By: Rieva Lesonsky September 28, 2016
Do you ever feel like you get more work done when you’re at home than when you’re at your business? You’re not the only one. A new survey asked employees when they’re most and least productive, and found most are less productive in the office than when working at home. In fact, more than three-fourths of employees surveyed say that if they have something really important to work on, they wouldn’t do it at the office. Slightly more than half (51 percent) would choose to work at home; 8 percent would pick a co-working space, coffeehouse or other outside location; and 8 percent would go to the office — but outside of regular business hours, so they could get some peace and quiet.
Clearly, the majority of people believe they get more done working at home, making remote work the ideal solution for maximizing productivity. But since it’s not practical for every small business to offer the option to work remotely, here are some ideas for helping to eliminate the most common issues that hinder productivity in the office.
How to boost employee productivity.
- Hold fewer meetings
Nearly 7 out of 10 employees in the survey cite “less frequent meetings” as a benefit of working from home. Assess the meetings that you regularly hold at your business and decide which ones are really necessary and which aren’t. It’s easy to get stuck in a pattern of holding a weekly all-hands meeting just because you’ve always done so — even if it’s not really that beneficial. For those essential meetings, using an agenda, setting a time limit or even holding meetings standing up are ways to keep them brief. You can also hold meetings at times when they’re less likely to interrupt employees just as they’ve gotten into the groove on a project. For example, try holding meetings first thing in the morning or right after lunch.
- Reduce distractions
Three-fourths of employees say distractions are a problem when working at the office. People who work in an open office environment are especially prone to distractions. Setting up your office with cubicles or partitions, or allowing employees to use headphones to tune out office noise, can be good solutions to limiting distractions. Hold meetings in enclosed office space so others around you aren’t disturbed by loud discussions. Set some ground rules for courtesy to help create a workplace where others can focus. For example, you might ask workers to limit conversations on speakerphones or not to play music at their desks without using a headset.
- Cut back on interruptions
Being interrupted by colleagues hinders productivity for more than three-fourths of people in the survey. Simple tricks such as closing an office door or hanging up “Do not disturb” signs can help prevent in-person interruptions, but digital interruptions are harder to prevent. If your company culture encourages employees to be “always on” and constantly checking their emails, texts and IMs, consider making some changes. For example, you can let employees know that it’s all right to focus on work for an hour or two and check messages only periodically. Choose one type of communication, such as IM, to be used only for urgent communications — that way, no one has to worry about missing an emergency message.
- Make them comfortable
More than half (51 percent) of respondents in the survey say they get more done working at home because the environment is more comfortable. Providing flexible spaces where employees can relax while working, such as a lounge area with sofas or comfortable chairs, can be conducive to focus. Many people (I’m one of them) are a lot more productive using a laptop on a couch than sitting in a straight-backed office chair. You can also provide employees with a set budget and allow them to choose their own office chairs for maximum comfort, or even give them a certain budget to purchase their own desk accessories and decor. When people feel at home in a space, they’re more energetic and creative.