Management Matters

6 Productivity Killers at Work – 0515B

Date Posted: 05/22/2015

Let me ask you “Are you productive every day at work?” How certain are you that your employees are productive as well?   Almost everyone is challenged by two things, time and productivity. In a typical day at the office, with your long list of agenda, I bet you will be able to only complete about 5% of all your tasks — right? Although, we are not fully aware, there are factors that affect our everyday work, productivity killers do exist and, not surprisingly, personal use of technology is one of the leading culprits behind unproductivity at work.  Behaviors of co-workers, unnecessary elongated meetings and other factors also create obstacles to maximizing performance.

Here we identify some behaviors that employers and employees say are the biggest productivity killers in the workplace and offer some solutions:

1.    Cell Phones & Texting – Smartphones have become the ultimate communication device that can find anyone at any time and might be getting people to do more while away from the office.  However,  most workers admit that they spend at least one hour a day on personal calls, emails, or texts during work.  When one’s cell phone suddenly rings or beeps, the owner immediately answers or checks it and normally takes a long time before getting off the phone.

Solution: Limit the time used for personal calls; advise family and friends to call/text only for urgent matters.  Turn off your cell phone or put it in silent mode during work and check any updates during your personal breaks.

2.    Internet / Social Media – It is impossible to work without the internet nowadays but it is also a massive distraction from work.  Based on a survey conducted, 64% of employees search non-work related websites every day for information, photos and other distractions.  Similar to the web, social media created a lot of opportunities for business, social and private life but a lot of people abuse this opportunity at work. Nowadays, social media is just one swipe away, while App notifications flash every second, completely uncontrollably making every user the one being controlled.

Solution: Block certain websites or set a time for personal browsing and spend only 15 minutes on personal emails, online shopping, etc. twice a day.  Also set a limit on social media usage at work and stick to it.

3.    Snack or smoke breaks – Quick snacks or breaks sometimes lead to longer breaks. According to a recent survey, going into the pantry and interacting with co-workers leads to spending almost 30 minutes of your work time gossiping and discussing interesting and funny stuff.  It’s OK to check in and build rapport but stop talking about the weather or a favourite sports team/singer for more than a minute.

Solution:  Taking breaks really helps in work productivity but limit your interaction with others. Use your personal breaks wisely by emptying your mind and meditating.

4.    Emails – Email is a major hit for reduced productivity.  A recent study by the University of London suggests that your IQ falls 10 points when you’re constantly checking emails.  On average, we spend 13 hours or 37% of our work week just checking emails.  Just imagine the amount that businesses lose yearly due to unnecessary emails.

Solution:  Numerous studies and efficiency expert suggest that employees turn off their Outlook email for most of the day and only check email twice a day: morning and afternoon.  Do not answer an email right away just because it pops up.  Set a time when you look through your inbox and answer the important ones first.  Developing a routine is important.

5.    Meetings – According to a survey conducted by Salary.com in 2012, 47% of respondents said that meetings were the biggest waste of time at the office.  Meetings are unproductive, if arranged too often for no valuable reason.

Solution: Avoid impromptu meetings; minimize scheduled meetings to 1 to 2 times in a week and keep them to about 30 minutes or less.   If a phone call can achieve what can be done in a long meeting, cancel the meeting that doesn’t merit the time.

6.    Noisy co-workers – Every organization has noisy co-workers.  In a survey by Ask.com, the majority of  employees confirmed that loud co-workers are the biggest office distraction.  Some employees may have a habit of taking calls thru speaker phones, co-workers dropping by in different office areas and chatting loudly.

Solution: Communication is the key. Tell your co-workers politely that you need silence so you can concentrate on what you are doing.

With all these factors identified, we should not blame our gadgets, technology or co-workers, it is still the responsibility of every employee to control and remove distractions to be productive at the workplace. Learn to organize, prioritize, avoid unnecessary meetings, communicate wisely and take less personal time during work.

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