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23 Ways to Improve Office Productivity Levels



Any business knows that productivity is key to growth, let alone staying afloat. Whether you are talking about a production line, a traveling salesperson, and yes even your office space; productivity is going to be the main driving factor which will allow your business to not only stay in business, but also experience growth year over year, month over month.

Here we are going to describe 23 ways to improve office productivity which will in turn allow you to realize higher profits, more output, and less money being wasted to lost productivity. First on the list? Improving office productivity through computer applications:

improving-office-productivity  

1. Productivity applications for the office

Let us start the list off with one of the easiest ways to get started with improving productivity in the office through applications. While every department and even individuals may require a different application, getting some office productivity software applications for certain tasks that will make others jobs easier will make them be able to get more done and stop wasting time on tasks that could be solved through technology. For example, the marketing department may need a tool to help them analyze the market. While the support team might find relief through a program that makes support easier for them. On top of all that, typical organization and file sharing tools can make everyone's life easier too in (more likely than not) everyone's day to day tasks. 

2. A "nightly routine" for work

Okay, okay. We don't mean require that employees go home and plan out their day to follow. Instead, we are suggesting that you allot just 10 to 15 minutes at the end of each persons day to allow for planning on the day to come. This will allow people to get everything off their mind and avoid forgetting things. This also has a benefit of allowing your employees to go home, get their mind off of work, and come back feeling much more refreshed the next day. On top of this, it allows everyone to set and have clear objectives for everyday instead of coming in and trying to figure out then what they should be working on. 

3. Allow for more breaks

Science proves that taking more breaks allows us to be more productive. How does that work if we technically will have less "work time" by taking all these breaks? It gives us time to collect our thoughts, time to let our mind roam, and even some time to talk and bounce ideas off of others. So, instead of making employees hate working because you limit them to one break a day; let them take a short one every hour or two and watch the ideas and productivity outputs increase! 

4. Clean up... everywhere

Not only should you be organizing your desk, but also the entire office. A cleared out area allows for a clear mind to work at much higher levels of clarity. Whether you have a cubical office design or a more open concept; requiring all areas of the office to be clear on either a weekly or daily basis should be a must. Sure, not everyone likes to clear. But, if you give employees 10-15 minutes to clean their area at the end of every day I'm sure most people will be happy to do so (especially if you explain it is part of your initiative to improve productivity in the office)! 

5. Schedule in time for emails

Some people have a habit of checking their email every 10 minutes while they are waiting for someone important to get back to them. In reality, the likelihood of them replying back right away even if you get back to them quick is slim. On top of that, it seems down right desperate. By implementing 2-3 time periods (again, depending on the department) that people should check their email; you will end the constant refreshing of email pages by a lot of your work force. This allows people to get back to work and pay much more attention to their work at hand. 

6. Upgrade your lights

There can be multiple things wrong with your lighting system that might be throwing off people in the office. First of all, if you have fluorescent lights then you might just have a few (or a lot) of lights in your office that flicker or even worse, buzz. This can cause eye stress, annoyance, and a general distraction. On top of that, you may have either an under-lit or over-lit office. Both are bad, and it's up to you to find the optimal light output for your office. This can be done by surveying employees on your lighting system and going from there. Lastly, low quality light can be an issue. An easy way to not only improve the quality of light but also get rid of flickering and buzzing light issues is by upgrading your office lighting system to LED. This will not only get rid of all of your problems related to your lights, but since LED are so efficient they will additionally reduce your energy usage by up to 30% or so. Sounds like a win-win situation here!

7. Plant some plants

Want to improve productivity and happiness throughout your office? Have limited window views to the outside world? Or even worse, overlook a highway with no plants in sight? Planting some beautiful plants around the office can be a great way to improve the vibes in your office, and thus the effectiveness of the work you output. Not only will they help with productivity, but they will also clean the air of toxins which will keep the air fresh and not-so-stuffy. 

8. Rearrange the office

Stop making it so difficult to get around. Make it easy to get to the bathroom, to the trash, or even to an outlet. Time is money, and if people are having to spend time just to get to the most basic things you aren't setting up your office for success (literally). Using office design to increase productivity can be difficult, sure. But it doesn't have to be all that complex. You could even get some people together to brainstorm what could be done to best optimize the space you have to best serve efficiency in the office. So while there will never be the "best office design for productivity" hack or tip (due to all offices being different), you can always use some general guidelines and common sense to help you out. 

9. Cut down on the noise

Wherever the noise may be coming from, while it may not effect everyone it may be effecting some people. Now, this can be an easy fix if the noise is coming from within the office. To solve this issue, all you need to do is address the area of concern and fix it. But, what if the noise is coming externally on a frequent basis? Well, you can do either of two things. Firstly, you can try to address or confront the external noise producer and see if there is anyway for it to stop at least during your time of work. If that doesn't work, then you might need to install sound proofing technology into your walls. This can get pricey sure, but you've got to weight the benefits of having less noise in the office versus the cost it is going to be to make the upgrade. 

10. Make meetings quicker

Although you might think that you won't be able to get everything in if you shorten meetings, you would be mistaken! In fact, having shorter meetings make them much more focused and thus; more productive. Even if you have two meetings over one a week because they are shorter, it is much better to have two 10 minute meetings over one 30 minute one that lacks purpose. On top of that, do you really need to have a meeting? Or, are you just holding meetings to "have a meeting?" If it is the latter, try scheduling meetings only when they are needed, rather just out of habit. 

11. Motivate with pizza

Looking for ways to motivate the office into getting stuff done? Bribe them with pizza, not money. Studies show that it is in fact true that pizza is a biggest motivator than money is. Of course everyone wants (and needs) a raise especially to keep them feel wanted; but instead of only giving raises why not give out pizza? It's a lot cheaper over the long run and you will more likely than not have less people request for raises all of the time! 

12. Give everyone a "go away" sign

Might sound crazy, but giving everyone a sign that tells people to "go away" or that they are busy is a great way to eliminate those intrusive interruptions. If you want your office workers to be laser focused, you've got to give them every reason in the book to achieve a high level of focus. One way to do just that is by giving them the room to be able to tell everyone in a simple way that they are in a focused place and thus, should not be bothered. 

13. Offer a healthy snack bar

Keyword there is healthy.   Healthy snacks give us the energy (and good energy) to keep our levels of focus at the proper levels. Not only does it have short term benefits, but it also gives the long term benefits to employees of realizing a better state of health which will show in their work. So, whether you offer a snack bar already or not; try introducing a healthy way for employees to get a munch in during the day to avoid those unhealthy snacks more often.
 

14. Bring a dog to work day

A dog can be an awesome way to bring some life to your office. It can be a great way to get you to be more active, social, and friendlier vibes flowing in the office. This of course comes along with some consideration to others and their feelings for dogs. You've got to watch out for things like dog phobias, allergies, and even building rules. If you pass all of these, you're in the clear to start having a "bring your dog to work day!" 

15. Implement a variation of the (10+2)*5 hack

The (10+2)*5 hack was first talked about on 43Folders.com and it's a simple concept: work for ten minutes, break for 2, then repeat this 5 times (or an hour). You might say, "are you mad?! No way I'll let my employees take a break every 10 minutes." But here it out... Maybe you shouldn't implement this tactic specifically, but make a variation that works for your needs but still allows for productivity to be most optimal. And yes, there will be times when extreme concentration is required for more than 10-20 minutes, and obviously this doesn't have to be a "set in stone" type deal. Instead, make it a generally accepted practice to partake in such method of break and work balancing. (We already talked about more breaks in #3, but we thought this hack was worthy of its own). 

16. Don't promote multi-tasking

Have you ever listed a job listing opportunity with one of the qualifications as "multitasking?" If so, you've got it all wrong. In fact, you should be listing a qualifications as "the ability to be laser focused on one thing at a time." Multitasking has been proven to not be so good as one might think, and this may actually be causing a lot of issues in your company than you may think. It not only makes you not work as fast as it would if you focused on one task at a time, but it also reduces the quality of work and causes more good than bad. It can cause fact confusion, misinformation, and general issues that will lead to errors which they (or you) will have to go back later and fix. Which in return, reduce productivity and actually causes much more harm than good. 

17. Set earlier deadlines

The dread people are going to have when you tell them deadlines on tasks will be reduced is going to be tough, but if you can here us out then we are sure your employees will too. Something called "Parkinson's law" in short says that we will fill whatever time is allotted to complete a given task. Why do you think people with a 3 month deadline to get a presentation done still find themselves struggling to get it ready to go last minute? Because they will fill the entire time they are given to finish it. This goes with any task, and if you shorten the time allotted to finish tasks you will see more getting done because people will work to fill the allotted time given. This of course can be used too far and not given enough time to get things done with all the proper due diligence required. Finding a good balance of long enough but not TOO long will be difficult, but start looking into deadlines and what exactly defines how far out they get set and start thinking about setting shorter (yet still doable) deadlines. 

18. Invest in stand up desks (or attachments)

Studies show that standing will not only improve health, but it will also improve productivity. Focus goes up and thus more work can get done. This study compared those standing vs those sitting at the same job and noticed much greater levels of productivity in those who stood. Getting everyone to stand for an entire day might be hard, but getting people to stand for part of their day will improve output levels. And instead of buying all new desks (which can get expensive), there are tons of options for attachments that you can put on top of existing desks which allow you to instantly stand or sit at your desk. 

19. Stop having to go out for coffee

Do you find yourself in a situation every single day where either you or someone else in the office is going out to get coffee for others? Did you know that installing a coffee machine in your office will not only eliminate people leaving the office for coffee mid-day but it will also reduce costs (that is if the company is paying for it). Either way, it's a win-win for everyone and this goes for virtually everything from snacks and lunch. 

20. Do tasks immediately that take less than 3 minutes

When a new task comes up, instead of putting it on a "to do" list, consider how long it would take to complete it first. For every task on your list, the more your mind will be clouded with thoughts about everything you need to do and when you will do it (even if it is on a subconscious level). Instead of adding everything to the list, for any task that would take less than 3-5 minutes, do it right then in there. This will clear your to do list and clear your mind of all these small little tasks that you would have put onto a list otherwise. Do small, easy tasks instantly when you come across such easy and quick tasks (and tell everyone in the office to do this too)! 

21. Make the workplace fun

Nothing puts people off from getting a lot done more than resentment towards an awful manager. Instead of keeping those who bring the fun office vibes down, identify the trouble people and either talk with them or figure out another solution. The last thing you want is a bunch of upset employees that hate their job because their boss sucks. And if you are the boss, well; are you no fun? If so, lighten up! If not, all the better.. 

22. Air pollution has no place for the office

A study on call center workers showed that pollution in the office reduced productivity levels. As you can imagine, pollution is a major issue in a lot of places, especially in bigger cities. If opening the windows is not an option, getting a some good air filters will get rid a lot of the toxins in the air. Likewise, there are also certain plants that will take out a lot of toxins in the air naturally. 

23. Acknowledge top performers

Letting those who go out of their way and over the top should not only be acknowledged, but rewarded as well. Us humans will repeat those habits that are rewarded, and if we are never obtaining any sort of reward after doing very well; we will slowly lose that attitude and slowly do less and less. The same goes for bad habits, if we are rewarded for doing nothing we will continue to do just that, nothing. Now, you don't have to go give them a raise every time a worker goes above and beyond, but you could do something as simple as letting them know you see what they did and thank them for it or even buy them some food. If their work is over the top in the long term, you might want to consider giving them a raise too!  


Final thoughts
Implementing just a few of these tips will prove to give back a positive ROI through boosts in work output in the office. Sure, you don't need to do everything on this list and these tips are surely not in any specific order. Instead you should look at your own office and it's situation and focus on the tips that will most greatly improve your office and its flow. The worst thing you can do is try too many at once, that will just get you unfocused (and less productive)!   Before you go, we'd like to ask you one thing for you to share in the comments down below for others to see and discuss about: "What is one productivity hack for the workplace that you know to work?"

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