If your employees work an 8 hour day, you might assume they’re being productive for all 8 of those hours. You’d be wrong, though, according to a study of 2,000 full-time office employees.
The number of hours that employees consider themselves to be productive is not 8. It’s not 7, 6, 5, 4, or even 3 hours of the workday. So how many of the 8 hours in a workday are actually productive? It may be worse than you think.
How many hours in a workday are actually productive?
Looking at the results of the above study surveying nearly 2,000 full-time office workers, most of the employees surveyed admitted they’re much less productive than they could be at work, with the majority saying they only considered an average of 2 hours and 53 minutes to be “productive” time at work.
Being productive for almost 3 hours per day sounds fine, but not so much when you’re paying employees to work for a full 8 hours. You can’t force someone to be productive, but you can certainly encourage it with a few changes to your current way of doing things.
Encouraging more productivity in the workplace
Speak about it often
In order to change the dangerous low-productivity precedent being set in your office, you have to make it clear that productivity is valued. Talk about the importance of productivity and using the hours at work wisely. Without making it clear that this is a workplace value, employees may assume you don’t care about productivity because you haven’t mentioned it.
If your employees have trouble with productivity because they are easily distracted or prone to procrastination, you can help by offering some tips and resources for becoming more productive. One such tip is the rule of 52 and 17.
The 52:17 rule
This rule simple, but powerful. Work for 52 minutes – really, intensely work – and then break for 17 minutes to revive yourself. Working in spurts like this is less mentally exhausting than doing a solid 8 hour stretch, appeals to employees because of the promise of frequent “earned” breaks, and helps divide the day into manageable segments.
To put the 52:17 rule into action at your workplace, have employees set a timer for 52 minutes and immediately get down to business. When the timer goes off, it’s time for a 17 minute break. For the best results, don’t have everyone set their timer at the same time, but instead, stagger it so the 17 minute breaks don’t all happen at once.
As a last resort, time tracking software can work wonders for increasing employee productivity. Many don’t actually realize how much time they’re wasting at work, and time tracking software can help open their eyes to the wasted potential of the hours of the workday and increase your profitability. Some time tracking software companies, like Time Doctor, offer a free 30 day trial so you can see if the tool is right for you before you commit.
As a word of warning, introducing and requiring the use of time tracking software can create issues for employees who aren’t used to such close monitoring by management. There may be a lot of resistance, so we encourage you to consider the needs of your staff before implementing this type of change.
By getting involved in increasing the productivity level of your employees, you can encourage your team to work more efficiently. Once employees know that you care about productivity and are taking measures to increase it, change can happen quickly. Although less than 3 hours of the workday are actually productive on average, it doesn’t limit your ability to increase your employees’ productivity and efficiency. Create solid productivity goals and use the above tips to accomplish them.