It’s well-established that the route to success is productivity. While this is common knowledge, there are still businesses out there that struggle to foster such an environment in their office. Instead, they find that they are failing to work at maximum speed, struggling to stay organised and generally unable to take the next step.
Luckily, all is not lost. A number of strategies can be utilised to make sure that your workforce thrives, and that productivity hits an all time high. Here are the 15 most important steps to becoming a more productive office.
1. Avoid complacency
An office should never be content with just getting by. Instead, it should forever be striving to find improvement and increase growth. The aim of the game should always be to increase efficiency, work faster and make more money, which may be achievable in the current office conditions.
If this is the case, stop making do with what you have; kick complacency to the kerb and replace it with a keenness to develop. Something as simple as looking beyond the current workforce and investing in a virtual personal assistant could do the trick.
2. Maintain strong bookkeeping
A strong bookkeeper shouldn’t be underestimated under any circumstances. After all, the company’s books – which deal with everything from purchases and sales to receipts and payments – are at the heart of any organisation.
While some businesses may be unwilling (or unable) to hire a full-time member of staff for this task, they could always broaden their horizons and consider other options. An external person could be relied on to undertake this role on a day-to-day basis until the books are in order. Stronger bookkeeping can lead to all forms of office life running more smoothly, as well as an increase in productivity.
3. Embrace change
Proven techniques shouldn’t be disregarded but, that said, it can be detrimental to resist change in the current technological climate. It seems that not a day goes by when there isn’t a new development to make people's jobs easier - whether it's an updated computer system or faster internet speed - it’s now even possible to rely on virtual PAs to benefit your business! Rather than being shut off to trying something different, try exploring the unknown and seeing if it results in increased to productivity.
4. Lock down deadlines
It’s vital that the workforce doesn’t work towards an unclear deadline. Lacking a solid time-frame can cause staff to work slowly, without the much needed sense of urgency that goes hand-in-hand with productivity. Deadlines should always be realistic, yet ambitious, and the workforce should agree on the timescale before it is enforced.
In addition to this, missed deadlines shouldn’t be allowed to just come and go without any real evaluation. Instead, each one should be analysed to see why it occurred and if any individuals or departments may need a helping hand in future.
5. Reduce staff turnover
The coming and going of staff can be extremely disruptive. As well as employees dropping their workloads without much notice, a sudden exit coupled with the need to hire someone else can lead to a negative atmosphere in the office and hinder productivity.
To avoid this, businesses should take extra measures to ensure that they hire full-time staff that are unlikely to leave. It’s also wise to consider turning to non-permanent members of staff where possible. These individuals can be welcomed into the fold to do a job, while at the same time having no expectations that they will be staying in the office for the long-term.
6. Avoid bad decisions
Bad decisions don’t just cost a business time and money. An office can be turned upside down by a single mistake, and multiple errors in judgment can have far reaching consequences for productivity. Of course, no one sets out to make a bad decision, and the majority are made with good intentions.
However, the decision-making process can be a disaster waiting to happen if those responsible don’t have the time or resources available to conduct proper research beforehand. For the sake of productivity, it can be important to invest in individuals that are skilled in gathering facts and carrying out research.
7. Aim for impeccable punctuality
Punctuality leads to increased productivity because it makes sure that every single minute is being taken advantage of. Of course, punctuality doesn’t just mean staff being sat at their desks by 9 am. Instead, it means that employees should be on time to meetings – especially those with external clients. A virtual PA can ensure that there’s no lateness by arranging transport and organising diaries. These two things alone can help salvage precious minutes that can then be put towards other tasks.
8. Establish goals
The calendar year should be divided up into short and long-term goals. Short-term goals can be on a day-to-day, week-to-week or month-to-month basis. Meanwhile, long-term goals can stretch from a quarterly basis to a yearly basis. These goals should be re-assessed regularly to ensure that they’re still achievable, and staff shouldn’t be afraid to introduce new strategies where necessary. Goals aid productivity because they offer a structure for the year ahead. While some goals can be personal and less formal, other more serious ones should be clearly outlined in a calendar or diary.
9. Foster diversity
It’s true that like-minded people can work as a highly productive team. However, this doesn’t mean that companies shouldn’t try to foster diversity where possible. Those people who constantly want to keep favour with their boss (commonly known as ‘yes men’) don’t always bring a range of opinions and skills to the table. Businesses that really want to hit a new level of productivity shouldn’t be afraid to welcome people with different views, skills or those from varied backgrounds.
10. Trust other people’s experience
Teamwork is the foundation of most businesses. Staff shouldn’t forget this, especially when they require help.
In an ideal world, everyone would get on with their job and never require any assistance. However, the reality of most offices is that people will have to rely on their colleagues from time-to-time. In this respect, employees should feel comfortable enough to trust the experience of others and be willing to take on-board their advice. This approach should also be used when it comes to offering experienced professionals (such as a virtual PA) the chance to offer their support and expertise.
11. Learn to prioritise
The working day should be divided up into tasks depending on importance. This is always the most productive way to do something because it means that the smaller projects are the ones most likely to remain incomplete. Obviously, it’s vital that everyone has an understanding of what’s important and what’s not. For instance, bookkeeping should never fall to the bottom of the pile under any circumstances. If the workforce comes to the conclusion that there’s too much on their plate to handle, then it could be necessary to look into recruiting someone to assist.
12. Confirm a hierarchy
Every team needs a leader. While this may be a given, it’s easy for people to forget who’s in charge at times. That’s why all companies should confirm the hierarchy that they want people to acknowledge. Job titles like ‘manager’ or ‘supervisor’ shouldn’t just be thrown around and should instead be given to indicate an actual function that someone has. This – alongside open door policies and full transparency – can lead to increased productivity because staff will know who to turn to when they need help or assistance.
13. Promote order
Order comes in many different forms, from clean desks to organised filing cabinets to easy access to stationery. All in all, there shouldn’t be a single chaotic element in the office or else productivity could begin to wane. The best way to ensure that everything is clear, concise and well-ordered is by making sure that administrative duties are completed well before there’s any risk of them getting out of hand.
14. Assess pitfalls
Pitfalls shouldn’t just be brushed under the carpet because this will only aggravate the problem further. If an element of the office – such as poor diary management – has led to a decrease in productivity, this should be tackled head on. Instead of praying that the problem doesn't rear its ugly head once again, measures should be taken to avoid a repeat in future. It can sometimes take just a matter of days to detect a fault and put it right – thus saving time and money in the long run.
15. Don’t pile on work
There’s always a temptation to accept new workloads – even if this will be a burden to those working in the office. Rather than allow staff to carry the weight of additional projects – and possibly start to lag in terms of productivity - try to relieve their workloads where possible. This could be by enlisting the help of other professionals from outside the office.
Why not use a virtual PA?
Any business that is serious about increasing productivity in the office should use the services of a virtual PA. These trained professionals can assist on a short-term basis with such areas as admin, bookkeeping, diary management and calendars. For more information, get in touch with SmartPA today.