Productivity Per Hour: Your Team’s Working Day (and How it can Improve)
It’s no secret that the more productive your workers are, the more successful your business will be. We look at recent studies of when and why productivity slumps and what can be done to improve it.
We all want our teams to maximise their productivity during a working day. A study by Stanford University students looked at the relationship between hours worked and productivity and observed that productivity over a 60-hour working week would be less than two-thirds of what it would be for those working a 40-hour working week.
This dramatic decrease in average productivity can be explained in two primary ways. First, it may be the case that employees simply become much less efficient: due to stress, fatigue, and other factors, their maximum efficiency during any given workday may become substantially less than what it was during normal working hours.
Here the researchers have identified that failings of efficiency can stem from stress and fatigue. The focus is on the importance of management of working hours, but the same can be said of the way your team manages their working week. As the study goes on to say:
An overworked employee might, after a certain number of hours (or, perhaps, on the last day of the week) be so fatigued that any additional work he or she might try to perform would lead to mistakes and oversights that would take longer to fix than the additional hours worked.
This drop-off of productivity happens every day in the workplace. A poll by LondonOffices.com identified 2:55 pm as the time of the day that sees the least amount of productivity. It’s likely no coincidence that Facebook sees a major spike of activity at 3:00 pm.
The Way Productivity is Drained
In our post about procrastination we touched upon a study In a 2016 survey commissioned by Kristin Naragon of Adobe Systems Inc. This showed that some workers spend over 6 hours of their workday responding to emails and distractedly monitoring their inbox for messages.
Email remains a fundamental communication medium for how businesses manage and operate workflows and delegation of tasks. The more active a business, the more time spent monitoring the inbox and communicating about these tasks. Six hours of active and passive inbox monitoring draw on the energy that workers should be spending on the crucial work at hand. The distraction and constant shifting of focus leads to increased onset of “daily burnout” and reduces the quality of work being done.
Management of your workers’ energetic focus on high value work is vital not only for their wellbeing, it’s also essential to the quality of service you deliver to your clients.
Getting the Better of Daily Burnout
One of the underlying reasons for daily burnout is poor time management. The “25 minutes of focus” at the heart of methods such as the Pomodoro Technique have flourished because they attempt to seize control of when workers are and aren’t productive.
Pomodoro practitioners work in 25 minute bursts, with a short five-minute break after the first three working sprints and a longer break every fourth sprint. The 25 minute sessions can be easily shaped around standard break times throughout the workday.
Every 25 minutes, just before mental focus begins to wane, you take a planned 5 minute break. The gains in focus and productivity in your next 25 minute period outweigh the 5 minutes of break time you took. Though the breaks take time, the boost net productivity.
…that is unless you get distracted by something in your email inbox that interjects it’s urgency into your plan for the day. So beware to use that 5 minutes to check email. If you do, be cognizant of what you allow yourself to do and what you intentionally ignore with the intent to follow-up later, not now.
Maximising Productivity Per Hour
Whatever strategy you use, the software and apps we choose to use to coordinate our daily work directly impact the productivity of the team. Email, open to anyone delivering a message to you at any time, has high potential to leads to tangential, unplanned uses of your time. Tasks undertaken primarily via email consume time by requiring workers and managers to monitor their inboxes. Messaging services like Slack, which sought to screen out email and let teams work together with less distraction have also seen a backlash over “excessive messaging” within teams leading to declined productivity.
Not surprisingly, TeamworkIQ’s customer research and interviews with business managers revealed a need a far more streamlined means to delegate and coordinate tasks.
It was clear that managers wanted the ease and convenience of email (since many had abandoned tedious project management tools for the ease of email), but they also wanted something that email inboxes could not deliver: focus, priority and the ability to track tasks and projects far more easily than wading through lengthy email threads or writing yet another email message with the subject: “Status of … ?”
At TeamworkIQ, we’ve been working to solve this for you. TeamworkIQ lest you type up “who needs to do what” just as you would in an email or a doc to provide the ultimate in ease of use. However, what’s different is that, TeamworkIQ uses its smarts to not only understand who needs to do what, it creates and shares an online checklist for everyone to use, and, actively manages the tasks, assignments and process steps in that checklist through to completion.
TeamworkIQ lets workers communicate in the same way they did before (by communicating in writing, not filling our project management task forms) and automates the work described. While work can originate from email, teams working within TeamworkIQ can focus on the priority tasks at hand without the distraction of email or other chatter.
Simplify your workday. Help everyone manage their time more effectively. Keep things from falling through the cracks and always know what’s going on. Give TeamworkIQ’s smart checklists a try.