How to Improve Your Office Workflow


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Workflow is easily affected by various forces, from chatty colleagues to social media distractions. As a leader, it's your job to ensure your company is producing quality work and performing efficiently. But this requires more effort than you might realize.

"Having a successful business comes from having a good workflow," said Candice Simons, CEO and founder of Brooklyn Outdoor. "Oftentimes, it's a trial-and-error process, [as] specific workflows work well for some companies and not others. However, I believe there are all-encompassing methods that any company can employ to be the most productive that they can."

If you notice a negative shift in your workflow, or you think it can be improved, try these three tips.

Review assignments each week

To hold your employees more accountable for their projects and responsibilities, you should go over their individual assignments every week so that they know what's expected of them.

"Early on Monday, bring your team together to review your priorities for the week, and identify any major events that people need to be aware of," said Paula Cizek, chief research officer at NOBL. "Then, early on Friday, reconvene to discuss what you accomplished, and what still needs to happen."

At these meetings, you should answer any questions that employees might have about their work for the week. That way, once the workweek picks up or becomes more hectic, most concerns will already be covered; and a game plan will be outlined.

"Teams are often slowed down because they don't know what the next step is, or who is responsible for doing it," said Cizek. "Identify key processes and break them down into simple steps."

Additionally, make sure that your workers aren't taking on too much at a time. While they might have many assignments to complete in a week, they should dedicate time to each one individually rather than trying to tackle them all at once.

"While it may seem like multitasking is necessary to get everything on your to-do list done, it often slows you down," said Simons. "Putting only half of your attention into one project can result in errors, unprofessionalness, and force you to spend more time working on it right before it’s due to fix mistakes. When you set aside a period of time to devote to one task, you’re more likely to put your best effort into it and have greater focus."

Communicate effectively

While you're the manager of your team, all the pressure to come up with ideas shouldn't fall on you. Remember that your workers are there for a reason, and they might offer some valuable input that you didn't consider.

"Your team probably already has some great ideas for improving their productivity – but no one's asked," said Cizek. "Hold a team retrospective in which you identify what's working well, what needs improvement, and what you can put into place to change how you work together."

Without communication, you won't be on the same page as your team; and that can break an entire company. Take the time to speak with your workers and really listen to what they have to say. You never know what you might learn.

"To get projects done efficiently, you must communicate with your team," said Simons. "Whether that be discussing who works on what part of the task or when the task is due, talking to others helps sort out your own thoughts and hear fresh ones as well. The more you talk to others, the more productive you’ll end up being. Miscommunication often hinders efficiency."

Encourage breaks

You might think that working through lunch or skipping a coffee break will keep workers on track, but doing so could actually hurt their productivity. Your employees should feel like they have the flexibility to take private phone calls or step out of the office for a few minutes throughout the day.

"Setting aside 15 minutes to destress and relax will not interrupt your workflow, but instead strengthen it when you return to the task you are working on," said Simons. "Brain breaks help you collect your thoughts and destress, preventing burnout."

Lead by example so your employees know that they won't get in trouble for taking some well-deserved "me" time. Trust your body and listen to its signals; and encourage your team to do the same.

"When you begin to feel tired or anxious while working, step away from the project for a few minutes," said Simons. "When you return to it, you’ll feel recharged and ready to conquer the rest."