The quest to improve productivity is neverending. As franchise owners and managers of your businesses, you’re always trying to do things a little bit faster and more efficiently. You’ve only got so much time and budget – how do you make the most of each day, week and month?
First of all, let’s take inventory of all the things that typically slow down the workplace:
• Cell phones/texting
• Internet surfing
• Social Media
• Snack or smoke breaks
• Noisy co-workers
• Co-workers who stop by to talk too much
• Co-workers making loud phone calls
We’ve all faced these issues in one way or another. And various methods have been employed to curb the disruptions including:
• Blocking certain Internet sites
• Prohibiting personal calls or personal phone use
• Monitoring email and Internet use
• Scheduling lunch and break times
• Allowing people to work from home
• Limiting meetings
The risk you take, though, when implementing measures that are punitive or overly restrictive is that you can wind up with a disgruntled staff. And guess what? Research suggests a lack of engagement with the job generates $550 billion in lost productivity for U.S. employers.
So what are some more positive ways to increase productivity for you and your franchise? Here’s some suggestions you can give employees (and use yourself) that will help them be more engaged and more productive:
1. Block off a room or space away from the main work area or office so you and your employees can focus on more complicated projects.
2. Read email at specific times. Many executive and organizational leaders have taken to only checking email during certain blocks of the day, so they’re not constantly responding to the pings coming from their computers.
3. Work 90 minutes at a time, then take a break. We’d like to believe that the longer we work, the more we get done. However, the average person can often only focus for 90 to 120 minutes before losing concentration and getting diminishing returns. Breaks don’t have to be a bad thing if they make your working time more efficient
4. Clean up your workspace. A cluttered desk often leads to a cluttered mind. Sometimes a clean, well-organized place to work makes people feel free to take on new tasks.
5. Set priorities, estimate timeframes and execute. One of the worst detractors from productivity is the tendency for small, less important tasks to take longer than expected and derail us from getting the big ticket items completed. Before you tackle your to-do list, make sure it is organized by priority. Make sure you have an estimate as to how long it will take. If you find certain tasks are taking longer than expected and not producing results, it’s time to redo your list.
Andy Roe is the General Manager of SurePayroll, Inc., a Paychex Company. SurePayroll is the trusted provider of easy online payroll services to small businesses nationwide. SurePayroll compiles data from small businesses nationwide through its Small Business Scorecard optimism survey, and exclusively reflects the trends affecting the nation’s “micro businesses” — those with 1-10 employees. You can follow Andy on Twitter @AndrewSRoe.