Conflicts at workplace kill productivity, a study shows

Conflicts at workplaces are inevitable, and even necessary for progress. However, if handled poorly, it can lead to significant productivity loss, a recent study shows.

A study in New Zealand found that 24% of employees surveyed have had at least one disagreement or argument at work that distracted or prevented them from doing their job. Because of conflicts employees become less focused on their jobs, they make more mistakes and tend to miss deadlines. Other consequences include loss of motivation and self confidence.

Over 1/3 of the arguments go on for more than a month. It means that for a whole month employees may not be able to work to their full capacity, thus productivity loss due to conflict in the workplace is significant.

By the way, the study also found that men tend to experience conflict at the workplace more often that women. And while men mainly argue over work-related issues, conflicts between women tend to be more personal – mostly over bullying or a personality clash.

Here are the most reported reasons for conflicts at the workplace:

conflicts at workplace

Source: FairWay workplace study, http://bit.ly/1tb8S6C

Read the full report here.

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The rules of effective lunch breaks that boost your productivity

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”Lunch time? I’ll just grab a sandwich and eat quickly at the desk, not to waste the precious time than can be spent on answering emails or finishing the project whose deadline is approaching inexorably…’’

Okay, now stop right there. Because if that’s your kind of lunch break, you’re doing it wrong.

We already wrote about breaking at work and why it’s important for your productivity. And just like any other break you’re taking at work, your lunch break is the time you can spend to relax and recharge. It boosts energy, improves concentration, and let you become more effective when you get back to work.

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However, the latest survey by Hays in the Australian/New Zealand Workplace Series revealed that employees are cheating themselves when it comes to taking lunch breaks. Turns out, workers often feel the commitment to their employer to take shorter breaks, or they even skip them entirely by eating at their desks.

The results showed that over half of all respondents eat lunch at their desks rather than leave the office. And even if taking a break, workers don’t use all the time designated. Out of 45 minutes, they’re generally taking 60% of the time. It means their lunch breaks are on average 27 minutes long. Is it enough to eat, relax and recharge the energy for the rest of the day?

No, it’s not.

‘’You might think checking a few emails or proofing documents during your lunch break will help you get ahead, but by doing so, you’re denying yourself the chance to truly relax and recharge,’’

notes Cynthia Kong from the OfficeTeam, who came to similar results about the lunch breaking habits in the US.

On the one hand, it’s your break, and you can spend it in a way you like. It’s even important to give the workers autonomy over their lunch break, which means they should be given a chance to choose the time for lunch, and decide what to do during this time, because the autonomy over one’s lunch break can further benefit the employee’s productivity.

Yet, on the other hand, not all activities you engage in during the breaks are beneficial for productivity. While relaxing enhances recovery, working is detrimental for recovery and productivity, as found in a recent study. In the end, workers who skip lunch are more stressed and less productive than those taking lunch breaks.

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Thus, employers should actually encourage the employees to step away from their desks, and have a proper lunch. Not sandwiches, or sugary snacks, but food that boosts brain activity. The World Health Organization found that with the right ingredients, you can boost brain power by as much as 20%, and thus get more things done once you get back to work. So skip the unhealthy, fast-food type of food, and serve for yourself something from these 16 brain foods instead, which will improve your concentration, enhance memory, make you less tired, more energized and thus more productive.

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Stress Less – Managing workplace anxiety

Four in five workers feel stressed in their daily job, and nearly half say that they need help in learning how to manage stress. This year European Safety Week kicks off on October 20th and the theme for 2014 is how ‘Healthy Workplaces Manage Stress’. To mark this, the infographic below explores some interesting facts regarding workplace anxiety and demonstrates some simple tips and tricks you can use to help eliminate workplace anxiety and create a stress-free environment.

Work-related stress is the response people have when presented with work demands and pressures that are not matched to their knowledge and abilities and which challenge their ability to cope. Stress occurs in a wide range of work circumstances but is often made worse when employees feel they have little support from supervisors and colleagues, as well as little control over work processes.

Anxiety and stress are the most common reasons to be off work because of illness, with 35% of all absences being given for “mild to moderate mental health disorders”, such as depression, anxiety and stress. The European Agency for Safety and Health at Work reported that over half of the 550 million working days lost annually from absenteeism are stress related and one in five of all last minute no-shows are due to job stress. An estimated 1 million workers in the US are absent every day due to stress.

To help eliminate stress causing factors in your workplace follow these simple tips:

  • Identify the hazards
  • Assess the risks
  • Eliminate the risks
  • Contain the risks
  • Protect from the risks
  • Monitor the risks

There are also various workplace design elements you can introduce in order to minimise the anxiety that employees feel while at work. These include:

  • Choosing a relaxing colour.
  • Getting creative with your office furniture.
  • Using natural materials for storage.
  • Bringing in lots of personal touches.

Technology can also assist you in alleviating workplace stress. A number of apps can now help employees to alleviate anxiety. From breathing exercises that help reduce symptoms of an anxiety attack, to relaxation training there are a wide variety of options out there to help reduce workplace stress. All_systems_-_IG_Sept-_Stress_in_the_Workplace (1) All Systems Commercial Fitouts is an innovative, dynamic and professional company renowned for delivering excellence through superior service. An established firm, All Systems Commercial Fitouts draws on the wealth of experience of its staff and offers our clients an expertise that is second to none.

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10 Steps to a More Productive Workweek

The most common thing employees all around the world have, is the fact that they hate Mondays. No joke there, according to the statistics, nearly 80% of people don’t want to go to work on Monday.

So, we asked our Weekdone users and did some research to figure out what’s so difficult about the start of the week. Turns out, people hate Mondays because:

  • They have too many things to do.
  • There is not enough time to finish all of it.

Therefore, we tend to procrastinate. We enter the office in the morning and find huge workloads, have not enough time or idea where to start. Keeping this in mind, no wonder we hate Mondays. But whether you like it or not, Mondays are here to stay, so you need to adjust. The best way to cope with it is to stop worrying about the work and start taking maximum out of the work hours. How?

Implement these simple 10 steps to your everyday work life and begin feeling the fulfillment you deserve:

  1. Limit the number of plans to focus on what’s important and to do those tasks well
  2. Focus hard and don’t give up until the task is finished
  3. Write down your progress and always reflect on it at the end of the week
  4. If you feel stuck, communicate the problem
  5. Just say “NO”
  6. Start planning your next week already on Friday
  7. Focus more on outcomes and results, not on process and actions
  8. Share your week plans with others and let them know what you’re working on
  9. Divide your week into 5 days of different work areas
  10. Don’t overload others with too much information.

infographic-week-final

Author bio: “Külli Koort is a fierce proponent of achieving more by doing less. That’s why she is currently working at Weekdone, a start-up that builds status report  software for managers that wish to gain more insights to their teams. You can connect with her on Twitter.”

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Long Working Hours: Not a Road to Productivity

It’s safe to say that the question of longer working hours as leading to greater productivity is far from being solved. The first step in clarifying this issue is understanding that productivity is not just about the actual time devoted to work – it also involves and is affected by nutrition, exercise and, perhaps most importantly, sleeping habits.

What Does the Research Show?

In a recent research study John Pencavel of the Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research demonstrated how the relationship between work hours and output is non-linear – after reaching a certain threshold of hours, the worker’s productivity was shown to rise at a decreasing rate. Even though Pencavel’s study covered munition workers, it’s safe to assume that the same will hold for any kind of employee – and will similarly affect any business.

The problem of long working hours and how they influence productivity is more often than not related to our health. A study showing the dark aspect of long hours in relation to premature death rates in developed countries was the result of a research conducted by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. OECD visualized their findings on a scar graph that puts annual work hours against “potential years of life lost” (PYLL). The results shown below don’t correspond to all countries – South Korea is, for instance, famous for its excessively long working hours and yet their PYLL marker is low. What’s responsible for this situation is probably their healthy diet, which helps to lower the risk of cardiac diseases, at the same time reducing the ratio of premature deaths.

Still, both studies suggest that long working hours are not going to cut the chase for enhanced productivity and worker satisfaction.

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Working Long Hours and a Worker’s Potential

When boiled down to an actual individual, the question becomes even more complicated. One thing is sure – working long hours for a defined period might boost a worker’s productivity as he strives to meet specific project deadlines. On the long run, however, his level of productivity is more likely to decrease as over time he’ll lose mental and physical strength.

In fact, months of prolonged working hours leave us exposed to stress, which combined with unhealthy diet, lack of exercise and disrupted sleep habits might have disastrous effect on our bodies. A study published by the American Journal of Epidemiology pointed out the role of long working hours in developing a heart disease, specifically citing its link with a prolonged exposure to psychological stress.

Psychology itself casts a slightly different light on the matter – it exposes the reason behind the idea of long working hours as beneficial to our careers. Laura Vanderkam aptly summed it up in her article in The Wall Street Journal: “We also live in a competitive society, and so by lamenting our overwork and sleep deprivation – even if that requires workweek inflation and claiming our worst nights are typical – we show that we are dedicated to our jobs and our families. Being “busy” and “starved for time” is a way to show we matter. Put another way, it makes us feel important.”

Associating long working hours with high level of productivity is deeply rooted in our culture. A possible way out of this vicious circle is to reformulate this problematic relation and find some alternative methods to enhance our output, such as proper nutrition and techniques of deep relaxation like yoga or meditation.

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The author of the article, Monica Wells, is a an accomplished businesswoman herself. She masterminded a couple of business-related projects. The latest one – www.bizdb.co.uk – is an online platform which makes it fast and simple to access complete data about businesses in United Kingdom.

Picture source: economist.com

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6 Productivity Hacks Backed by Science

Productivity is the key ingredient to making the most of your time when studying or working. If you’re tired of long hours in front of your computer or you feel you might not be maximizing your potential, this infographic can point you in the right direction and help you improve your productivity by applying a few small changes in your daily life. Ready to learn the secret of getting and staying productive at work or school? Prepare for some science-based pointers that actually work.

This practical infographic presents six interesting ways to enhance your productivity – all of which are based on recent findings from a number of ground-breaking psychological, cognitive and neurobiological research studies. If you’re wondering how to organize your activities in order to stay productive all the time, here’s a little clue – you need to understand your performance ratio and take regular breaks, since they’re essential to keeping your focus. As a matter of fact, this technique has been practiced for years by world-class violinists – it’s simple, but incredibly effective.

You’ll also see that music was found to be extremely important for every day productivity – by keeping us in a good mood, music ultimately prevents us from making the bad decisions that usually result from stress. And if that doesn’t work for you, there’s never been a better excuse to keep cute little animals somewhere near – research shows that they help people to pay more attention when completing tasks that require careful handling.

As you’ll soon find out, it turns out that multitasking isn’t such a great idea for achieving more with less time. Instead, learn how to get the most from best technique for recharging your batteries during the day – napping, which in small doses can successfully reinvigorate your brain. Being fit and healthy is also an important point in maintaining a high level of productivity at work. That’s why exercising is key to keeping your productivity up and running! Read on for more tips on how to boost your potential for productivity in every aspect of your life.

ProductivityInfoGraphicFINAL

Kelly Smith works at CourseFinder, an Australian online education resource. She also provides career advice for students and job seekers and works as a freelance writer.

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How to deal with the ‘’big brother’’ feeling in the office?

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That moment when you realize that the working day is almost over and you still haven’t done anything… It’s frustrating, we agree. And this is when that scary ‘’big brother’’ feeling may come up.

You know, the one which makes you think that your boss will come at your desk in a minute, and ask why did you spend 45 minutes on non-productive apps today. Facebook and Youtube, specifically.

If your company is using DeskTime, then you should know that it highlights only extreme cases. So, only if you are spending hours on non-productive apps regularly, or come to work late every day, it will be noticed. Still feeling uncomfortable with the time-tracking software on your desktop? We summarized a few tips that will hopefully help you to deal with that anxious feeling.

Track your own time

Unless you are really trying to do as less as possible and hope it will stay unnoticed, try to perceive the time tracking softwares, such as DeskTime and others, as tools that help you to improve your productivity. Rather than something your boss will use to spy on you. Because the main idea of DeskTime is to help you to understand where your time is going. So take the advantage of it!

Use the software for self-discipline

The truth is: some degree of surveillance in the office is necessary for productivity, as an experiment by two Dutch designers shows. It turns out that too much freedom and flexibility at the workplace can finally end up as a ‘’financial collapse’’. The experiment showed that given complete freedom, employees simply started to spend too much time on entertaining themselves, rather than working.

Put simply, as much as we don’t like to be monitored, it can actually help us boost the productivity. Self-monitoring with the help of DeskTime, on the other hand, sounds better.

ideas

Create your own zone of privacy

The paradox, however, lies in the fact that while broad visibility can indeed foster productivity, leaving the employees without any privacy can do a significant ‘’detriment to performance’’.

Ethan S. Bernstein in his study argues that when given the right degree of privacy, employees are more willing to cooperate, e.g., by sharing tips during the breaks or helping each other out. As a result, it may increase the employees’ productivity for 10 to 15 percent.

Thus, find your zone of privacy – step away from your computer, use paper and pen to write down and organize ideas, find a quiet place where you are not monitored, and do your job.

private_modeAnd if you have DeskTime, use the “private time” setting for this purpose. At any point you can turn on Private Time, and all of your time spent won’t be tracked. The best part? You can set your “Private Time” reminder to remind you to turn it back off – because when you do return to work, we want to make sure you get full credit for it!

So log out and take your time. Or a break.

Don’t feel bad about taking breaks

Our research showed that regular breaking is the habit of the most productive employees. You can read the whole story here, but the main idea is that taking a rest for 17 minutes, every 52 minutes, will help you become more productive. In other words, breaks are encouraged. So don’t feel bad about taking a rest, as both you and the company will benefit of that. At the end of the day, how much you’ve done will count, instead of how much time you spent on doing it. Most probably, your boss will agree with that.

With or without time-tracking softwares, you will probably be monitored at the workplace. That’s what managers do. The difference is that you can actually use apps like DeskTime for your own good. So why not to?

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Employee Efficiency 101: Productivity Through Motivation

As an employer, one of the ultimate concerns you’ll face on a daily basis is how productive your employees are at work. Office productivity directly influences your business’ profits, meaning that any measures taken to keep your staff motivated will make the company more productive as a whole. We’ve cracked the office productivity formula – and these are just some of the ways you can maximise your employees’ output.

OpenPlanOffice

Continue reading

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The secret of the 10% most productive people? Breaking!

Here at DeskTime, we did a study of the most productive employees to understand their habits and learn from them. Originally published on Daily Muse, the article took off and was republished by Mashable, Business Insider, Inc.com and Lifehacker. You have probably noticed it already, but here is the original and complete text of the study with even more useful tips to increase your productivity.

A person can’t be 100% productive all day. As much as you want to make the most of every minute, to get shit done, to hustle, it’s just not humanly possible. Concentration is like a muscle, it needs to rest to be able to function, and it shouldn’t be overworked, otherwise it’ll simply burn out and take longer to get back into the swing of things. For this reason even an employee working an 8 hour workday need to take breaks to stay productive.

There’s been much controversy over the nature of workplace productivity. While many employers associate an employee’s physical attendance in the office with productivity, the more modern school of thought practiced by people like Jason Fried of Basecamp (as he describes in his book Remote: Office Not Required), has a focus on work done rather than hours put in.

Regardless of what employers view as productive, we’ve been able to pinpoint the working flow that produces the most productive work, and it turns out that the key to workplace productivity is all about effective breaking. From attention span, to physical well-being, breaks have meaning to our productivity. It’s what the 10% most productive people have in common. This is what we found from our research:

The most productive people work for 52 minutes, then break for 17 minutes.

The employees with the highest productivity ratings in fact for the most part don’t even work 8 hour days. Turns out the secret to retaining the highest level of productivity over the span of a work day, is not working longer, but working smarter with frequent breaks.

In this article we’ll take a look at the statistics gathered from the top 10% most productive employees, as well as the theory of what makes it productive, and tips on how you can implement this in your own life.

How we got the stats

As a time-tracking, productivity app, DeskTime collects substantial amounts of daily computer-using behaviour (5.5 million logged records per day) . This gives us a ton of information that we can use to analyse the computer-use behaviour, through the spectrum of what the users themselves consider to be productive.

What we’ve done is isolated the top 10% most productive employees, and analysed their computer-use behaviour during one workday. The way we decided the most productive, is by taking the people who had the 10% highest ratio of use of “productive” applications for their line of work (each individual can have different apps they consider productive, ex. a marketer would indicate social platforms like Facebook as “productive”.)

The theory of productive working

The notion of productivity is the ability to be able to do more in a smaller amount of time.

The reason the 10% most productive employees are able to get the most done during the comparatively short periods of working time is that they’re treated as sprints, for which they’re well-rested. They make the most of the 52 working minutes, in other words, they work with purpose.

Working with purpose can also be called the 100% dedication theory. The notion that whatever you do, you do it full-out. Therefore, during the 52 minutes of work, you’re dedicated to accomplishing tasks, getting things done, making progress. Whereas during the 17 minutes of break, you’re completely removed from the work you’re doing – you’re entirely resting.

Making the most of your 52 working minutes

Lately the meaning of breaks towards the mental and physical productivity of an individual has been valued as incredibly important. Since concentration is like a muscle – it shouldn’t be overworked – then it only makes sense that a fully productive employee

Though by following this set pattern, you’re physically working less time, what you should be doing is entirely devoting yourself to working to your best capability during this time. This is called the 100% method. Whatever you do, dedicate yourself 100%. If you’re working, then work 100%. If you’re relaxing, relax 100% – none of this checking email every few minutes while you’re on break, and none of this “I’ll just quickly check Facebook” while you’re working. Others call this “purposeful” working.

Purposeful working isn’t a new notion – a similar and popular technique is The Pomodoro technique, created by an Italian philosopher who used a strict working/resting time to achieve more. They use the same strategy of working hard for 25 minutes, then breaking for 5. It’s a rigorous schedule, which is geared towards driving attention to short, deliverable tasks within 25 minutes, without succumbing to distractions, either coming from the outside, or self-inflicted.

The science behind breaks

The break of 17 minutes lets your mind, your attention span and your body rest so that when the 52 minutes of work begin, you’re entirely ready to knock off the tasks to be done.

This amount may seem high, but if you take a look at world class violinists, they become great by practicing in similar increments of time, because of the notion of deliberate practice.

Mind – Working for long periods of time can be detrimental to your level of engagement with the certain task or company in general. Repeating tasks lead to cognitive boredom, which in turn halts your ability to thrive at the task at hand.

Attention span – The human brain isn’t able to focus for 8 hours at a time. The best way to refresh attention span is to take a break, let your mind wander wherever it wants to, and allows you to return to a task and be able to be fully dedicated to it.

Body – The human body has never been made to sit for 8 hours straight, as many knowledge workers to these days. Research has shown that breaking up the all-day sit-a-thon can improves productivity – even if it’ simply by working standing.

There are numerous benefits to breaks with physical activity throughout the day. It impacts your eyesight, back pain, arthritis, stress levels, and even heart disease. Not to mention, getting up helps circulate blood, which gets more oxygen all around. Specifically your brain will thank you by waking up and being able to perform more competently.

What to do while you’re on break

You’ve got 17 minutes to take yourself out of the working zone. Coincidentally (or not..), if you look at the world’s professional musicians, they also take 15-20 minute breaks. Really, we’re reaching the level of the greats. We’re talking completely dedicating yourself to not working.

  • Some exercises - there are plenty of exercises you can do in the confines of an office. There are plenty apps available for this, one I’ve successfully used is called Fitster, it senses when you’ve been at the computer for a while and launches a desktop workout.
  • Take a walk - better yet, go outside. Not only will it clear your mind, you’ll get fresh air which means yay, oxygen to make your brain work better, plus you might catch some rays. Vitamin D makes for a better mood, which will only further stimulate your ability to concentrate.
  • Grab something to eat - replenish those energy levels. The best foods to eat to replenish glucose (good energy) are nuts, apples, pears, blueberries, cheese, fish meat, etc.
  • Talk to colleagues – research shows that employees who socialize are both happier at work, and are able to do as much as their non-socializing coworkers, who as a result spend more time working.
  • Surf social networks - because this is your time to do what you want. Make sure to take a moment to look away from the computer and gaze in the distance, to relieve your near-focused eyes.
  • Watch funny cat videos – it’s proven that looking at cute pictures of cats and dogs, you become more productive.

Conclusion – Making time for breaks will help you get more done

By taking the time to rest your brain and concentration muscle, stretching your legs, relieving your eyes, you’ll be doing not only your body and overall well-being a favour, but you’ll be in a position to create the best possible work. If your boss doesn’t agree, send them this link :)

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Methods for Becoming a More Productive Employee

According to Gallup employee research, only 13 percent of employees are invested in their work. The employee feedback survey also indicated that 63 percent of people are not at all engaged or motivated in their work. With only 24 percent of employees reporting being actively engaged in their work, it’s no wonder why employees are very concerned about employee productivity.

What are the top reasons people enjoy their jobs?

Employees who enjoy their jobs often report in employee surveys liking their co-workers. People who love their jobs report a high degree of autonomy and flexibility in their roles. Individuals who enjoy the culture and the work environment are more likely to have job satisfaction. Job variety is another commonly cited reason why people report enjoying their job. Employees thrive in environments where they are being adequately challenged.

Job satisfaction and employee productivity

Employees who feel satisfied with their jobs are more productive in general. According to an article called the “Current Directions in Psychological Science” published in the Association for Psychological Science, employees need several things in order to feel more engaged in their positions. Autonomy, variety, growth, social support and feedback are all essential in improving employee performance. In satisfying these basic needs, employees can be much more effective and engaged.

Getting and opinion

Management can create more productive employees by meeting the basic social needs. Managers may take it a step further and use an employee feedback survey as something of a barometer to assess employee satisfaction. Conducting employee research, focusing on areas like benefits, recognition and supervisor feedback can all be instrumental in improving work conditions that promote productivity. Many employees make the mistake of not tracking job satisfaction. Having access to key data made available through employee surveys improve the company’s ability implement the right incentives and measures that can increase job satisfaction. 

Companies must be capable of meeting basic needs. Employees can be much more engaged with the right balance of autonomy, employee recognition, feedback, challenge and social support. In measuring key indicators tied to employee performance and job satisfaction, employers can dramatically increase productivity with their employees.

For more information on how to become a happier, more productive employee, please view our inforgraphic, “5 Key Factors That Affect Your Employees’ Productivity.”

Infographic-5-Key-Factors-That-Affect-Your-Employees-Productivity

Shelly Duell has been writing since she can remember, and blogging professionally for the past five years. The National Business Research Institute (NBRI) is the world’s leadin business research and consulting firms for companies that are commited to quickly achieving and sustaining their full potential. To learn more about this research institute, please visit their site at http://www.nbrii.com/about/

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