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8 min read

A complete guide to increased work productivity

Learn how to increase your team’s work productivity and improve performance with time management techniques like speedruns and other tools.
From Team '23

Tempo Team

Completing a task, whether it's closing a work ticket or checking an item off a to-do list, offers profound satisfaction. That sense of achievement not only boosts your morale but also propels you forward, inspiring you to feel motivated to tackle the next challenge. 

That’s why businesses are so invested in boosting work productivity. They understand that a staff of productive workers is one of the pillars of organizational success. Not only does employee productivity correlate to increased efficiency and improved company performance, but it also demonstrates benefits for workers on a personal level. Individual productivity helps employees develop a healthy work-life balance, decrease stress, and enhance feelings of control. It’s a win-win for everyone.

For managers, learning how to increase productivity requires more than implementing time management techniques. It’s about creating a work environment that encourages personal discipline conducive to focusing on and completing tasks. Once you grasp the basics of empowering your co-workers to implement productivity strategies, you’ll see a performance upswing in no time.

What is work productivity?

Work productivity measures the efficiency at which tasks and goals are accomplished within a given timeframe. It reflects the amount of output generated per unit of input, such as hours worked, emphasizing both the quality and quantity of completed tasks.

Businesses often prioritize increasing workplace productivity without fully grasping its true nature. Rather than merely tallying the daily accomplishments of individual team members, workplace productivity evaluates the value each employee adds to the company’s overall success. By measuring individual or team output, companies can pinpoint areas for improvement and streamline their workflows to enhance efficiency.

The importance of productivity

Employees are typically at work for eight hours a day, during which management expects them to fulfill their responsibilities, as this is crucial for generating the revenue needed to compensate the staff. However, it turns out that workers are only productive for a fraction of this time. According to one Voucher Cloud study, employees are productive for an average of just two hours and 53 minutes per day, amounting to slightly more than a quarter of their workday. Given this significant gap, it's understandable why companies are keenly interested in strategies to enhance staff productivity.

But it's not just companies that benefit from high productivity. Both employers and employees get perks, enjoying advantages that reach beyond just improving the bottom line: 

  • For businesses: Productivity is a key indicator of growth and economic vitality. A more productive company is better equipped to scale its operations, offering a broader range of products and services at potentially lower costs. 

  • For employees: Increased productivity enables staff to manage their workloads more efficiently, allowing them to engage fully with personal relationships, hobbies, and family commitments without the burden of unfinished tasks at the office. It also fosters employee development and improvement, empowering them to reach their full professional potential.

Factors that affect productivity at work

Establishing a productive work culture requires more than offering feedback and team-building opportunities. Many internal and external factors contribute to encouraging employee engagement and productivity, such as: 

1. Work environment 

The corporate climate profoundly influences your employees' efficiency and productivity. Key elements, including management style, corporate values, company culture, communication techniques, leadership, and trust, all play pivotal roles. Focusing on improving these areas represents an investment in your workforce, laying the foundation for an environment that boosts productivity for both teams and individuals.

2. Clear expectations

Nobody likes having to do a job over again. It's a real downer to spend time and effort on something, only to find out you've got to go back to square one. This kind of rework is a huge productivity killer and can really throw a wrench in getting back on track.

As a manager, it pays off to take a bit of extra time at the start to spell out what you're looking for. By cutting down on do-overs, you'll not only increase productivity but also give your team a solid confidence boost, helping them feel like they've got this because they're nailing it from the get-go.

3. Training and tools

To reach peak productivity, your team members require tools and systems that make their workflow more efficient. This includes everything from the software and equipment directly linked to their tasks to resources that enhance soft skills, such as project management and collaboration tools.

Equally important is ensuring your team is fully trained to leverage these new processes or equipment to their fullest potential.

4. Growth opportunities

Professional development and career growth are among the best ways to motivate employees. Offering the chance to work on an exciting and challenging project helps employees feel valued and appreciated, building momentum and boosting individual productivity.

5. Psychological safety

A sense of belonging and support in the workplace fosters increased focus, enhanced strategic planning, and goal achievement. It also drives higher productivity levels. By integrating communication skills such as active listening with vulnerability and empathy, you can create an emotionally secure environment, ensuring your staff feels supported and valued. 

The role of speedrunning techniques for increased productivity

Think about how gamers dive into their favorite video games, playing them over and over. To keep things fresh, maintain interest, and challenge themselves, they often undertake a speedrun – a quest to finish the game as quickly as possible. Speedruns require meticulous planning, discovering shortcuts that break the intended sequence of the game, and learning tips and tricks to optimize every action for efficiency. Applying this kind of game plan and enthusiasm to your work tasks can change the game and increase your productivity. Speedruns are competitive. They’re fun. They’re effective. And they translate to real life. If you’ve ever brushed your teeth in the shower or memorized traffic light cycles to cut down on travel time, you’re a speedrunner.   

To successfully introduce the concept into a professional setting, you’ll need three things:

1. Time pressure

Time limits exist at work in the form of deadlines, but they're not especially motivational. Often, people will procrastinate until the last minute before getting anything done. 

With a speedrun, there’s no deadline, just the goal of completing a task in as little time as possible. If you procrastinate, you’re only hurting yourself or, worse, your team. That’s the beauty of a speedrun. Instead of being assigned a deadline by someone else, you set the goal for yourself. The shift from extrinsic to intrinsic motivation is more compelling and rewarding, driving higher productivity.

You’ll never be entirely free of deadlines. Still, implementing speedruns shifts your team’s mindset from stressed to challenged, relieving pressure and encouraging them to have fun along the way.

2. Well-defined goals

If you’re going to win a race, you have to know where the finish line is. It’s the same with a speedrun. In video games, the ultimate goal is divided into smaller, manageable objectives that progressively advance the storyline. The trick to acing a speedrun lies in leveraging these mini-goals to stay focused and driven toward achieving the overarching goal.

Many teams embody this speedrun approach in their methodology, aiming to accomplish as much as possible within 2–4-week sprints. They structure their work around a well-defined hierarchy of goals, with prioritized tasks and clear dependencies allowing for efficient workflow planning. 

By setting a clear primary objective and breaking it down into smaller to-dos, subtasks become milestones or checkpoints that offer a psychological boost that helps maintain momentum. It not only facilitates progress but also delivers regular doses of motivation as tasks swiftly move to the "Done" column.

3. A “gamer attitude”

Even if your team isn't buzzing with excitement over a project like gamers are during a speedrun, it’s safe to say they feel passionate about their work. Turning an arguably mundane task into a challenge to beat can help them reconnect with that feeling. Even if the task isn't exactly fun, looking at it like a gamer – just another obstacle to overcome – can make it feel a bit more bearable.

According to a 2019 study, 89% of employees said they felt more keen to finish a task when it was made into a game. And the same number said they'd be more productive and get things done quicker if their work felt more game-like.

5 more tips to increase work productivity

Speedrunning your workday isn't the only trick in the book to level up your productivity game. Here are some personal power-ups you can use to supercharge your efficiency:

1. Limit distractions

Common distractions like phones, meetings, and emails can significantly eat into your productive time. By turning off notifications, declining non-essential meetings, and scheduling specific times to check your inbox, you'll find your days more productive. The amount of time you save when you minimize distractions can be astonishing.

2. Prioritize your work

Being busy doesn't always mean you're being productive. Focus on tasks that truly benefit your team and customers, and try to automate routine, repetitive tasks. This approach not only makes your work more meaningful but also helps you manage your workload without resorting to multitasking.

3. Take breaks

Gone are the days when taking a break was seen as slacking off – studies show a rested worker is more productive. Short breaks throughout the day, such as those structured by the Pomodoro Technique, can keep you energized and prevent burnout. Taking breaks is a strategic approach to maintaining productivity. Remember, you’re not being lazy. You’re being smart. 

4. Create a daily routine

A consistent daily schedule can infuse your day with energy. Time-blocking tasks helps avoid decision fatigue, facilitates a productive flow state, and minimizes procrastination by making transitions between tasks smoother.

5. Optimize your workspace

A well-curated office space significantly impacts your ability to focus. Studies show that natural light and plants enhance productivity, while ergonomic furniture helps keep you comfortable. Other tools like password managers, templates, and centralized project management platforms can streamline your workflow, allowing you to complete tasks more swiftly.

How Tempo can make you more productive at work

Don’t spend your time scratching your head trying to figure out how to be productive. Let Tempo help you work smarter, not harder, with our suite of project-management tools to boost your team’s performance. 

Tempo Strategic Roadmaps converts your project plan into an easy-to-follow roadmap, helping your team prioritize tasks by identifying bottlenecks and dependencies. With Timesheets, our resource and time management platform, you'll delegate tasks more effectively and optimize workflows.