Productivity translates to time well spent, and for many of us, when productivity is down, it means decreased sales, ROI, or tasks completed on time. Building up a team’s momentum, especially for small business, is vital to the health of the company.
There is hope, though, for less-than-optimal productivity. In her article in Entrepreneur magazine titled “How to Create a Productive Workplace”, Catherine Clifford provides us with a series of points that will help grow productivity for you and your people. Take a moment to see what she has to say, as well as some of our own time-tested remedies to sluggish results in the workplace:

1) Create a Productive Environment

One of the first things to consider when your team is performing at less-than-optimal speeds is their comfort level. For starters, is your team always wearing jackets/sweaters/snowsuits? It may be time to dial up that thermostat a little bit. On the other hand, if your people have fans blowing constantly, and the office has a lingering essence of perspiration, you should probably cool things down just a tad. The overhead spent on keeping your workspace in that mid to upper 60’s will pay for itself in increased productivity.
  Now that your team is comfy indoors, be sure to provide a view of the outdoors. According to studies done on office space productivity, a view of the outdoors can dramatically increase employees ability to get work done. Those confined to cubicles or interior only views were less apt to wrap up projects in a timely manner.

2) The Right Tools Drive Productivity

It may seem like a basic concept, but providing your people with the right tools will help them get the job done efficiently. Sometimes it means dipping a bit deeper into the pocketbook, but providing things like laptops and dual monitors will give your team an edge they can use to multitask and get more done in less time.

3) How to Stay Productive With Social Media

It’s a fact: social media is alive and thriving. Whether on a minimized window, on their cell phone, or hiding on a page in their tablet, your employees are more than likely actively logged in to any number of social platforms throughout their day. The knee-jerk reaction is to make a blanket statement and ban all social media use. While there is merit to this policy, access to social media can help break up the day, and in some industries provides valuable access to information relevant to the work of your employees. Before making a house rule about social media, consider some of the values in it. If it becomes a regular issue, of course, certainly be sure to nip it in the bud earlier than later.

4) Time to be Productive

There are marked, clear-cut times of the day when we humans are most productive. Once 11am rolls around, we are running at full speed, all cylinders firing. After the 2-3pm hours, we tend to dial down and lose some of that momentum. Capitalize on those peak hours; assign the more “heady” tasks in that midday range, and the less critical jobs for those softer hours in the early morning or late afternoon.

5) Create a Productive Culture

The way you raise a family dictates what kind of family they’re going to be; will they be hard workers? lazy? malicious? kind-hearted?  Picture the type of “family” you want your workplace to house, and get after it.
You are in charge of building that culture of productivity…starting with ownership by your employees. Give as much autonomous responsibility to your people as you can; you have a goal in mind, but let them get there by their means, not necessarily yours. This will build a culture of trust and ownership, and your team will find themselves doing “their” work…not feeling like they’re doing your work.
You also want to be conscious about hiring employees who are great to be stuck with for years to come. When I was in retail, I was hired into a supervisory role by our regions district manager. He told me “experience in the field only goes so far. At the end of the day, what we need are people that others want to invite out to grab a beer with.”  

Once you have that team of fun people, make sure your team has time to actually have fun together; plan a periodic “out of office” trip or outing, dinner, or visit to work-related site, such as manufacturing plant or salesroom…somewhere they don’t get to see on a day-to-day basis.

6) Be a Productive Leader

“As the leadership goes, so goes the people”. Successful leadership will dramatically increase productivity…if you are actively leading. Being a passive leader, or simply just seeing yourself as a “supervisor”, may mean you end up with less engaged employees, who don’t have clear cut expectations. Stay in constant communication, as much as possible, with your employees, and never invalidate their frustrations, fears, concerns, etc. You should be approachable at all times, and make sure everyone feels they are an integral part of the team.

If you’re having productivity issues, it may take a while before you find those breakthroughs that move your company forward, however if you take time and make the changes noted here, you will see an increase in the mood, comfort level, and overall drive to succeed…and of course, if all else fails, resort to free coffee….