Several business models and practices have emerged in the 21st century. Despite the break from traditional models and practices, there are still companies that continue using them. An example of this is the 1920’s model wherein managers are seen as individuals in positions of power, intimidating, controlling, and whose main job is to plan, organize, and direct the organization. However, with the complexity of 21st-century workplaces, employees and leaders alike need more skills such as innovation, agility, and lean.
The continued adherence to outdated models and practices often leads to a project momentum plateauing, affecting the team’s morale and productivity. Fortunately, with some adjustments in the workplace improving productivity and communication is achievable. This article lists the top ten ways to improve business efficiency.
- Automate tasks which can be automated
Industries today compete with each other; enterprises try to outbid each other to capture their respective target markets. Because of this, to stay ahead of the business trends, it is vital to automate tasks that can automate. These can include but are not limited to regular monitoring, sending receipts to vendors, or sending payslips to employees. Sathvik Tantry of FormSwift opined that monotonous tasks should be automated to give more employees time to focus on more productive tasks that require human input, such as critical thinking.
It is essential to consider if the up-front cost of automation will yield a more significant return within the business cycle. Most business owners feel daunted at the capital cost of implementing automated systems, but the long-term benefit and return of investment in some industries outweigh the initial expenses. Continue reading to the next point of adapting management tools that can help create a better workflow.
- Use program management software
Task or program management software are great tools for communication and collaboration within and across teams. It allows employees to work together efficiently through convenient progress tracking, ensuring everyone is in the loop of any update and staying on their respective tasks. Optimizing workflow enhances productivity and enables quicker project completions while effectively using resources, allowing profits to roll in no time.
- Encourage face-to-face interactions among employees
Emails and online communication platforms have their appropriate time and place. Even if communication channels through emails or online platforms like Skype, Whatsapp, Viber, Google Chat, and many more exist, co-workers still need to interact when an important topic or issue needs clarification. At times Face to Face interaction allows for quicker problem solving or answering of questions between involved parties. According to Miles Jennings of Recruiter, if employees are encouraged to talk to each other openly, this creates a steady flow of information through exchanging ideas. Our next point of promoting a culture of open communication.
- Promote a culture of open communication
Each day is a day for team building. If there is an environment that allows conversations and a healthy exchange of ideas, employees will feel comfortable voicing concerns and offering feedback on how to run the company better.
Business owners are not omnipotent or omnipresent. To fill in this gap, employees can spot areas of improvement that could help streamline a process and contribute to an efficiently run business. Interstate Air Conditioning & Heating’s Raymond Kishk said that coworkers who are part of the efficiency process would create a more productive and efficient team.
- Have a daily huddle
Weekly, monthly, or quarterly staff meetings are vital in any organization and business. However, these types of day-long meetings usually chip off time intended for productive work.
David Ciccarelli of Voices.com suggests daily 10-minute meetings which are shorter and more direct to the point. David calls these meetings a daily huddle. It allows employees to keep informed about what is going on in the company including tracking key performance indicators, identifying areas for improvement, and recognizing and celebrating accomplishments. Keeping meetings short forces a streamlined process and effectively lowers time wasted by eliminating unnecessary meetings.
- Discourage unplanned meetings
Unplanned meetings have more consequences than benefits for a company. First, it catches employees off guard, making them unable to discuss or highlight an issue part of the meeting’s agenda. It also sidelines employees who are not in the office.
Second, employees will feel a time crunch because they do not have the opportunity to prepare for the time lost in the meeting. Feeling rushed negatively affects their project’s key performance indicators and productivity because they will be preoccupied with their work for the meeting duration instead of paying attention in the meeting.
Lastly, most unplanned meetings have no apparent purpose. Doing so might result in chaos and confusion because there is no clear plan, and people don’t know what to expect in the meeting. The minutes may also be indecipherable because employees would raise different points that may or may not be related to each other. It is important to note that a productive meeting can happen if participants know what to expect and are aware of its purpose.
If an urgent matter needs to be discussed, try to schedule quick meetings with a designated time and precise topic for discussion.
- Limit interruptions
Some employees have difficulty completing tasks because of constant interruptions.
Alexander Moore from Boomerang suggested that there are some techniques in assisting employees in focusing better. One strategy is called time blocking. With this method, a certain amount of time is set aside for uninterrupted work. For instance, specific dates are blocked and allotted for active working while multiple meetings become scheduled on the same day instead of spreading it throughout the week. Aside from these, there are also distractions brought by email alerts, online messaging pings, and other notifications, which are culprits for disrupting workflow. With several interruptions and distractions, which can bring sensory overload to some employees, it is recommended that tools and applications be used to minimize notifications, making the work environment more conducive to focusing.
- “Tunnel” tasks or monotasking
For a while now, several people advocate multitasking for greater productivity. However, being a multitasker does not automatically equate to productivity. For many employees, it is better to “tunnel” tasks or focus on single tasks until their completion. With this method, projects at times are more efficient, causing other projects to move forward.
Monotasking has gained traction in recent years because it promotes better brain health and provides better productivity. Contrary to popular belief, multitasking is not doing several tasks simultaneously but rather the brain rapidly shifting its attention to different activities. The activity is called “task-switching,” Recent studies showed that several “task-switching” episodes decrease productivity by 40%.
- Follow established processes
Striving for innovation is a given to be at the top of any industry. However, if existing procedures and policies have streamlined internal and external processes, there is no need to go against them. As the famous saying goes, don’t fix something that is not broken.
When employees follow established processes, your organization will utilize time and assets effectively. Following a process can allow the business to develop and accomplish short-term and long-term goals without sacrificing day-to-day productivity. This kind of consistency will also benefit workers because they know what to expect from their colleagues. Employees can anticipate their duties and responsibilities and know the extent of their accountability. Employees build their confidence in their work and bring forth a culture of excellence in the working place.
- Know when to draw the line
Considering all of these tips, a company needs to take a seat back and check if automation, block scheduling, and the tips mentioned above are suggestions for the enterprise. As a business owner or leader, it is important to know where to draw the line between efficiency and the overall goal.
Neill Feather, the founder of SiteLock, LLC, said that growth is an essential aspect of his business. For Neill, business growth encompasses the satisfaction of customers served, the company’s brand strength, and the quality of product offerings.
The tips listed here are only one of the many roadmaps that can help businesses’ efficiency. It is essential to take a trial-and-error approach when trying to improve business efficiency because, for some, all of these tips will work, but only a few are applicable for others. It is essential to assess the whole business environment and identify its strengths and weaknesses, akin to the Japanese management philosophy of Kaizen. Kaizen means “change for the better” or “continuous improvement.” Kaizen involves gradual and methodological improvement of productivity through designing an efficient workplace, creating an impactful team atmosphere, ensuring employees are engaged, improving daily operations, and making fulfilling, safer, and less tiring jobs.