In 30 seconds:
- A productive workplace is great for employees as well as the companies they work for, because studies show that productive workforces are happier.
- Ensuring a high level of workplace productivity requires leadership to understand the factors that affect their employees’ ability to work well.
- Factors such as the systems in place, the accessibility of information, and coordination between leaders, teams and colleagues all have a huge effect on workplace productivity.
Everyone likes the accomplished feeling of having had a productive day at work.
Businesses have a vested interest in making sure that employees are empowered to get that feeling every day, because productive days lead to higher profits – some say by as much as 21%!
Plus, if everyone is feeling great after a satisfying day at work, chances are they’ll want to do the same again tomorrow, and the next day, and the day after that… building momentum that pushes the whole company forwards.
But employee productivity can be impacted by a whole range of factors – and some are easier to address than others. Making sure that your workplace is organised in a way that avoids common productivity pitfalls is therefore important for protecting your profits and, importantly, your employee satisfaction.
What is workplace productivity? How can we define it?
When we talk about “workplace productivity”, we’re talking about the ability to get things done quickly, efficiently and to a quality standard. It’s a measure of your company’s output – and while each organisation will have a different way of defining a productive day, it’s always better to consider tasks completed rather than hours worked. Hours worked is not a good measure of productivity.
For this reason, it’s important to establish a baseline for each role, so that team members are aware of the expectations placed upon them. For some roles, applying productivity metrics might be straightforward – but for others without clear and specific daily tasks, it can be a bit more complicated. It’s still vital.
Productivity metrics provide clarity to both employee and employer – and they can be used to hold yourself accountable, as well as spot possible opportunities to boost productivity.
Additionally, I think that a large part of what we think of as productivity is actually the ability to be creative. It isn’t always about ticking off hugely impressive to-do lists, but rather about pushing through the mundane and finding creative ways to approach the business day-to-day. Engaging creatively with challenges adds to that pleasing feeling of productivity.
Why is workplace productivity important?
If we look at workplace productivity statistics, there’s a clear reason for businesses to care about high productivity. One report from Gallup shows that 85% of employees are not engaged or are actively disengaged at work, and that this leads to an approximate $7 trillion in lost productivity.
But designing your workspace and work culture in a way that allows people to do their best work is about more than just protecting your overheads. I really feel that productivity is the endorphin of the workplace. The more productive we are, the happier and more involved we feel overall.
Productivity is power!
What can affect workplace productivity?
Anything can affect workplace productivity! We’re humans, and we live in an unpredictable world. We have macro-level issues that can affect our productivity – COVID being a headline example – and then there are the more micro- or individual issues that can affect us. Everyone has different experiences and variables that can affect them, whether it’s computer updates interrupting their work, or whether a family member is unwell.
One element that can really impact productivity – for better or worse – is your workplace culture. Low workplace productivity is often a sign of low employee morale. In this way, workplace productivity and wellness are really closely linked.
There are a lot of moving plates involved in a company culture. Your vision and values, community, learning and development structures, leadership strength, processes, fairness… All of these (and more) play their part in the culture of a workplace – and if any one of those plates falls, you risk the level of productivity dropping.
There are of course other, more material barriers, too. Workplace productivity research shows that lacking the access to tools, data, and being unable to communicate with the team members you need can all lead to a significant loss in productivity over time.
Take communication, for example. You may not lose a huge amount of time over the course of a day trying to get in touch with someone, but that little loss adds up, and soon there’s a whole lot of wasted time to reckon with. One survey by Panopto found that this can translate to an average of 5 hours every week spent waiting to get in touch with people.
In order to increase productivity, leaders need to take ownership of these factors, and establish a more intuitive, transparent system that works for everyone – and a culture of openness that means issues can be raised and addressed at every level.
The Fanbytes approach to workplace productivity
At Fanbytes, we have a few ways of approaching workplace productivity in order to support and encourage our employees. For the most part, these are to do with our collective hunger to work with cool brands, and to gain more valuable experience. That kind of motivation is key.
There are no hard and fast rules, but a myriad of factors build up to an overall picture of engaged employees and increased productivity. These elements of our approach have proven successful in establishing a framework that allows everyone to be their most productive selves at work:
1. Applaud employee achievements
If you want your team to feel motivated, you need to empower them to bring their whole selves to work. That means establishing a strong and supportive workplace culture.
Failure to recognise good work when it happens will ultimately lead to an unmotivated workforce, and individuals will either suffer burnout trying to impress, or lose all reason to deliver quality work for a leadership who don’t appreciate them.
On the flipside, a supportive culture that celebrates with employees, and has the frameworks and policies in place to support them at all levels, will find that workers want to go the extra mile. At Fanbytes, we commend hard work with our ‘Fanbyter of the month’ vote (and gift), but also through celebrating their achievements on social media.
You’ll often find Fanbyters giving comments on topics relevant to our industry, as it’s important to celebrate as many of the voices in our company as possible. You’ll always see us posting about these achievements through spotlights on LinkedIn. We also make sure to encourage and empower our co-workers’ side-hustles, and we encourage Fanbyters to take part in our web series ‘Bytechats’ and share their expertise and experiences in the blog, so that they can be recognised outside of our bubble, too.
2. Find tools that work for you
Good organisation can create milestones and steps within a process that act as a checklist and support productivity – but bad technology can easily cause inefficiencies that frustrate the whole process.
I’ve recently discovered Tablerone, a chrome extension that helps to manage your open tabs. For anyone like me who gets distracted by a host of open windows but can’t bear to close (and lose!) them all, it’s a godsend for keeping everything tidy and organised.
The productivity tools and software market is completely saturated, so it’s important that whatever you do choose, you communicate it well. Whether it’s a CRM tool or knowledge hub, the key is to ensure that whatever you adopt, you do so with clarity of purpose.
As companies grow, you can see many different working systems develop. It is important to streamline your tools, so there’s minimal overlap. I’ve seen companies where there have been so many systems in place that no one knows what they all do, and it impedes communication and workflow. It also ends up costing the company extra money. That’s not to say everyone needs to know everything – some specialisms require their own tools – but if you’re using two virtually identical tools for the same task, that’s a waste.
Part of how companies can tackle this is through thorough onboarding. This is a vital part of teamwork that often gets forgotten. Teaching new team members how to use your tools takes a lot of time, but I think people underestimate how much time this will eventually save. Make sure this happens, or you will find that team members will find their own way of completing tasks – and this may take them longer, or result in duplications.
3. Try employee scorecards
The work culture that you create is different for every business, and then again for every team within that business. That’s why our employee scorecards are so useful – they clearly define the expectations of each role, so that productivity can be measured against a reliable expectation – not a general, irrelevant set of guidelines, or generic time tracking.
Every individual in Fanbytes has KPIs. That gives us a good measure of how productive they’re being, as well as an idea of team productivity. But we’re also a young business, and we’re careful to make sure that these are not too rigid and restrictive. Someone may be working really hard and making great headway on a task, but they’re not necessarily at the results stage yet. It’s important to use scorecards as a way to understand the work, but not be guided solely by them. It’s also important to consider how we account for project-based work or new initiatives, or KPIs that can be attributed to multiple individuals.
What’s important about KPIs is clarity for employees. Let’s say you recruit somebody for a new role; you have a job description that has all the roles and responsibilities, but if the work is too chaotic or they have too many priorities, they can get lost. They’ll do everything but lose sight of which tasks are more important, or start doing something they think they should do, but that’s actually not helping. Scorecards are there to help give people a helpful direction.
4. Perfect your communication
These days, communication often needs to take place outside of standard work environments, between workers who aren’t in the same physical space. This can lead to the breakdown of the separation between our work and personal spheres, and can mean we’re more tempted to continue work conversations outside of the traditional workday.
These things have the potential to negatively impact productivity, as it blurs the line between work and personal time. It’s not good for our mental health, either – which in turn can negatively impact the work. Managing your methods of communication to ensure that everyone can easily remain in contact at the right time can mitigate the issue.
After all, remote work isn’t itself a barrier to productivity. It’s actually the opposite – 77% of employees have reported greater productivity while working away from the office. So, when people aren’t physically in, it’s important that the communication they receive is helpful to them.
Slack is a great tool for communicating within teams without the need for long email threads, or encroaching into social media such as Whatsapp, for instance – and I find Notion to be very helpful for sharing company-wide information, such as guides for processes and tools.
A key example of how Fanbytes has supported remote work through communication comes from the well-being resources we shared during the latest lockdown in December 2021. This was designed to help employees navigate long stretches working remotely.
It’s not just about communication through remote work, though. We encourage employee feedback wherever and whenever we can. Our employee engagement surveys help us see what’s working, and we’ve set up monthly ‘Ask Us Anything’ sessions to help democratise conversations around how we work, and open up the floor to new ideas.
Bad communication is an obstacle easily addressed through your workplace culture, the tools and systems that you employ, and by ensuring that information is readily available when and where employees need it.
5. Lead by example
I mentioned above that workplace culture has a huge role to play in encouraging workplace productivity. A large part of this is leading through a culture of transparency and accountability.
It is important that leaders have the right frameworks in place to support the needs of their employees. We can’t always plan for every eventuality, but it’s important that we’re talking about our priorities, and employees feel empowered to ask for help. Do we offer tech support, for example? Is there a sickness policy?
It’s vital that leaders instil trust in their employees. Open communication with your workforce means you can iron out misunderstandings and help people know where they stand. How are we communicating our vision and our values? Are we being fair? How are employees being rewarded? By setting an example of clarity – and being open to criticism – we can make sure our employees feel heard, and are united in their goal. That’s going to really help motivation and productivity.
At Fanbytes, we are constantly and continuously communicating: our mission, our purpose, our macro strategy for the year – and our individual teams’ achievements. We’ve set systems in place, but we’re also open to growth: we’re flexible to adapt.
Lessons for leaders
Look at any workplace productivity examples or case studies, and you’ll find that, ultimately, workplace productivity comes down to leadership; in order to be productive, employees need to be able to have confidence in their leaders. That means keeping lines of communication open, and making sure that each team is aware of their overall purpose. Failure to recognise issues early-on can lead to problems with productivity very quickly.
And let’s address the obvious: if your people aren’t productive, your overheads will suffer.
It’s something that companies must prioritise at every level. Think of it like a race: if one person is getting far further ahead, and the rest of the team are dawdling, that motivated person is going to feel like they are missing something. They’ll stop running. Even the most conscientious worker can get slowed down if the people around them don’t have momentum.
A productive workforce, on the other hand, breeds more productivity. With the establishment of a great culture that prioritises engagement and high-performance mindsets, all levels within a company can reap the huge benefits of great work. The three buzzwords to look out for are communication, systems, and information.
Nail all three elements, and you’ll have established a fantastic company culture that has productivity baked-in.