No business is 100 percent productive all day, every day. On-site employees will stand by the coffeepot in the morning, discussing last night’s game at length. Remote workers will take a few minutes to let the dog out or have a conversation with a neighbor, who stopped by. Both types of employees will occasionally take long lunch breaks, and check their personal social media accounts throughout the day.
While these small interruptions cut into a business' bottom line, they aren’t the only productivity thieves companies have. In fact, some of the biggest time-wasters are things leaders themselves ask employees to do. Here are seven tasks employees engage in every day that hurt a business’ bottom line.
1. Unnecessary meetings
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In numerous surveys, employees list meetings as one of the top time-wasters in their workplaces. This includes unnecessary meetings as well as those that take longer than they should. If you’re in a position to tame meetings in your organization, consider implementing a system where meetings happen only when necessary. When meetings do take place, an agenda can keep everyone on track to avoid side conversations, which waste everyone’s time.
2. Unnecessary reports
That report you’re compiling on the number of applications you process or the number of products manufactured may be important only to you. If management has requested a particular report, there’s little you can do, of course. But, if you’re voluntarily putting these reports together and sending them to everyone, determine which ones have value. You may be able to convince your boss that your time is better spent on more important tasks.
3. Outdated processes
Businesses still waste time doing things the way they did them 10 years ago. Paper-based, manual processes take extra time, and over the course of the year, those minutes add up to hours, days and weeks. Do a thorough audit of your job, and question why you do things a certain way, then look for a replacement method that might save time.
4. Too much communication
Back in the time when when employees needed to discuss something, they’d either pick up the phone or walk to each other’s offices. Today, this communication is increasingly happening over email or chat, which are seen as easier ways to share ideas, and get answers to questions. However, in the time it takes to have an email or chat conversation, an employee could have cleared the issue up with a quick phone call. Employees should reconsider using email and chat only for certain discussions because those methods tend to involve numerous delays or back-and-forth messages.
5. Unimportant data
With so many analytics tools available, businesses can easily access real-time data on almost every area of operations. However, not all of this information is useful. As more companies realize the value of extracting data, there will be growing pains, forcing companies to determine which data is important and which doesn’t matter.
6. Responding to distractions
In today’s open-plan offices, it's easy to get distracted. A meeting on speakerphone, a chatty conversation in the hallway or a chronic cougher can pull you away from the task at hand. This only becomes more complicated when coworkers drop by to talk about various things. If possible, find a quiet place to work when you’re trying to get things done. If not, invest in a pair of noise-canceling headphones that will help you focus when distractions are all around.
7. Complaining and gossiping
Team-building is important in any organization, but employee interactions should always be productive. While everyone enjoys venting occasionally, complaining and gossiping with coworkers can hurt your career. Management will see you as negative and those coworkers who are the topic of your conversations, will take it personally. Strive to be seen as a positive force in the workplace rather than an instigator or a chronic complainer.
As hard as you strive to be productive during the workweek, there are inevitable distractions and time-wasters. By identifying the tasks which are affecting your productivity, and taking measures to minimize them, you’ll be able to boost your career prospects and help your employer reach a higher level.