5 Ways to Improve Efficiency and Work Fewer Hours | It’s a time-honored saying in business that time is money. That may be true, but the relationship between time spent and what we get out of it is changing. All too often, employees and managers both work absurdly long hours that make a healthy work-life balance impossible. Fortunately, the modern world provides its own solutions to the time crunch. Here are five ways to improve efficiency while giving everyone more freedom.
1. Leverage the Power of Automation
Not enough can be said about the increasing power of artificial intelligence (AI) and complex web applications when it comes to increasing workforce efficiency. For example, business analytics software is giving business owners the data processing ability that they need to make sound decisions faster and more keenly than ever before. For your sales team you should consider investing in lead management software to help organize and align your sales and marketing tactics. These sophisticated programs can collate your list of prospects or leads. The net effect of this is to give your whole business team more time to do what humans do best: use their creativity to drive innovation.
2. Allow Flexible Work Hours
The 40-hour, all-day workday is rapidly becoming a thing of the past, and most major studies agree that this is a very positive thing. Working long hours takes a toll on life outside of work, even eroding our relationships with our families while not adding anything to efficiency. The best solution to this might just be working from home. Research by Stanford University concluded that employees working from home were 13% more productive on average and attrition was cut by half. The reason? Workers are able to optimize their time without being forced into a one-size-fits-all workday. A similar technique, named the Golden Clock after Penn State Abington economics professor Lonnie Golden, stresses giving employees total agency in deciding how they make up their time off, allowing them to mold their shifts to fit their tasks.
3. Ditch Formal Meetings
Large, formal sit-down meetings have always been one of the major time-wasters of the business world. Whether they take place in a physical conference room or online, the numbers add up to an amazing amount of waste. According to Doodle’s State of Meetings report in 2019, meetings cost US businesses nearly $400 billion in lost hours. Meetings don’t just devour time that could be spent on a task…they also disrupt the flow of the workday, bringing projects to a halt and requiring even more time to restart them. Text communication offers a ready alternative. So does communicating policies one-on-one to the employees who actually need to hear them.
4. Optimize Your Environment
Where we work affects how well we work. Optimizing work spaces involves completely reappraising the process of design and the purpose of a space. Whether at home or in a company building, the office isn’t just where we work, it’s where we live. The first step is to make it healthy, and this goes way beyond hand sanitizer. NASA has been using plants to purify air in closed spaces for years and has plans to use them to make life in space healthier for astronauts. The color of a room also has a profound effect on productivity within, with red being shown to aid focus and drive, while cooler colors convey a sense of calm and authority. Working in harmony with nature is the path to efficiency.
5. Track Your Time Wisely
You’ll never know how much time you’re wasting if you don’t know how much you’re spending. Thankfully, digital technology is helping here too, with time-tracking apps that are able to record time spent on a project at the touch of a button. Digital time cards are making it easier to know exactly how long employees have worked, allowing efficiency to be gauged quantitatively and improvements made in a targeted way. This transforms time management into an exact science.
Increasing productivity really is about working smarter instead of longer. Working smarter means empowering each individual team member to be the best they can be. By keeping these strategies in mind, your work days will go smoother and faster.