Practical solutions to the productivity imperative

It’s often pointed out that the productivity of the UK workforce lags behind that of our international peers and competitors, and especially so in the many small and medium sized businesses that form the backbone of our economy.

There is a lot of business school research on this topic that explores the reasons and what should be done, but what are the small changes that can be introduced quickly and cheaply that will make a tangible difference?

The principle is that a 1% improvement every week adds up to a 66% improvement in performance over a year, and continues to compound if improvements are sustained.

One of the most common frustrations we hear from our clients and students is they time consumed completing routine tasks. This is where simple solutions can make a big difference.

Here are a handful of ways suggested by our coaching team to get more time into your day, more productivity into your week and ultimately more money into your pocket. 

1. Improve your keyboard speed. Two fingered typists typically take at least three times as long to compose emails, notes or simple reports compared to colleagues who have mastered touch typing. 

2. Organise your email. Using the ‘rules’ functionality within Outlook can sort messages that don’t need your immediate intention into their own folders rather than clutter your inbox. 

3. Get to grips with Excel. If you’re reliant on colleagues for basic formulas and formatting, learning how to master the essentials can make this popular spreadsheet tool a powerful ally. 

4. Automate your diary scheduling. Use plug-ins like Calendly to eliminate the ‘to and fro’ of arranging appointments by giving colleagues and customers access to your diary to pick a time that works for all attendees. 

5. Smarten up your notetaking. Taking more accurate notes using techniques such as Speedwriting means less time is spent capturing and organising your thoughts, and more time can be spent on the core focus of your work. 

This may not provide a productivity miracle but with the average Gross Valued Added by UK workers below £50,000 per annum, if these techniques or something similar could create just an extra 30 minutes per day to be used more productively, we’d be able to secure a 5% uplift over the first year alone.

Multiply this by the number of people in your business and it starts to become an attractive number.

If the topics explored above have got you thinking about the skills you and your colleagues may need to develop, I would love to have a conversation about upskilling and how straightforward improvements can drive bottom line improvement for your organisation.