How to Eliminate ‘Busywork’ And Unlock Workplace Productivity

by Tiffany Bloodworth Rivers on May 9, 2018

Is your workplace truly productive, or just busy? There’s a big difference.

A workplace where employees are so busy they barely look up or stand up from their desks may look productive, but it could be a sign of real trouble.

For instance, here are a few things employees likely aren’t doing if they’re too busy juggling “urgent” tasks:

  • Focusing on more important priorities that will have far greater benefits on your bottom line
  • Collaborating with each other to achieve better results
  • Bringing new ideas to the table that could give you an edge over your competitors
  • Taking pride in their work and experiencing fulfillment

While employees are ultimately responsible for setting priorities and managing their time, workplace leaders can lighten the load by creating an environment that minimizes “busywork” and encourages greater workplace productivity.

That’s something our channel partner, Buildingi, does exceptionally well. Here are their top tips.

5 Tips For Unlocking Workplace Productivity

1. Adopt A Flexible Workplace Strategy

We’ve all experienced this: You spend two hours trying to figure out how to solve a problem in isolation, and after a 10-minute conversation with a colleague, the path forward is crystal clear. An office design that encourages collaboration can also improve workplace productivity. But before you start tearing down all the walls in your office, consider this: a workplace that’s too open can just as easily have the opposite effect.

If it takes 15 minutes for an employee to regain their focus after a disruption and that same employee is interrupted for just 10 minutes four times a day, that’s almost two hours of lost productivity each day!

These interruptions take their toll. In one one study, 54 percent of high-performing employees said their office environment was too distracting.

Get the best of both worlds by adopting an activity-based working environment with open space for collaboration and quiet spaces for deep, focused work.

Other flexible workplace strategies that encourage employees to work from home part of the time can also improve their focus.

2. Automate Manual Tasks

Employees spend about a quarter of their week—more than one full day—on repetitive, manual tasks like entering data and creating reports according to Smartsheet’s 2017 State of Automation Survey.

Giving them access to technology that automates manual tasks like creating reports and inventory tracking frees them up to focus on more important priorities—like analyzing all that data and using it to make smarter business decisions.

3. Reduce Reliance on Email

Email is another huge time suck.

The average employee receives 200 emails each day, checks email 15 times a day and wastes up to 2 ½ hours reading and responding to email.

You can encourage employees to set boundaries by only checking email at certain times during the day and applying filters to their inbox so they can focus on the most important ones while ignoring the rest.

Another way to help: Send fewer emails!

Here are a few ways to reduce your workplace’s reliance on email:

  • Use communication tools such as Google Hangouts or Slack for quick conversations
  • Use app-based workplace technology for other functions like submitting service requests
  • Avoid long email threads by using tools like SharePoint to share documents and collaborate on projects

4. Eliminate Silos With Integrated Workplace Technology

Having to compile three different variations of the same information for three different department managers is a surefire way to kill productivity. Using an integrated workplace management system (IWMS) increases visibility into key workplace data like space utilization and assets.

Changes are updated in real time and are easy to view in dynamic dashboards so you won’t have the HR, IT and FM teams all asking the same questions each time you onboard new employees.

5. Call In the Experts

Sometimes the best way to identify workplace productivity killers is to have someone else point them out. Just as a marketing director might hire an agency to help them create a marketing campaign that yields results, executives and workplace leaders should consider hiring a workplace consultant to evaluate their business processes and technology. They can make recommendations to use your office space more efficiently, automate manual processes and more, potentially saving hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Consider a large corporation with 1.5 million square feet of real estate in Seattle. For a company that size, improving space utilization by just 5 percent results in a savings of $500,000 over five years!


Having the right technology and the right expertise in your corner is like a one-two punch, knocking out busywork and unlocking workplace productivity. That’s why we’re proud to partner with workplace consultants like Buildingi. Located in Bellevue, Wash., they offer workplace consulting as well as a full range of technology implementation services. Ready to take your workplace productivity to the next level? Learn more about our partners and find one near you.


Tiffany Bloodworth Rivers

Tiffany covers leadership and marketing topics and enjoys learning about how technology shapes our industry. Before iOFFICE, she worked in local news but don't hold that against her.

Capterra Ratings: ★★★★★ 4.5/5