One of the greatest motivators of employee engagement is an employee’s experience of workplace productivity. When people work within a culture of productivity and believe the work they do is valuable, they ultimately experience greater job satisfaction and thrive at work.
Before COVID-19, employees spent a large part of their day, and thus, the bulk of their lives, in the workplace. Given the upcoming return to the office, leaders should carefully consider the relationship between workplace environment and productivity.
Here are three tips for increasing productivity in the workplace and engaging employees more deeply.
Workplace productivity is best defined as a measure of how effectively an employee, team, or organization yields results, benefits, or profits. In other words, it's how well we perform and how much we achieve — either individually or collectively.
Mid-march last year, we left behind the workplace as we knew it and moved employees to work from home (WFH). Of course, nobody knows exactly what the office will come to look like, but there are some pretty big clues based on the lessons we've learned from the pandemic.
In 2020, Gallup surveys showed that only 36% of American workers engaged in their work, while 14% were "actively disengaged."
For instance — a look at the aggregate data from Gallup's 2020 surveys showed an American workforce with an unstable level of engagement. Extrapolating the factors that influenced WFH productivity, leaders can chart a path to better productivity in the workplace once it's time for employees to come back.
Most of us try to juggle tasks throughout the day — you might even be trying to multitask as you read this. Reading an email, responding to a Slack message, glancing over this paragraph about workplace productivity, and checking the status of your Amazon order. Sound familiar?
Here's the thing, though: Multitasking actually decreases productivity. That's because humans aren't actually great at performing multiple tasks at one time. What we can do is switch rapidly between tasks, giving our attention to one before shifting it over to another. Experts call this "task switching".
And I have some bad news: There's a significant amount of evidence showing people are less efficient when they switch between tasks. The more complex the tasks, the more time they tend to lose. As MIT neuroscientist Earl Miller puts it, "You can spend a good proportion of your day switching instead of doing."
"You can spend a good proportion of your day switching instead of doing."
- Earl Miller, MIT Neuroscientist
Studies from Stanford have shown that heavy multitaskers are more likely to get distracted by irrelevant information. There's also reason to believe multitaskers are more prone to making more mistakes and having less creativity.
While it's almost impossible to imagine getting anything done without the ability to handle it all simultaneously, research shows multitasking is more likely to cause a loss of workplace productivity.
Better productivity in the workplace comes down to the ability to focus.
When you're working on tasks that require a higher level of attention, you need the right space to focus on specific projects. In that way, boosting workplace productivity can come down to the types of workspace available to employees for work.
Sometimes, individual work is easier to accomplish in a private office or quiet nook — or, if you're at home, a backyard office. These quiet spaces are ideal for high-focus work because they remove the distractions that can take you away from the task at hand. Providing teams with a variety of conference rooms — including formal and informal conference rooms, open and private meeting space, and phone booths is one way of increasing productivity in the workplace.
Another tip for boosting workplace productivity: Conference room scheduling software and space booking apps reduce the amount of time employees spend trying to find and reserve the right space. With the power to explore availability and review different types of space depending on the kind of work they need to accomplish, people can spend less time looking for space and more time using it.
As a leader, you have the opportunity to help each employee find fulfillment in productivity.
Here are three ways that can help measure and improve workplace productivity among employees. These recommendations provide specific data, and from there you can create detailed recommendations and develop actionable steps to help move your employees and entire company effectively and productively forward.
If you're wondering how to create a productive workplace, a good place to start is to set specific goals for employees to work towards. Ask employees to monitor their own performance and consider their dedication of time and resources to a project. That will allow you to see where they can improve in specific areas as well as where they are succeeding.
Use department and team meetings to highlight individual employees and share an overview of what everyone on the team accomplished since the last meetings. This gives the employee and even the entire team a chance to regularly celebrate their accomplishments and work towards shared goals.
Humorist Dave Barry has said, “If you had to identify, in one word, the reason why the human race has not achieved, and never will achieve, its full potential, that word would be 'meetings’.”
Naturally, we are all able to relate to the humor in this observation because, like Dave, we’ve all been in those kind of meetings. Of course, we’ve also been around long enough to know two things: meetings aren’t going away, and when meetings are run correctly, they can be extremely valuable. I think we’ve all observed how a constructive meeting can provide a powerful trajectory for any project.
Having effective meetings is the goal. And with up to 15% of an organization’s time spent in meetings, employees within that organization are desperate to ensure the time they spend in those meetings matters. In the name of workplace productivity and employee satisfaction, you — as a manager — want to confirm the same thing.
Designing an ideal meeting and increasing productivity in the workplace gets easier once you can see precisely what you’re dealing with. Historically, there’s been an increase in the number of tools available to help streamline the creation of such a meeting. Now, there is also an emphasis on workplace analytics and office insights that gather accurate data about your meetings so you can use it to direct decisions about your workplace.
By knowing how your space is being used and identifying any gaps or wasted spaces, you'll be better positioned to design more productive meetings. For instance, Teem's users are able to track space utilization and report on KPIs to inform their decisions, demonstrate how meetings are directly impacting the company and employees, and take quick actions to improve workplace productivity.
There's no one-size-fits-all approach to improving productivity in the workplace. But real-time visibility into work performance and employee activities can play a key role in helping you manage and support your company's efforts.
Workplace productivity tools should integrate with your existing systems to allow you to capture real-time data, update the information and generate a dynamic management dashboard, providing visibility into precisely what work is being done, how it is being done, and the quantitative measures needed to improve workplace productivity.
You have talented, wonderful employees. Increasing employee productivity in the workplace isn't easy. To do so, you need to help engage them in the right priorities, identify and eliminate bottlenecks, and provide in-the-moment coaching to train them to use their time more efficiently and make good use of the resources that are available to them.
Increasing productivity in the workplace can be challenging, but some simple, easy-to-implement tools, like Teem can help provide important data and key point analytics that inform sound, strategic decisions and empower workplace productivity.
Whether as an individual, as part of a team, or functioning within a team meeting, measured workplace productivity provides insight and direction, allowing for more efficiency within that environment.
For more tips on keeping workers engaged and how to improve employee productivity in the workplace, check out our recent e-book From Burnout to Bliss: New Rules for Creating Workplace Happiness.