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6 Ways to Achieve a More Efficient Workplace

Creating an efficient workplace means getting your team to work smarter, not harder. Nor should it be necessary to lay down the law with threats to “crackdown” on workplace efficiency.

Fear and resentment only serve to stifle creativity, leading to an even less efficient team and workplace. With this in mind, setting unreasonable productivity goals and fostering an insecure and stressful working environment is never the way to go.

Instead, the best way to improve workflow is to take a look at all the factors affecting employee productivity, including working hours, job satisfaction, and how you use technological support. Only by addressing these influences will you be able to find efficiency strategies that work for your specific business, team, and you.

Want to know how to boost employee engagement and increase efficiency at your company? Keep reading to find out our top tips!

1. Use the Right Tech and Tools

Your workers are only as good as the tools you provide them with.

At a basic level, it’s your duty to make sure that the technology and tools your employees use aren’t harming their productivity in some way. Is your internet connection strong enough to handle the number of users and devices? Do you have enough space on your company software accounts for everyone who needs to use them? Is everyone up to speed on all new programs and software updates relevant to their role?

Be sure to keep track of new technological tools and software programs that could streamline certain processes for your company or lighten your employees’ load. For example, the HR platform WorkBright.com works with a 100-percent digital process to simplify onboarding for both new employees and HR managers. HR software is also useful for scheduling and planning around annual leave, training breaks, and other absences so that they take less of a toll on productivity.

You might also want to automate certain tasks as a way to save your employees time and limit distractions. For example, you could try automating your email marketing campaigns or sales and lead-generating work. Or, using software services that help you automate your social media campaigns is another effective way to save time and improve workflow.

2. Allow Flexible Working

Flexible working allows employees to put in the hours when they feel the most efficient and productive. For some people, 7.00 am starts could be the best way to harness all that early-morning energy. Others may find that they’re more creative when working later in the evening.

Allowing your employees to choose their hours will also make them happier and more committed to the company. As a result, they’ll be more likely to concentrate on work-related tasks while they’re on the clock.

You might also want to consider looking into where your employees work best. For many workers, being able to work from home for a certain number of days per week or month is an attractive prospect. Cutting out the commute saves employees lots of time, allowing them to achieve a better work-life balance without scarifying their finances. In turn, you’ll often see a rise in productivity as employees feel more satisfied and motivated when they have more control over their working schedule and environment.

3. Improve Your Working Environment

While we’re on the subject of working environments, it’s important to provide your in-office employees with a space that’s comfortable, inviting, and designed with efficient processes in mind. Not least because workplace design can have a significant effect on employee productivity.

To ensure that your workplace is as conducive to a productive environment as possible, you’ll need to consider the following:

Use of Color

Color is one of the most important factors in workplace design. When searching for the color that sets the right tone, blues and greens tend to be the most calming for workers. That said, fast-paced business environments and customer-facing workplaces often favor sleek, sophisticated colors such as slate gray, teal, and purple.

Zone Layout

An open room filled with rows of desks will no longer cut it when it comes to workplace layouts. Modern offices often include a variety of different zones and informal break-out spaces. As well as providing areas for informal chats, meetings, and group work, private break-out spaces offer workers a comfortable place to enjoy a change of scenery and seek creative inspiration.

Lighting

Bad office lighting can cause a number of negative health effects, including headaches, stress, eye strain, and fatigue. In contrast, natural light boosts mood and makes people more productive.

Take advantage of the natural light in your office by ditching the shades and moving your employees’ desks closer to the windows. In winter, use bulbs that mimic daylight to counteract the lack of natural light and resulting productivity dip.

Furniture

Providing your employees with comfortable, ergonomic office furniture should be a priority since they will have to use this furniture every day. Modern, attractive furniture designs can also help boost your workers’ motivation. As such, combining form and function is the best way to achieve a productive working environment.

Temperature

The US Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) recommends for indoor offices to be between 68 and 76 °F. Beyond this, you should make sure that your employees have options for regulating their own thermal comfort, such as personal fans and storage space for extra layers of clothing.

4. Insist on Regular Breaks

Understanding how to improve your processes doesn’t mean making non-stop working some kind of goal. Or that getting the most out of your employees means encouraging them to grab a sandwich while looking over sales figures during their lunch break.

In fact, research shows that taking regular breaks from work helps boost mood, improve concentration, and increase productivity. With this in mind, insist that your employees take their lunch break and any other breaks they’re allowed. You should also remind your employees to take regular screen breaks for five to 10 minutes every hour. How they use this time is up to them but heading to the restroom, getting a glass of water, or taking a short walk around the office are all good options.

Many people make the mistake of thinking that working longer hours means they’re getting more done. But the truth is, plowing away for hours on end is more likely to lead to a burn-out than a breakthrough. If you’ve ever found yourself stuck on a problem or all out of ideas, taking a break is also a great way to overcome this kind of mental roadblock. But, it has to be a physical break as well as a mental one. You need to get up, move away from your desk, and do something completely unrelated to the task at hand.

To ensure that your workers are able to have the same kind of physical break from their work, you’ll need to provide them with somewhere for them to head to when they’re relaxing. Whether it’s a basic kitchen or a break room with a pool table, the important thing is that it’s a separate area that they don’t associate with work. This physical space between your worker and their desk will then allow them to decompress and disengage from that work mindset. They’ll then be able to return to their desk and get back to their work feeling refreshed and energized.

5. Stop the Meeting Madness

There’s no doubt that it’s vital to connect with your employees and keep track of projects. But you don’t need to hold tedious two-hour meetings with entire teams to catch up on everyone’s current progress. Likewise, a schedule riddled with meetings means few opportunities to achieve the state of deep concentration necessary for more demanding tasks.

To cut down on the amount of time wasted in meetings, consider whether the main issue is too many meetings, too many unnecessary attendees, or meetings that run on for too long.

One of the best efficient strategies to tackle all three issues is to define a clear and attainable goal for each meeting. For example, rather than holding a general marketing meeting, you might call a meeting to analyze the current email marketing campaigns. Each specific meeting goal will then enable you to divide your employees up by teams, projects, tasks, or otherwise based on whether the meeting focus is relevant to their role.

As a result, your employees will have fewer meetings eating into their schedule each week. And, with fewer attendees and a clear meeting goal, it’ll be easier to streamline the discussion and finish the meeting faster.

Another smart tactic for cutting down on meeting time and increasing engagement is to hold standing meetings. This practice stops attendees from getting too comfortable and tends to keep meetings short and to the point.

6. Encourage Smart Task-Management Methods

Stopping the project you’re working on to answer a quick email and getting distracted. Leaving more difficult tasks until last and then watching them bleed into other days. Attempting to multitask and end up taking longer to do less…

These all-too-common workplace scenarios are some of the many ways that task mismanagement is costing your productivity. But how can you and your team stop them from happening? Here are some efficiency strategies that you could encourage:

Monotasking

Juggling a few small or easy tasks at once might seem like a way to clear your schedule faster. Well, it’s not.

As MIT neuroscientist Earl K. Miller stated, “multitasking is not humanly possible.” In reality, multitasking means switching between tasks at a rapid rate. But this switching decreases our productivity, saps our creativity, and increases our error rate. Explain the importance of focusing on one thing at a time to your team and make monotasking your new workplace mantra.

Email Response Slots

One way to avoid multitasking is to stop letting emails distract you. Of course, for certain roles, such as sales, responding to emails straight away is a must. But for most roles, blocking off emails to respond to at a specific slot in the day could be a big time saver. For example, your employees could devote the first and last 15 minutes of their day to email responses.

Alert Awareness

We’ve all pushed big tasks aside because we’re not confident that we’ll accomplish them. But coming back to them later in a busy day can mean we don’t have the time or energy to do them justice.

Understanding when you feel most alert and motivated is key to getting these bigger tasks done on time. While for many people, tackling these first things works best, someone who’s not a morning person might prefer to wait until after a few coffees. Your role in this is to encourage your employees to be more aware of when they personally feel most alert and show them how they can best use this energy.

Work for 90-Minutes

A great way to increase your productivity and harness the power of regular breaks is to work for no longer than 90 minutes at a time. When the 90 minutes is up, go for a walk, use the restroom, or grab a coffee. Working in 90-minute bursts encourages more efficient processes thanks to the way it aligns with the ultradian cycles that control our high-frequency brain signals.

Try These Ways to Achieve a More Efficient Workplace

As these tips show, creating an efficient workplace means recognizing which practices aren’t working for your team and looking for ways to improve on them.

This could be as simple as cutting down meeting times and finding new tech solutions. Or, it could be as involved as a complete office overhaul. Either way, keeping your employees motivated and engaged should be your main goal as their leader. Because a happy, well-managed team is an efficient team.

Looking for more inspiring insights and handy tips? Be sure to check out our other blog posts for all the latest how-to guides, recommendations, and online tools!

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