Today, increasing productivity in the workplace is one of the key challenges for many employers.

The reason is that the employees’ workplace has hugely transformed.

Currently, most companies work on a remote-first mode, so employees work from home remotely rather than visiting the company office.

Yes, this saves a lot of resources for a business.

But what about employees’ productivity?

Striving to improve employee performance is where employers invariably should focus their energy.

This concept leads us to some crucial questions that we will cover today.

But first, let’s cover some information related to the remote workforce.

So what percentage of jobs are remote in the USA today?

In the United States, the labor force reached a high of 164.6 million people working in February 2020 just before the pandemic got into full swing.

Research from Buffer shows that around 98% of remote workers would like to work remotely at some time in their lives.

At least, this is what they answered to the question from Buffer “Would you like to work remotely, at least some of the time, for the rest of your career?”

Chart from Buffer on Remote Working

Source: Buffer.com

So this hybrid style of work is becoming more and more popular among employees.

What percentage of jobs are remote in the world?

Today, in the US more than 4.7 million people work remotely at least half the time, according to the Owl labs study.

Globally, 16% of companies are fully remote.

However, 44% of US companies still don’t allow remote work.

Is working remotely productive?

In fact, remote work can increase productivity.

Stanford University professor Nicholas Bloom indicates that in a survey they implemented, people who work remotely are reporting that they are more productive now than they were in the early pandemic times.

Image Source: Vox.com

But what about the technological aspect of remote work for the employee? Do companies need to invest in servers, networking, storage, and security software to make working even more efficient?

The answer is yes!

In 2021, enterprise spending on cloud infrastructure services increased compared to the previous year by 37 % (reaching 178 billion U.S. dollars).

Statista - Cloud infrastructure

Image Source: Statista.com

This means that companies striving to change and adapt to modern networking, storage, and database solutions to stay on top of the competition.

What are the main causes of low productivity at work?

However, let’s not forget about the reasons why employees lack productivity in the workplace.

We’ll just mention several of the most crucial among them:

1. Too many meetings during the day

This happens when an employee is having up to 15 meetings per day.

2. Not being able to focus & concentrate

Being unable to concentrate is one of the most difficult things for many employees.

Most often, this happens when one should travel to another country for a business trip or works remotely from another location.

So if you want to work in a quiet place close to the places of interest in your current city, choose your apartment well so as not to miss anything.

Blueground offers fully-furnished, equipped and serviced apartments in some of the world's most sought after cities.

3. Poor communication

There is no sufficient workplace with one-way communication. So there should also be opportunities for employees to voice opinions and ask questions as well.

Let people know the product better. Know all the WHYs and reasons to move forward with a business goal.

4. Toxic workplace

This mostly happens in the case of bigger organizations, where some employees use sneaky plans to manipulate the work environment or their managers in order to get promoted in their careers.

Try to avoid that!

And this is why communication (3rd point) does crucially matter!

5. Not knowing the product/service properly

Undoubtedly, it’s a problem when a company worker doesn’t fully know the company’s products or services.

Think for a minute – if they don’t sufficiently know the features of the item they’re trying to sell, how confident they will feel when promoting it?

Here are some more employee work productivity statistics

  • 83% of workers believe that they don’t have to work in an office to be productive
  • 71% of people are much more productive in the workplace whilst listening to music during work
  • Though the average employee is productive for 60% of their workday, office employees are only productive for 31% of their workday
  • Internet usage in the workplace accounts for а 40% loss of productivity
  • Only 7% of workers consider themselves productive during official work hours

But how can you calculate labor productivity? Is there a formula?

In fact, there is.

Here’s the labor productivity formula:

Labor productivity = Monetary value of goods and services produced ÷ Total number of hours worked

To explain this a bit more, here’s an example.

Let’s suppose your company generated $100,000 worth of goods/services (this is an output).

To reach that point, overall 800 labor hours were required (this is the input).

So to calculate your company’s labor productivity, you need to divide 100,000 by 800 (which equals 125).

And this means that your company generates $125 per hour of work.

However, if you want to calculate the labor productivity of individual employee contributions, instead of using hours as the input, you need to use the number of employees.

Thus, if your company generated $100,000 worth of goods or services in 1 week with 50 employees. You would divide 100,000 by 50, which equals 2,000 (this means that each employee produced $2,000 for your company per week).

So how to improve productivity in the workplace

Teambuilding at work

All in all, here are 10 of the best ways to improve productivity in the workplace:

  1. Maintaining a strong communication system
  2. Setting (+committing) deadlines
  3. Avoiding too much multitasking
  4. Checking employees’ technology (invest & upgrade consistently)
  5. Investing in team-building activities
  6. Taking some time to exercise
  7. Changing decorations in the office
  8. Not trying to be perfect – but rather excellent
  9. Investing in the learning of employees
  10. Making sure the location (or apartments) employees are working at is appropriate

Blueground offers fully-furnished, equipped and serviced apartments in some of the world's most sought after cities.

Still not convinced?

Let’s explore some advice on improving your productivity in the workplace.

More tips to level up work productivity even more

1. Leading More Productive Groups

Writing for Atlassian’s Work-Life blog, Kat Boogard points out how the time-dilation effects of Parkinson’s Law are even more apparent when applied to group projects:

“You and your team have two weeks to plan a surprise party for one of your colleagues. It’s enough time to reserve the conference room, order a cake, and buy some party hats.

But because you know you have more than enough time at your disposal, that party grows more and more complex. Kate wants to create an embarrassing slideshow. Brandon is eager to decorate the conference room.

And Maureen thinks your team should create a handmade card.

Now that party that should’ve really been a simple and quick undertaking is something that actually requires two weeks to complete. That’s Parkinson’s Law in action.”

This is not only inefficient, but it’s also frustrating for everyone involved. It might even be fair to assume that the fictional Kate, Brandon, and Maureen will end up feeling put out by the time the party actually begins.

2. Boost Productivity in the Workplace by Limiting Time Spent on ‘Trivial’ Tasks

The party planning example above is also an apt illustration of another of Parkinson’s “laws” — the Law of Triviality. This law says that people within organizations often give undue time and attention to trivial matters.

The concept is also referred to as “bikeshedding.”

That’s a nod to a 1957 essay in which Parkinson presents the example of a fictional committee that exists to approve the plans for a nuclear power plant.

So instead of addressing the complex technical issues of plant operation, the group spends most of their time discussing how to build the facility’s bike shed.

3. One Actionable Step to ‘Save’ Time

In an article for Lifehack, Joel Falconer draws on his experience at startups to supercharge Parkinson’s Law-based time savings:

“As you get started with Parkinson’s Law, make a list of your tasks, and divide them up by the amount of time it takes to complete them. Then give yourself half that time to complete each task.

So you should see making the time limit as crucial. Treat it like any other deadline.”

Half of the time?

You read that right!

This approach may seem counterintuitive.

But Falconer is simply dropping the maxim to “pay yourself first” into Parkinson’s world.

Why?

Simply because treating yourself as the client also helps you feel more drive and agency as you work.

Lastly, let’s also cover one of the most important things to secure employee productivity – the best technological/productivity tools.

What are the best productivity tools for working from home?

1. Slack

One of my all-time favorite tools for chatting with other team members is Slack. This cloud-based team collaboration tool is next level with its various channels to keep everything organized.

Yet the real magic lies in the endless choice of integration to make workflows run super smooth.

There is even a free version!

Or upgrade if you have a bigger team, it’s definitely worth it.

2. Zoom

While Google Hangouts is a great tool for team and client meetings, I have found my favorite video conferencing tool to be Zoom.

And I can say for sure that Zoom is one of the best tools to keep high productivity in the workplace.

All in all, it’s very easy and intuitive to use and it has built-in collaborative functions so you can share your screen or hold a presentation for clients.

It’s another free freelancer tool that you cannot miss out on when working remotely.

3. Trello

One of the first tools I used when I became a freelancer and I still use it to this day!

Trello is an awesome web-based project management toolI use it for all sorts of things, but mostly to organize individual client projects and record milestones. Organized in boards, lists, and cards, you can share everything with team members or clients so they can follow up with the project.

It’s also an epic tool for personal travel plans, to-do lists, and so much more!

4. Toggl

It pays to know how much time you spend on certain tasks when working online.

If you have clocked in your hours in an office previously, you might not know how long you actually take for individual tasks.

However, when pricing yourself, knowing how much time you take is invaluable. Toggl is a time management tool with some powerful reports and it gave me a major productivity boost, as distractions are real when you work from anywhere.

So just set a work schedule and monitor it regularly.

5. Google Drive

There’s no way past Google Drive or Dropbox as a freelancer.

I like them both, but Google Drive gives a whopping 15GB of free cloud space while Dropbox only gives you 2GB for free, and then it’s pay time.

6. Fingerprint for Success

When you’re coordinating a remote team, you’ll need to make explicit efforts to keep up a team spirit but also to understand the working style and motivations unique to each team member.

Tools like Fingerprint for Success (F4S) simplify that process by offering a visual interface to map out your motivators and blind spots while offering personalized online coaching.

7. 1Password

Have you ever forgotten a password or are you generally just using the same password for every site and tool you sign up for?

Needless to say that this is a security risk and simply not a smart thing to do in today’s world. 1Password is a password manager that generates secure passwords and stores sensitive information all in one place with one master password.

No more forgetting passwords!

8. Every Time Zone

Are you working with clients or team members across the globe?

Awesome!

But it’s quite easy to get confused with time zones. Every Time Zone helps you find the exact time difference through their visual time zone converter.

Overall, no more getting up at 5 a.m. for nothing, because you thought you had a call scheduled with the other side of the world. This tool is absolutely essential to being productive with your global freelance work!

All in all, technology is a great advantage to have at hand.

But there are also some skills an employee should have to be (or become) a productive worker.

So let’s explore some of the top productivity skills.

What productivity skills you should work on

All in all, there are numerous skills that can help to improve work efficiency.

We will mention some of the best skills that staff members need to work better:

  1. Problem-solving skills
  2. Decision-making skills
  3. Focus & concentration skills
  4. Tasks prioritizing skills
  5. Time-management ability
  6. Self-development by reading
  7. Good communication skills

And some productivity books to help you boost your productivity skills.

7 of the best productivity books worth reading

  1. Think Like da Vinci: 7 Easy Steps to Boosting Your Everyday Genius, by Michael Gelb
  2. Eat That Frog, by Brian Tracey
  3. Getting Results the Agile Way: A Personal Results System for Work and Life, by J.D. Meier
  4. The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, by Stephen Covey
  5. The Now Habit: A Strategic Program for Overcoming Procrastination and Enjoying Guilt-Free Play, by Neil Fiore
  6. The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business, by Charles Duhigg
  7. Ready for Anything: 52 Productivity Principles for Getting Things Done, by David Allen

The bottom line

Improving work productivity in the workplace is one of the key challenges organizations face nowadays.

And this is something many companies treat differently.

So each company might have its own system of improving work efficiency,

Thus, the advice, tools, or books they provide may vary from what we presented above.

And the last, but not least advice for maintaining strong work productivity is getting quite good headphones.

Keep in mind that headphones can also be a polite but silent way to let your colleagues know that you need to concentrate on the projects you are working on.

All in all, take into account that the productivity improvement system depends on the job type and work environment as well.

For instance, for digital nomads and professionals working from another location abroad, it’s crucially important to work from a furnished apartment with all the required amenities at hand.

Blueground offers fully-furnished, equipped and serviced apartments in some of the world's most sought after cities.

The reason lies in the fact that this saves them much time and energy.

So keeping consistency and improving throughout time will eventually allow you to learn and develop your skills, and make sure your productivity will continue to improve as well.

Good luck!

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