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Increase productivity: 8 smart strategies that won’t hurt morale


This detailed guided outlines eight smart strategies to increase productivity in the workplace without undermining employee morale.

A productive employee usually ends up feeling satisfied with their work and the contributions they provide to their companies. Typically, efforts to boost productivity create win-win situations for everyone involved.

While you may have a physical office, there’s also a higher likelihood at least some of your employees are working from home. Regardless of its specific location, office space plays a tremendous role in overall productivity.

Increase productivity: 8 smart strategies

Here are some practical ways to increase productivity through choices in your workplace.

Urge employees to keep their smartphones muted and out of sight

Smartphones have become so popular and widespread in today’s society that many people can’t imagine going more than a few hours without them. Unfortunately, that also means smartphones have become distractions in the office space. People are so used to immediately checking their phones as soon as notifications arrive that it becomes challenging to stay focused on work.

One straightforward solution to increase productivity is to ask people to silence their phones and put them in drawers until their break times. Employees who often charge their devices while working will appreciate that some companies sell charging products that turn the inside of a drawer into a power outlet.

Consider advising people to mute their phones and keep them out of sight, but don’t enforce those practices. It’s not always practical for someone to do them, especially if a representative from their child’s school may call or they’re waiting on a hospital update about an ailing loved one.

Recognize the connection between productivity and tidiness

A straightforward reality that often gets overlooked concerns the link between workspace cleanliness and improved productivity. For example, if a person has a messy desk, they may waste time looking for documents, writing instruments and other necessities they depend on during a typical workday. However, some people prefer desk spaces that appear outwardly cluttered to others. They often have organizational systems that only they understand and that work well for them.

There’s no need to go as far as mandating that people keep their desks clean in every respect to increase productivity. However, you may make specific rules, such as that people should not leave open food on their desks overnight because it may attract pests.

Think about how your company could support tidiness, such as by providing people with storage options. Perhaps a remote worker mentioned they’re getting stuff done from a tiny space that seems cluttered no matter what. Ponder how your company could help. For example, might you purchase a wall-mounted folding desk for them or cover some of the fees they pay to use a shared workspace in the community?

Determine how the office space could reduce stress

The COVID-19 pandemic caused new challenges for business owners, whether they kept operating or had to close. Some of the obstacles proved so great that entrepreneurs faced the threat of permanent shutdowns. No matter how the situation affected your company specifically, there’s a good chance your employees feel above-average stress due to all the uncertainty. Too much of the harmful kind can significantly impact productivity.

Put careful thought into how you could turn your workplace into an uplifting environment that people appreciate as soon as they enter it to increase productivity. Consider what elements of it could help people manage and minimize their stress.

For example, you might decorate the walls with inspirational quotes that help give people welcome perspectives when they’re under pressure. Creating dedicated private areas for employees to use when they feel overwhelmed or are working on a crucial project could help, too.

Bear in mind that your remote workers may have factors outside their control that elevate stress levels, such as noisy roommates or fussy kids. When possible, provide those employees with the flexibility that lets them go off the clock to take a walk or otherwise do something that gives them a brief respite from the work environment.

Ask employees for feedback on how the company could increase productivity

Your workers will often notice unproductive aspects of their workspaces that never caught your attention. Encourage employees to reach out if specific elements of their work environments or processes make it challenging to achieve their desired output to increase productivity.

They might bring up something related to traffic flow in the building or speak up about how your method of keeping track of new business leads has several unnecessary or cumbersome steps that slow them down. Take all the feedback into account, but don’t make immediate promises about resolutions.

Bear in mind that some people resist offering constructive criticism. Even if they have valid points about how to boost productivity, they fear people labeling them as complainers. That’s why allowing people to provide feedback anonymously could promote broad participation among the employees.

Explore solutions for limiting excessive noise

Most workplaces have noises ranging from ringing phones to humming refrigerators. Although many people learn to tune out environmental sounds, keeping an environment sufficiently quiet for maximum productivity sometimes requires particular interventions.

Absorbing, blocking and covering are the three main strategies for dealing with bothersome noise. For example, materials like ceiling tiles and carpet make sounds less likely to carry through a room while creating a soundproof room could help you use blocking options. Finally, people often cover unwanted sounds with white noise machines that mask them with middle-frequency sounds that mimic moving air or water to increase productivity.

A white noise app or even a pair of earplugs could help remote workers stay productive despite noisiness. The unwanted sounds they experience will not likely be to the same extent as an average office worker trying to stay productive in the presence of dozens of colleagues. However, traffic noise, landscaping equipment and barking dogs could all disrupt someone’s focus at home.

Invest in ergonomic equipment

Body soreness and stiffness are common ailments for people who work in office spaces, but they are not inevitable outcomes. Purchasing chairs, keyboards and other products specially designed to keep the body in the proper alignment during work can prevent and alleviate these issues to increase productivity.

When researching the available products, prioritize those that offer adjustability. For example, the right chair height for one person will differ for another based on their stature. Moreover, the dimensions of someone’s desk influence how high they need to raise or lower their monitors.

Before deciding what kind of equipment to buy, ask your team members about the type of discomfort they typically experience while working. Their answers will help you confirm which items will get the desired outcomes.

Additionally, consider that products are only one part of helping people stay comfortable and ready to perform at their best. Training is another essential ingredient that may be worth revisiting. For example, maybe people are bending or lifting items incorrectly, and the improper technique causes preventable strain.

Use communication tools that discourage wasted time and movement

The beauty of instant, cloud-based messaging platforms is that people can immediately connect with their supervisors or other colleagues without talking to them in person. That reality saves time for on-site workers while helping remote teams access assistance from anywhere to increase productivity.

If your company still uses traditional communication options like telephone calls, consider if switching to a messaging platform like Slack could prove more efficient. Most services show a person’s status, so others see at a glance if they are available, busy or out of the office.

Think about getting desk accessories for your on-site staff if they work in open offices. Envision a scenario where someone needs to have a face-to-face conversation with a co-worker who is several hundred feet away. The colleague could select a specific color on an LED desktop lamp to show they’re about to go into a conference call and are unavailable to chat.

Such arrangements promote productivity because they set expectations for people. Imagine a remote team member attempts to contact their supervisor through a messaging platform to get advice on how to handle an urgent situation. They may see the person they want to reach is not yet in the office, based on their app status, and decide to contact someone else who is available right away.

See maximum productivity as a goal in progress

Even after using all or some of the tips here and making substantial improvements, remember there will almost always be other things you could do. That’s why it’s smart to periodically analyze which areas of the office space need further productivity improvements. Doing that will help you pay ongoing attention to consistently offering employees better ways to get work done and feel satisfied by doing it.

About Lexie Liu'

Lexie is a digital nomad and writer. If she's not traveling to various parts of the country, you can find her at the local flea markets or hiking with her goldendoodle. Check out her blog, DesignerToast.

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