Each company knows the true value of productivity. Hardly any business can achieve success without keeping optimal productivity levels across the enterprise. Although there are universal best practices for maintaining high productivity rates, you can’t simply “copy and paste” business strategies without regarding industry specification, location, available resources, etc. These must be adapted to your unique company needs and current performance state in order to be effective.
Our experience working in a bespoke software development company taught me that productivity guidelines begin on a macro level, affecting the whole company culture. Dreamix is aware of the bigger picture and the direction we’re headed towards. Still, the their members are also given the freedom for self-organization on a micro-level to find the best individual ways to boost their personal productivity.
If you’re looking for tips to help you increase productivity in the office, below are some of the most proven techniques that actually work in practice:
Cultivate a Great Company Culture
First and foremost, every company nourishes unique values and promotes different personal traits and community functioning rules. A friendly, open-minded, and even adventurous team spirit is connected to higher energy levels and more productivity. Of course, there should also be written and institutionalized guidelines that serve as a starting point for all team members to organize their work. A powerful goal-setting tool to promote productivity in the office is to write down specific OKRs (Objectives and Key Results) to support business growth.
A well-established goal should not be vague such as “Start a YouTube channel” or “Improve SEO” as these don’t possess clearly defined objectives. Rather, you as a manager or CEO should strive to always set SMART goals because only after you know what the real goal you intend to achieve should look like, you can take realistic steps towards its achievement. According to this popular acronym, goals should be Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound.
Promote More Autonomy
If you work in the IT industry you probably want to reach even higher employees’ productivity levels. As a competitive industry, there is a constant demand for skillful professionals eager to learn and improve. Luckily, there are high chances that almost everyone working in the IT sector is a keen learner, who wants to gain new knowledge and be up to date with the latest tech trends.
For this to happen, your company needs to invest in continuous education through books, seminars, workshops, or online courses. This guarantees that your employees never stop learning new things and constantly upgrade their professional skillset. Don’t forget that your team is your most powerful asset and for optimal productivity, employees need to be engaged in tasks they have a genuine interest in and help them thrive on both personal and career levels.
Also, when you choose to delegate tasks or projects to others, employees interpret this as a sign of trust and recognition of their capabilities, which is essential for their motivation and productivity. There are various ways to promote autonomy. Start small and increase individual’s responsibilities step by step after they’ve achieved success in other projects. You can still assign senior-level professionals to monitor the junior ones and try and offer them chances for taking up new initiatives besides those included in their job description.
Organize the Workspace
As a business owner or a CEO, after you’ve arranged enough responsibility and promoted individual autonomy across your teams, one more thing you can influence is the physical office environment. What does your workspace look like? Cluttered rooms and desks tend to drain productive energy, while open and spacious offices with fresh air help promote analytical thinking. This on the other hand can significantly affect productivity because our brains are inevitably affected by outside stimuli from our surroundings.
In an office setting, make sure you organize the workplace so that it promotes collaborative engagement as this will increase communication and bonding time among the employees. That is the design intent behind nowadays popular open-plan offices. Although there is the risk of overspending time in socializing with colleagues rather than doing actual work, it is still important that the office looks inviting and aesthetically pleasing.
This is not only valid for when you’re physically in your office but also while most of your employees work from home. Encourage your employees to organize their home office desks and keep them neat and clean. Additionally, you can consider purchasing standing desks for the office, when everyone returns to work on site. Standing desks are linked not only to health benefits but also to enhanced focus and increased brain processing power and as a consequence, yes, productivity.
Prioritize Tasks Properly
To be able to identify key focus areas on your daily or weekly schedule is essential for your productivity as it can have a great impact on the way you manage your time and cover all important tasks. A simple plan for the day can provide you with the necessary guidance. While you mark each task in your checklist for the day as completed, your brain receives releases the hormone dopamine, which is linked to motivation, pleasure, and productivity.
For example, if your company follows Agile practices like Scrum, developers probably have daily team meetings and organize retrospectives after each sprint. Exactly during the retrospective is the ideal moment for the team to prioritize tasks for the next sprint phase. During the retrospective, the 4Ls technique can be practiced, when team members jot down what they Loved, Longed for, Loathed, and Learned from the previous sprint. Other possible discussion topics are what went well, how could the process be further improved to prevent bottlenecks etc. Exchange of feedback and ideas so they can continuously improve as a team and boost their internal productivity.
Take Regular Breaks
In early 2021 chances are that your company is probably still working remotely. Little is known about the real long-term effects of extended social isolation periods and we can only make predictions about what will our world look like when the pandemic is finally over. However, as a business owner or manager, there are still things you can do to improve your employees’ productivity if they feel less productive because of the isolation.
One of the most basic ones is to assure employees that it is okay to rest when overwhelmed and stressed. When both work and personal life happen at home, at some point it can lead to exhaustion and high accumulated stress levels. A recent study claimed the ideal work-to-break ratio to be 52 minutes of focused work, followed by 17 minutes dedicated for rest.
The idea is to indulge in short but frequent breaks because of the physiological brain urges to function in spurts of high energy that last approximately an hour. After one such high-intensity productive phase, the brain switches to low energy functionality lasting between 15-20 min. So if you haven’t tried this time blocking technique for optimal concentration, try it out and see if it will also affect your performance and productivity.