes with it’s own benefits and challenges. On the plus side, you have your entire time operating under one roof, making communication readily available. You can hand off physical items, and clarify much easier when in-person. However, working in an office environment comes with it’s own set of challenges. Interpersonal dynamics can be distracting and counter productive, and employees statistically get more distracted by coworkers than anything else. If your office is needing to find that efficient-but-happy balance, try some of these productivity-boosting changes:
Providing a Tranquil Surrounding
Your office should be designed to accommodate your employee’s ideal working environment. This can vary depending on industry, but for the most part, employees need their own space and working conditions. In general, a quiet and tranquil environment sets the tone for workplace productivity and professionalism.
First, take inventory of your employee’s needs. Find out if they currently have or need their own office, cubicle, desk, locker, etc. and if it is working for them. Encouraging employees to decorate and create their own space allows them to set up their specific needs. Each person is different and has a different way of learning and working. For example, auditory, visual and kinesthetic learners have different learning styles and requirements for creating their own work environment.
Be sure to take into account the different distractions that will weigh on your employees. Besides distracting each other, the top distractions that kill workplace productivity includes:
- Cell phones
- The Internet
Generally speaking, banning employees from using their cellphones at work is fighting a losing battle. Instead, respectfully ask your employees to use their cell phone during breaks, emergencies, and for work-related matters. It is up to you to set the tone for a work environment that discourages scrolling through Instagram during business hours.
Creating a Gossip-Free Environment
Workplace gossip can be cancerous when it comes to productivity, interpersonal relationships, and creating a positive environment. Not tolerating gossip begins with managers setting a good example by not talking about others behind their back – period.
If you have an issue with a particular employee’s personality, work ethic, or ability, speak with either that person or your direct superior. Talking to your coworkers about it does absolutely nothing to resolve the issue and poisons the workplace by inserting doubt and dissatisfaction.
Working to Achieve Peak Productivity Levels
Do you ever sit down and start digging into a project only to be interrupted by another employee? Being constantly inturrupted can significantly impact your productivity. You’ll start to feel like you’ve been working all day, yet haven’t made a dent in your to-do list.
Everyone who works in an office feels this way at one time or another. Help ease your employee’s interruptions by implementing “quiet time” a la grade school. A great time to try out this method is allowing employees to get to work and have uninterrupted quiet time for the first hour or two. This allows everyone to take inventory of their to-do list, schedule and plan for upcoming meetings, answer emails, and plan their day. Make sure to not schedule meetings until after this time, as employees will have a better idea of what needs to be discussed after they have had the opportunity to catch themselves up.
Each employee has their own time of day where they are the most productive. For many adults, this is early in the morning, from about 8-11am. Technically, the most productive hours are in the morning, after you wake up; great for people who work from home, but unrealistic for office jobs.
Depending on your industry and business hours, be as flexible as possible with employee’s productivity time. Ask each employee to identify when they are most productive. For some, it may be super early in the morning. For others, it may be right before, during, or after lunch. By having each employee identify their own schedule, you can schedule breaks and lunches to optimize overall efficiency.
Listening to Music in the Workplace: Tune in, or Plug in?
Depending on your work environment, music can be utilized as a tool for either enhancing focus or distraction. Be sure to select music that is both relaxing, yet upbeat and positive. Music that is too aggressive or invasive can actually hinder employee productivity.
Many offices choose the no-music route, allowing employees to use their own headphones to select the music that makes them the most productive. However, selecting the “perfect” work music can also be a distraction to your employees. Talk with your employees to see which they would prefer. Studies have shown that the right office music can boost productivity and motivation in the workplace, however, it really all comes down to personal preference, environment, and industry.
Instead of Building Walls, Open Doors to Communication
Think about how much of your employees’ time is spent answering questions, emails, status updates, meetings, and one-on-one chats. You’d be surprise by how many man-hours it takes up! Clear communication is essential to staying productive. Know exactly what your employees’ workload is, and have them communicate their workload with each other. Most workplace arguments stem from miscommunication and misunderstandings.
You can bring all of your communication together by using project management software that incorporates chats, emails, calendars, comments, etc. There are many software options out there that allow employees to view each other’s workload and task list, so you know exactly who is bogged down and who has free time. Hosting your communication on one platform is the easiest way to streamline communication and increase productivity.
From Remotely Working to Working Remotely
With the majority of information moving to cloud-based systems, working from home is more accessible than ever. Give your employees the chance to work from home once in a while to see if it’s a viable option in the future.
Working from home, like working in an office, has it’s pros and cons. Employees are no longer distracted by coworkers and experience fewer interruptions, but also need to self-manage their tasks and workspace. It’s an adjustment that may take a month or two to figure out. While employees are gearing up to work from home one day a week, suggest that they follow the same productivity-boosting changes that were implemented in the office.
Decrease distractions by dedicating a room or desk space into an office. This change will have the greatest pay-off in terms of productivity. When working from home, employees will need to adjust to the lack of commuting time – time that is normally spent decompressing, meditating, and getting out of work-mode. Having a dedicated space allows you to leave that space at the end of the day and return to normal-life-mode instead of work-mode.
Don’t expect your employees to put in a full eight hour day when working from home. This doesn’t mean that your employees aren’t working as much; it just means that there are less distractions (coworkers, meetings, lunch breaks, etc) that affect their work time. When someone works from home, they (generally) like to get all of the work done in the shortest time possible so that they can get back to being at home. A Harvard Business Review study suggests that employees complete 13% more work when at home than when in the office, simply because they don’t have to deal with all of the distractions that an office brings.
What are some ways that you have boosted productivity in your office? Let us know in the comments below!