May 14th, 2021


A 5-Minute Return-To-Work Guide For HR Leaders

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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 five tips for increasing productivity in the workplace and engaging employees more deeply.

How the work environment affects workplace productivity

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.

Factors that affect productivity in the workplace

Multitasking hurts productivity

Most of us try to juggle tasks throughout the day — you might even be trying to multitask as you read this. Check an email, respond to a Slack message, read a paragraph about workplace productivity, and checking the status of your Amazon order. Sound familiar?

This may seem counter-intuitive, but multitasking actually decreases productivity. Studies from Stanford have shown that heavy multitaskers are more likely to get distracted by irrelevant information. MIT neuroscientist Earl Miller puts it this way, "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





It's almost impossible to imagine getting anything done without the ability to handle it all simultaneously, but research shows multitasking is more likely to cause a loss of productivity in the workplace. And according to Earl, because human brains actually aren't designed for handling several things at a time, multitaskers are prone to making more mistakes and less creativity.

Where you work matters

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 productivity in the workplace: Conference room scheduling software and space booking apps reduce the amount of time employees spend trying to find and reserve the right space for the type of work they need to accomplish. 

How to measure productivity in the workplace

As a leader, you have the opportunity to help each employee find fulfillment in productivity.

Here are three ways that can help measure 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.

1. Measure accomplishments

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 — seeing where they can improve in such areas as dedication of time or resources to a project, 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.

2. Measure meetings

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 run correctly, meetings can be extremely valuable. I think we’ve all observed how a constructive meeting can provide a powerful trajectory for any project.

An effective meeting is the goal, and with up to 15% of an organization’s time spent in meetings, clearly the employees within that organization are desperate to ensure the time spent in those meetings matters. And 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 a dearth of tools to streamline the creation of such a meeting; however, now, finally, there is a way to gather accurate data to direct decisions on how to design productive, influential meetings.

Teem workplace analytics and office insights help demonstrate how your meetings directly impact your company and coworkers. That way, you're prepared with valuable, measured feedback and understand what needs to be done to improve workplace productivity and how your organization meets.

3. Measure in real time

Real-time visibility to work performance and employee activities can be invaluable in helping you manage and support your team 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 — and with workplace productivity as the goal, you need to help engage them in the right priorities, identify and eliminate bottlenecks, and provide in-the-moment coaching to train them to work smarter and challenge themselves.

How to increase productivity in the workplace

Increasing productivity in the workplace can be challenging, but some simple, easily implemented tools, like Teem help provide 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.

How will you improve workplace productivity in the hybrid workplace?

Find out in our upcoming webinar as host, Mike Petrusky and cultural anthropologist, Melissa Fisher, Ph.D, discuss taking a human-centric approach to hybrid work. Don't miss it — register to attend.

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