Can you imagine a scenario in which everyone on your team could operate at the highest level and ignore every little distraction that comes along? Sounds like a dream!
Unfortunately, this dream is far-fetched. No one can stay on top of their game 8 hours per day, 5 days a week. Additionally, sometimes it’s just too hard to ignore that Facebook notification… And when they don’t, employees immediately lose focus which they then struggle to get back for another 30 minutes.
You already know that phones, social media, news sites, and other distractions coming from the internet exist, and there are a few things you can do about them. In this article, however, we’ll focus on some other productivity killers, remote work tools, and how employee time tracker apps can help you keep them at a minimum.
How many times after a meeting did you think “This could have been an email” or “This was a total waste of my time”? Well, the truth is - your employees feel that way as well.
I’m not saying that you should ditch meetings altogether, just think twice before booking a conference room. Also, maybe not every employee needs to be in the meeting. If you have an announcement to make, do it over email, but if you’d like to discuss new marketing strategies get your marketing managers into a meeting. There’s no need for the design team to sit through that before you actually decide which way to go.
Hold meetings only when necessary, so you don’t break your workflow, as well as the workflow of your employees.
Emails and Instant Messaging
Time your employees spend reading countless emails which don’t offer real value is time wasted. Each time they switch tabs to check if they received a new message they’ll lose focus, as well as time. Not to mention the minutes they’ll spend reading the emails and crafting a perfect response.
The same goes for remote work tools such as Slack or other instant messaging tools. Yes, they’re extremely useful for collaboration, building up team culture in a remote team, and it’s great you’re using them. Luckily, most of those tools have a “do not disturb” option, which is quite handy, and you could instruct the team to use that option whenever they want to be 100% focused on what they’re doing.
If you’re thinking that your team isn’t spending that much time on useless communication, think again. And check the reports in your employee time tracking app - it’ll definitely tell a different story.
Lack of Rest
Since humans can’t stay focused for longer than 2 hours, you should allow your employees to take breaks whenever they need them. Break time is time to recharge, build relationships with team members, regain focus, eat, chill, play a round of table football, etc.
In your employee time tracking app you’ll be able to see how many breaks each of your employees took. Once you notice that someone hasn’t been taking breaks regularly, you can talk to them. Let them know that you don’t mind the breaks, and that their well being comes before the next deadline.
If you take away a worker from their lunch before they’re done, they’ll keep thinking about the food and however urgent your task was, they won’t be able to complete it properly. First of all, they’ll be angry if you pull them away from the lunch table, then they’ll shift focus to thinking how hungry they are.
Poor Work-Life Balance
Just as a lack of rest can eat into the amount of time your team is productive throughout the work day, a poor work-life balance can have a similar impact.
Employee burnout is the result of an uneven workload distribution which leaves a few employees with a large burden. Though it can also result from a lack of clear work-life boundaries.
If employees feel like their work follows them home, and that asynchronous messages arrive at all hours, it’s unlikely that they’ll be able to ‘switch off’ after work. This can be mentally exhausting and make it feel as if they never have time to themselves.
Promoting a healthy work-life balance is the key to sustainable productivity, and it starts with fair workload distribution. With a tool like Insightful, you can see exactly what each team member is working on, and if you notice any one person carrying the team, you can reallocate work accordingly.
Multitasking: a source of pride for some, but the bane of productivity for many.
While it may seem like a skill - an extra string to your bow - multitasking is one of the biggest workplace productivity killers out there.
Whenever you have team members attempting to complete several tasks simultaneously, you can expect each of them to be finished to a poor standard. The problem with multitasking is that it only works if you have a high-cognitive load task combined with a low-cognitive load task.
For example, you could probably finish writing up a work report while listening to music. Or take a customer call while stapling some documents together. But what you can’t do is talk to a customer on a call while writing up a report.
This is due to a psychological phenomenon known as the ‘switching cost’ which states that there’s a loss in focus whenever you switch between multiple tasks.
Encourage your employees to prioritize their tasks so that the only task they’re working on in the moment is the most important thing they could be doing at that time. If necessary, use your time tracking software to check whether team members are letting multitasking get in the way of productivity.
Solutions like Insightful allow you to see in real time what websites and apps your team members are using, which can give you insight into how they’re dividing up their time.
Lack of Clear Goals and Priorities
One of the reasons employees can get caught up in multitasking is that they don’t have clear goals or priorities.
If you have a whole work day ahead of you and dozens of tasks you could work on, how do you determine what to start with?
For many, this is a common problem, and leads to multitasking. Without a clear focus or prioritization system, every task assumes equal value, and so it’s easy to sink time into several without making much meaningful progress on anything in particular.
Helping your team to prioritize their work is one of the best ways to increase their productivity. Whether you use an Eisenhower matrix to differentiate between the urgent and the important, or adopt an ‘Eat That Frog’ mentality whereby you encourage your team to tackle the biggest task in the morning, you need a system everyone can follow to be productive.
Manual Time Tracking
Manual time tracking is really the silent productivity killer. Switching from projects, tasks, turning the timer on and off 100 times a day is obviously a job that should be automated.
Besides being a productivity killer, manual time tracking isn’t immune to human error. Your workers could forget to switch on/off the timer, or to change the task/project they were working on, and you could be losing billable hours thanks to this.
Luckily, our employee time tracker app offers automatic time mapping which gives you and your employees a way out of this situation. Depending on your industry, and your requests, Insightful can detect on which project your employees are working based on the name of the file! How awesome is that?