It’s not enough to recruit and hire the best talent for your company. You also have to make sure that each team member has the tools to succeed.
For example, your efforts to make great hires will be wasted if people discover that they can’t contribute meaningfully due to workplace culture issues. For example, if colleagues treat them rudely, or their job responsibilities aren’t quite clear, or there’s no clear path for them to advance, a sense of frustration will set in quickly and impede the progress they could be making. That’s why we at The Receptionist take workplace culture so seriously.
However, even when employees feel invested in the company’s success and enjoy coming to work each day, they still need the time, space, and tools to do their work as well as they possibly can.
Paving the way for employees’ optimal productivity doesn’t necessarily require futuristic nap pods or other huge investments. In many cases, you can boost productivity at work simply by being more conscious about minimizing interruptions and respecting employees’ personal approach to their work.
Here are five steps you can take to boost productivity, starting today.
Consider a permanent work-from-home policy
Many companies that may not have been ready or even interested in taking their workplace remote have now found themselves operating that way out of necessity due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
There are certainly downsides to going fully remote, but most employees value the flexibility that occasionally working remote can give them. If a remote work policy is implemented correctly, it can make employees much more productive.
First, employees may find that working from home saves them an hour or two of commute time. That’s a significant boost in available hours for most people.
Plus, a good work-from-home policy can also cut down on employees’ stress from their personal life, which can help them work more productively. (For example, if employees know that they can work from home on the days that their child is home sick or on the days they need to wait for a contractor, they won’t be distracted and stressed trying to make alternate arrangements to take off work. This kind of flexibility may be more likely to stay with your company for the long term.)
But beyond those benefits, employees may find that a traditional office can be much more distracting that a home office. Each environment may have distractions of its own, of course. But as your employees become more experienced with remote work, having the option to choose which environment works best for them will lead to their getting better work done.
Provide quiet spaces in the office
As we just mentioned, some employees will be more productive working from home than in the office. But others may now be dealing with additional family members who are also trying to work from home and/or kids who are learning at home. That can make the home environment too distracting to be productive.
Other employees simply prefer to get out of their living space to get their work done.
For that reason, many employers plan to continue to offer some sort of physical office for their local employees, especially as they look ahead to the days after the coronavirus pandemic.
If you’re one of the employers who will continue to provide physical office space for employees, make sure that your office has plenty of dedicated areas where employees can work without distractions — visual, auditory, olfactory, or otherwise.
As we wrote in our post Why Your Employees Need Quiet Spaces at Work, all employees desire a mix of social time and solo work time throughout the day. If your office doesn’t have individual offices with doors for employees to shut to signal that they don’t want to be interrupted, you may want to try adopting an activity-based design. In this type of office, employees can move back and forth to private areas and social areas as they need to throughout the day.
Instate reasonable expectations for response times
Even with a great office and a flexible schedule, it will be difficult for employees to get into a zone of deep focus if they’re expected to be available throughout the day to answer colleagues’ questions immediately.
In that case, even if they physically remove themselves from other colleagues, they’ll still have to contend with a ringing phone or pinging email and chat notifications.
It’s up to managers and other company leaders to create a culture where people aren’t expected to be available at all times. Depending on your office’s needs, you can designate acceptable ways to indicate whether you’re available — such as by setting a status icon on the office chat app.
Managers can also simply explain that they expect employees to check their messages at certain minimal intervals — such as once a day, each morning, or every few hours. (Some software programs, such as Slack, allow users to change notification settings so that messages are delivered at those intervals automatically, as well.)
Plan meetings carefully
Just as notifications and interruptions can hurt productivity, so can scheduled meetings. If employees are scheduled to be in meetings throughout the day, they may find that there’s not enough time in between those meetings to get into the flow of productive work.
Along those same lines, if employees are asked to attend meetings during the times of day when they’re generally the most productive or when they’re usually in the middle of a daily routine, it can throw a wrench in their productivity.
At The Receptionist, we make an effort to hold meetings on a regular schedule so that everyone can plan around them far in advance. We’re also sticklers for having an agenda for each meeting so everyone can be prepared and not waste time — and to stick to that agenda faithfully so we can be sure to respect attendants’ time as much as possible.
We explain more of our best practices for meetings in the post Best Practices for Efficient Meetings.
Eliminate common office distractions completely
Another way company leaders can show they care about their employees’ ability to concentrate is to eliminate other unnecessary distractions from the office environment. Ringing phones, noisy equipment, or wandering office visitors can all make it difficult for employees to get the uninterrupted work time they need.
In many offices, it’s not uncommon for workers to have to stop working to accept packages and meal deliveries, or show a confused visitor to their host, for example.
You can eliminate these distractions by using a visitor check-in app like The Receptionist.Company leaders can show employees they care about their ability to concentrate by eliminating unnecessary distractions from the office environment. Click To Tweet
The Receptionist leverages the power of an easy-to-use, tablet-based kiosk to keep visitors from wandering into the office. They can sign in using a customized process and even contact their hosts directly from the tablet.
However, in a more sanitation-conscious age, the virtual receptionist has even more benefits. It can help you cut down on unnecessary person-to-person contact in the lobby area, and it can even allow visitors to check in without touching anything but their own smartphone.
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