Optimizing workplace and business operation efficiency, in general, should always be at the top priority for any business. The size and structure of the company do not matter as there is always room for improvement. There are plenty of factors that go into the equation of workplace efficiency. These aspects can be influenced upon and improved individually if need be, but work best in conjunction with one another.
In today’s saturated global market, a business needs the edge of being more efficient and productive than the competition. For a startup as well as an industry leader, a lean business process leaves a lot of headroom for future development and RND. Here are some basic principles and tips on how to make the standard 40-hour workweek as efficient and productive as possible.
Stress is pretty commonplace in today’s work environment. People are perfectly capable to deal with controlled amounts of it but excessiveness can interfere with multiple personal and professional aspects. Physical and emotional wellbeing will affect employees and deteriorate if stress is not managed properly. Not only will sick leaves and absences rise but the efficiency of the work itself will drop.
People can manage stress and relief on their own while off duty, but it is up to the employer to manage stress while at the workplace. Observing the behaviour of employees will help understand their strives, needs, wants and worries. Every person (case) is unique and should be observed and managed as such.
That is usually where HR comes into place. Organizing regular meetings with the teams and with individuals, separately will give employees a chance to discuss the difficulties they are facing and what can be done about it. Obviously, the type and amount of stress faced in a company depend largely on the type of industry and niche in question. There are plenty of ways to mitigate stress on the spot like dedicated game rooms, you fill in the blanks and custom-tailor your own experience.
Communication is the key to any successful enterprise. Without it, doing pretty much anything is next to impossible. That is why managers know how and when to employ different types of communication in order to maintain a productive workforce. Luckily for us, technology has enabled us to constantly be in contact with one another at the mere swipe or a click of a button. There is next to no delay between teams working together on the same project and wait times caused by communication overhead is brought to a minimum.
There is another side of the coin, however. One might think that communication has never been more efficient, but there is something that remote, digital communication cannot achieve. That is eye-to-eye physical contact. Humans are highly social beings that worked in groups for hundreds of thousands of years. A few decades of long-distance communication, no matter how seamless and refined, is not going to change that biological concept any time soon. Communication should be kept as personal as possible for maximum efficiency. Yes, that is not always possible, but emails take up an average of nearly 28% of employee’s time.
Second to their primary work assignments, writing emails is the most time-consuming activity in a modern company. There are buffers or compromising solutions if you will like the various instant messaging and video conference type calls. These services will bridge the gap between the not always possible personal interaction and the cold, time-consuming email writing. There is a hierarchy of communication with eye-to-eye being at the very top. If not possible, video calls are the next best thing and after those come the more antiquated voice calls. Email and instant messaging should be kept as a last resort or if there is a need for a paper trail for any future reference.
We have covered the mediums of communication, what about the content itself? Communication needs to be overt rather than covert. It needs to be goal-oriented and it is up to the higher-ups to constantly steer the conversation in that direction. There will be conflicts as in any company, and these can be turned into something good. Rather than escalating, conflicts can be moulded into some of the most eye-opening sources of ideas. After all, if there are no conflicts that means employees are not complementing one another in set teams. It could be that the teams themselves are not put together optimally, or the employees themselves are simply much alike and do not provide the collective with different ideas and opinions. On the other hand, if the team members are too far apart, there may not be able to work together in a stress-free and efficient manner. As with all things in life and business, the optimal solution is in moderation.
An individual workplace is a big part of a person’s life. It is a place where we (on average) spend eight hours every workday, some even more. IT stands to reason that it needs to be a comfortable one that an employee looks forward to arriving at. Allowing for personal items like a family photo or a small potted plant can go a long way in making it personalized to fit the individual and make him or her feel more like at home. It beats a stale, uniformed cubicle any time.
If the industry and niche allow it, do not be afraid to integrate colours and different style choices. A little variety can really spruce up the area and atmosphere as well. Another great way to increase happiness, comfort and productivity is to acquire alternatives to sitting at the workplace. Sitting is the most comfortable position for working as it has been since forever. But in the health-conscious times we live in today, it has been found that sitting for prolonged periods of time for several decades is anything but healthy. Not to say that sitting is the root of all our aches and pains, but by itself, it is.
Incorporate bean bags where applicable and standing or even walking desks. The change in position can mean the world for those that are chained to their work desks. These too can be customized with sitting or standing desk mats for additional comfort. These alternatives are readily available in today’s modern-day and age and are becoming less and less expensive. Your employees will be much more comfortable, absences caused by strain and pain will drop drastically and so will doctors appointments and stretch breaks.
Employees need to know clearly and concisely what is expected of them. Each and every one of them needs to have a clearly defined task and a deadline that need to be accomplished. Some might have multiple of them, which is fine as long as they are clear on their purpose and time of completion.
You can take this a step further and inform them of how their successful assignment will impact them and the organization. This way, they can connect their blood, sweat, and tears with the bigger picture and get a sense of ownership and accomplishment. For us to accomplish this task, we need to match employee skills with the tasks that need to be performed. This responsibility falls upon the managers to organize their workforce in a best-fit method. Personal skills and deficiencies need to be taken into account when assigning tasks for best efficiency in the collective time and effort spent.
These principles have been proven to work best when applied to each individual industry and niche. One solution might not work for a multitude of businesses, so there is a degree of thinking it through that must be conducted. Efficiency and productivity in the workplace is a goal we always strive for and is a constant process. Rather than throwing money and people at a problem or a project, we can use what we have covered here to incentivise and enable our employees to demonstrate their best. IT is not an easy task, but a lean and efficient business will pay off in the future.