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Simple solutions to plug the workplace productivity gap

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Indeed, UK workplace productivity is 30 per cent lower than the US and France and a considerable 36 per cent lower than Germany. This is clearly one of the more pressing issues for the UK economy.

This data has been in the public domain for a few years and yet business leaders have done little to proactively address the issue. In fact, workplace productivity levels in the UK are at their worst since modern records began in the early 1990s.

What simple changes can UK business and industry leaders make to help employees boost their workplace productivity?

Gone in 120 seconds

The simplicity of the two-minute rule is its greatest strength. If a task takes less than two minutes to do – do it immediately.

According to productivity consultant David Allan, workers should learn to compartmentalise tasks and instructions according to how long the task in question will take to complete. If it takes more than two minutes, then you can add it to your to-do list; if it takes less than that then do it as soon as it comes in.

Employees should only check their email three times a day. This probably sounds like an impossible task to the “always online” generation but there is evidence to support it. If you spend all day checking and answering to emails as soon as they come in, then you are unlikely to have time to complete longer tasks. Replying to emails is important but not if it impedes your workplace productivity and restricts your ability to do other work.

Put your best foot forward

We are at our most productive in the mornings between 9am and 1pm. This is the time period when business leaders should encourage employees to take on more demanding tasks as concentration and workplace productivity levels are at their highest. It is also the time when the work output will be of the highest quality.

Concentration and workplace productivity levels tend to dip during the course of the day. Therefore, business leaders should advise employees to keep the easier and more monotonous tasks for the afternoon. Pareto’s Principle states that 80 per cent of output is the result of 20 per cent of input. In the first part of the day employees should focus on the 20 per cent – the tasks that will produce the greatest output.

Completing more important tasks earlier on in the day will also lead the employee to have a greater sense of achievement as the most productive hours of the day have been put to good use.

Continue on the next page for the two remaining simple methods you can use to increase workplace productivity – and avoid the 300,000 hours a year one firm spends in meetings.

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