Improving the productivity of your business — and your employees — is undoubtedly one of every small business owner’s biggest goals. But did you know that your workplace itself might actually be undermining your staff’s productivity? Here are five ways your office could be keeping your employees from doing their best work.
Solutions to Productivity Problems
1. There are too many distractions. If you have an open-plan office, it can be a big contributor to distractions — but it’s not the only one. In the most recent Staples Workplace Survey, 38 percent of those working in an open office say the layout causes distractions; however, 28 percent of those who work in traditional offices say the same thing.
According to one expert who studies the needs of high-performance employees, it can take up to 25 minutes to recover focus after a single distraction. Clearly, if your office is full of distractions, it’s damaging productivity.
Noise is the number-one distraction for employees in the Staples survey. There are plenty of ways to reduce interruptions from noise — if an open plan office is dear to your heart, consider getting employees noise-canceling headphones. You can also set up “quiet zones” where employees can go to do more focused work, or “noise zones” where employees can congregate to chat, make phone calls or hold meetings. Use carpeting and wall coverings to muffle noise from office machinery or equipment.
2. There are too many meetings. The average small business is far less meeting-prone than the average corporation — but as your business grows, the number of meetings you hold are likely to grow, as well. Perhaps employees want to call meetings to announce their importance or you have customers who insist on meeting in person to discuss every little thing. Try limiting meetings only to those that are absolutely necessary; holding meetings on one day of the week; or holding longer, less frequent meetings.
3. Your office layout is poorly designed. Whether you’re dealing with a funky grouping of rooms or you simply aren’t using your space to its best advantage, you could be sabotaging your employees’ productivity. For example, are the employees whose jobs involve frequent printing seated on the other side of the building from your printer? Is the person whose job requires lots of focus seated in a high-traffic area where she’s constantly interrupted? Look at your layout with a fresh eye and think about what you could move, remove or add to streamline employees’ workdays. (One former employee of mine was much more productive — and happier — after we moved her desk from its original location a few feet from the men’s restroom.)
4. Your office equipment and technology are outdated or poorly maintained. The copier that constantly jams, the computers that regularly flash the blue screen of death — equipment that’s not in good working order eat up valuable time and also frustrate your employees. Think of upgrading and maintaining your technology as an investment in greater productivity; it’s one that will pay off quickly.
5. There are personal issues. Working near someone who’s upset or angry is one of the most common distractions employees in the Staples survey mentioned. Whether employees are fighting with each other or struggling with personal or family problems, intense emotions definitely distract them from getting work done. Be sensitive to your employees’ moods and interactions. If two teammates aren’t getting along, work with them to help resolve the disagreement. Problems between co-workers can affect more than just those directly involved.
By being aware of these common office problems and taking steps to remedy them, you’ll go a long way toward boosting your employees’ productivity.
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