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7 ways to help your employees be more productive at work

Few things are more frustrating than not getting things done at work. The workplace should be a center for people to move their work forward. But distractions, poor working environments, and lack of resources often stand in the way of employee productivity.

The result? People do less work of quality and spend too much time looking for meeting rooms or a distraction-free space. Here are seven ways your workplace team can unblock your people from the stuff that prevents them from churning out their best work.

What does it mean to be productive at work?

But first, let’s get on the same page about productivity in the workplace. What’s that even mean? Productivity is usually thought of as getting a large amount of work done, but it’s actually more than that.

When employees achieve true productivity, they not only get a lot done, their work is of high quality and they waste little time completing it. Productive employees tend to be more engaged at work, feel more satisfied with their jobs, and have higher morale. 

Workplace productivity criteria

So productivity is not just about how much work your employees do. Enabling a productive workforce decreases employee turnover that can cost your company one-half to two times the salary of its lost employees. Now that we agree on what employee productivity is, let’s see what your workplace team can do to enable it. 

1 – Remove workplace obstacles

Employees often spend too much time trying to get the right workplace resources to do their jobs. For example, employees might spend the first 10 minutes of a meeting looking for a conference room. More communication and oversight of these resources can remove obstacles that prevent productivity.

What you can do:

Manage workplace capacity to ensure people working on-site have access to the workspaces they need. Set clear guidelines for how to use meeting rooms, such as establishing a minimum occupancy for larger meeting spaces. Finally, be sure to prevent workspaces from being over-booked and under-used by using room scheduling software that’ll help employees find and book a room that suits their needs.

2 – Build a connected workplace

According to Asana’s Anatomy of Work Index 2021 report, employees switch between an average of 13 apps 30 times a day—fragmenting communication and reducing their efficiency. Integrating workplace technologies helps employees do more work and ensures your organization operates with more agility. 

What you can do:

Collaborate with your IT team to integrate new workplace technologies into your existing tech stack. Audit existing technologies to ensure your organization isn’t spending money on redundant, underutilized tools. Evaluate your tech stack at least twice a year with input from IT and your employees to make sure people have what they need to be successful.

3 – Provide your people the best technology 

Accessible and reliable technology is a big reason people choose to work on-site. But when technology is hard to use it can be frustrating and time-consuming. Even easy-to-use technology can put people off if they think using it will be cumbersome and more trouble than it’s worth. To maximize the ROI of your technology purchases and get people to see its value, be sure to invest in user training and adoption.

What you can do:

Create a culture of training your employees to use new technology. Empower people to use the workplace to the fullest by holding quarterly tech trainings. Consider holding office hours each month to answer questions about workplace technologies. Finally, keep a book of best practices in each meeting room so people can easily self-serve and troubleshoot issues if they come up. 

4 – Create the optimal physical environment

To enable employees to do their best work you should build a range of space types into your workplace. This way, whether people are on-site to do collaborative or heads-down work, they’ll be able to find the optimal environment for their needs. Another factor to consider is space management. People will get more work done when they’re not worried about getting sick. Thoughtful space planning will help employees keep a safe distance while working on-site and focus on the things they came in to do.

What you can do:

Ask employees how they want to use the workplace and match the appropriate space types to their needs. Once you know this information, you can begin to manage your space to suit these requirements. Be sure to provide a mix of spaces in the workplace. Include collaboration spaces, informal meeting areas, and quiet spaces. Consider whether it makes more sense to assign people a permanent space to work or a temporary space, such as hot desks. You may even have a mix of both. Designated team zones and huddle spaces are other space types to consider. 

5 – Give employees more autonomy 

Lots of studies (like this one) have shown the link between autonomy and productivity. One of the best ways to provide people more autonomy is by giving them a say in when they’re at the workplace. It may not be realistic to let employees set their own schedules. But you can create workplace schedules that offer flexibility in where people work, so when they do go into the workplace they’re more intentional about how they spend their time.

What you can do:

Your team should ask itself: what’s the maximum number of people you can have at the workplace at once? What people or departments need to be on-site and when do they need to be there? Will this schedule support our employees’ desire for flexibility? Read our post on how to create employee schedules that enable flexibility. 

6 – Support employee growth

Opportunities for personal and professional growth keep employees motivated and engaged at work. As we mentioned earlier, these are important factors to boosting productivity. While employee growth may traditionally be the concern of HR and management, workplace teams play a key role in enabling it. The workplace can be a hub for activities that help employees maximize their potential.

What you can do:

Collaborate with HR to empower your people to use the workplace in ways that support them beyond work. Create an active workplace where people can participate in activities like company-wide skills workshops and regular one-to-one skills exchanges. This will help build a workplace culture of learning and growth, and amplify the investment in educating employees. Encourage participation by reminding employees about events in all-hands meetings and on Slack.

7 – Create a transparent and feedback-oriented culture

Finally, the best way to know whether your workplace is meeting the needs of your employees is by asking them. This will help your team understand what it can do to build a workplace people can go to do great work. It’ll also engage your team and get them more excited about developing solutions for your people. 

What you can do:

Formalize a process for collecting employee feedback. Be sure to provide more than one method for people to share feedback. Give employees clear direction on the kind of feedback you need. And don’t forget to remind employees on a regular basis to share feedback. To learn more, read this blog post on how to create an employee feedback system.

Most employers recognize that productivity and engagement go hand-in-hand. And many even see the connection between a productive workforce and retention. But too often, employers accept lower productivity and high turnover as the norm when it doesn’t have to be that way. By trying out some of the tips above, your team can build a workplace experience that supports employee productivity, morale, and retention.

Read our ebook, How to build a people-centric workplace experience, to learn how to create a workplace that’s flexible and centered around the people who matter most: your employees.