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8 Overlooked Things That Are Hampering Your Office Productivity

8 Overlooked Things That Are Hampering Your Office Productivity

Productivity is a state or quality of producing something. Since people are not always the most stable of the beings, productivity is an elusive concept. We go to office and work there day in day out, but simply putting our time and effort without much focus does not always make us actually productive.

To actually be productive, you have to be in a stable state of mind and stay focused in your work. But that’s not always the case. More often than not, there are little factors that are dragging your work rate and actually hampering your productivity. Some of these factors are discussed in this post.

1. Noise

Putting it bluntly, any unrequired incoherent persistent disturbance can be labeled as a noise.

The office machines, chattering co-workers, nearby construction site or trains are the usual suspects when it comes to creating noise inside the office.  Though these may sound trivial, studies have shown these noises have serious implications with office productivity.[1]

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2. Temperature

Temperature is one of the most overlooked factors when it comes to creating an office environment. So it’s easy to grasp why employees persistently complain about the workplace being too hot or too cold.

It’s easy to see the picture; any place that is too hot, too cold or too humid makes the employees feel uncomfortable and reduces their productivity.

A study linked warm offices to fewer typing errors and higher productivity of the workers. The results of the study also suggested that raising the temperature to a more comfortable thermal zone saved the employers about $2 per worker, per hour.[2]

3. Light

It is a wide known fact that working in dark interferes with your eyes and decreases your productivity in the long run. But lighting has effects well beyond that: a study conducted by the American Society of Interior Design indicated that 68 percent of employees complain about the lighting situation in their offices.[3] Two of the most common complaints were that the lights in the office were either too dim or too harsh.

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While selecting lighting arrangements for your office, natural light is the best choice but consider this: an employer’s choice of lighting can have a considerable effect on the productivity of the company.

4. Interruptions

Imagine a situation where an employee is completely immersed in his/her work and out of the blue, a co-worker comes and asks him/her if he/she has a minute and then goes on to ask which color he/she should paint the nursery to? These types of situations are all but frequent in offices.

Time magazine estimates that on an average day, the workers are interrupted about 7 times an hour adding up to 56 times per day and more than 80% of time these interruptions result to mundane discussions.[4] Another research suggests that these interruptions are costing the U.S. economy $588 billion a year.[5]

Using time tracking software and optimizing employee break times can help alleviate the productivity problems due to inane interruptions.

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5. Air

Air is vital to us, yet we tend to overlook its significance. Poor quality air may lead to chronic problems like asthma and bronchitis while minor health problems like headaches, dry throat, runny eyes and respiration problems are frequent.

Research from the Technical University of Denmark concluded that poor indoor air quality in buildings can decrease productivity by as much as 6-9 %.[6] The problems do not stop at employees; even visitors tend to express their dissatisfaction if there is lack of fresh air. U.S Occupational Safety and Health Administration estimates that around $15 is being lost due to poor indoor air quality.[7]

Maintaining natural air circulation is the key. You should also strategically set up air conditioners so they can circulate fresh air with minimal amount of foreign particles being mixed in it.

6. Office Anatomy

Remember the mantra:  ‘Healthy environment creates happy employees’. Worryingly enough, the opposite is equally true as well. Unhealthy environments create dissatisfied employees. A bad office anatomy plays into the psyche of the workers and creates a mental barrier, which hampers productivity.

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A neatly maintained office anatomy helps to boost the productivity. Use privacy panels for increasing focus of employees and allow natural lights to flow in through the windows to help the workers concentrate more.

7. Tech Problems

There is an old proverb ‘Time is Money’. Consider the time you’re losing because of small tech problems like your computer crashing or the server going down. These days a majority of companies rely on evolving technologies to increase their efficiency but it’s not always the case.

Sometimes working with technology works against your favor, especially if you have little to no experience with it. It wastes a lot of your time with little development. To ensure maximum productivity, experiment with technology that you’re confident you’ll get a hold of.

8. Food

When discussing about office problems, people often tend to completely ignore the problems created by food quality. Employees take snacks during their work time. It helps to fuel their energy levels and helps them stay productive. But not all foods are good for you. A study by Harvard Business Review suggested that misbalance of glucose in sugar is bad for your productivity while consuming too much fat in your food makes you lazy.[8]

Consuming healthy snacks at specific intervals improves your digestion and smoothens your metabolic process to ensure you stay focused on your work, helping to increase your productivity.

Featured photo credit: Flickr via c2.staticflickr.com

Reference

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Nabin Paudyal

Co-Founder, Siplikan Media Group

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Last Updated on January 21, 2020

How to Increase Work Productivity: 9 Ground Rules

How to Increase Work Productivity: 9 Ground Rules

We all have those days when completing our assigned tasks seems beyond reach. With the temptation of social media, mobile games, and the internet in general—not to mention the constant bustle of people in the office—it’s easy to fall prey to disruptions and distractions at work.

So, what can we do about it? How to be productive at work?

While we don’t have a foolproof system that can completely eliminate disturbances and diversions, we do have 9 ground rules that can be applied to help give your productivity levels a boost.

Keep reading to find out our tips on work productivity.

What Does It Mean to Be Productive?

How to be productive at work?” is the age-old question plaguing employees and employers alike around the world. Regardless of where you work and what you do, everyone is always looking for new ways to be more efficient and effective.

But what does being productive actually entail?

Completing more tasks on your list or working longer hours doesn’t necessarily mean you’re being more productive. It just means you’re more busy, and productivity shouldn’t be confused with busyness.

Productivity means achieving effective results in as short amount of time as possible, leaving you with more time to enjoy freely.

It involves working smarter, not harder. It means refining processes, speeding up workflows, and reducing the chances of interruptions.

Productivity is best achieved when looking at your current way of working, identifying the bottlenecks, flaws, and hindrances, and then finding ways to improve.

9 Ground Rules on How to Be Productive at Work

1. Avoid Multitasking

Multitasking can give the impression that more tasks can be accomplished as you’re doing multiple things at once. However, the opposite is true.

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Research has shown that attempting to do several things at the same time takes a toll on productivity and that shifting between tasks can cost up to 40 percent of someone’s time.[1] That’s because your focus and concentration is constantly hindered due to having to switch between tasks.

If you have a lot of tasks on your plate, determine your priorities and allocate enough time for each task. That way you can work on what’s urgent first and have enough time to complete the rest of your tasks.

2. Turn off Notifications

According to a Gallup poll, more than 50 percent of US smartphone owners admit to checking their phones a few times an hour.[2]

Switching off your phone—or at least your notifications—during work hours is a good way to prevent you from checking your phone all the time.

The same applies to your computer. If you have the privilege of accessing social media on your work desktop, switch off the notifications on there.

Another good tip is to logout from your social media accounts. Therefore when you feel the urge to check it, you might be swayed because your page isn’t so easily accessible.

3. Manage Interruptions

There are certain disruptions in the office that are unavoidable such as your manager requesting a quick meeting or your colleague asking for assistance. In order to deal with this, your best approach is to know how to handle interruptions like a pro.

Be proactive and inform the people around you of your need to focus. Turn your status on as “busy/unavailable” on your work chat app.

If you’re on a deadline, let your colleagues know that you need to concentrate and would really appreciate not being interrupted for the moment, or even work from home if that’s a feasible option for you.

By anticipating and having a plan in place to manage them, this will minimize your chances of being affected by interruptions.

4. Eat the Frog

Mark Twain once famously said that:

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“if it’s your job to eat a frog, it’s best to do it first thing in the morning. And if it’s your job to eat two frogs, it’s best to eat the biggest one first.”

What this basically means is that you should get your biggest, most urgent task out of the way first.

We all have that big, important task that we don’t want to do but know we have to do because it holds the biggest consequence if we don’t complete it.

Eat the frog is a productivity technique that encourages you to do your most important, most undesirable task first. Completing this particular task before anything else will give you a huge sense of accomplishment. It will set the ball rolling for the rest of the day and motivate you to eagerly complete your other tasks.

5. Cut Down on Meetings

Meetings can use up a lot of time, which is time that can be used to do something useful.

You have to wait for everyone to arrive, then after the pleasantries are out of the way, you can finally get stuck into it. And sometimes, it may take a whole hour to iron out one single issue.

The alternative? Don’t arrange a meeting at all. You’ll be surprised at how many things can be resolved through an email or a quick phone call.

But that doesn’t mean you should eliminate meetings altogether. There are certain circumstances where face-to-face discussions and negotiations are still necessary. Just make sure you weigh up the options prior.

If it’s just information sharing, you’re probably better off sending an email; but if brainstorming or in-depth discussion is required, then an in-person meeting would be best.

6. Utilize Tools

Having the right tools to work with is crucial as you’re only really as good as the resources you have at your disposal. Not only will you be able to complete tasks as efficiently as possible, but they can streamline processes. Said processes are essential to a business as they manage tasks, keep employees connected, and hold important data.

If you’re the manager or business owner, ensure your team has the right tools in place.

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And if you’re an employee and think the tools you currently have to work with aren’t quite up to par, let your manager know. A good team leader understands the significance of having the right tools and how it can impact employee productivity.

Some examples of tools that could be used:

Communication
  • Slack for team chat and collaboration.
  • Samepage for video conference software.
  • Zendesk for customer service engagement.
Task Management
  • Zenkit for task and project collaboration.
  • Wunderlist for listing your to-do’s.
  • Wekan for an open source option.
Database Management
Time Tracking
  • Clockify for a free tracker.
  • TMetric for workspace integrations.
  • TimeCamp for attendance and productivity monitoring.

You can also take a look at these Top 10 Productivity Tools to Help You Achieve 10x More in Less Time.

7. Declutter and Organize

Having a disorganized and cluttered workspace can limit your ability to focus. According to researchers, physical clutter can negatively impact your ability to concentrate and take in information.[3] Which is why keeping your work environment well ordered and clutter-free is important.

Ensure you have your own system of organization so you know what to do when the paperwork starts to pile up.

Being organized will also ensure that you know where to find the appropriate stationery, tools, or documents when you need it. A US study reveals that the average worker can waste up to one week a year looking for misplaced items.[4]

Here’s a useful guide to help you declutter and organize: How to Declutter Your Life and Reduce Stress (The Ultimate Guide)

8. Take Breaks

Taking regular breaks is essential for maintaining productivity at work. Working in front of a computer can lead to a sedentary lifestyle which can place you at a higher risk of heart disease, diabetes, and obesity. Even a 30 second microbreak can increase your productivity levels up to 30 percent.

As well as your physical health, breaks are also crucial for your mental and emotional wellbeing. That’s because your brain is like a muscle, the more it works without a break, the easier it is for it to get worn out.

Ensuring you actually take your breaks can prevent you from suffering from decision fatigue. It can also help boost creativity.

Take a look at this article and learn why you should start scheduling time for breaks: The Importance of Scheduling Downtime

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9. Drink Water

Although we know we should, it’s easy to forget to drink enough water during the working day.

Many of us turn to tea or coffee for the caffeine hit to keep us going. However, like taking breaks, drinking water is essential for maintaining productivity levels at work. It’s simple and effective.

Not drinking enough water can lead to dehydration and also headaches, tiredness, and weight gain.

A good tip to avoid dehydration is to keep a water bottle at your desk as it can serve as a reminder to constantly drink water.

If you find the taste of water a little bland, add some fruit such as cucumber or lemon to give it a better taste.

You can also get more ideas on how to drink more water here: How to Drink More Water (and Why You Should)

The Bottom Line

The preceding 9 ground rules on work productivity aren’t the be-all, end-all. You and the company you work for may have other tips on how productivity is best increased and maintained.

After all, it’s something that can be perceived differently depending on the exact job and work environment.

In saying that, however, the 9 ground rules serve as a good foundation for anyone finding themselves succumbing to disruption and distraction, and are looking for ways to overcome them.

A good tip to keep in mind is that change doesn’t happen overnight. Start small and be consistent. If you slip up, just dust yourself off and try again.

Developing habits happens gradually, so as long as you keep up with it, you’ll soon start to notice the changes you’ve been making and eventually enjoy the fruits of your labor.

More About Boosting Productivity

Featured photo credit: Cathryn Lavery via unsplash.com

Reference

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