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8 fast ways to increase workplace productivity

The output of your company depends on the input of employees. Increasing workplace productivity helps create a great environment for both workers and customers.

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3 hours.

That’s how long today’s average worker is productive for per day – despite the fact that there is more interest in workplace productivity than ever before. 

Whether on the front lines or in the office, leaders and workers both understand the value of completing tasks fast.

But you’d be surprised by how many of them work 40 to 60 hours a week without making progress on goals that really move the needle. 

Only work that aligns with a company’s short-term and long-term targets counts toward workplace productivity, not just stuff that keeps you occupied.

So what’s the solution?

Clear direction from the top is a good starting point, along with leading employees by example. With that in mind, this post will take a look at some of the best strategies you can implement to improve productivity at work. 

What is workplace productivity, and what constitutes a productive team?

Workplace productivity simply refers to getting work done in the minimum possible time without sacrificing the quality of output and your workers’ well-being

A productive team encompasses the concepts of speed, quality, maintaining focus, and avoiding the distractions that get in the way of completing work under set deadlines. And the faster you can complete your assigned tasks, the more spare time you’ll have for personal goals or long-term aspirations.  

Why is workplace productivity important?

Productive businesses have the potential to make the most of their resources, leading to a boost in profits and overall growth. 

Similarly, falling behind in workplace productivity can have a damaging effect on your company. In fact, 85% of workers are not engaged at work, costing $7 trillion in lost productivity every year, according to a Gallup report.

When you and your employees are productive, your organization will accomplish more, and the work will get compressed. And having more time on your hands will let you expand your scope to areas you did not have the bandwidth for. 

Employee morale and productivity

Employee morale is the overall attitude, contentedness, and perception of employees during their affiliation with a company. And it’s closely linked to productivity. 

Many of the steps companies take to improve morale and engagement have a direct impact on your employees’ ability to get things done. In fact, companies in the top quartile of employee engagement are not only 17% more productive, but also 21% more profitable.

That makes it important for companies to measure employee morale in their quest to increase productivity at work. Exercises such as employee surveys can provide the necessary data needed to identify productivity problems and come up with ways to address them.

How to increase workplace productivity: 7 of the best tactics

If you’re looking for inspiration to get your productivity ideas flowing, the following strategies can help. 

1. Delegate excess work

You can’t do everything on your own. There comes a time when what you’re working on is better done by someone who has a proven track record; not because you don’t, but because time is precious. 

This, however, does require you to be fully aware of your team members’ abilities. Trust is an important factor as 29% of managers report questioning whether their employees have the required knowledge to do their work. For example, you can’t tell someone in HR to interpret the data on your marketing automation tool.

Knowing when to delegate is crucial. Not only does delegation prove to your employees that you trust them, but it also frees you up to focus on more important work that only you can do, increasing productivity in the workplace.

You can even think of outsourcing certain tasks, by hiring a virtual project manager for example. This will help you juggle your responsibilities and free up some valuable hours while ensuring your team functions smoothly and delivers on time.

2. Cut recurring meetings (make them shorter, less frequent, and end them early)

We bet you have heard the phrase “this meeting should’ve been an email” more than once in your job. 71% of respondents in a 2017 survey reported meetings being unproductive and inefficient.

Needless meetings lower productivity levels by interrupting employees from engaging in work, and they cost businesses $37 billion a year. Yet it’s aggravating that in today’s world of virtual work and online communication, they’re still the go-to mode of interaction for many.

As a manager, you should ponder over whether certain information can be passed through a different channel. Here’s a great chart for when you can’t decide whether you should have a meeting.

Image Source: Expel

For times when a meeting is absolutely necessary, write out a clear agenda on what you’re about to talk about. Making sure the meeting is as short as possible also helps improve workplace productivity. It depends on the kind of meeting (strategy, one-on-one, brainstorming), but we recommend an average of 30 minutes or less.

3. Follow the big rocks first principle

If you have a jar, and you have rocks of varying sizes that need to be placed inside, which rocks would you start with? The pebbles or the big rocks? 

The title of this section already gave it away, but if you said pebbles, you should really pay attention.

Employees spend almost 1/3 of their time on pointless tasks like paperwork and manual processes that have automated alternatives. 

The big rocks principle states that you should turn your attention towards your high-priority tasks. These are assignments directly tied to the company’s objectives.

4. Time yourself with the Pomodoro technique

Pomodoro technique is a time management system that focuses on working in short time intervals, with each interval lasting about 25 minutes, followed by a 5-minute break. 

When you’ve worked for four “pomodoros” (four 25-minute slots), you take a lengthier break of about 15-20 minutes. 

Since the average employee works for only about 3 hours in a normal workday, working with a timer can help you make the most of every second. And with a 5-minute break around the corner, you’ll also remember to make time to catch your breath.

Plus, you don’t need to time yourself manually. You have several options when choosing workplace productivity software based on the Pomodoro technique, such as Pomofocus

screenshot of pomofocus

This customizable Pomodoro timer works on both desktop and mobile devices, and it’s a big help when you want to focus on a particular task.

5. Avoid burnout by taking breaks

About half of the respondents in a McKinsey survey report experiencing some sort of burnout.

Image Source: McKinsey & Company

It might seem contrary to the cause, but taking the time to catch a breather actually helps improve workplace productivity. Many people think of breaks as distractions, but they allow you to renew your focus. They will help avoid work overload which has been found to reduce productivity by 68%. 

Breaks also help prevent some physical health issues along the line. Most work involves sitting in one position throughout the day. This makes employees more prone to spinal issues, varicose veins, and even diabetes. So stretching out during your workday lowers the chances of developing such issues.

6. Give credit where it’s due

83% of HR leaders say that employee recognition programs benefit company values, while 85% validate the programs’ positive impact on workplace culture. And 83% of entrepreneurs say that organizational culture is strongly tied to employee productivity. 

employee receiving recognition from manager

So if you’re not taking the time to tell workers that they are doing great work, or to offer constructive criticism, you’re missing out on an easy way to improve staff productivity. 

There are many ways to acknowledge your workers’ efforts. Send a ‘thank you’ note. Offer incentives such as paid holidays and free takeouts when employees go the extra mile in their roles. When workers are motivated with appreciation and rewards, they’ll go above and beyond to demonstrate high productivity. 

7. Set a routine

Raise your hand if checking your email or calendar is the first thing you do after getting out of bed? Ever wonder when did this become a normal habit for you?

Workplace productivity doesn’t just start at your workstation. It’s also determined by the level of personal care you practice at home. The first three hours of your day are too important to leave to chance. That’s when you’re the most creative, and when your mind is free from distractions. 

So make sure to restructure your start of the day as you would want, based on your most important priorities. What you choose to do with your early time should be intentional, and not dictated by your emails and text messages. Remember, failing to plan is planning to fail. 

And remember… Get the sleep that works for you.

Regarding setting a routine for the early part of your day, did you notice that we didn’t say “morning”? That was a deliberate choice. Because when you start your day in order to feel the most productive is up to you. 

Many folks argue that mornings are best, or that anyone can wake up early. But it’s a matter of debate. So we’ll leave it for you to determine. After all, what good is waking up at 5 am if you’re going to be cranky all day? 

Some do their best work in the early hours. For others, it’s the middle of the night. Some need ten hours; for others, four is enough.

What is not arguable, though, is the value of good sleep. Yet 44% of workers and plant operators in factories say that they get less than seven hours of sleep per day. The better sleep you get, the more focused and productive you will be.  

Final thoughts: 7 techniques to improve workplace productivity

There’s no one-size-fits-all solution to improving productivity in the workplace. Every organization is different. So it’s important to take note of your current processes first before applying any of the above points. 

Once you’ve figured out the areas you can improve on, you can implement some (or all) of them at different stages. 

As you start taking the critical steps to improve efficiency in the workplace, you’ll see drastic improvements in your organization’s productivity, along with other perks that include an engaged and satisfied workforce. 

On top of that, consider using a communications platform that integrates multiple features like instant messaging and content publishing in one place.

The less time workers spend on checking different isolated channels, the more productive they’ll be. Request a free Blink demo today.