Productivity – it’s constantly at the back of the mind of every business owner and manager. With good reason: Its impact on the bottom line and its connection to office morale are indisputable. So why do so many work places still struggle with it?
Simply put, implementing and running a productive business is not as easy at it seems. As the leader in temporary, virtual and shared office-space solutions, Metro Offices has spent decades being home to thousands of businesses. We know a thing or two about how the best of them keep work output and quality – and worker satisfaction – high. We’ve gathered, assessed and pared down to just the best several ways to get productivity to a maximum.
Think carrot, not stick
Some managers thrive on instilling fear in their staff – fear of upsetting a client, fear of a salary or commission cut and/or even fear of losing a job. Most of us are familiar with managers and bosses like these; they’re generally the ones whose companies we leave as soon as we possibly can.
While the ‘stick’ method of encouragement may work on a few individuals, chances are it will fail on most. Instead, stay positive and ensure that your managers stay positive, too. Praise for good work costs nothing, and it goes a long way. In a 2013 survey of employees, 83 percent reported valuing recognition for workplace contributions over any tangible reward or gift. So the next time one of your staff pleases a client in a presentation, catches an error in a report or otherwise impresses management with his or her work output, praise him or her. Don't assume it wouldn't mean anything, or worse, that someone else in the office probably already said something. After all, if you’re right and somebody beat you to it, the worst that could happen is your employee getting praise from multiple people. And that’s not exactly a day ruiner.
Use available technology to be as flexible as possible
Earlier this year several large companies’ decision to call remote workers back to physical offices made headlines nationally. The reasoning: Getting everyone back in one place increases ‘agility’ and – you guessed it – productivity. But does it really?
Workers and contractors value the option of virtual work – so much so that many say the option means more to them than higher salaries. And there’s a clear and direct link between worker satisfaction and productivity. In fact, many people report getting more done in less time at home or in a shared, more anonymous office space, where they have fewer distractions than they would in a traditional work setting (think coworkers stopping by to tell you about their three-year-old’s birthday party the previous Sunday).
These data points offer an easy solution for businesses: They should use existing technology to their advantage. And they may well save some money in the process. Shared and temporary office space, such as the many convenient locations we at Metro Offices offer in the Washington, D.C. area, allow workers to come and go as needed, using reliable, high-speed wifi, comfortable, outlet-equipped workstations, beautifully appointed conference rooms and various other amenities that are not always available at traditional offices. Often the use of such high-end spaces is far more economical than paying the overhead associated with multi-year office leases.
One of the arguments most frequently used against remote working is, “I need my people here for meetings.” Not anymore, you don’t. Numerous dependable, high-quality video-meeting options abound. Google Hangouts, Zoom and others are easy to use and give offices the option of ‘gathering’ employees for real-time discussions across states, countries, continents and time zones.
Establish – and maintain – truly open lines of communication
This point goes hand-in-hand with our first. Employees aren’t likely to take their questions and concerns to managers who use threats to motivate them. Instead, they’re likely to seek out help from others (who may not have as direct a line of sight as the manager into the issue at hand) or worse, keep silent and proceed with their work confused and unsure of their work product, to say nothing of their emotional state. This leads to wasted time and quite possibly poor output -- both top enemies of productivity.
Rather than create the breeding ground for this scenario, invest the few minutes a day it takes to cultivate an atmosphere of caring and openness with your employees. If someone feels comfortable enough with you to ask a question about a big report mere minutes after first being briefed about it, answering that question for them may well save your business untold hours of future work -- and costs -- correcting inaccuracies.
Sometimes, forget about productivity
Let’s face it: In our work-hard-play-hard culture, if you’re not stressed out, you’re not working hard enough. At least, that’s the perception. Counter this fallacious thinking by making de-stressing activities a part of your business’ culture.
Reserve a half weekday every month for a fun group activity designed to let everyone blow off steam. Take your employees for a couple of hours of mini golf and pizza, for example, or go bowling and pick up the tab for everyone's beers and wings.
Or, if everyone’s remote and in different cities, ask them all what they’d like for lunch and for the name of their favorite local takeout joint – then order their meal and have it delivered wherever they are. Whatever you choose, it needn’t be expensive or even very frequent. But it should be done at regular intervals so that employees have something to look forward to and know that while the reward is a ‘work thing,’ it isn’t tied to their performance and they aren’t expected to meet a goal or benchmark in order to get it.
While it may hurt to think about the ‘lost hours’ of work and extra cash these de-stressing activities will cost, resist the urge to host them during people’s private and/or family time. Sorry, but no matter how fun the activity, nobody wants to do work stuff on a weekend. (It’s just a fact, like the unfortunate connection between the holidays and weight gain.)
And one more thing: Make shop talk off-limits for the full duration of each outing, or let your workers eat their complimentary lunches in peace. They’ll have earned it, and ultimately, the business’ productivity will show the payoff.
Looking for a great shared, temporary or virtual office space in the Washington, D.C., suburban Maryland and Northern Virginia areas? Metro Offices has just what you need. Browse our locations and their amenities here.