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What Is Workplace Productivity and How Can You Measure It?

workplace productivity

Improving workplace productivity is a concern that’s top of most managers’ minds.  But how can you improve on something when you cannot measure it? For the longest time, the calculation for workplace productivity has been:

Productivity = Output / Input

The resulting number from this calculation has long been treated as the most important productivity attribute.

However, managers have come to know that productivity is more nuanced than that. Since a team is a very dynamic unit, its output will always be just as dynamic, hence numerical measurement may not be practical in all cases. For instance, if you run a sales team, you know that although closing a sale is the coup de grace, this doesn’t mean that a day without revenue earned wasn’t productive. What about all the calls made, clients visited, presentations conducted, etcetera? All these tasks move a salesperson closer to their goals, whether or not you can quantify them.

By the way, just because you cannot quantify something doesn’t mean you cannot track it. We understand that sometimes teams can get sidetracked and achieve very little during calls and presentations. So next time your team has a meeting, ask them to use Aira. This AI-powered app will record everything said during the meeting. You can then sort through the recording or transcript by keywords to find out how much of what was discussed was relevant to your company’s goals. 

That said, let’s explore this topic a little more below.


What is workplace productivity and how can you measure it?

As we have pointed out above, the formula for productivity is: Productivity= output/input

The number yielded by this calculation will only tell you that a metric you set wasn’t achieved 100%. But as much happens between initial input and final output, such a number will not tell you what you need to do to get to 100%. It will not guide you to take the practical steps necessary to make any improvements.

Therefore, for any workplace productivity measurement to be meaningful, you need to have a solid grasp of exactly what changes to make to impact team output. Finding these changes requires a lot of analysis; it is a time-consuming and grueling task. But, as we’ve demonstrated, with tools like Aira, you can get the data you want to perform such an analysis. And when done right, such analysis will yield positive results.


How should you measure productivity?

measure productivity

You can measure your team’s productivity/output based on the number of accomplished tasks.

The rationale here is pretty simple. For instance, if your goal is to increase revenue, you may not get to that goal in one day. However, by accomplishing certain tasks per day, can incrementally move that needle and eventually achieve your goal. The more tasks you accomplish in a given day, the more likely you are to get to that goal faster.

Input is time spent on a task, such as a day, week, month, quarter. If you want to go really granular, you can measure input per hour.

Taken over a longer time such as a week, you start to get a clearer picture of how much time your team has spent on a task and how much output they generated within the same period. Weekly assessments of input are good because a week is long enough to give you a trend (good or bad), but short enough to not severely impact an ongoing project in case of ongoing unproductiveness.


How important is individual productivity, and should you measure it?

Just as with team productivity, time is the most important input when it comes to individual productivity. Individuals tend to waste a lot of time by spending it on distractions, routine tasks, or unimportant tasks.

Using the same method we identified above, (and yes, Aira is also quite useful here), you can identify instances of time wastage and then optimize how you spend it.


How to improve workplace productivity?

improve workplace productivity

If you need to improve team or individual productivity, here are some tips you can use:

1. Break projects into tasks and tasks into subtasks

This will make a large project seem less daunting. More so, completing one small action motivates people to complete another task because they can see progress.

In addition, when you approach a project in small bits, you can set shorter timelines instead of looking at the final deadline way into the future.

2. Prioritize tasks

Some tasks are more important than others. Discuss with your team the importance level of tasks and then prioritize which ones to tackle first.

3. Avoid multitasking

Contrary to what most people think, multi-tasking only causes you to work slower and perform poorly. This is because shifting attention from one task to another drains brain resources, causing fatigue to set in faster.  

It’s always best to finish one task, tick that one off, and then move on to another.

4. Encourage employees to work within set office hours

It’s okay to put in an extra hour or two on a project every now and then but forming a habit out of working overtime on a project can lead to overtiredness and stress.

To prevent this, encourage your team to work on tasks during set office hours. This may call for some time management training. But such training will be well worth it given the rewards that your team will reap.

5. Encourage teams to collaborate

Team collaboration begins with encouraging team members to understand and appreciate one another’s work. People tend to feel happy and positive when they feel understood and appreciated. This in turn creates a positive work environment where teammates are comfortable about interacting, sharing ideas and collaborating on projects.

6. You can also improve individual productivity by doing the following:

  1. Work on the most difficult task in the morning when you are fresh and full of energy. However, if a task gets too complicated, switch to a smaller task.
  2. Take breaks when working on an intense task
  3. Track task progress and tick off completed tasks to keep you motivated
  4. Avoid perfectionism. You will waste valuable time if all you focus on when working on a project is to deliver a perfect result every time.


Final words

Productivity is important. We get things done when we are productive. But as you have read above, improving workplace productivity takes a lot more than just understanding your output/input calculation. What counts is to first understand the metrics that matter to you, then implement changes that will motivate teams and individuals to start making their input count more.

Have a super productive day!

10 Clever Ways You Can Save More Time at Work with Minimum Efforts

save time in office

If your job is like most other jobs, you probably work with daily targets, which must be met for your day to be considered productive and also you save time for more work deliverables. In such a scenario, every second of your day counts. Procrastination, open-ended deadlines, unnecessary meetings, water-cooler chats, too many coffee breaks, etcetera, are all culprits that could keep you from reaching your targets. 

Considering that time is your most important resource, it only makes sense to find ways to save those precious minutes so that each day is more productive than the next. Here’s how you can earn extra minutes back from your day.



1. Confirm meeting agenda beforehand

Tools like Aira were created specifically to address the challenges surrounding meeting management, such as attendance and agenda planning. However, due to human nature, it’s common for a meeting agenda to balloon when attendants raise issues they feel warrant a discussion. A lot of times though, you will find that some matters can be addressed informally between colleagues.

As such, when you schedule a meeting and you suspect that it might drag on unnecessarily, touch base with attendants beforehand and attempt to address any major issues that they’d like to have on the agenda. By so doing, you will not only keep your meeting running on schedule, but you will also gather important information which you can use to reach decisions faster during meetings.


2. Create processes to avoid repetition

Have you ever found yourself handling the same query multiple times, but each time you need to start from scratch?

When you have systems and processes, you can avoid such repetition and save more time at work. For example, say you are a manager at a guest house and it’s your job to orient new guests. Orientation means dedicating time to each guest, which is not sustainable if you receive several guests a day. A better approach would be to prepare a welcome package so that each guest goes through some sort of DIY orientation.

This applies to practically every job. When you have processes that are documented and formalized, not only will things move smoothly, but in case you are away from work, other colleagues can easily relieve you.


3. Use Templates

You also need templates just as much as you need systems and processes. Templates are a huge time saver in project management, web design, reports, content writing, etcetera. A project proposal for instance always retains most of its elements. Therefore, you don’t need to write your proposals from scratch. The same goes for websites; if you can find a template that fits your website’s purpose, go with it instead of starting a fresh build.


4. Batch similar tasks

batch tasks

How do you plan your weekly/monthly tasks?

If you find multiple similar jobs on your task list, allocate them in the same block of time. You might not expect this, but when you switch from one task to another, you take a lot of time to wind down the current task and then plan and get into the next task.

You can save time by batching together tasks that need you to use the same resources (skills, tools, systems).

For example, if you need to schedule several meetings, instead of spreading such tasks throughout the day, block out some time, log into Aira and schedule all meetings in one sitting.


5. Message or call people instead of emails

Do you have an urgent issue to be solved? Call; don’t email. Better yet, get up from your desk, walk to the person you want to email and have a conversation.

If you have other means of accessing people, opt for those before you use email. It’s generally faster to call than email a person. Not to mention, you get immediate feedback when you call, and can therefore strike off that task from your list. 


6. Unsubscribe from unnecessary notifications

Have you subscribed to receive newsletters, product notifications, latest blogs, reports, case studies and more? You probably subscribe to all these services due to the fear of missing out…and you could be right. If missing an update or report will negatively impact your work, then by all means keep the subscription. However, if all you do is archive your subscription emails, it’s time to hit “unsubscribe”.

In addition, if you have multiple emails or gadgets, manage all your notifications from one email. This way, you don’t have to switch between emails and gadgets just to read notifications.


7. Turn off Popups

Popups can be quite distracting. Every time you see a popup, you have to divert attention either to dismiss it or read it.

We aren’t just talking about online popups that come up when you are on the web; desktop popups are just as distracting, and you should also turn them off. 


8. Use mailing Lists

You probably write to the same list of people every day, a few times a week or month.  Some people get a certain report, others get updates for a certain project, etcetera.

It’s difficult to hold all these people’s names in your head and even if you could, you would need to type out their email addresses every time you email them. This will consume a lot of time, even with the autofill option turned on. Not to mention, mistakes happen, and you could leave out a recipient when typing from memory.

You can solve this problem by creating a mailing list for your different groups. 


9. Use Checklists

Checklists save time by systemizing tasks and hence minimizing the amount of mental energy you spend navigating through a task.

Every task has many parts. Traveling overseas for instance involves booking a ticket (and visa where applicable), packing, booking a hotel room, etcetera.

Each of these tasks also has other smaller tasks. For instance, to pack, you might need to:

  • Pick your black suit from the dry cleaners
  • Check your toilet bag for essentials
  • Go shop for extra toiletries
  • Buy a few t-shirts on Amazon   

When you have such a checklist, you can work through the steps of getting your tasks done more easily.


10. Take breaks

Yes. You need to take a break. Whether it’s your tea break or lunch break, take that break.

Research shows that human beings are only productive for roughly 3 hours. As such, working endlessly will not get you to achieve more, but less. Taking a break is a great way to:

  • Clear your head by being outdoors
  • Reenergize with some nutrition
  • Get to know your colleagues better through conversation
  • Increase blood flow through movement



Conclusion

Busy work, meetings and repetitive processes are some of the ways people waste time at work. You also probably waste time in a similar manner without realizing it. This list is a great place to start auditing your day to find activities that waste your time and then improving on those to increase productivity.