Efficiency is everything in the business world. The statement is especially true for startups operating on thin margins. Being able to do more work with less effort becomes essential to success when times get tough. Here are six simple ways you can improve the efficiency of your company.
1. Automate Business Processes
One perennial source of efficiency is automation. Henry Ford realized this when he built his first assembly line. The advent of artificial intelligence, cloud computing, and machine learning are giving entrepreneurs options undreamt of before. Robotic process automation (RPA) tools in the form of chatbots are streamlining customer service. Project management software keeps remote sales teams connected. Address verification software can even reduce shipping errors. Look carefully at your business processes and find places where automation might make a difference.
2. Consider Keeping Remote Work
Remote work was a necessity in 2020. Research suggests that it’s still a good idea. A study done by Stanford University revealed that remote workers were, on average, about 13% more efficient than their office-bound colleagues. A lot of this gain was due to employees packing more productivity into each minute on the job. Every worker has their own optimal conditions under which to work. When they work from home, employees get to optimize time use. Consider keeping work-from-home as an option going forward.
3. Optimize Your Office for Productivity
If you do keep your operations based in the office, there are several steps you can take to make the space more conducive to efficiency. Incorporating ergonomic design trends is a positive first step. Ergonomic design is the science of building workplaces to align with human needs. Ergonomic seating and desks can reduce occupational injuries. Picking a color scheme for each room that matches its desired function is another principle of ergonomics. Sufficient organizational tools can minimize distractions and facilitate workflow. Even small changes can add up to sizable gains.
4. Build a Winning Team
The best infrastructure will count for little if your employees aren’t competent and engaged. The secret? Consistent training. Recent research from Maryville University suggests a strong statistical correlation between training programs and productivity. Similar research found that employees who don’t receive sufficient training have a higher turnover rate. When employees know their jobs better, they have higher morale. Workers need to be on board with the company vision, and training is step one in achieving this goal.
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5. Discourage Multitasking
Some of the most intelligent workers suffer from one shared delusion. They mistakenly believe that multitasking makes good use of their time. The problem is called “switch-tasking.” When the human mind has to jump from one deed to the next, the process of mentally turning one task “off” and the next one “on” wastes more time than performing the tasks sequentially would. Teach yourself and your workforce to focus on one goal at a time. It’s important to note that listening to music and texting at meetings are good examples of multitasking. Keep your mind entirely on the business at hand.
6. Make Health a Priority
Health in the workplace goes well beyond hand sanitizer. The cost to the U.S. economy of occupational stress is around $300 billion annually. This cost comes in part from absenteeism and lackluster performance. The cost of healthcare is also about 50% more for highly-stressed workers. That cost then gets passed on to businesses and consumers. Giving regular breaks is one serviceable option. Offering healthy snack options in the lunch room is another.
Cutting down on sick building syndrome is also practical. That goal can be facilitated by incorporating sustainable design principles. Daylighting, for example, has been shown to boost productivity. Daylighting means exposing people to natural light whenever possible. This practice generates better circadian rhythms. Greater harmony with nature leads to better health and morale.
Boosting efficiency requires creative thinking. Getting the most productivity out of your business processes takes time and experimentation. Consider these tips a starting point as you strategize for the next quarter.