Technology can be our best friend or our worst enemy. Depending on how employers use it, productivity either soars or falls. However, the modern workplace is full of distractions, pulling people out of focus. One of the most common mistakes people make is attempting to multitask, which is known to hurt focus.
ACM’s Neurotics Can’t Focus study from 2016 found that multitasking damages focus, which is only held for a median span of about 40 seconds. Help your staff stay focused by emphasizing the importance of single-tasking—performing one task at a time without any distractions.
While it’s a concept that seems simple, it can be hard to pull off, especially with so many stimuli competing for our attention. However, you can learn this technique and teach your employees how to stay focused and get things done.
Let’s see how technology can be leveraged to improve workplace productivity and employee focus:
Single-tasking takes a lot of willpower, mainly because it is a change of habit. Most people are accustomed to juggling their work with Facebook notifications, incoming Snaps, Twitter mentions, and an overflowing inbox—all while having 15 tabs open and listening to nearby co-workers chit chat.
This doesn’t just hurt productivity and focus, it can even damage employees’ health. The Journal of Occupational Health Psychology published an April 2015 study titled Please Respond ASAP that coined the term “telepressure” to describe the urge to quickly respond to all kinds of messaging, including emails. Of the 303 participants, those who obsessed over responding reported poorer quality of sleep and missed more work due to health problems.
Train employees how to combat these distractions and unnecessary stressors with the help of technology. Encourage them to block social media on their work computers at their own will. Provide them with tools like note taking applications (such as Evernote) for quick, easy storage of distractions and ideas for later.
Encourage employees to take regular breaks. There are several apps that structure your workday by using a Pomodoro timer. The Pomodoro Technique is a time management tool that breaks work into increments of about 25 to 30 minutes, where you stay in deep focus without distractions on a single task for the allotted time, then take a short break of a few minutes before the next interval of work time.
Taking breaks is proven to boost your productivity. The Staples Business Advantage Workplace Index survey from 2016 found that all parties agree on the positive effects of taking breaks: 57 percent of employers and 64 percent of employees agreed that taking adequate breaks is a key factor to their overall productivity. These moments away from their desks help employees feel restored and energized for the next thing on their to-do list.
Visualize the Big Picture
How can you keep employees engaged and motivated to stay on task? What if they just don’t feel determined to put their best foot forward? They may have lost sight of what’s really important — the big picture.
Performance management platforms provide large scale visuals for projects and tasks. People like to see how their work contributes to advancing toward organizational goal achievement. When they understand how their work relates to their team and other teams and departments, they will feel more engaged and motivated to complete tasks and to do them well.
By understanding the far reaching effects of their work, employees feel more personal accountability and will learn how to prioritize and manage their time more effectively. If their colleagues are counting on them, they will be encouraged to stay productive and feel more enthusiasm.
With the right guidance, employees will see how effective single-tasking is for good time management and project management. Demonstrate how they should organize their task list, prioritize by urgency and impact, then deliver to keep projects moving forward. In the end, they will see larger scale activities being completed and feel proud of their contribution.
Collaborate in the Clouds
Cloud technology makes it easy for employees to upload documents and work-related files to a drive so everyone can share and collaborate on projects. When a project requires lots of hands, team members can communicate easily and break it down into individual tasks.
You no longer have to send a hundred emails back and forth to share documents and files. The collaboration process is much more streamlined and refined to improve productivity at every level of the company.
This enables managers to better track and plan for their department and set deadlines. Employees can see the results of their performance in the group work, which motivates them to stay focused. More importantly, cloud computing provides flexibility to your staff. Now they can work remotely or while they travel to continue their work duties and maintain a high level of performance.
Empower With Feedback
Employees want to receive constructive feedback so they know how they are performing and what they can do to improve. Workboard’s Be Fearless About Feedback infographic shows that 72 percent of employees surveyed think their performance would improve with more feedback. If you’re measuring and analyzing the right performance data, you can provide more impactful, informed feedback that will be constructive.
Provide it on a regular basis to guide your staff to success. Pinpoint where they are succeeding and where they could use improvement. Focus feedback on forward-thinking and create solutions.
Start a transparency policy, which results in better office communication. It encourages employees to speak up when they feel like they’re struggling to focus and perform at a level they feel comfortable with.
You want to empower them with tools necessary to work distraction free so they can remain engaged and productive. Technology provides many resources for companies who need to make some adjustments to their workflow in order to keep the company growing.