Have you noticed a lack of productivity amongst the workers in your office or company? Is it something that has made an impact on each worker or just a select few? You might be surprised to discover that there are a number of everyday things in an office setting that can severely diminish productivity. In order to boost productivity to the desired level - and possibly beyond - consider the following 25 factors that might be affecting workers’ productivity.
|1. Inflexible Workplace|
|2. Long Hours|
|5. Room Temperature|
|7. Work Stress|
|8. Job Satisfaction|
|11. Messy Environment|
|12. Desk Neighbor|
|14. Manager or Supervisor|
|16. Annual Review|
|17. Proper Tools and Equipment|
|18. Integrated Team|
|19. Confusing Expectations|
|23. To-do Lists|
|24. Time-Consuming Activities|
|25. No Incentive|
Most people have the occasional day where absolutely nothing gets done. For a lot of us, that is something that happens while we are home - instead of doing all of the planned household chores, you get sucked into a new Netflix series. However, it can happen at work too! Maybe you get to work ready to go, but sit down to a slow computer and lose your motivation. No matter the cause, having a lack of productivity will severely impact a worker’s day.
Imagine paying an employee for 8 hours in a day, but only getting 3 or 4 solid hours of productive work from them. Not only is that hard on the company’s finances, but it changes how much work is actually being accomplished. If an employee could get a full day of productive work in their 8 hours, the accomplishments for the individual and the company as a whole would be so much greater.
Numerous recent studies have proven a flexible workplace is a more productive workplace. There are a variety of ways to create a more flexible workplace, from allowing employees to choose their own schedules to offering work from home options. Offering flexibility for workers affects productivity in a few different ways.
One of the biggest hits to a worker's productivity level is the standard work schedule. A 9-5 or similar structure is fine for many people, but not all. Individuals will work best at different times of the day. By allowing employees to work when they are feeling their most productive, employers can get more from their workers.
Additionally, an employee that is able to work from home is one that saves time on the commute to and from the office. Rather than driving to and from the office, a worker can spend that time getting things accomplished. A home office also typically has fewer distractions than a work office filled with dozens of coworkers. (Read our related article - Importance of Workplace Adaptability and Flexibility)
Although it might seem as though long hours are necessary to accomplish all of the tasks at hand, it actually diminishes productivity. Working long hours increases fatigue and welcomes distractions. Rather than working 12 hour days, it would be more effective for employees to work during their most productive hours and limit the working hours so that unproductive hours are not being paid for.
Imagine a long workday. How many breaks do you take? While standards change from state to state, most states require that employees offer 15 minutes every 4 hours or half an hour if consecutive working hours reach 5 hours. That means if you’re working an 11 hour day, you’ve spent an hour of that on a break. Not to mention how tired you would be in the later hours of the day - how much work would you really accomplish? Working shorter hours is a great way to be more productive.
It comes as a surprise to many that lighting affects the efficiency and overall productivity of workers. Many people know that natural lighting is a mood-booster and stress-reducer. While those same effects make workers more productive, there are additional reasons why proper lighting can make your office a better and more productive space.
One of the reasons that lighting affects your ability to work is because sunlight tells the human body that it is time to work. Harsh lighting is often used when the sun goes down, so the body is often less prepared to work when it is not natural. By putting some focus on the quality of lighting in the office, you have the ability to improve productivity across the board. (Read our related article - Light in the Workplace)
There are so many people in the workforce that get ill and still go to work because they are unable to afford a missed day of work. Unfortunately, they come to work and get far less done than usual and spread their illness to their coworkers. In order to prevent this from happening, it is important that companies have a good sick day policy in place.
Although it can be costly to offer paid sick days to a large number of employees, it is important to offer enough sick days to be realistic. For example, many employers do not offer sick days until after a full year of service. On average, people catch a cold 2 to 4 times per year. If someone were to catch a bad cold twice a year and it took 2 days for them to start feeling better, they would need at least 4 sick days. While it is a good idea to increase sick days as years of service increases, it is also smart to start employees out with some sick days as well.
A cold employee is one that spends too much time adjusting their own personal space heater, getting a jacket from their vehicle, or walking around to keep their body temperature at the perfect level. This means that a cold employee is one that is not getting much work done as they could.
A hot employee, however, tends to get sleepy and fatigued much faster than someone at a comfortable temperature. For most individuals, the best room temperature is set at 71 degrees. By setting your office thermostat to this or a similar temperature, you will likely see an improvement in productivity.
Music has a way of making many people focus. Some music is far too distracting to improve efficiency. Other music, though, has proven to improve mood and boost overall productivity in employees. So, which music should you play in your office?
America’s Top 40 is not a station that would improve your office’s productivity levels. In fact, this music has a way of catching the attention of employees and dragging it away from the task at hand. The best option for productive work is to play music without lyrics - instrumental music, classical, and jazz are just a few options that might work for you and your employees. (My recommendation is Brain.fm)
Working while too stressed can have a negative effect on productivity. Although stress to a certain extent has the ability to motivate and inspire efficiency in an office, too much is stifling. Stress in the office can stem from strict deadlines, too much noise, and as previously mentioned, bad lighting. Giving employees the ability to rid themselves of some stress is a great way to cut down on the aspects that you have no control over.
Some ways to help employees cut down on stress is by offering them a wellness room, an onsite gym, or allowing extra coffee breaks during busy times. Some companies even install a slide inside the office building as a way for employees to have a few seconds of fun to brighten up their day. Whether your office makes stress reduction a top priority or just a suggestion, it will likely show positive results in office productivity. (Read our related article - Reduce Stress and Anxiety at Work)
Having satisfied employees is crucial to running a productive business. An unhappy employee is one that often shows up to work to do the bare minimum to take home a regular paycheck. That employee is also commonly one that is looking for another job. A satisfied worker, on the other hand, will not only show up to work, but they will show up to work to the best of their ability.
In order to have happy workers, a company should develop a positive culture and focus on the employee. Benefits and pay should be competitive and worthwhile. The company should also help to develop relationships within the office - coworkers that get along are far more likely to stick around long term. Doing these factors among others will ensure job satisfaction and increase productivity.
The standard of ergonomics is something that doesn’t truly exist - any company can claim their product to be ergonomic without it having passed any tests or requirements. However, there is proof that desk chairs, keyboards, mice, and other ergonomic features have a positive impact on office life.
Furniture designed to keep employees comfortable and healthy is something that will increase productivity because those employees have to worry less about finding a comfortable position. They also don’t have to stop working every hour to take a walk or stretch out their back. Offering quality seating and desks are just a couple of ways to help employees help the company. (Read our related article - Why is Ergonomics Important in the Workplace?)
Regular exercise is known to boost energy levels and overall health and decrease stress. Although it can be difficult for employers to get their employees to exercise, there are ways to encourage the activity and ultimately increase productivity. For example, supervisors might organize a lunchtime walk to a nearby restaurant. A few blocks to the restaurant and a few blocks back may not be a lot of exercise but it is more than walking to the break room and back to a desk.
Another way a business might encourage more physical activity among its workers is to participate in a charity walk or marathon. The company not only does some good for the world, but it gets employees involved in the exercise portion as well. By doing this, the team can work together to prepare for the event and simultaneously bond with one another.
Clutter can be a huge productivity killer. With a variety of items carelessly lying around, the brain finds it harder to focus on the current task. There are so many things to look at and take in. Clutter can also pull focus away from the task because the worker will have to sift through a pile of papers or move items around to get to find a pen or particular data.
By using desk organizers, filing cabinets, and other organizing tools, employees have the ability to put items away that are not presently needed. Doing so will allow their focus to be on one thing at a time, thus boosting productivity.
Sometimes we have no choice in who we sit next to. It might be a best friend or your arch-nemesis. Both of which can make an impact on productivity. Sitting with friends can be either an efficiency booster or a killer, depending on the personalities involved. For example, best friends that are unable to work together because they have to trade the latest gossip constantly would not make good desk neighbors. Best friends that can put the chit chat away for another time might make great neighbors.
Sitting near an arch-nemesis would likely inspire employees to work harder so that they can do more than their neighbor. It could also be a distraction if one employee focused more on what their desk neighbor was up to instead of accomplishing their own work. This is where an office seating chart might come in handy. Employees could sit near others based on personality and work ethic.
To the surprise of many, meetings often make a negative impact on worker productivity. Although short, concise meetings might be a productive way to start the day, middle of the day meetings can cause more harm than good. The easiest way to keep meetings short is to keep the guest list equally short. More people typically mean more interruptions and more opinions. That causes meetings to drag on much longer than intended.
If meetings are needed to keep everyone in the loop, try splitting up the meeting sessions into small groups. You might even have people start their workday in 30-minute increments - group 1 comes in at 7:30, group 2 at 8, and group 3 at 8:30. Doing this will allow each group the time in the morning to have a short meeting prior to starting their work. It will cut down on distractions and keep everyone informed.
Productivity is often heavily influenced by the person in charge. If you are in charge of choosing management or supervisors (or if you are a manager or supervisor), be sure that they understand the effects of micromanaging. It is well known that a manager that keeps a close eye on his or her employee is one that causes stress and decreases productivity. This is because the employee feels under pressure and makes more mistakes.
By extending trust to employees and allowing them the freedom to accomplish the necessary tasks, supervisors give workers the ability to excel. Rather than micromanaging, step back and see what employees can achieve on their own.
Look closely into your training program. Poor productivity is often instilled in these programs and by trainers. If the training program for new employees is not structured and relies solely on the words or actions of another employee, some bad habits can be shared. If the training officer takes a smoke break every hour, the trainee will be under the impression that taking a break every hour is standard procedure.
In order to develop a program that encourages high productivity, companies must ensure that trainers are properly trained in the ways of bringing in new people. There should be a structure and specific goals outlined for each section of training, whether that means weekly accomplishments or something more frequent.
While an annual review is a good idea in theory, it can ruin productivity. It is good to get progress reports - it tells employees what they are doing great at and what might need some improvement. However, having the review once a year does little to encourage change. After the review, an employee might focus on the factors mentioned, but a few months in might see the worker reverting to old habits.
Instead of an annual review, try quarterly or monthly progress reports. With less time between reviews, employees have a better chance of remembering to focus on the improvements needed. Doing so will encourage productivity.
There is nothing worse than coming into work on Monday morning ready to work but your computer is not quite as ready. When you are feeling ready to go and the equipment you have is slow or uncooperative, it will likely drag you down. This is why a company should ensure that employees have the proper tools and equipment necessary to do their jobs. (Read our related article - 28 Workplace Software Tools You Need to Know)
Although the purchase of new computers for an entire office might cost more than anyone would like to spend, waiting on a slow computer has the ability to diminish productivity and lose the company a lot of money over time. Imagine waiting a total of 30 minutes over the course of a day for your computer to catch up. For a single employee, that is two and a half hours a week. If that is true for 16 employees in a company, they have paid the salary of an entire full-time worker for no work.
An office full of strangers is an office lacking in productivity. There is so much potential in a team, but they cannot be their best unless the employees know one another and know how to best work together. By encouraging team bonding and learning things about coworkers, a company can develop a team that is integrated and works well together.
Many companies will take their employees out quarterly to a fun event that allows everyone to relax and get to know one another better. There are also more regular options like ice breakers and weekly pot lucks in the office. Not only allowing, but encouraging, employees to become friends is a great way to boost productivity.
Every employee that is not 100% clear on what they are supposed to be doing is causing the company a lag in efficiency. For every minute that an employee has to ask a coworker what they are supposed to be doing, the company is losing productive time. So, how does a business ensure that its employees understand what is expected of them?
Employees should have easy access to their job description. It might be printed out and posted in their office or saved in an email. Any confusion should be addressed immediately. It is also important that the company adhere to the job description provided and if changes are necessary, the employee is involved in a discussion regarding the change.
Making a list of priorities is crucial to being your most productive. While it might seem easy to simply put your priorities in order of their deadline, there should be more thought that goes into the process. Choosing when to do specific tasks should involve a thought process of not only when, but also in order of difficulty and the total time it will take to accomplish the task.
For instance, you might have a hugely important task that has to be done in 3 days, but there is another task due in 4 days that will take just a few minutes of your time. Focusing all of your energy on the big task might burn you out, causing the smaller task to be harder than it should. Getting the smaller job done can help to boost your motivation levels and finish off the big one.
Despite what many people think, multi-tasking is detrimental to productivity levels. It might feel as though you are accomplishing more while you are multi-tasking, but studies show that splitting the brain’s focus between multiple activities at once only results in slower response times. There are a variety of online tests that prove this by having you read the names of colors while the actual color of the font is in a different color. It is highly difficult for the brain to separate the two.
Instead of multi-tasking, employees should completely stop one task prior to moving on to another. If possible, the first task should be totally finished so that the brain is no longer thinking about it. It is easiest to do this if large tasks are broken up into smaller chunks.
Taking breaks while at work are both necessary and anti-productive. They are necessary because an entire workday with no breaks will lead to a highly unproductive day. An employee that works in this manner will likely have a good few hours at the start of the day, but will quickly lose steam.
Breaks should be limited, but not completely restricted. It might be best for management to allow a total allowance of breaks instead of offering two 15 minute breaks. For example, two 15 minute breaks add up to 30 minutes a day. Instead of breaking those into two, allow the employee to choose if he or she wants to take the suggested two or if three 10 minute breaks would be better for them.
Although to-do lists are similar to prioritizing, they differ by informing employees exactly what needs to get done and not necessarily the things that have to be done this week. To-do lists also will include the less important tasks that sometimes get left behind. A to-do list can also help to create a clear list of priorities.
To-do lists can also be created by management or supervisors. Prioritizing the items on the list can be left to the employees themselves. This allows for some guidance and freedom to choose simultaneously.
So many employers feel the need to give their employees work that will take their time so that they can justify a salary. However, many tasks asked of workers are just busywork. These kinds of activities are often put aside until the employee gets around to it. Unfortunately, this means that what was once a quick activity has turned into a day of completing backed up busywork.
By scheduling a specific time each day, or even weekly, employees have time to do simple things. It can even be used as a break of sorts - something different from everyday tasks. Doing this will increase productivity and allow employees to do an easy job to take the stress of complicated stuff.
In order to get the best work out of your employees, it is important to have a little extra incentive. While good pay is often an incentive for quality work, a bonus is always a great way to push employees just a little farther. Other ideas for extra incentive might include a competition, an additional paid day off, or casual clothes day. (Read our related article - Difference Between Employee Engagement And Job Satisfaction)
While the level of incentive is related to the task in question, adding something to an employee's salary will also increase job satisfaction. Since job satisfaction is also a way to boost productivity, doing both is sure to make productivity a priority for the employee.
It can be difficult to introduce change. Making a change so that productivity can thrive is a worthwhile effort. When workers become more efficient, fewer hours are needed for the same work. Or, on the other side of it, the same hours are needed for more work. This costs the company less money to produce more. It is a positive impact on the bottom line.
Take productivity seriously: make a change.
What are some of the biggest time wasters in business? There are a number of things happening in your office that waste time. Two of the biggest items are procrastination and social media. Finding a way to get rid of these distractions is key to maximizing productivity.
How much money is lost to business meetings? It is estimated that business meetings that serve little to no purpose cost a total of $37 billion annually. This total comes from both a loss of productivity and the cost of meeting space and materials.
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