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How to Hack Your Team's Productivity

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Managing a team has its rewards and obstacles. Unfortunately, when a team doesn't reach its maximum productivity, it can be difficult for a manager to orchestrate solid results.

Why do employees fail to sustain productivity? The simple answer is that often they're too distracted. Texting, workplace gossip, the Internet and social media are just a few of the distractions thwarting employee productivity, according to a CareerBuilder study of 2,100 hiring managers and 3,000 employees released last June.

Want to significantly improve employee output? Here are five ways to hack your team's productivity:

Related: Apply the Brakes Before You Break

1. Give the right amount of break time.

Most managers know breaks are crucial for maximizing employee results. But what's the optimal length of time for a respite?

In August, the company behind the time-tracking app DeskTime isolated the top 10 percent of the most productive employees who used its tool and analyzed their computer use across a workday. This study revealed that these productive employees work on average 52 minutes and break for 17 minutes.

DeskTime concluded that 17 minutes is the ideal length of time for a break.

2. Set up a good workflow.

A good workflow is essential to a team's productivity and success. If it's missing, employees might feel lost.

According to AtTask's "State of Enterprise Work" report released in October, one-third of 2,000 enterprise workers surveyed said a lack of a "standard" workflow kept impeding their productivity on the job.

To solve this problem, determine realistic goals for staffers and build a workflow based around that.

Related: How Knowing Yourself Leads to More Productivity and Efficiency

3. Let employees decide where they work.

In Gensler's "2013 U.S. Workplace Survey" of 2,000 randomly selected workers across the United States, only one-fourth said they were in an optimal workplace environment.

The study also revealed that when employees are allowed to choose the type of environment they prefer for work, they are more likely to be more productive and happier there.

Don't confine employees to a cubicle or force them to labor in an open space. Give them the opportunity to select a work setting by offering a variety of options, including meeting spaces, off-site locations or even comfy couches.

4. Skip the office chairs.

When people are engaged in sedentary work, they may not reach their potential for creativity. In fact, office chairs prevent people from being productive, according to a study of 54 experimental groups engaged in creative work Social Psychological Personality Science published in June. (The title: "Get Up, Stand Up: The Effects of a Non-Sedentary Workspace on Information Elaboration and Group Performance.")

Instead of holding meetings around a conference table, encourage people to move around a room while brainstorming. This will keep them engaged and boost their ability to collaborate.

5. Take away the tech.

Want to drastically improve productivity? Remove technology from team meetings and brainstorming sessions. Studies suggest technology might actually hurt productivity.

First, consider implementing a no-phone policy for such gatherings.

An October 2013 study by the University of Southern California's Marshall School of Business discovered 86 percent of more than 550 full-time working professionals said it's inappropriate to answer phone calls in meetings and 84 percent said it's not proper to write emails or texts.

Employers might also want to eliminate laptops from meetings.

A June study of 327 undergraduates at UCLA and Princeton discovered taking notes by hand is more effective than typing information word by word (into some electronic device). This finding could be applied to workplaces, where employees might adopt it in an effort to listen more closely and better understand information conveyed during meetings.

How do you boost your team's productivity?

Related: 5 Simple Low-Tech Hacks for Boosting Your Productivity

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