Productivity has been one of the major hot button workplace issues over the last year as employers and managers have struggled to ensure employees remain productive while working remotely and while dealing with the many complicating factors associated with the pandemic. These include juggling competing work and family responsibilities, job creep and feelings of emotional exhaustion from all that has been going on.
Despite the above productivity drains, people are still entirely capable of getting a lot of productive work done throughout the day, as long as the conditions are right. Below are 6 employee productivity tips and tools.
Tip: Focus on Job Satisfaction
A lot of research has gone into the link between job satisfaction as a function of recognition and acknowledgement and productivity. While it is certainly not a one to one correlation and some people remain productive regardless of the work environment and the credit they get, if you want a critical mass of employees to feel encouraged to do their jobs well and make good use of their time, they need to feel that they are recognized for their work.
It is important to establish these kinds of employee recognition programs, especially in the era of remote work, because there are often not enough opportunities for coworkers and managers to give each other the kind of social capital that prosocial and high functioning workplaces are based on. Having rewards and peer recognition platforms can also allow for better interdepartmental collaboration and relationship building because it allows people who work together from different and often disparate parts of the organization to share and give credit to each other in ways that they might formerly not have been able to take advantage of.
Tip: Work in Sprints
While different people have different bandwidths for productivity, the point is these limits are real and once they are reached, output suffers. The common response to this reality is to have people take regularly scheduled breaks to avoid overwhelming themselves and so that they maximize their productivity throughout the day. The corollary to this, however, is that work should be done in scheduled segments as well.
Productivity experts often talk of productivity “sprints”–dedicated short bursts of productive time where we get solid work done followed by recharge periods. The science would seem to dictate that most people work much more productively over short periods of time like this rather than trying to cram as much work into working hours as possible. There are apps that allow you to set up a spring schedule, or you can simply use your phone’s timer and set it to however many minutes you feel are appropriate for your sprint.
Tip: Eliminate Unnecessary Notifications
Another important tip for boosting productivity is to get to the root of much of our distractedness: our phones. How many times have you been just about to enter the flow-state only to have the immersion killed by a ping, vibration or other flourish from your phone. If you want you and team to remain productive, particularly while working from home and the much greater temptations that exist there, then you need to encourage people to exercise self-discipline and turn notifications off.
Obviously, it is not always going to be practical to turn off all notifications, and people rely on their phones to stay on top of their work in many instances, but if you don’t need to be beholden to WhatsApp, Facebook, Instagram and any other non-work-related application, going into your phone settings and temporarily turning them off makes it far less likely you will be distracted.
Tip: Make Your Workspace More Productive
This is particularly important for remote and hybrid teams. A lot of our ability to be productive depends on what kind of environment we are working in. Disorganized surroundings, for example, tend to lead to disorganized thinking, which is certainly not conducive to productivity. There are several ways you can create a productivity friendly workplace, including keeping a space clean, making sure it is open layout and not claustrophobia-inducing, personalizing it, adding some plants and giving yourself some privacy if you live with family or roommates. All are important.
Tool: Website Blocker
A website blocker is something that many workplaces install on employee hardware but, if you are serious about improving productivity and don’t like the idea of babysitting your employees, you can always recommend that people make use of their own website blockers during working hours.
There are many free browser extensions that allow you to set which websites you don’t have access to during certain times. If you find you or your team is wasting too much time during the day on social media and news sites, making them unavailable during these hours can force you to concentrate on what really matters.
Tool: Zapier Zaps to Slack
One of the major downsides of remote work is that many people now work asynchronously with some or all of their coworkers, which means there are communication lags. If you have team members in different time zones, productive work is often complicated by time differences.
A good way around this that will help improve the flow of information and therefore productivity is to make use of Zapier’s ‘Zaps’ integration tools that allow you to sync important collaboration tools like Google Drive and Trello with Slack so that each time you make an update to a document, the relevant Slack channels are automatically notified. You don’t need to go out of your way to let people know about these updates because they get a message right away.
The problem with the productivity mantra is often that so many different sources and experts have their own takes on what constitutes productive work and the best ways to go about achieving it that you can lose the plot trying to implement this and that new measure.
A less chaotic way to go about it is to stick to what has been tried and true since well before 2020 while also incorporating some of the new digital era tools that make productive work much more attainable. Keep in mind the above productivity tips and tools for you and your team and give people the incentives and the work environment they need to stay working hard and working smart.