When you look around your workplace, do you see an incubator of efficiency, built to encourage collaboration, productivity, and innovation all at once?
Or, do you see an outdated relic of an office, littered with obstacles to effectiveness, conspiring to crush employees’ spirits and your organizational goals?
How would you even know the difference?
The differences aren’t always obvious, but it’s critical that you—as a small business leader and project manager—identify them so you can ensure that your workplace is optimized.
Unless your workplace is built for efficiency and effectiveness, you risk losing both money and employees due to inefficiency and workplace stress.
To do that, though, you need to know what an efficient and effective workplace looks like. If you don’t, you won’t be able to tell how yours measures up.
Don’t panic, though. Stick with me, and we’ll take a look at what makes for an efficient, effective workplace.
What goes into workplace efficiency and effectiveness?
An efficient and effective workplace depends on countless factors—from the software that you use, to the people you work with, to socio-economics, to the ergonomics of your office chairs.
To truly cover all of those aspects, you’d need to hire a full-time workplace efficiency expert. But for the purposes of this exercise, we focused on three main factors that are indicative of an efficient or inefficient workplace:
- Collaboration space and quiet space. Forget everything you’ve heard about open offices. An effective workplace requires collaboration space for collaborative work, and quiet space for head-down work. According to the 2016 Staples Business Advantage Workplace Index, 56% of North American office workers said that loud co-workers distract them from doing their best work, with people coming to talk (47%) as the second most common distraction.
- Connectivity and technology. Want to see productivity grind to a halt? Try running a workplace with subpar network connectivity and outdated technology. In the 21st century, everything runs through the internet, and if you’re not connected your business is in trouble. A 2016 study by Dell and Intel found that 44% of all employees worldwide “feel that their workspace isn’t smart enough” and 46% say tech-related issues are the “biggest time wasters at their current job.”
- Flexibility factors. It’s folly to confuse “efficiency and effectiveness” with “control and mechanization.” Unless your employees are robots on a factory floor, they need breaks and flexibility to do their most efficient work. If you insist they be tethered to their desk for eight hours a day or that they use PTO when they need to stay home for the cable guy, you’re doing more harm than good. The same Staples Business Advantage survey shows that nearly 80% of workers say that taking a break makes them feel more productive throughout the day.
Why is an efficient and effective workplace so important?
There are many important reasons to set up your workplace for maximum efficiency and effectiveness.
The first, most obvious reason? If your employees have the tools and infrastructure they need to do their work effectively and efficiently, they’ll produce better work more quickly and be equipped to produce more of it.
Next, there’s the matter of employee satisfaction to consider.
The 2016 Staples Business Advantage Workplace Index found that almost 75% of North American workers said that their employer did not give them the tools and technology they needed to do their job effectively and efficiently, and 65% said that workplace stress impacted them.
But here’s the most important finding: Almost half (47%) of North American workers said that the burnout associated with workplace inefficiency and stress is motivating them to look for another job.
That means the second reason is: If you don’t give your employees a modern, effective workplace to operate in, they will leave.
How efficient and effective is your workplace?
How’d you do? Share your results in the comments, and be sure to include the areas where you have the most room for improvement! I’m eager to hear your findings and offer advice on ways to improve your workplace to make it a happier, more efficient place to work.
Whether your workplace is a model of efficiency and effectiveness, or could use a major overhaul to get up to speed with the 21st century, our project management blog is jam-packed with latest insights on workplace efficiency and effectiveness.