The standard corporate definition of productivity usually refers to getting more done in less time. And strategies like streamlining your meetings or investing in technology are common solutions.
But smart business owners are going beyond making processes more efficient. They’re looking at factors that affect an employee’s entire life, at work and home.
There are many outside-the-box productivity strategies that are as effective as process efficiency. Here are some you can put in place today.
1. Offer Time Off
When people work hard for a long period of time, it can become tiring and even boring. This eventually leads to burnout, when employees lose interest in their job and their productivity plummets. That leaves you in a difficult position and you have to decide how you’re going to approach someone that’s burned out and not an effective worker.
In stark contrast to what most business owners believe, giving your employees paid time off boosts productivity, creativity, and quality of work. It’s been found that employees are more productive when their boss takes a vacation, so even your own time off is a win-win for your business.
2. Keep Mornings Open
According to Duke researcher Dan Ariely, the two most productive hours in our day are the first two hours after we've become fully awake. Unfortunately, we spend most of that productive time engaged in low-cognitive tasks. Instead of producing, we're commuting to the office, checking social media, or prioritizing the day’s work.
Encourage employees to focus on the next day’s tasks before going home for the day. That way, they can get straight to work when they’re at their best. And help them keep mornings open by avoiding scheduling long morning meetings. Instead, use shorter stand-ups for early hours and schedule longer meetings after lunch.
3. Use Smart Office Design
Employee workspace is a big contributor to raising and lowering productivity levels. A common culprit is temperature — being too hot or too cold distracts workers. But aside from office climate, other design elements like layout, color, and design contribute to productivity. Many of these design reboots are inexpensive alterations that don’t require complete remodels or knocking down walls.
Think about the color of your walls. The right office colors can boost creativity, happiness, and productivity. Think strong, primary colors like blue, red, and yellow. A change of scenery — whether painting the walls or upgrading the decor — can transform a dull office into a bright, refreshing workspace.
Offices that promote productivity also facilitate transparency and communication. That’s why many modern offices have dispensed with cubicles and opened up their spaces. But too much transparency can counteract your intentions. Noise levels increase, privacy drops, and distractions increase. Strike a good balance. Create a space that’s open, but with private areas for meetings, customer calls, or face-to-face chats.
4. Embrace Remote Work
One Stanford study showed that remote workers get a productivity boost from the benefits of working from home. Remote workers were less distracted, took shorter breaks, had fewer sick days, and took less time off.
The flexibility of remote work helps create a good work-life balance. It reduces stress for parents and caretakers with responsibilities that cut into work schedules unannounced. Plus, working from home means less commute time.
Employees working remotely can also customize their office spaces — personalized desks and chairs, noise levels, room temperatures, etc. These personalized creature comforts make it easier for employees to work for longer stretches.
But one of the disadvantages remote workers face is loneliness. Therefore, make sure you schedule regular in-office visits to help employee and team interactions.
5. Hire for Cultural Fit
Hiring for a cultural fit versus skills gives you a boost in retention and productivity. Nothing tanks team morale and motivation faster than a co-worker with the wrong attitude. Strong skills can raise productivity, but if a new hire alienates team members, it counteracts the gains. And when bad new hires take leadership positions, it means double trouble for your productivity.
Start with your own company values. If you haven’t already, document and share them with your current employees. Then listen to their feedback. Next, use your values to plan your future recruitment efforts. Include them in job descriptions to weed out prospects. Your values should also inform your interview questions. Along with work history and skills, ask candidates questions that reveal the values you’re looking for.
You Produce More Than Products and Services
Remember: you and your employees generate more than earnings reports, service calls, and widgets. You “produce” your company’s culture, job satisfaction, personal connections, a sense of ownership, pride in your work, and your company’s reputation. These intangibles are as critical to your company’s success as what you actually sell. Use this broader definition when evaluating strategies to improve productivity. Find ways your employees can make their work and home lives better, and you’ll reap the benefits.