5 Unconventional Ways to Bolster Employee Productivity

With this new era of managing employees in and out of the office, here are some useful ideas for keeping everyone on task and happy about the work.

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Whether your employees are still working remotely, coming into the office, or utilizing a hybrid approach, it's in your company's best interest for them to stay productive. From all corners of the blobe to right here in Europe, the pandemic shed serious light on issues around work-life balance and individuals' ability to work in a variety of unconventional settings, so this new era of working is uncharted territory for everyone.

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While you work with employees to figure it all out, consider suggesting these strategies for improved productivity.

1. Keep multitasking to a minimum.

While it might seem like doing a number of tasks at once is an easier way to get them all done by the end of the workday, that's not quite the case. One study published in 2010 found that only 2.5 percent of people are able to multitask effectively. Certainly, some people are better at it than others, but experts recommend discouraging it altogether.

Instead, set reasonable expectations for employees about what they are required to do in their jobs. Give them fair timelines and make sure there is open communication between people at all levels of the company so if someone does feel that they need to do three things at once, they can take their concerns to a manager.

2. Be open to new models of work.

The four-day work week is taking off in Europe, as is the hybrid model of working from home at least part of the time. One survey last year showed that 89 percent of European companies were planning on embracing a hybrid workforce post-pandemic.

A newer survey showed that European workers are prioritizing their health, families, and happiness — and are concerned that managers could be dismissive of that. Of those surveyed, 94 percent said they want employers to take action to ensure employee satisfaction. Since four-day work weeks and hybrid models are so popular, that means you should consider them, however unconventional as they may seem.

3. Suggest going notification-free.

Apple's iPhones have recently begun offering diversified "do not disturb" options that allow users to customize which types of notifications they receive on their phones during certain times. There is an integrated "work" option that, when configured in settings, will automatically stop non-work texts, emails, and app notifications from coming through.

This might seem counterintuitive at first, but suggest utilizing this to your employees. The average person living in Ireland, for instance, checks their phone about 58 times per day, according to one study. It's obvious this could become a significant drain of time and energy when that happens during the work day. Employees who are free of messaging are able to focus on their work.

4. Encourage out-of-office pursuits and the prioritization of health.

It's already been established that European workers are prioritizing their health and happiness more these days, but it's incumbent on employers to encourage that and make it possible. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the U.S. says that "in general, healthier employees are more productive."

With a strong foundation in their wellbeing and a solid work-life balance, employees are not only more clear-headed and focused at work, but are less likely to call in sick or use up holiday time when they're ill.

5. Ask for weekly to-do lists.

In a weekly meeting or email, ask employees to share a basic to-do list of tasks they need to accomplish by week's end. It's helpful for them to see their expectations and responsibilities written out — and be able to cross them off one by one — but also useful for managers to see what each team member will be working on for the week.

This ensures there are no tasks left undone, which safeguards against surprises and subpar work as the due date nears. Expectations are clear, employees feel accomplished crossing tasks off the list, and everyone is accountable. Win-win.