The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted how we work and turned it on its head. The drastic shift to telework and working from home (WFH) generated a lot of buzz around the topic of productivity. Many firms say remote working has increased productivity by allowing more flexibility, reduced commuting time, and increased connectivity. 

As we enter the third year of WFH, more companies are turning to hybrid or permanent WFH modules to increase productivity. 

Let us delve deeper into what is productivity, why it is important, and could your productivity be better?

What Is Productivity?

Productivity is a measure of how efficiently a person completes a task. We can define it as the rate at which a company or country produces goods and services (output), usually judged based on the amounts of inputs (labor, capital, energy, or other resources) used to deliver those goods and services. 

So, if you ask what is productivity in terms of economics, we can call it a measure of the output per unit of input. Productivity is one of the primary sources of economic growth and competitiveness. At an enterprise level, productivity measures the efficiency of a company's production process, and can be calculated from the number of units produced or net sales compared to employee labor hours invested.

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Types of Productivity

There are mainly two types of productivity:

Partial Factor Productivity

Partial Factor Productivity measures the ratio of total output to a partial or single input. This type of productivity is used to measure the productivity of each unit factor compared to the production of output.

Partial factor inputs can be categorized as labor, capital, machinery, material, etc. 

Production Managers usually use partial productivity measures due to readily available and accessible data.  

Multifactor or Total Productivity

Multifactor productivity is a measure of the ratio of total output and total input. It denotes the combined effect of all resources used in generating the total output units.   

Why is Productivity Important?

Increased productivity indicates greater output from the same amount of input. It means higher efficiency with which a company or economy can transform resources into goods. Thus, productivity growth is our opportunity to create more from less. 

Increased productivity drives economic growth, meaning an economy can produce and consume more and more goods and services for the same amount of work. Every section of society, viz., consumers, workers, employers, can benefit from a productivity increase. It is vital to individuals, businesses, and analysts.

By being more productive, individuals can complete their work efficiently, tackle jobs quicker, and enjoy more free time. Productivity can help maintain a healthy work/life balance, and some people even enjoy their work more and feel less stressed when they're productive.  

Now, let us look at the benefits derived from increased productivity at workplace.

  • Effective utilization of resources
  • Reduced cost of production
  • Reduced price of goods and services
  • Increased wages to workers
  • Lower overhead costs
  • Higher profits for businesses
  • Higher per capita income
  • Overall prosperity and growth

How to Measure Productivity in the Workplace?

Productivity in the workplace determines the efficiency with which tasks and goals are achieved in an organization. It is the ratio of the individual or team input and output. However, many external and internal factors can affect an organization's productivity, so managers need to understand what lies between input and output. 

We can measure employee productivity with the labor productivity equation:

Total output/total input

To calculate Partial Factor Productivity:

Total output/single input

To calculate Multifactor Productivity:

Total Output / Subset of inputs:

The combined effect of all input resources (labor, capital, material, etc.) is divided into the output.

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Team productivity in a workplace is measured with the help of graphs, charts, and formulae based on several quantity index. Weekly or monthly reports, statistical data, and balance figures are gathered, processed, compared, and analyzed to calculate a team's level of productivity and efficiency. Time distribution across tasks and projects is observed from charts and reports; time estimates are compared with actual working time, overtime, and leave time to review various aspects of productivity trends.  

A team's work output is generally measured to be the number of accomplished tasks by the team. The input is usually taken to be the time – weeks, months, and quarters taken to accomplish the tasks.   

Methods that Help Improve Productivity

There are several popular methods and practices to improve productivity. 

Increasing Team Productivity

1. Set Clear Goals

Share specific goals with your team so they are equipped to manage their time better and improve productivity. People are more motivated to go above and beyond when they have clear expectations and guidelines.

2. Break down Larger Projects into Smaller, Actionable Tasks

It is often overwhelming and intimating to have a large project with strict deadlines looming over your team's head. Breaking it down into smaller, more manageable tasks can motivate team members to put in more effort and makes it easier to track progress.

3. Prioritize

With multiple tasks at hand, it can become difficult for employees to stay focused. Make sure to communicate the top priority tasks to your team constantly, so they know what to concentrate on and work on tasks that are more valuable to the company at that given time. 

4. Regular Feedback 

The proper feedback improves team morale and urges employees to work harder and do better. Provide feedback regularly, focusing on action rather than the individual.

5. Discourage Multitasking, Overtime

Sometimes, when people are too invested in a project or task they're working on, they tend to go overboard with their commitment. Doing multitasking or working for extended hours may only lead to wasted time and additional stress. Ironically, this might perhaps make you less productive. 

6. Encourage Collaboration and Positivity

Employees usually feel happier and more optimistic about their jobs when working in a happy and positive environment. When they know each other, they feel much more comfortable collaborating and sharing ideas within the team. This, in turn, can lead to better and faster output for the company.

7. Design Incentive Programs

There's nothing better to drive employee productivity than making them feel respected and appreciated. Introduce incentive programs like extra vacation time or bonuses to motivate the workforce to work harder and boost productivity. 

8. Provide Right Equipment

Know what tools and equipment your employees need to complete tasks, and give them the right equipment that functions properly. You don't want to compromise on productivity simply because of faulty computers or software!

9. Allow Flexible Schedules

Expecting all employees to follow the same rigid work schedule affects the morale and productivity of a company. Allow employees to work from home, in hybrid mode, or let them make their own schedules. A flexible schedule can actually improve loyalty and productivity. 

Several studies over the past year have shown that productivity of workers while working remotely from home is higher than working in an office setting. According to a study by Stanford, working from home increased workers' productivity by 13%.    

Increasing Individual Productivity

Few tips to help you do more in less time:

1. Work Smarter

Track your progress on a visual chart and update as you complete tasks. It will keep you motivated. Make sure you take regular breaks between intense work sessions. If you're feeling confused, switch to a different job or take some time off to get back at it again with renewed energy. 

2. Begin your day with the most important task

Tackle the most important or challenging tasks when your energy is the highest at the beginning of the day. This habit will boost your chances of making adequate progress. 

3. When stuck, switch to smaller tasks

When you struggle with an arduous task, switch to smaller tasks that you know you can accomplish. It will help gain positive momentum to maintain your productivity.

4. Be Realistic

Set realistic goals and standards. Stop chasing perfection in every task you do. Taking ages to complete a task in an effort to deliver the best possible result can be counterproductive in the end. Make sure your work is good enough, and then move on to the next task on your schedule. 

Measuring workplace productivity is neither a cakewalk nor an overnight job. But the efforts you put into it are worth its value in gold, given its incredible impact on individual and business growth. Productivity tools can be one of the first stepping stones to achieving high productivity levels and helping you and your team stay connected and engaged to deliver their best. 

Want to learn more about innovation and outside the box thinking to improve your productivity? Join the Post Graduate Program in Design Thinking & Innovation by Simplilearn. Designed with UMass Amherst and EY, the program will help you become an expert in domains such as strategy, operations, HR, and technology.

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