Any successful business or project requires a great plan and talented, hardworking people to make it happen. But workplace productivity, the ultimate effectiveness of your efforts, greatly influences how far and fast you can go. To maximize productivity, you need a clear plan for what and how things need to happen to achieve a certain goal.
Prioritizing a productivity strategy takes time, patience and flexibility. From KPIs to motivation and even physical wellness, there are many ways to be more productive.
What can a business do to improve its productivity?
Business productivity is directly related to how engaged a person is with their work and their employer. A recent study from Harvard Business Review shows that people work harder when someone is watching and showing appreciation for their efforts. It’s up to managers and company leaders to create a setting that’s motivating enough to keep people focused.
This has become especially important with remote work. It’s critical to develop plans that engage employees both at the office and from home. The more you can capture the attention and interest of your team, the better shot you have at boosting productivity.
10 best ways to improve business productivity
Without a clear blueprint for success, no company can keep its employees consistently productive. Here are 10 of the top tactics for maximizing effectiveness.
1. Keep things simple
While having a productivity strategy is key, it doesn’t have to be elaborate. Creating a simple, focused plan with clear steps and outcomes helps people stay on task and sets them up for success. Map out SMART goals with specific, achievable tasks, so everyone knows exactly what to do.
2. Set reminders
Smart calendars and reminder apps like Todoist track what needs to be done on specific days and times, so your brain doesn’t have to. More importantly, you can integrate them with collaboration tools like Slack that let you organize by channels, topics and teams. Set major milestone alerts and notifications at the team level and have individuals set their own tasks within the same channel for more granular items.
3. Review goals daily (or at least regularly)
Setting goals is one of the most important parts of any business strategy. But they mean nothing if they aren’t consistently being reviewed and revised. After establishing clear goals, make sure everyone has a way to check progress daily. If daily doesn’t make sense in a given scenario, set realistic expectations, like sending weekly progress summaries or responding within 48 hours.
4. Minimize time-wasting activities
Whether at home or in the office, countless things can steal our attention away from work. Successful managers know this and tee up ways to combat the worst of them. Here’s how to avoid some common productivity killers:
- Meetings: Limit the number of meetings you have and who attends them. If a meeting is absolutely necessary, it should have a clear, focused agenda, time limits by topic and end as soon as there’s a resolution (yes, we want our 15 minutes back!).
- Emails: There are many faster ways to get or share information than email. Send a quick Slack message or DM, launch an impromptu video chat or (gasp) pick up the phone. Connecting directly through real-time tools is almost always more efficient.
- Coworkers: While you always want a good rapport with colleagues, there’s a time and place for personal conversations. Provide opportunities for people to have lunches together, offer video happy hours, create topical chat channels and encourage other activities to connect outside of work time.
- Lack of organization: Disorganization forces people to waste time looking for what they need (see: 5,000-email inbox). Beyond clean desks and well-labeled folders, organizing digital workflows can dramatically increase productivity. For example, managing teams through Slack allows you to search conversations by channel, share files within projects, pin important docs for faster access and launch meetings all in one place.
- Social media: According to GlobalWebIndex’s “2021 Social Media Trends” report, people spend an average of nearly two and a half hours per day on social media platforms. Have a policy in place that clearly states when it’s OK to use social media and when to focus on work.
- Procrastination: We all do it. The best way to prevent it is through clearly stated deadlines and accountability. Every person who has a due date for their project should have someone following up with them, ensuring that the target is met. You can also use goal-tracking tools like Coach.me or ATracker.
5. Use productivity apps
Technology can be our biggest help and our biggest distraction. When used for good, apps can significantly boost business productivity. Some of the most popular productivity apps include:
6. Motivate your team
One of the most difficult (and important) business growth strategies is keeping your team members motivated. The “how” might be different for just about anyone you ask. So it’s crucial to have a clear understanding of what’s most important to each person you work with.
Finding a balance between intrinsic and extrinsic motivation is key to reaching the productivity sweet spot. Intrinsic motivation promotes self-reflective benefits that make a person want to be successful for no other reason than their own personal satisfaction. On the flip side, extrinsic motivation provides external rewards for good behavior and reaching goals, like extra vacation days or a company party.
7. Avoid multitasking
Many people claim to be great multitaskers, but in reality, it’s almost always better to work on one thing at a time. Multiple studies have shown that multitasking can negatively affect individual productivity by as much as 40%. At a bare minimum, make sure team members have a relatively equal workload. Delegate tasks by who’s best at them or willing to take them on (versus always by role or title). Setting realistic expectations also minimizes the need to juggle too many things at once or to put in minimal effort.
8. Offer a wellness program
Wellness encompasses physical and mental health, both of which can improve productivity. According to the Harvard Business Review, people with strong mental health are 23% more productive, and physically healthy employees are 17% more productive.
Benefits like weight-loss plans, health screenings or on-site fitness equipment are great strategies that help teams improve their overall productivity by focusing on the whole person.
9. Focus on focus
Employee burnout is a real problem across every industry. It leads to procrastination, lack of motivation and even injury and illness. A 2019 study by the journal Psychology and Health showed that vacations can improve physical health, mental wellness, cognitive function and relationships.
Encourage breaks and vacations to keep minds fresh. Offer remote work options to cut down on commute fatigue. There are so many ways to maintain strong communication with your remote team while improving business productivity.
10. Hold one-on-one meetings
It’s hard for some people to openly communicate and share their ideas in the workplace, whether with their boss or their peers. To foster inclusion, set up collaborations with members of your team. Schedule regular in-person meetings or video chats to discuss workload, goals and struggles with the mission of improving overall performance and experience.
Which strategy will help your team improve business productivity?
Ultimately, better productivity starts with business leaders providing achievable frameworks for success. It’s important to figure out what motivates teams and individuals, from setting reminder notifications and discouraging multitasking to offering generous vacation and wellness programs.
For more ideas and smart collaboration tools, check out the many ways Slack can boost your performance.