In the workplace, employees are surrounded by things that kill their productivity. Whether it’s surfing the web, constantly updated email, or loud coworkers, there are several ways employees can get bogged down in their office and lose focus. If you want to up productivity without stretching an already thin hiring budget, we have six perfect tips for getting employee performance back up to speed.
Internet Surfing — Block Distracting Sites
Many workplaces need the internet just to function, but it can be a double-edged sword. As much as Googling an issue or using the search engine for research on a project can help speed things up, gossipy news and game sites can eat up a lot of time that could be spent working. Companies know this, and 74% are taking action to stop people from taking too many internet breaks.
Companies who block certain sites might feel less “fun” to work for, but by targeting specific sites (if Facebook is a big problem for your employees, get rid of it), you’re eliminating the biggest offenders, the ones that aren’t useful for work and don’t offer useful, regeneration breaks from work. Try installing a clock and having everyone do the Pomodoro method, where you all get FB breaks at the same time!
Email — Stop Watching the Pot
There’s no way you’re going to block email. It’s too important. But it can also be distracting. In fact, 42% of employees cite email as the single-greatest time-waster at work. An email is often the best way to get ahold of someone, but if you’re moving back and forth between your email and whatever you’re doing, and it’s not updating, you’re wasting time. What’s more, you can ignore most emails until later, when you’re done with your current task.
If you want to get better about checking your email, force yourself to reduce the number of times for day (or per hour, if you’re waiting for a particularly important one). By carving out blocks of time in which you’ll do nothing but check email, you’re eliminating all the wasted time spent looking at an empty inbox. Try a tool like Toggl which helps people track their time to see just how much email wastes. Instead, respond at specific times, 10, 2 and 4 and save the rest of the time for work!
42% of employees cite email as the single-greatest time-waster at work. Is it wasting time in your office?
Meetings — Cut Them Short, Make Them Matter
Does it feel like you’re having to schedule more and more meetings every year? You’re not wrong: 15% of a company’s time is spent in meetings, and it’s going up every year. The worst part about it is that 67% of their meetings are failures. People seem to be calling meetings because that’s what you do in business, and expect problems to get solved without preparation.
If you want to cut back on the amount of time your employees are spending in meetings, make sure that every meeting has a purpose. Compile a list of points you’d like to cover in one and call a meeting only when they reach a certain threshold. And make sure everyone in attendance has a reason to be there. After they no longer need to be there, let them go. Or consider splitting up your meetings so that people aren’t sitting through a deluge of information which doesn’t concern them.
Overworking — Encourage More Breaks
America is an overworked nation. 86% of men and 66.5% of women work more than 40 hours per week, we don’t have as many vacation days as the rest of world, and employees don’t take those days off as much as they should. Everyone, at all levels of business, simply works too much, and more time spent as work ends up making you less productive.
Take a step back and see if you’re not encouraging a culture of work over one of results. The best employees work, on average, for 52 minutes, then take 17-minute breaks. When employees take breaks like these, they’re more perceptive, and less likely to get bogged down in tunnel vision, leading to better work overall.
Open Office — Give Employees Their Privacy
You might think your fancy new open office is trendy, forward-thinking, and builds a culture of collaboration between your workers. And it very well could! But across the board, open offices make employees less productive. When you’re working with everyone in the same room, you’re more easily distracted, either by talking with employees or simply hearing them.
The solution to this may be simpler than you think. Stay with your open office (a full renovation is probably too costly), but make sure you have quiet spaces, rooms, or areas where employees can work in peace. This could even be outside, where you’ve managed to install a good Wi-Fi spot. When employees can hunker down and get to work in peace when they need to, they’ll thank you. Try getting everyone some awesome headphones and create a “heads down” rule.
Travel Time — Add Some Work From Home Days
Offices help employees do great work together, things they might not otherwise be able to do. And working from home has its share of problems: you can’t be as communicative as you like, you’re dependent on email, and group projects tend to get derailed when someone isn’t there. However, with the rising costs of commuting to work, you may want to add a few work from home days.
What’s important here is to be flexible. If there’s a big, all-hands-on-deck project you need to get done by the end of the week, then everyone’s going to have be there. But if things aren’t so on lockdown, and employees could work just as well at home on smaller assignments, let them skip the cost, in both time and money, of having to drive to work.
Cutting out the most time-wasting parts of the work day will help you focus on work when it’s time, and give your mind a break when you don’t need to be as involved. So cut a few routines out of your employees’ workday — they’ll appreciate it.
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As the head of a department in the midst of a sustained period of rapid growth, Sara has spent thousands of hours interviewing, hiring, onboarding and assessing employees and candidates. She is passionate about sharing the best practices she has learned from both successes and failures in talent acquisition and management.