Workplace Productivity how can it help PM’s?
Increasing productivity in the workplace greatly improves chances of delivering a project on time and within budget. Therefore, understanding all about workplace productivity is key to success. There are benefits to increasing a team’s productivity which can be measured. By establishing a benchmark setting and with the use of specialized tools, all assist in bringing the project home.
Productivity is how to efficiently measure how work is done, in general completing tasks efficiently and working consistently is how to measure business success. Therefore, understanding all about workplace productivity is key to success.
Some of the productivity issues to consider are;
- How to increase productivity in the workplace
- What software solutions can help work more productively
- How productivity can be stymied
- Ways to increase team’s productivity
- If too much process stands in the way of productivity
Workplace productivity is measured by how quickly and efficiently a team can produce goods and services over a certain period of time. It’s a key metric that economists use to measure productivity.
It shouldn’t be confused with employee productivity, which measures the amount of work that an individual can accomplish over an amount of time. Statistically, tracking the efficiency of a larger group is more accurate than measuring a single person. That doesn’t mean productivity in the workplace is regulated strictly to those who work in an office. It can be applied to those who work from home and remote workers.
Increasing productivity in the workplace improves chances of completing projects on time and within budget. The following are suggestions to consider in improving productivity when conducting a project.
1. Tracking Tasks: Creating a system of managing tasks enables concentration of work, while creating the boundaries needed in order not to go off schedule and take the whole project off track.
2. Automation: Emails can be automated, to notify when a deadline is approaching, adjust accordingly, and get the work done without dragging the project off-track.
3. Take Breaks: It’s important to take short breaks, especially when working through long tasks, allows the brain and body a chance to rest.
4. Remove Distractions: Turn off personal notifications and other distractions can be physical, like the workspace. Remove clutter; ensure it is clean, in the middle of office traffic, isolated? There’s no hard and fast rule, some people need quiet, while others are more productive in busy environments.
5. Use Technology: While it can be a distraction, technology can also help to work better. There are a lot of great tools that are designed to help improve productivity.
Productivity software is used to organize work, collect data that is accessible quickly and facilitate collaboration with the team. It also allows monitoring and tracks what is in order to find areas that can be improved.
Project management tools have changed managing a project for the better, giving teams features to collaborate and work more productively, while managers are able to monitor and track their work. This means they can reallocate resources to meet their team’s capacity and always have them working efficiently.
Workplace productivity apps can largely be separated into two distinct types—offline and online productivity software. There are pros and cons for each, online productivity software means it can be used anywhere, at any time, which is critical for distributed teams. It also means the data received when monitoring and tracking is in real-time, which lends itself to greater insights and better decision-making.
Offline productivity software is not connected to the internet. That means it is not subject to the power of the connection. Since it only resides in the computer, it’s less accessible to unwanted third parties, which may provide a sense of security in protecting data. Desktop apps tend to be expensive, as they may require installation and a licensing fee for each terminal it is used on.
The benefits of knowing how productive the team is are immense. Armed with that knowledge, plan upcoming work and keep everyone allocated to their capacity without overloading them.
The processes resources are expected to use every day are the ones that will either help with productivity or hinder work. Make a list and find out the processes the team uses repeatedly.
Find out what tasks the team is working on and measure their performance against them. This can be achieved with resource management tools and time tracking. Tacking the lean six sigma approach here assist with minimizing waste or repetitive tasks.
The team can also be asked if they believe they are productive, the results would be interesting on how they measure their own productivity, via the amount of emails being sent or the results obtained within the project. The data from the process audit, the task assessments and feedback from the team can be measured by the amount of time each process takes.
Having carried out process reviews next is to evaluate whether those processes are as good as they could be. Look for these things.
- Duplication of effort between teams
- Unnecessary process steps
- Data capture or input that then doesn’t go anywhere
- Mapping out processes with a network diagram or any visual aid, will assist with bureaucratic time-wasting steps more easily.
It should then be relatively straightforward to identify and ditch process steps that don’t add any value or that duplicate effort. Review all the data captured in the process and make sure that something happens to it. If no one wants the data or uses it for anything, then stop recording it and save that time.
Too much process can stop a team from achieving their full potential. The more time they spend filling in change requests or logging work orders, the less time they spend actually doing their job.
Without the backing of a project management office, it can be hard to create a cultural change in office politics. If there is a concern about whether processes are helping or hindering a team’s productivity, know that there are ways to change the current paradigm and influence others to do the same.
For this to occur an audit is required, this can be conducting a simple review in order to know whether processes are, getting in the way of productivity. After all, processes shouldn’t be abandoned based on assumptions.
Don’t look for the number of processes or tools, or even a judgement call on the level of bureaucracy in the team. There can be dozens or hundreds of processes and if they all work smoothly, they can help productivity rather than hinder it.
Look for the following instead;
- A drop in productivity
- Signs and symptoms of an unhappy team.
Both these are indicators that bureaucracy is getting in the way of getting things done.
Before noticing a productivity problem, there has to be an understanding of the trends in productivity within the project or organization. Unfortunately, at times it is not obvious which process is hindering the team. The way to identify the road block is by looking for indicators of a gradual decline relative to past measures of productivity.
In order to know if productivity is declining, then there has to be an understanding on how to measure it. Gather all the project data that is available and look for the repeating tasks, as these are often the ones that require processes — such as these.
- Managing requests for changes
- Project handovers and internal reviews
- Processing payments
Task management systems that allow users to input the amount of actual time spent on a task will allow building up a huge repository of useful benchmark data. If identified that last year the change control process took a week for the change to be logged, assessed and either approved or rejected, it can be compared to current data. If it takes a lot longer today, then the empirical evidence is on hand, that shows process is slower and that could be part of the reason for the drop in productivity.
Don’t underestimate the useful information obtained from the team. Talk to them. They will be able to provide a gut feel for whether they are hampered or guided by the processes and (more importantly) which ones are difficult to work with.
Pinpoint the processes that are causing the most issue. Analyze what about them is creating problems, which could be one or more of the following.
- They are too time consuming
- The approval loop goes to the wrong people
- They require too much information
- Nothing is done with the information that is provided.
It can take time to recover from the drop in morale that is the by-product of an unproductive work environment, and bringing to mind all that is frustrating the team, it does need to be done sensitively. Be mindful in this process, and be prepared to address immediate concerns. Deal with any quick wins first, such as explaining where the data goes and why the process works that way. Then deal with the practical issues raised by attempting to resolve the process issues they have flagged.
These are quick ways to assess whether the team is less productive as a result of process. Carry out large scale process mapping and do a deep dive into productivity, but it’s easier to start with identifying some quick wins before moving to that sort of time-consuming initiative.
A drop in productivity could be the cause of a morale problem, or a symptom of poor morale in the team. These two issues are closely linked, so it’s worth seeing what can be done to address low morale at the same time.
Ultimately, information sharing and involving the team in the assessment can go a long way to improving morale.
Once productivity data has been analyzed and reviewed with the team morale situation. The lesson learnt is that the issues are definitely related to ineffective processes. Here are four steps to weed out what’s not working.
1. Take a leaf out of the Lean and Six Sigma manuals by stripping everything out of the process that doesn’t add value.
2. Try to avoid falling into the trap of removing too many processes without validating them, however. Someone else in the organization might need the piece of data that has been decided isn’t necessary. Do some sense checking before stripping the process back totally?
3. Delegate the process-related admin tasks to team members to share the load and streamline operations. Remember, democracy is not always the best approach in delegation. Choose team member’s best suited to accomplish them efficiently. There’s no business benefit in having highly paid technical architect do low-value process paperwork if the team administrator could do it just as well.
4. Be the advocate for the team. Many processes will be organization-wide, and probably can’t remove them without some serious negotiation. Bring key leaders together and be armed with the data uncovered in the audit to demonstrate the loss in productivity and its impact on the bottom line. Be sure to demonstrate clear solution-oriented approach that would work just as well, yet is less process-heavy and more productive.
It will take a bit of trial and error to whittle away the old, outmoded processes and streamline new ones. Use a continuous feedback approach with the team to maintain the right balance
In fact, getting team buy-in on all processes helps improve team morale because it boosts engagement when they know they are instrumental to contributing to continuous process improvement. Collaboration will really make a difference; overall immediate productivity improvements should be evident, and tweak processes until they are just right for the whole team.
Use online collaboration project tools to keep project and process work streamlined alongside each other. Keep all internal and project documents stored alongside project plans, and keep the team looped into project communications via a collaboration platform. Let us know your thoughts and how you manage project team productivity issues, we would like to hear from you, all the best on your project management journey.