If you work in, or manage, a busy office chances are that not everyone is as productive as they could be all the time. Here are some ways to help your staff be more productive allowing you to move your business forward.

1. Quiet desk

In a busy office, being interrupted is one the biggest causes of wasted time. Some studies show we lose up to three hours every day through non-relevant interruptions. One way to combat this is to designate a quiet desk away from the door where any team member can go to work. It must be understood that nobody interrupts someone who is working at the quiet desk. It’s also important that people get a fair chance to use the desk rather than one person using it all the time.


2. Lunch and learn

Many staff work through lunch and then have a productivity slump in the afternoon. At a lunch and learn the management provide the lunch and there is a learning slot delivered either by a staff member or someone external on a simple quick topic. For maximum effectiveness, have 20 mins of just eating, networking and relaxing then 20 mins of learning. This should make people feel more productive in that afternoon lull and they’ll have learnt something relevant.


3. Minimise repeat work

Are multiple staff doing the same thing all the time? For example, every week do more than five staff members check the same system looking at the same or similar information? Would it be more efficient for one person to do it weekly and share with the team?


4. Assign a troubleshooter rota

In some offices, the person sitting nearest the door or the phone can feel very resentful as they are always the one asked for directions/to fix the photocopier/where Jill is/what the helpdesk’s phone number is and all manner of different interruptions. Perhaps having a different person daily or weekly to be the troubleshooter will take the pressure off a single staff member.


5. Refillable water bottles

A shockingly high percentage of people are dehydrated on a regular basis; apparently, 89% of us don’t drink enough water. This can lead to tiredness and staff feeling less able to concentrate. Providing company water bottles (you can even get branded ones so, when staff take them out and about, they are advertising your brand) encourages people to drink more thereby becoming more productive and may reduce plastic waste.


6. Touch it Once

Using the Touch it Once email technique can save you hours every week. You can find out more about this in our article about email productivity, but the main principle is that you only open an email when you have time to deal with it. You should then either action it, delete it, file it or delegate it at that moment. Most people waste time constantly opening emails and then going back to them later or trying to find them again in a long list.


7. Do not disturb

Encourage staff to think about whether they need to disturb someone else to ask a question. Think about all those hours lost to interruptions. Consider how many times you’ve been interrupted for something that wasn’t really necessary or important. Train staff to ask themselves the following questions before interrupting someone else: can I find this information on my own? Is it urgent? Am I asking the right person? Is now the best time to ask?


8. Be proactive not reactive

Increasingly, people are only finding the time to get things done at the last minute and therefore not being able to dedicate time to long term projects. They are only ever reactive rather than being proactive. This means people are more likely to burn out or just not get things done properly. Effective time management should mean you build in regular time for projects with longer deadlines. Staff may benefit from a formal time management course to learn to prioritse better and feel under less pressure.


9. Streamline meetings

Studies show that each person wastes thirteen days a year in meetings that are not useful or productive. Firstly, consider whether a meeting is really necessary and who ‘has’ to be there. Can they be online or standing meetings? Consider having a weekly slot where any essential meetings are scheduled such as Wednesday afternoons. Blocking all meetings in this slot increases efficiency as time before and after meetings is often wasted and it cuts down planning time trying to find a time and day that suits everyone.


10. Get managers involved

Encourage managers to really connect with staff every day and not just with a quick hello. Find out what everyone is working on and if they need any support. Managers should then be able to get a feel for the productivity of their team and look for areas of strength and areas that need improvement.



If your staff struggle with time management or organisation, then get in touch to see how our online or face-to-face training courses could help.

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