4 Ways to Increase Productivity by Reimagining Work Schedules

Finding innovative ways to increase productivity is challenging. Here's a closer look at how reimagining work schedules can benefit your small business.

Finding innovative ways to increase productivity can be challenging for business owners.

With a new year now underway, you can take your company's productivity to new heights by adjusting your — and your employees' — routines. Flexible schedules, time management apps and to-do lists already keep you on target, but going beyond the usual approaches helps you get more done while increasing employee morale and engagement.

Here's a closer look at strategies that can shake up your work schedules and leave your team feeling refreshed, inspired and more efficient:

Modify Your Meeting Routines

More than 50 percent of employees surveyed for a recent ShoreTel report noted that they spend at least five hours each week in meetings, with one quarter spending nine hours (or more) in them.

As meetings increasingly eat up your team's day, it can be difficult for employees to stay engaged — especially if those gatherings take place in sterile conference rooms. Consider shaking up your meeting format and location. Try a walking meeting to fit in some exercise around brainstorming, or relocate to an outdoor location for a more casual feel while enjoying fresh air and sunshine.

If you're dedicating weekly meetings to updates that could easily be captured in writing, consider simply sending a team email and touching base one-on-one instead. Experiment with different meeting formats to free up more time for other tasks and see which ones allow your team to get more done.

Prioritize Mental and Physical Breaks

It may sound paradoxical, but relaxing may actually help you get more done. It's easy to run from meeting to meeting without a break, squeezing in emails, quick phone calls and touch-bases with your team. However, by the end of the day, that can leave you (and your team) feeling a little run-down and burnt-out, which makes it hard to be truly productive.

Build a schedule that prioritizes breaks and think about your physical office design to support that. For example, do you have a refreshing place with comfortable furniture for your team to regroup during the day? You could also send a company email that outlines the best paths near the office to take a quick walk or identifies benches where workers can head outside to just enjoy some alone time.

Explore Task Batching

Productivity is about more than crossing things off your to-do list. It's about really getting down to business and accomplishing more than you usually do. Oftentimes, achieving the state of concentration needed to make real progress on big projects or innovate can challenge even the most committed workers.

Companies of all sizes have made significant progress in this area by exploring different ways to structure their workdays. For example, some teams schedule all meetings one day of the week or group all client calls to a single afternoon. Others will batch similar tasks together so they don't have to switch gears and streamline their focus on a single issue. Even scheduling your email time, as the Small Business Forum suggests, can allow you to dedicate your time effectively.

Get More Done With Scrums

Scrums are a developing approach to productivity that bring all hands on deck to focus on key issues in short "sprints," according to New Media Campaigns. The same strategy can work for business owners. For example, if you're trying to complete inventory quickly and efficiently, consider having your entire team come together to work on it as a company-wide project. Direct your attention to accuracy by setting tight deadlines that keep your staff moving forward.

Discovering how to increase productivity ultimately means more for your bottom line. Explore how small changes to your schedule, office routine and overall workday help your whole team get more done and provide a boon to your business.