Posted on 11 July, 2018  |  4 mins

There are a lot of misconceptions about productivity. So much so, in fact, that it’s a surprise any business is doing it right.

From multitasking to feats of willpower and benefiting from the “always on” culture, workplace productivity myths are everywhere, and they're causing businesses to think they’re doing everything right, when really they’re doing a lot of things wrong.

So let’s change that, with some hard-hitting productivity facts that could change your business for the better.

1. Technology is here to help

While productivity in the UK is at its lowest point since Napoleon’s time, many businesses are poised for an upturn thanks to the helping hand modern tech offers.

In fact, almost 90% of CEOs in the UK say digital technology is vital to improving productivity, and two-thirds of execs say they’re either “confident” or “very confident” in maximising productivity in this way1.

But it’s not a case of technology solving all ailments. Currently, 77% of workers currently find tech more frustrating than beneficial, so getting staff engaged with new technology is going to be vital.

Our top tip is to choose your digital resources with this in mind. If you’re looking into productivity apps, try some out on a free trial and see how they fit into your business.

2. Working from home works

Allowing your staff to work from home requires a certain level of trust. But when it comes to productivity, the facts don’t lie.

Almost one in four people say they’re unproductive at work, and 71% believe they’d be more productive should their employer have a flexible working policy2.

The researchers, Totaljobs Group, explained why that might be. “Unified communications within a business—such as access to instant messenger, work mobile phones and video conferencing—supports the effectiveness of flexible working … By providing an interconnected workforce, regardless of location, employees can work productively from multiple locations.”

If you’re not making the most of flexible working, perhaps it’s time to cut the apron strings and let people work at their best, whether they’re in the office or not.

Is working from home productive?

Flexible working is a productivity booster... even when the kids are lending a hand.

3. Meetings are the productivity killer

We’ll just leave some meeting-related figures here:

  • The average worker spends four hours a week in internal meetings
  • Half of these people say meetings are their biggest cause of unproductivity
  • 91% admit to daydreaming mid-meeting
  • 60% take notes just to look busy
  • 40% say they’ve even came close to falling asleep3.

Meetings are essential, but it’s clear something needs to be done to liven them up. Whether that involves making them more succinct so people can get back to work or adding a spark of creativity. And on that point…

4. Creativity can improve productivity

When people have a creative outlet outside of work, they can recover from and reflect on their day more effectively, improving their productivity when they get back into the workplace4.

That outlet could involve anything from gardening to painting to jiu-jitsu—the key is that the employee gets total control over what creative endeavour they go for. It cannot be work-enforced, which makes it difficult to actively encourage as an employer.

However—and at risk of flogging a dead horse—this is where flexible working again comes into play, ensuring people have the freedom to balance their work lives and home lives.

It puts emphasis on finding work/life balance as an entrepreneur, too—to find time for a creative outlet that makes you more productive when running your business.

5. Productivity nosedives after 40 hours

Studies show that after working eight hours a day, work output decreases by 50%, so there’s a real business case for keeping a working week under 40 hours5.

Even a 60-hour work week will only bring an estimated one quarter in extra output in the short term, while causing massive unproductivity after just four weeks.

Much of these diminishing returns are due to extra stress on the workforce. In the US, more than one million workers call in sick to work EVERY DAY due to stress, in a country where the average work week stands at 46 hours.

So improving productivity is clearly a case of producing more within set work hours, not working at the same rate for longer.

Tips to improve employee productivity

Let productivity soar, not take a nosedive.

6. 59% of managers misplace information

We all know the pain of trying to find the right document, whether it’s a piece of paper or a file buried in your shared drive somewhere. When almost two-thirds of managers can’t find the information they need on a regular basis6, what hope do the rest of your staff have?

The good news is that data-driven companies are 10% more productive than the norm1—if that data is simple to find and use, that is.

Is it time you tidied up your shared files and folders, or tried a collaboration tool to clean things up for good?

7. Travel is a short road to unproductivity

Busy professionals who need to travel for work often have the best intentions when it comes to maintaining their productivity on the go. “I can work in the airport,” they think, before poor internet, a lack of plug sockets and constantly checking flight information puts paid to those best-laid plans.

It’s no wonder 64% of these people say they’re concerned about the work they’re not doing while travelling6. Even worse, three-quarters say travelling for meetings causes unnecessary strain to their family lives, adding that scourge of productivity to the mix: stress.

Fortunately, 90% also say technology will make workplace collaboration simpler in the future and ease these pressures. Well, the future is now.

If you’re looking at productivity tools to make your workforce more efficient, we’ve collated a great range of the best business apps on the market, which you can browse for free. Consider signing up for a free trial to some of these tools and see how they work for you.

Already using business apps? Great! Why not sign up for a free 9 Spokes data dashboard, so you can see key business insights at a glance, driven by the apps you use. It’s another way to spend less time getting the information you need.

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1 http://transformingbusiness.economist.com/technology-uks-productivity-challenge/
2 https://www.telegraph.co.uk/business/future-technologies/improve-uk-productivity/
3 https://www.fastcompany.com/3035058/8-ways-youre-sabotaging-your-productivity-and-how-to-stop
4 https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/joop.12064?
5 https://www.businessinsider.com.au/heres-why-we-shouldnt-work-more-than-40-hours-per-week-infographic-2012-7?r=US&IR=T
6 https://www.fastcompany.com/3035058/8-ways-youre-sabotaging-your-productivity-and-how-to-stop

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