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When it comes to ensuring that your business is as productive as possible, there’s a lot of different areas to investigate – but by far the most important is your employees. If your employees are working at a good pace, and are completing work on time, then the chances are that your business will perform well; if they’re not, then it most likely won’t.
The fact that employees are crucial to overall productivity is very well understood, which has led to the development of a number of solutions that are designed to help encourage productivity in staff members. Apps that help with time management, for example, have become a staple in offices across the world, while more and more companies are choosing to introduce employee benefits schemes or offer work incentives to help keep productivity levels as high as possible. Similarly, the link between employee engagement and productivity has also become a focus, with companies going above and beyond in order to increase engagement from their staff.
All of the options above and in The Ultimate Guide To Productivity are well worth exploring, and could be genuinely beneficial to your business – but there is an aspect of productivity that can often be overlooked: distraction.
Being able to focus on a task is at the heart of productivity and, without this ability, even the most advanced apps or most tempting incentive schemes for boosting engagement (and subsequently productivity) will struggle. If employees are simply unable to completely give their attention to a task, then that task will either be done slower than it actually needs to be, or not completed at all. No matter how engaged an employee is, or how big a reward there is for completing a task on time, if they can’t actually settle their mind to the work, it’s not going to be done.
Unfortunately, distractions are everywhere in the modern work environment. Here are the most common causes of distractions, along with solutions as to how they can be reduced:
Open plan offices may have become the standard, but they do lead to higher rates of distraction – either because employees talk to one another more, or due to employees overhearing conversations and finding themselves distracted from their own tasks.
The solution: Encourage employees who wish to converse to go to a separate area, rather than the main office itself, to do so. Also ensure that there are ‘quiet spaces’ in your office where employees can retreat if required; you can find out more about these spaces at thereceptionist.com.
Business technology problems can also be hugely distracting for employees. If a staff member wants to work, then they need their computer hardware and the business network to function as required. If this does not happen, then staff can become distracted as they have to pause their original task and seek solutions or workarounds to the issue they are experiencing.
The solution: All computer hardware should be checked and, wherever necessary, updated in order to ensure full functionality is maintained. You can also consider the likes of onlinecomputers.com for managed IT services that can proactively monitor your network and ensure that distracting downtime is kept to a minimum.
According to expandedramblings.com, an office worker will receive 121 emails per day, which means there are potentially over 100 occasions every single day when an employee has to pause a task to check and see if an email is important.
The solution: Implement a company-wide policy that email notifications should be switched off, with employees instead checking emails when they have the chance to do so rather than being directly distracted from tasks by the ping of a notification. If employees need to contact one another urgently (and thus cannot simply wait for the recipient to decide to check their emails), then they should be encouraged to call or seek to discuss the matter in person
It’s not just emails that can result in continual distraction due to notifications; platforms such as Slack and Trello can also be problematic. This is especially true given that many of these platforms are used for idle chat rather than business-related activities; a little lighthearted conversation is, obviously, fine, but in terms of notifications, employees cannot tell the difference between a notification they have to check as it is important for work purposes, and a chattier, less-time-sensitive notification.
The solution: Ask employees to turn off all notifications from collaboration tools when they need to focus updating – if possible – their status within the tool to reflect that they will no longer be able to reply. As with email, any urgent queries can be called through or addressed in person.