This Is How to Be More Productive at Work: 5 Secrets from Research
We all want to be more productive at work.
Want being the key word.
We all want to. It’s just that some days are much harder than others.
But there are some things you can do to increase your productivity at work — starting right now.
Whether you’re part of a team, or managing it, here are five research-backed secrets on how to increase your productivity.
1. Add an MVP to Your Team
But neither one of those MVPs would have won a championship — or a single game — unless they had a team supporting them.
Well, it turns out that great players can have a “spillover” effect on their team members.
They can elevate the games of everyone else on his or her team.
Put simply, an MVP can make everyone better.
In fact, according to “Productivity Spillovers in Team Production: Evidence from Professional Basketball”:
Using possession-level data from games played in the National Basketball Association (NBA), we demonstrate that productivity spillovers play an important role in team production. We find that a standard deviation increase in the spillover effect of one player improves team success by 63% as much as a standard deviation increase in the direct productivity of that player.
What’s it mean?
The magical powers of just one great team member — a unicorn — can positively impact the productivity of rest of your team. The opposite would also be true — a donkey employee can stifle productivity.
And seriously, who would you rather your team emulate — a unicorn or a donkey? So hire wisely!
2. Limit Talk About Politics in the Office
It used to be that politics would only be a huge topic once every four years.
Regardless of your party affiliation, we can probably all agree that today’s contentious political climate is taking a toll on employees on both sides of the aisle (and everyone caught in the middle).
People are feeling stressed and cynical. They’re having trouble getting work done.
Why? Duh! Stress makes people less productive.
According to a survey by the American Psychological Association, one in four employees were negatively affected by political talk at work during the election season:
Although a majority of working Americans (60 percent) indicated that people at work are generally respectful toward others with differing political views, more than a quarter (26 percent) have witnessed or overheard their coworkers arguing about politics, and about 1 in 10 (11 percent) have gotten into an argument themselves. Overall, more than a quarter of working Americans (27 percent) reported at least one negative outcome as a result of political discussions at work during this election season.
While you can’t stop it entirely, it might help to keep politics to a minimum in the office — and always make sure discussions are done in a respectful manner.
Even if you’re on different “political teams,” you’re all on the same team at work. So do your best to leave the politics at the door and get stuff done.
3. Stand Up!
Could a standing desk make you more productive? Research says yes.
According to research from Texas A&M University:
The researchers examined the productivity differences between two groups of call center employees over the course of six months and found that those with stand-capable workstations — those in which the worker could raise or lower the desk to stand or sit as they wished throughout the day — were about 46 percent more productive than those with traditional, seated desk configurations. Productivity was measured by how many successful calls workers completed per hour at work. Based on work related to this study in a previous publication, workers in the stand-capable desks sat for about 1.6 hours less per day than the seated desk workers.
In addition to increasing productivity, standing desks are also good for health. Workers using standing desks reported less body comfort.
It’s also possible that standing desks can improve cognitive performance, but the research isn’t in on that. Yet.
Healthier employees will be more productive employees. So it may be worth it for your company to make an investment in standing desks.
4. Go Green
Plants aren’t just pretty to look at. Adding plants to your office can boost productivity by 15 percent.
That’s according to University of Exeter research, which found that “green” beats “lean”:
The research showed plants in the office significantly increased workplace satisfaction, self-reported levels of concentration, and perceived air quality.
Analyses into the reasons why plants are beneficial suggests that a green office increases employees’ work engagement by making them more physically, cognitively, and emotionally involved in their work.
If you want a smart and productive office — one that’s more enjoyable, comfortable, and profitable — add some plants.
5. Stop Multitasking
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: multitasking is killing your brain.
The human brain is simply less productive when it tries to focus on more than one task at a time. Our brains weren’t programmed that way.
As research from the University of London explained:
Heavy multitaskers — those who multitask a lot and feel that it boosts their performance — were actually worse at multitasking than those who like to do a single thing at a time. The frequent multitaskers performed worse because they had more trouble organizing their thoughts and filtering out irrelevant information, and they were slower at switching from one task to another.
Oh, but that’s not all in terms of negative effects. Multitasking also lowers your IQ and might even be permanently damaging your brain.
Yikes. You only have one brain. Protect it — and protect your productivity.
So there you have it.
If you’re ready to be more productive at work, now you know where to start.