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3 Unique Paths to Improving Office Productivity

Don't make your employees work longer -- incentivize them to work better.

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This article is included in Entrepreneur Voices on Strategic Management, a new book containing insights from more than 20 contributors, entrepreneurs, and thought leaders.

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Being productive shouldn't mean you're chained to a cubicle. In fact, one of the biggest flaws managers make when evaluating employees is based on how long they spend at their desk. Similarly, there are more ways to make your workers more productive than by simply making them work more hours -- research has shown things like group lunches increase productivity in the office.

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If you’re looking for out-of-the-box ways to increase office productivity, see three unique ideas below:

Provide in-office catering.

Often, it's just easier to speak with someone over a meal, when you’re more likely to feel comfortable. Besides, no one likes to eat alone. That is why all sorts of companies provide their employees with lunch, and why companies like Hungry have started adjusting to the demand.

The link between in-office enjoyment and a solid lunch is strong. In fact, Hungry’s co-founder, Eman Pahlavani said, “We’re excited to launch an office lunch and catering service because Hungry can help boost workplace productivity, culture and happiness.”

Buy a ping pong table.

It goes against your intuition, but research has shown that office spaces with ping pong tables create more effective teams. To the point, when’s the last time you went to a startup’s office and didn’t see a ping pong table?

To better understand a office dynamic with a ping pong table, I asked Jack Richardson, a portfolio analyst at Square 1 Bank. During most his working hours, Jack diligently understands a company’s ability to pay back a loan. When he catches a break, his office has setup a ping pong tournament that has weekly rankings. This, as he notes, boosts morale across his team and increases his alertness.

Provide outdoor educational perks.

Nowadays, having a corporate gym membership program is normal, but you can still set your company apart by giving your employees the chance -- and incentive -- to learn new outdoor skills. 

As an example, Dizzle, a based startup that builds mobile real estate apps, offers its employees a monthly stipend to try new outdoors activities. So far, employees have learned to sail, rock climb and mountain bike. This boosts team outlook and builds stronger relationships amongst employees . . . especially when they're learning together.

An entrepreneur doesn't necessarily have to work harder or longer to be more productive. Balance is important, and an office that promotes teamwork is one that promotes productivity. 

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