work-efficiency

Improve Work Efficiency in 11 Easy Steps

How many days a week do you walk away from work whistling, knowing that you managed to accomplish your daily targets?

Not only that but that you were able to do your tasks efficiently?

Research by the Harvard Business Review found that 41 percent of knowledge workers spent most of their time on non-value-added tasks.

These tasks offer low value to the company and could be avoided or handled competently by others.

In this post, we help you understand the fundamentals of work efficiency and how you can improve it.

These tips will facilitate developing long-term strategies that will help you create a highly successful business.

#1 Create a Better Working Environment

The work environment contributes heavily to how productive your employees are.

According to a CareerBuilder survey, 71 percent of employees say they are less productive when the working environment is too warm. 53 percent reported being less productive when it’s too cold.

A comfortable working space can help promote focus in employees, which can positively impact productivity.

If you manage a team, be sure to provide them with the necessary tools they need to perform their roles well. From ergonomic chairs, monitors, and printers, to the right software, empowering your workers will improve work efficiency.

If they work remotely, encourage them to set up their home office in a way that promotes focus. For starters, keeping the desktop neat and organized can boost deep-focus work.

Adding plants, wall art, music, and anything else that inspires them can also improve their productivity.

The right office setup will foster a positive mindset toward work, ensuring you and your workforce achieve efficiency, day after day.

#2 Set Clear, Reasonable Goals

You can’t work efficiently if you don’t have goals that drive your work. Goals help direct our efforts into something tangible.

But for goals to be effective, they need to be S.M.A.R.T – specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and time-bound.

When you clearly define goals, you can stay focused on the tasks, be more productive, and achieve the desired outcome.

When managing teams, keep in mind that everyone has unique approaches to reaching goals.

That’s why you must set a clear purpose and objective for any project or task.

Doing so will boost efficiency since folks will understand exactly what needs to be done and why they’re doing it.

Having achievable and realistic goals also promotes motivation among employees and boosts their time management skills.

#3 Improve Your Time Management Practices

Speaking of time management, you can’t expect to measure work efficiency and productivity if you aren’t tracking time.

Logging time allows you to understand how long it takes to complete specific projects and tasks.

You also learn which projects or tasks are taking more time to complete, hence using more resources.

Armed with such information, you can evaluate your work processes and find ways to improve the efficiency of those specific projects/tasks.

The best way to analyze which tasks possess the most value is via time tracking software. For example, Traqq automatically logs all the hours spent on a specific project.

Over time, you can generate detailed reports that let you compare the total time spent vs. the revenue generated from those projects.

You can then determine which projects are less profitable and cut them loose.

After all, your main goal is to be profitable, and you don’t want to lose precious time on projects that aren’t profitable.

In addition, proper time management will ensure you’re more organized and always know what to do next. This crucial skill can tremendously increase work efficiency.

In a remote work setup, using a time tracking tool:

  • Encourages more focused work. Employees tend to put their best effort at work when they know they are being tracked. They will access their social media less and minimize non-work-related stuff, knowing they are on the clock.
  • Helps you identify overworking and underworking employees. Time tracking will highlight areas of inefficiencies in your work process, allowing you to formulate better time management strategies.
  • Allows you to create time reports that you can share with your employees to help them identify areas of weakness and work on improving them.
  • Ensures you take regular breaks to re-energize your mind and get back to work feeling refreshed.

#4 Use a Project Management Tool

Regardless of your type of business, you probably handle multiple projects simultaneously. You can be more efficient if you take advantage of a project management tool. Such programs can help you:

  • Set clear goals and deadlines
  • Delegate tasks with ease
  • Sync projects, tasks, and milestones and make them easily accessible to everyone on the team
  • Ensure effective collaboration with team members and streamline the work process

These benefits greatly contribute to a more efficient work environment. A project management tool sets a clear path to follow and puts everyone on the same page.

#5 Automate What You Can

According to the Automation in the Workplace report, 86 percent of employees agree that automation would make them more efficient and productive.

78 percent say automation will allow them to spend more time on the interesting and rewarding aspects of their jobs.

Evidently, automation can improve work efficiency and make employees’ lives better.

Identify repetitive tasks in your business, such as data collection, approvals, and status updates, and find ways to automate them.

Doing so not only creates more time for high-value work but also to spend on your personal life.

You’ll have more time to relax, enabling you to cultivate a rich life outside of work.

In turn, you won’t suffer from burnout but rather be inspired to stay passionate about your work.

Some of the tasks that you can automate include:

  • Email marketing. Use services that send automated email campaigns to your target audience.
  • Sales and lead generation. Automate this process to get more time to focus on other aspects of your business.
  • Social media generation. Implement services that automate your social media campaigns.

#6 Avoid Multitasking

Multitasking is a productivity killer. Trying to do multiple tasks in one go may feel like you’re getting more done, but none of the tasks are getting done efficiently. Often, you’ll end up wasting time, a resource that you should guard fiercely.

According to Earl K. Miller, a neuroscience professor at the Picower Institute for Learning and Memory, “multitasking is not humanly possible.”

The brain has a limited amount of cognitive bandwidth. When you multitask, you increase the likelihood of making errors, not to mention you become less creative.

Try to focus on one task at a time. Doing so allows you to fully engage in what you’re doing. If you manage a team, encourage them to do the same, and you’ll see big improvements in work efficiency.

#7 Manage Distractions

It goes without saying that distractions in the workplace can greatly affect work efficiency and overall work performance. Besides, they can cost you up to six hours of your workday.

The best approach to minimize interruptions is to identify them first, so you know what you need to shut down or adjust.

If you’re a Facebook or Instagram addict, put your phone out of sight or use apps that block certain websites. Allow yourself a few minutes of browsing as a reward for accomplishing a major task.

If you work in a noisy environment, invest in quality headphones with active noise-canceling to help mute the noises.

Alternatively, try setting aside a small block of quiet time, so you can get the maximum amount of efficient work done, for example, in the early morning.

#8 Match Tasks to Employees’ Skills

You’ll get more quality work done when you assign tasks to the right people. Your team members have unique skills and behavioral styles that make them good for certain jobs.

When you identify the person best suited to perform a specific task, you’ll be guaranteed the job will be done efficiently.

For example, someone with people skills will do excellent work pitching ideas to clients. However, they might struggle with tasks that require deep-focus work and attention to detail.

#9 Communicate Effectively

A survey by Panopto found that employees spend five hours per week waiting to get in touch with someone with the unique knowledge they need. During this time, work is delayed, suspended, or canceled. Such inefficiencies are caused by ineffective communication.

The same survey shows that instead of losing time waiting to hear back from someone, employees opt to forge ahead on their own. Rather than save time, they end up wasting a lot of time struggling to find the right information, leading to more inefficiencies.

If your teams can’t communicate effectively, work efficiency, as well as productivity, will decline. Fortunately, modern technology helps facilitate effective internal and external communication. That said, using the wrong communication channel can still lead to work inefficiencies.

Take email, for example. A McKinsey study found that employees spend 28 percent of the workweek managing their emails. Instead of relying on email for communication, consider social networking tools like Slack, which are designed for quicker communication.

Establish guidelines on team communication, clearly outlining how and when to use specific channels to keep everyone on the same page. Another great strategy is to implement standup meetings, even if they are virtual.

This will keep meetings brief, providing more time for employees to actually work.

#10 Train and Develop Your Employees

Helping your team expand their skills builds an advanced workforce that will present major benefits to the company in the long run. You’ll be empowering workers with the essential knowledge to accomplish their tasks and manage their roles more competently.

Employee training will also eliminate time waste due to answering questions or rectifying errors. You can support your employee development in various ways: workshops, online courses, coaching, mentoring, or seminars.

These additional skills will go a long way in helping the employees improve their efficiency and productivity.

#11 Reconsider Meetings

Meetings may be a core part of every business, but unfortunately, they are among the top time wasters. In fact, statistics show that 70 percent of all meetings keep workers from accomplishing their tasks.

In addition to that, the sheer number of inefficient meetings leads to huge losses – around $37 billion every year. That’s why it’s critical to rethink your meeting strategies. If possible, only hold meetings when you want to announce major company-wide updates.

You could try using project management tools to replace these meetings.

What Is Work Efficiency?

Work efficiency is the ability to accomplish the greatest amount of work with the least amount of time and effort. Put another way, it’s doing more with less. Greater work efficiency results in high levels of productivity.

A good example of efficiency is reducing the number of workers needed to make a car. If fewer workers can produce the same amount of work, with the same number of resources – or even less – that’s being efficient.

Business leaders must often encourage workplace efficiency when they want to promote success in the business.

Why Is Work Efficiency Important?

Excellent workplace efficiency has outstanding benefits for a business:

  • It translates directly to an increase in overall business performance and bottom line
  • Businesses can reduce resource wastage, such as time and money
  • Businesses enjoy cost reduction
  • The rate of errors drastically reduces
  • Businesses experience increased productivity

As a business leader, you must analyze the time employees spend on specific tasks and determine whether they are being efficient enough. Usually, efficiency and productivity are affected by bad work habits and reactive rather than proactive.

The solution to this is simple, although not always easy. Replacing your bad habits and reactive actions with good habits that make you proactive is the secret to becoming your most productive at work.

Final Thoughts

Workplace efficiency is one of the most important aspects of attaining organizational goals.

When you improve work efficiency, you have a better chance of achieving the work-life balance we all chase.

Don’t forget to take care of yourself. Remember, a healthy worker is an efficient worker.

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