4 Overlooked Ways Your Workplace Sabotages Employee Productivity

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Have you set up your workplace to support employee productivity? Are you sure?

In my latest article for Harvard Business Review, 4 Organizational Mistakes That Plague Modern Knowledge Workers, I talk about some often-overlooked factors that could be holding your employees back from getting their best results.

  1. Bad email habits. Your team needs uninterrupted stretches of time to do deep-focus work. That’s hard to get if they feel like they must constantly monitor email. In the HBR article, I recommend setting a policy in your office to call or text when something is urgent instead of emailing. The result? Less multitasking, more employee productivity.

    An open office can help or enter employee productivity, according to productivity trainer Maura Nevel Thomas.

    Open offices can hurt employee productivity if they’re not properly planned and designed.

  2. Poorly planned open offices. Open workspaces are both touted and loathed. If you have an open office, make sure employees have quiet, private spaces in addition to areas that encourage collaboration.
  3. Unhealthy food. If meetings at your office mean bagels and doughnuts and the kitchen is stocked with processed snacks, employee productivity will suffer. Providing healthier fare will keep your team off the “sugar roller coaster” and more focused on their work.
  4. A lack of support for telecommuters. More and more of us work from home, but management practices haven’t kept up with this shift. Give managers training to help them supervise workers they can’t “keep their eye on.” And help set employees up for success by making sure they have the skills they need to manage the distractions that come with telecommuting.

Be sure to read the full article at Harvard Business Review for many more tips you can use immediately to enhance employee productivity. I also invite you to search for my name at HBR.org for more tips about dealing with work email, why new personal productivity efforts don’t stick, what might be wrong with your vacation policy, and why time management training doesn’t work.

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  1. Here are 3 questions everyone should ask themselves before:

    1. What am I doing too much of?

    I was dissatisfied, but not really open-eyed, to spot that I can spend as much as 7 hours a week on e-mail. Confessedly, e-mail is how I communicate with customers so most of that time is well spent. It’s also true that checking my inbox messages frequently holds me from harming efficiency of my staff and colleagues who would otherwise have to wait for my answers to their requests. Still, I have no doubt that cutting my e-mail time to half an hour or at most an hour a day would help me by freeing that time for more important tasks. I’m going to take a try.

    2. What grabs more time than I thought?

    I was agaze to see how much time I wasted for a single not very high paying client. When I compared this time budget to the month’s revenues from that customer, it wasn’t a nice picture. On the other hand, I know this client has the opportunities to bring me more profitable work, and that the more time I submit, the likelier this is to take place. I’m going to hold a close view on how much time I spent on his projects, and keep looking for ways to make that job more effective.

    3. What I could delegate?

    The question is: Do I really need to be the one doing each of my tasks? The answer for me is “no”, and I bet it’s same for you. Let’s get back to e-mail for a minute: I spend a part of my e-mail time answering letters from PR staff who wanted me to write about their product or client. When I answer them, it’s most often to expound what kind of themes I write about or ask for specifics about what they’re pitching. I cut down on the e-mail time by asking my research assistant to send these follow ups instead of me.

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