Four easy steps to increase business productivity

The most productive businesses are typically the most effective and successful ones. No matter how productive your business is, there are usually ways to increase company productivity levels. Here’s a guide to increasing productivity in your workplace.

Are breaks good for business productivity?

It might seem counterintuitive, but taking time out can actually increase business productivity. Studies show that to be the most productive, employees should work for 52 minutes, then break for 17 minutes, before returning to work again. You don’t have to set a timer and insist on such regular breaks, but you should recognize the importance of break time and encourage your workers to step away from their desks periodically.

Insist that employees take time away from work to eat lunch rather than chowing down at their desks. Encourage staff members to take regular breaks throughout the day to stretch their legs and recharge their brains. Limit weekend work and ask that staff members use their vacation time so that they can stay fresh.

More than 55 percent of Americans don’t use all of their vacation entitlements, according to the U.S. Travel Association’s Project Time Off. The reasons for failing to take time off are telling. In a Glassdoor survey, 28 percent of respondents say they don’t take all their leave because they worry about getting behind in their work. Most troubling, 17 percent of workers fear that if they do take all their leave they could lose their jobs. Shift your corporate culture and make sure your workplace is one where taking vacations aren’t just accepted but encouraged. Stress the productivity benefits of time off so your workers feel comfortable getting away from the office.

Respect the purpose of breaks and make sure you and other workers don’t interrupt the breaks of others with business matters. One in four Americans say they’ve been contacted by their colleagues about work matters during a vacation. One in five claim that their boss has contacted them while they’ve been away. While little formal research has been conducted about interruptions during short breaks at work, anecdotal evidence suggests this is also common. Consider breaks sacred, no matter what their length, so employees can really benefit from them.

Will following up on employee performance increase business productivity?

There can sometimes be a fine line between following up on employees and micromanaging them. Following up can be positive for productivity levels, but if you start micromanaging you’re likely to see productivity levels fall.

Too often employers set targets for their workers and feel their job is done. Following up and ensuring those targets are met is crucial for productivity. When targets aren’t met, it’s the responsibility of managers to ask why. Were the targets unrealistic, or did the employees involved in delivery fail to work at capacity? What can be done to ensure targets are met in the future? Asking these questions and implementing strategies to do better is crucial for good productivity.

When employees know you’ll follow up on their efforts, they’re more likely to stay on track and work harder to meet targets. This helps keep productivity consistent throughout the project, so employees don’t experience deadline stress.

Just make sure your follow-up doesn’t become intrusive. When you start micromanaging, your employees will feel you don’t trust them. This negatively impacts motivation and staff morale. Micromanaged employees are also less likely to show independent thought because they feel they’re expected to perform tasks just as you would do. This stifles creativity and innovation in the workplace, qualities that are essential for business growth.

Follow up on the targets you set, but allow your workers enough space to complete projects to the best of their ability.

Could changing the work environment increase productivity?

Studies show that changing a workplace environment can significantly benefit productivity levels. In an article for Entrepreneur, psychologist Sherrie Campbell wrote that even small changes, like moving around office furniture or adding plants or fish, can help employees think in different, more innovative ways.

For real change and increased business productivity, consider getting out of your regular office environment and working at a WeWork office space. These spaces have all the facilities you’d want in an office, like hard-wired Ethernet and Wi-Fi internet access, spacious common areas for collaborating, and business-class printers. But there are also additional perks, like complimentary beverages, catered lunches, and networking events.

Can technology improve productivity in my workplace?

Some technology can distract your employees, but there are also clever technological tools that can boost workplace productivity.

Collaborative applications can improve employee productivity, especially if your workers are in different geographic locations. These programs make it easy to monitor the efforts of all people involved in a project and understand what individuals need to do, and when they should do it.

Telecommuting is linked to improved productivity, as many people tend to work better if they’re in a familiar, comfortable environment like a home office. However, if it’s not handled correctly, rising telecommuting rates can impair productivity. With mobile devices, productivity doesn’t need to suffer. These devices allow your employees to get in touch with one another when they need to, no matter where they are.

Just make sure you don’t abuse the connectivity mobile devices provide. Your workers deserve downtime, and when they don’t get it they risk burnout. It’s a good policy to only call on your employees during regular business hours, unless there’s an emergency.

Having the latest technology can also benefit your workers. Outdated technology is usually much slower and prone to glitches than new devices. If your employees are wasting time dealing with computer crashes and sluggish software, it’s time for a tech overhaul.

How will improving productivity benefit my company?

Increasing productivity has a number of advantages for any organization. The most obvious benefit for business is increased profits. When employees are productive, they work more efficiently, increasing their output and typically the company’s bottom line.

When employees work to capacity, they make good on the investment their business has made in them. This is a real boon to any business.

Will improving productivity benefit my customers?

Productive workplaces are typically those that deliver efficient customer service. Customers appreciate having their queries addressed in a timely fashion and will often become loyal after receiving this type of service. Loyal customers typically share their positive dealings with friends, which helps businesses widen their customer base.

Will improving productivity benefit my employees?

Don’t make the mistake of thinking productive employees are overworked ones. Productive employees typically work smarter, not harder, getting exemplary results without risking burnout. When employees work in this way, workplaces experience a cultural shift. Workers tend to motivate one another to do better, which builds a strong, positive business culture. When workers can see the results of their productive labor, they tend to feel good about their achievements. This boosts staff morale.

As increased profits typically go hand in hand with increased productivity, most businesses reward their employees’ efforts with better benefits. Employees working for productive companies usually receive pay raises and performance bonuses. They may also enjoy increased medical coverage and other perks. These benefits further motivate employees and increase staff loyalty.

How can I measure business productivity?

Wanting to boost productivity is a noble goal. But if you don’t measure your results, it’s difficult to know whether you’ve achieved what you set out to do. One of the simplest ways of measuring business productivity is using a formula of units of output over units of inputs. Using this measure, the most productive businesses are those that can produce as many useful goods or services from as few raw materials as possible.

However, this simplistic business productivity measure fails to consider many other factors that may also influence productivity. It’s also easy to boost productivity using one measure but sacrifice productivity in other areas of the business. That’s why most experts suggest taking a multifactor approach to truly measure productivity accurately.

Monitor a variety of factors, such as the number of tasks your workers complete; for example, the amount of time they took to complete them, customer and client satisfaction levels, and profits. By keeping track of several performance metrics you’ll get a more accurate idea of your company’s productivity levels and whether changes in your business have improved them.

Implementing productivity strategies benefits businesses, their employees, and their customers. No matter how productive you think your business is, small changes can significantly improve your professional output and company results.

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