Daniela Baker, a social media advocate at CreditDonkey, shares some of the most common time wasters that American businesses are seeing these days, as well as easy fixes you can implement to increase your workplace efficiency.
- Email–Email was designed to get information to people in an easy and efficient manner. Unfortunately, many people have allowed their business email to become a real time drain. Employees looking to please the boss are constantly checking their in-box so they can respond to email requests ASAP. This makes it difficult to get other scheduled work completed.
One way to eliminate the time waste that occurs with email is to encourage employees (and yourself) to set aside certain times of the day that they will devote to email. This will allow them to complete their important projects but still respond to requests within an appropriate timeline.
- Meetings–While they are sometimes necessary, meetings can be the ultimate time waster. It is easy to get into the habit of scheduling weekly or even daily meetings for projects. Often, people are unsure who should be included in a meeting, so they request everyone involved in the project attends, even if they have nothing to contribute to the current decisions.
One way to make meetings efficient is to require the meeting organizer to create an agenda. This will allow invited participants to determine if they have a part to play in the meeting. Another way to decrease the time wasted by company meetings is to limit the amount of time spent in the meeting. Create a time limit, bring an alarm clock, and once you have met the limit, dismiss the meeting even if some decisions have not been made. You will be surprised to see that you can almost always cover all of the important points within the time limit.
- Credit card reconciliation–If each department within your company has a business credit card they utilize for their departmental expenses, your accounting department may have a major headache when it comes time to pay the credit card bill each month.
Help save your accounting department time (and keep your department heads accountable) by having each department review their credit card bill each month. They will quickly be able to identify what each purchase was for and spot any errors.
- Too many tasks–As technology improves, we expect employees to be able to get more accomplished within each workday. But, when we overload them with projects and tasks, they often become less efficient. This is because they are wasting time worrying about everything they need to get done.
To help employees retain their efficiency, have department managers create schedules that break out the tasks and projects. This will help them visualize how many projects each employee is assigned and determine if it is appropriate to give them more work at this time. It will also help them identify any tasks that would be better suited for another department.
- Web surfing, specifically Internet shopping –with email discount programs (Living Social, CityDeals and Groupon to name a few), CraigsList and the infamous Cyber Monday, there are many temptations that employees come across on a regular basis that encourage them to shop on company time. To help deter employees from working their personal credit card more than their job, implement a formal Internet policy. There are many easy-to-use programs that can help you block specific types of websites from being accessible through the company Internet.
Be sure to review the policy with employees and take the time to discuss the concept of time theft. This will help employees understand the reasoning behind the new policy. Of course, you’ll want to ensure that you adhere to the policy as well. As much as those new pair of shoes or concert tickets may be screaming your name, it’s best for you to leave your personal shopping endeavors to your personal time. Using your personal credit card at work sets a bad example for your employees.
- Smartphones – AngryBirds and Words with Friends can be quite addictive and quite the time wasters! While companies are able to block the websites that employees access through their work computer, they can’t monitor or control what their employees are accessing on their smartphones.
However, one way to correct this action is to implement a phone policy. Many companies do not allow their employees to utilize their personal phones while at work. If there is a personal emergency, there is an emergency phone line that family members can call to access the employee. Some companies have even required their employees to leave their personal belongings – phones included – in the employee break room to get rid of the temptation.
- Unorganized workspace—Believe it or not, messy workspaces can be the cause of quite a time drain. This is because time is spent looking for misplaced papers instead of productive work. When workspaces are uncomfortable, they also serve as a distraction as employees are focused more on the uncomfortable chair, reaching around stacks of folders or trying to adjust their computer monitor to eliminate glare.
To eliminate this problem, organize an office clean-up day. Have employees organize their desks so they are able to find all of the materials and paperwork they need. Any paperwork that is no longer necessary should be filed away for safekeeping; or, if it is determined that it will not be needed again in the future, recycle it.
You can also walk through the workplace during office hours to observe if employees are uncomfortable. Identify ways you can help them improve their workspace so they can be comfortable and focused.
- Music –Many employees find that listening to music can help keep them calm and focused. But allowing employees to play their own music can actually create a time drain. This is because they will devote time to creating playlists and determining what music to listen to.
You can eliminate this distraction by selecting music to play throughout the office. Include a mix of genres and songs so everyone’s preferred genre is included in the musical lineup.