There is no replacement for a skilled, dedicated workforce. But making minor changes to how you structure a workday can have an extremely positive impact on the level of productivity and focus across your business.
Attempting to grow a small business can be a real challenge, particularly if you have no notable management or hiring experience. After all, there are several different approaches to leading a small team.
Some managers exhibit a hands-on style, while others prefer to give workers their space. There is no definitive right or wrong approach to management. It all depends on the context.
Is the Eight-Hour Workday an Outdated Concept?
Where productivity is concerned, you can look to existing research to devise your own approach for getting the most out of workers.
The average employee might be contracted for eight hours a day. But it would be unrealistic to expect someone to work for this long and not lack concentration or feel fatigue.
As detailed in The Independent, a recent study has shown that cutting your working day down to six hours can positively impact productivity. Doing so also benefits the physical and mental health of employees.
The eight-hour workday arose during the Industrial Revolution. However, modern humans aren’t wired to work comfortably for such a duration. [clickToTweet tweet=”Workers who are content with six-hour days focus better than people struggling for eight hours.” quote=”Workers who are content with six-hour days focus better than people struggling for eight hours.”]
Putting a Valuation on Wasted Time
While it might seem that reducing a working day to six hours will result in lost work, this is not necessarily the case.
Frustrated workers who lose focus tend to spend more time procrastinating. It’s estimated that employees spend around 10 minutes per hour wasting time.
Throughout a workday, this time can amount to an hour and a half of lost work. And the work that employees have completed might be of lower quality due to a lack of focus.
Placing a valuation on this time helps to demonstrate to your employees how damaging procrastination can be. It also shows how productive they could be if they took steps to reduce wasted time.
A good exercise is to use this procrastination calculator from Nigel Frank. It allows you to determine how much time per year you spend procrastinating. It also shows you how much money that time is actually worth to the business.
Besides this calculator, you can use an assortment of custom tools to measure and increase productivity in the workplace.
Why Is Procrastination So Detrimental to Focus?
Procrastination obviously leads to a lower professional output—that’s a given. But that isn’t why you should banish procrastination from the workplace. The reality is that procrastinating simply does not work.
Taking a 5-minute break to scroll through Facebook, check personal emails, or browse shopping websites brings no relief from work.
These distractions only prolong your tasks without giving you all-important reflection or relaxation time. The mind needs time to recharge and refuel, which is why procrastination is a temporary fix that doesn’t fix anything.
Managers should encourage employees to curb procrastination in favour of taking longer, structured breaks from work.
Regular Breaks Are Essential
To improve focus, employers should give their employees plenty of down time to relax and socialise between periods of work.
Employers should also encourage workers to step away from their desks, go for walks, or do anything other than work-related activities.
These habits will help to create a clear divide between work time and break time. They’ll encourage employees to focus during their shifts and cut loose when they are enjoying rest periods.
Workers with a clear schedule of regular breaks will refrain from procrastinating. They will instead work towards their breaks as a goal.
They’ll opt to wait until the next rest period to check social media or read a news story. If you show your employees respect by encouraging them to take breaks, they will in return respect a culture of hard work.
Structuring a Productive Workday
While the research has demonstrated that a six-hour workday can be very productive, you still must schedule it over the course of eight hours.
Structuring a day using four separate 90-minute work periods is a great plan. It gives employees enough time to knuckle down and focus, with plenty of time left over for all-important rest periods.
Employees will greatly benefit from two 30-minute breaks, in the morning and afternoon respectively, as well as an hour lunch break.
Taking a laid-back approach that encourages recharge periods also allows you to be stricter during work times.
After all, you are allocating two hours out of an eight-hour workday for your staff to do nothing other than relax. So your employees can’t complain that you expect them to apply themselves during their designated periods of work.
Soon enough, employees will take pride in the level of focus, concentration, and productivity they display during work periods. And they can do so because they are safe in the knowledge they are never more than 90 minutes away from taking a load off.