Remaining on-task and productive throughout the course of the work day can be quite a challenge at times. With internet access just a button click away, it can be incredibly tempting to spend the day checking social media websites or perusing the latest in world news. However, there are a few simple tricks that effective leaders can use to encourage their workforce to remain productive.
Leaders should encourage workers to track their productivity throughout the day for at least a week. This may seem like an unnecessary time sink, but it will allow employees to determine if there are particular times of the day when they are especially alert and capable of tackling difficult tasks. Similarly, they may notice a time that would be better suited to catching up on emails, filing, or other simple tasks. Once they have identified patterns in their levels of alertness, they can adjust their workload to maximise their productivity.
Effective leaders should also take the time to reflect on their own management style to determine if they are in fact part of the problem. Employees may be more tempted to break away from work tasks if they are overwhelmed by the complexity of their work tasks, or if they feel that their talents are being wasted. In either of these scenarios, the first step is to meet with the employee to discuss the situation. If they feel that they are stretched too thin, it may be time to assign additional employees to the project. If the problem is that boredom has set in, productivity may be restored by enriching the employees’ job with the addition of challenging tasks.
When managers notice that their employees are having trouble resisting the urge to keep their internet access related to work, it may be worth a conversation with the IT department to determine if software could be used to track website usage. Providing a concrete example of how much time is spent engaging in non-productive activities may give employees the motivation they need to limit their internet activities on their own. If it does not, the IT department may need to install website-blocking software to curb off-task internet usage.
A quick fix to combat productivity difficulties related to energy levels is to implement office-wide breaks every hour or so. Encouraging employees take a quick walk around the office, or even just stand up out of their chair and stretch, can restore blood flow and refocus the mind. If there happens to be an in-office gym, a 15 minute workout can do wonders for reestablishing productivity during an afternoon energy crash.
If restructuring job tasks or the implementation of scheduled breaks and limited internet access has not restored the productivity of the work team, it may be time to consider allowing employees to work from an alternate location. Sometimes individuals get stuck in a rut and have a hard time focusing in a space they have come to associate with stress or boredom. When an employee is allowed to work from an alternate office location, or from their own home, they often demonstrate significant increases in productivity. This often continues following their return to their typical work space, breaking the negative associations and restoring their motivation.
Senior Trainer & Consultant