How many times have you uttered the phrase, “I can’t get anything done today”? Or left the office after a long day at work with barely a single item ticked off your to-do list? It’s about this time the stress begins to mount. Instead of a restful sleep, you’ll likely lie awake for hours, determining how you can fit all of your responsibilities into the week’s remaining workdays.
This experience isn’t unique to business leaders. If you’ve noticed your team’s productivity is waning, too, there’s a good chance they’re feeling just as stressed out and overworked as you are.
The thing is, you and your employees are all putting in a full week—and many are putting in several extra hours during nights and weekends. Why is it that everyone seems to be working more and accomplishing less?
The truth is there are five productivity killers lurking in the shadows of your workspace.
Upper management professionals spend about 50 percent of their time in meetings, according to this report by Fuze, plus an additional four hours per week preparing for said meetings. That leaves just about two work days’ worth of time to spend on everything else.
Just about everyone agrees that meetings are a time suck, and when you stop to think about the amount of paid workers’ time spent in these little rendezvous you’ll realize meetings are also a budget suck.
Before you schedule a meeting, or accept an invite, take time to stop and ask yourself:
Advocates for the cubicle will tell you they promote productivity, help people block out distractions and improve focus. But the fact is, a lack of clear sightlines can actually reduce productivity.
An open office makes you (and all team members) more approachable. This facilitates communication and encourages collaboration—two things nearly every business needs. Questions are answered faster, issues are resolved more quickly and employees spend less time hunting down colleagues.
How often do you check your email? If you’re like most people, the number is somewhere around 15 times per day. That’s likely due to sheer volume—according to the Email Statistics report by Radicati, each email user sends and receives about 122 business emails per day.
Instead of stopping tasks once every hour or half-hour to check your email, schedule a dedicated block of “email time” two to three times per day. This way, you’ll have more time to focus on tasks at hand, and also have the opportunity to give each email correspondence the attention it deserves.
Everything from a poor internet connection to an outdated computer or faulty conference room speaker can slow down an otherwise agile and adept employee. And while technology, by nature, is never 100 percent reliable, you can take steps to reduce the downtime caused by a malfunction.
For example, work to better track your assets. Once a piece of equipment—such as a laptop—is nearing its end of life, switch it out. More often than not, by the time an employee comes to you to ask for updated equipment, it’s because it’s already caused problems.
Not everyone can rise with the sun and be ready to dive into work at 8 a.m., and not everyone is able to work at full capacity after lunch. People are almost always either night owls or early birds—meaning they function best at different times of the day. Forcing a night owl into an early bird schedule can mean missing out on that employee’s best working hours and failing to harness their full potential. By offering more flexible schedules, you can help employees work during the times when they’ll produce most.
As a busy business leader, it’s not always easy to pinpoint why productivity is dipping. But by paying closer attention to the productivity vampires above, you can begin working smarter and—with any luck—a little less.
Editor's Note: This post was previously published on Inc.com and has been republished here with permission.
Elizabeth Dukes' pieces highlight the valuable role of the real estate and facility managers play in their organizations. Prior to iOFFICE, Elizabeth was in sales for large facility and office service outsourcing firm.