When you're a small- or medium-sized business, you typically have less manpower to get all your work done. This means you need all your employees to be as productive as possible to make sure you meet all your quarterly goals.
Here are some tips and tools to write into office law to help your employees make the most of every day without spending a fortune:
Tips for Creating a Culture of Productivity
1. Have a mandatory meeting-free day
It's all too easy for employees at companies of any size to get bogged down by a day full of meetings — which means you have no time to complete tangible work. Make it company policy to have one mandatory meeting-free day across every team, so all your employees have at least eight hours per week to really focus on what needs to get done. And make sure "No Meetings" really means NO meetings: no gatherings in the conference room, around desks, or on Skype, and no one-on-ones.
2. End meetings on the right note
Productivity coach Errette Dunn suggests ending every meeting with one question: "Who will do what by when?" Asking this ensures that everyone leaves the meeting knowing exactly what to do next, so you won't have to reiterate what you just discussed at a later time.
3. Always break big goals into bite-sized pieces
It has been shown by Harvard researchers Theresa Amabile and Steven Kramer that workers are more motivated by several small accomplishments than one big accomplishment. Whenever you kickoff a big project, make sure you've broken every to-do down into "small wins." Ideally, no task should take longer than one work day to complete.
4. Regularly review lessons learned
To continually improve your processes and make work more efficient, make sure every team is regularly reviewing lessons learned on their projects. Share what worked, what didn't, and decide how you will implement that knowledge for future work.
5. Train your employees in the GTD methodology
The acclaimed "Getting Things Done" productivity methodology created by David Allen is a great way for your employees to organize their incoming work and daily to-dos. The principles of GTD help workers prioritize what should be done today, defer what can wait until tomorrow, and maintain focus on the task at hand.
6. Keep creative juices flowing with side projects
When you hire team members because they are inspired, creative, and innovative, you want them to keep that spark alive. Allow them a set amount of time for "unnecessary" creation every week. This work on creative side projects for the business will help them keep their creative juices flowing.
7. Embrace work naps
A quick 15-minute snooze can be far more effective than a third cup of coffee or another candy bar. Let your workers take quick naps. If you have a spare meeting room, maybe set up a small couch and a timer, so people have a place to retreat and recharge.
Boosting Productivity with Betters Tools & Setups
8. Invest in technology that makes knowledge accessible
There is nothing more obstructive to productivity than not being able to access the files or information you need right when you need it. To break through the information silos and end the chain of "Can you send me the latest version of this document?" messages, invest in a work management software like Wrike, or document management software like Box or Google Drive. Better technology will help your team complete work faster, with fewer roadblocks between steps.
9. Cut out email for internal communication
Email is one of those tools that easily sucks us in and eats up hours of our day, without us even realizing it. To make sure your team is getting all important work-related messages without the temptation of going down the email rabbit hole, set the standard to use a different tool to communicate internally. Rely on a communication app like Google Hangouts or Skype to send critical messages to team members. If someone tries to send an email, tell them they need to move their message to your preferred communication method.
10. Delegate repetitive tasks to the robots with automation technology
Never assign a human to do a machine's job! In today's quickly-growing field of automation, you can remove a lot of your team's busy work. Apps like Zapier and IFTTT help you connect all your tools to automate work, and there are a plethora of automation software options for marketing, sales, development, and more.
11. Set up your office space for success
Add color or posters to the walls to inspire creativity and focus. Pay attention to the direction the monitors in the office are facing. If employees work facing a popular walkway, it can be distracting. Make sure people who need a quiet space to get work done have access to that space.
12. Buy productivity gadgets for the office
There are tons of new productivity toys to help workers focus in the way that suits them. Let them pick which gadgets will help them focus and feel happier at work: standing desks, productivity time tracking, elliptical desks, noise-canceling headphones, smart cushions to monitor posture, and more.
13. Stock the office with healthy snacks
Soda and candy may seem like an easy, cheap option for keeping a pantry of snacks for the office. But high-sugar foods cause crashes and ruin productivity. Spend the few extra dollars to stock healthier snacks like vegetables, nuts, low-sugar smoothies, and complex carbs that won't send your workers on a roller coaster of sugar highs and lows.
What tips & tools do you use to help your employees stay productive?
Share your best productivity tips and tools for small businesses in the comments!