Work can be chaotic and frustrating, but you don’t have to endure the stress of never-ending paperwork and emails every day. Instead, you can easily enhance your office workflow and make it much easier and less stressful to complete your work.
We’ll explain five ways to improve your workflow and watch your office productivity grow.
How to improve your office workflow
These tips can help you streamline your workflow to reduce stress and increase productivity.
1. Clearly communicate tasks and processes.
Communication is vital for any business to run smoothly. A successful business encourages employees to let each other know what they are working on, answer any questions others may have and frequently report to their managers. As the leader, you are responsible for handing out tasks to specific people and communicating with them regarding their assigned tasks.
To improve workflow, your staff must know what is expected of them for each task. This could include project deadlines, word length, research requirements, and other criteria and goals. If an employee isn’t aware of their expected targets, their workflow could suffer because they have no clear guidelines.
“An effective way to manage the workload of your employees is to give them an estimation at the start of the week,” said Ben Wallington, founder and managing director of Designerwear. “While this may not always be possible, and for some jobs impractical, letting employees know the output that is expected from them gives them a chance to brace themselves for the week. They can prepare and segment their time according to their estimated workflow.”
Assigning a task outside of an employee’s expertise might cause them to shut down and not feel motivated to do the work. People succeed when they feel their knowledge is used properly, so assigning individual tasks based on employees’ individual skills and strengths will yield the best results. Encourage employee feedback to ensure job satisfaction. [Read related article: The Most Effective Apps for Internal Communication]
Communication is vital to ensure task completion and high employee morale.
2. Conduct frequent training, and monitor employees’ performance.
When employees are intimidated by their work, they tend to procrastinate, losing efficiency and productivity. When thoroughly trained on your company’s processes, however, they will feel more confident in their work.
Ryan Rottman, co-founder and CEO of OSDB Sports, suggested paying close attention to each employee’s performance and regularly monitoring whether they are still thriving in the same role.
“As people learn and grow within a company, they can also outgrow the initial role for which they were hired,” Rottman said. “A sure way to raise employee morale and streamline your workflow is to regularly promote from within, or even add new tasks to a job description to freshen things up. Team members will be proud of their jobs, and it will show in their work.”
Employees are more likely to be engaged in training if it’s framed as a potential growth opportunity, as opposed to punishment for not completing a task correctly or on time.
3. Get organized.
Being organized has many benefits, including a less-stressful environment and less time wasted looking for items. Getting — and staying — organized often sounds overwhelming, but if you work on it a little each day, you will be amazed at how easy it becomes.
You cannot do every task at the same time, so it’s important to prioritize. Doing the most difficult tasks first will allow you to focus on smaller, less-difficult tasks later.
At the start of your day, try ranking each task in a to-do list according to importance and urgency. Put the most important projects at the top of your list and check them off as you complete them. If a task seems overwhelming, getting rid of it as soon as possible will ease your mind and reduce that feeling of being consumed by numerous tasks.
At the end of each day, spend 10 to 15 minutes sorting through the day’s papers, filing them as needed and tossing everything you no longer need. Delete all resolved emails, and prioritize the tasks for the next day in your to-do list. Decluttering from the day will allow you to be more organized the following day, and you won’t feel overwhelmed first thing in the morning.
Organizing your office means more than cleaning your workspace; it also includes organizing and scheduling your time. When you are organized, you are less likely to waste time and can concentrate more easily. You will also become a reliable office leader.
4. Use collaboration tools.
One of the most common sources of productivity interference is email. Your email may be a source of collaboration with your employees and clients, but being interrupted by your email every few minutes will slow your productivity and end up costing you time and money.
Instead of constantly checking your email or responding to each alert, consider using a cloud-based tool, such as SaneBox, that separates your email by moving important things to one place and less-important things to another place. You can schedule when to check your email instead of spending a lot of accumulated time reading and sorting through massive volumes of email notifications.
5. Encourage a healthy work-life balance.
It’s important to encourage your employees to maintain a positive work-life balance. Taking work home does not improve workflow; it causes restlessness at home, limits breaks and results in exhaustion the following workday. It can also be a big factor in employee burnout.
Instead, encourage employees to clear their minds when they end their workdays. It will improve work-life balance, increase productivity and boost employee retention.
How office workflow affects productivity
Efficient workflows not only streamline your everyday business processes but can also enable better use of resources.
Employees can benefit from continuous improvement through building, measuring, evaluating and maintaining efficient workflows. For example, artificial intelligence (AI), including machine learning, can automate these processes with minimal investment. According to a 2023 Gitnux Market Data Report, 75 percent of companies that utilize workflow automation say it boosts their competitive advantage.
When efficient workflows are successful, workers have far fewer unnecessary tasks. They also reduce errors and facilitate collaboration among departments. By having a smart system in place, team members can boost both their own productivity and the overall success of the company.
Jennifer Post contributed to this article. Source interviews were conducted for a previous version.