A study from Microsoft suggests that 40% of the time, when a worker has been interrupted, they don't return back to work right away. You've heard some form of this, right? There's another statistic that's floated around for years that says when a worker is interrupted from a task, it takes them about 20 minutes to re-acclimate to what they were doing.
Do we really need studies and research to tell us what negatively affects worker productivity? As business owners and managers, you know that providing work-life balance for your staff is always a challenge. You care about workplace culture, you want your employees to look forward to coming to work every day -- yet you also need to get stuff done.
We'll take a look at the biggest time wasters at work, along with ideas and considerations to improve productivity, brought to you by our sponsor, Dell Small Business.
What are the biggest time wasters at work?
- The internet
- Social media
- Instant messaging and chats
- Noisy and chatty coworkers
- Too many meetings
- Poorly run meetings
- Lack of clearly defined tasks
- Lack of workflows and processes
Step 1: Change productivity with tech
With so many distractions, where do you start and what do you do?
Change starts with identifying and isolating habits that lead to a loss of productive time, such as answering emails or responding to social media posts. Here are some of the ways that you can help your teams be more efficient without micro-managing their every move.
- Add a second monitor; one for current workspace and the other for managing side conversations and conducting online research.
- Create a standard meeting template that requires a meeting facilitator, scribe to take notes, timer to make sure meetings start and end on time.
- Encourage workers to block out time on their calendars for focus-work time.
- Institute meeting-free zones every day or a meeting-free day once a week.
- Use a web-based project management tool so workers know what is expected of them, when tasks are due, and who needs to be informed during their progress.
- Get conversations out of email and move them to a collaborative digital workspace, such as a company-managed intranet or a web-based productivity tool.
- Empower staff to use signals when they are not to be disturbed, especially if you have open work spaces. A hand-printed "please do not disturb" sign can deter even the chattiest of workers.
Step 2: Provide tools to help your employees focus
There are things that you can use, built into your operating systems, to help lessen distraction time and keep employees on task. You don't even need to look anywhere else to install these helpful tools.
For one, Microsoft's Edge browser on Windows 10 features "Reading Mode," which helps clear distractions and helps readers and workers focus only on the important items at hand. Sometimes, you can do this without any technology at all and keep employees from being distracted by using old-school solutions like signs, keeping office doors closed, wearing headphones, or a selection of other helpful actions.
Productivity levels can also be proactively managed by helping to lower stress levels. Research from Towers Watson has confirmed in the past that employees suffering from high stress levels tend to have lower engagement and miss work than their other coworkers who aren't dealing with as much of it. Slowing things down and focusing on positivity, taking time for self-care and even making sure employees are well-rested are all important factors.
When it comes to ensuring everyone's needs are properly met in the workplace, you have to consider just about every angle, and these are some of the most important when it comes to operating small businesses.
Improve your workplace with Dell today and visit dell.com/businessdeals for more information and ideas on how to keep your employees hustling, bustling and productive.
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