When it comes to setting up your own endeavour to take on the world, your team will be the most important asset you’ll have. Creating an environment that encourages productivity is essential when you’re starting a new business and time really does mean money.
There are plenty of ways to boost productivity within your startup in a natural and non-intrusive way for staff. While recruitment strategies and a general openness to overtime could prove vital, there are lots of more subtle methods of keeping your employees motivated and efficient.
Let’s explore some easy-to-implement productivity boosts for your startup:
Consider your working environment
There have been 100,000s of articles produced arguing the merits of open plan and closed plan offices, as well as more left-field ideas like stand-up desks for workers. Each approach to your working environment will carry different benefits and drawbacks, and it’s worth taking some time to think about the type of work your startup is going to be doing.
If your business will primarily focus on more team-based collaborative tasks like event management, it’s worth optimising opportunities for employees to discuss projects and work together more naturally.
Whereas if your working environment will be primarily used by individuals working towards their own deadlines, a more compartmentalised closed plan office might prove perfect to keep employees focused and engaged with little distraction.
Before setting up your office space, it’s worth drafting up a floorplan to figure out who would be best situated where. Some departments will be more efficient if they’re positioned closer to similar departments – this can be seen in larger companies that position HR and Accounting departments close together to encourage easier communication.
One of the unsung keys for building a productive environment is through promoting trust in your company. Employees will work better when they know exactly how their deadlines are calculated and in what way their work is helping.
As you begin to establish your startup, think about how you’re planning on building a culture and values that your business will stand for. Communicate your ideas to your employees regularly and transparently.
This can be done via monthly or quarterly meetings, or by taking the time to communicate directly to each member of your team on a regular basis. If your startup has less than a dozen employees, this approach can be much more manageable.
Remember, trust and truthfulness helps to build motivation rather than well-meaning deceitfulness. It may be tempting to hide a low-revenue quarter from view of employees but doing so risks a significant loss of worker trust.
Establish a structure
Structures eliminate confusion. When it comes to advertising for jobs, make sure that the roles that you’re offering come with a well-defined and easy to understand description.
Startups typically transform and evolve in unpredictable ways, and some job titles become redundant after business begins to optimise a different area of the company to match client demand. Continually monitor the tasks that your employees are performing to ensure that their job roles are up to date.
By keeping on top of the roles and tasks that your workers perform, you can clearly define their position in the company and provide them with a sense of responsibility. Failing to establish roles within a startup can lead to confusion, disagreements and even duplicated tasks that lead to wasted time.
It’s becoming more fashionable for startups to operate on a less-hierarchical structure in a bid to share responsibility for workloads. But ensuring that each member of staff knows exactly who they can report to if they’re experiencing difficulties or in need of help is essential for preventing lost hours through confusion or performing the wrong tasks.
Be sure to establish some form of structure to your workplace where everyone is fully aware of their roles and who they can report to in times of need.
Encourage team bonding
Your office space could be constructed mostly of introverts or extroverts, but team bonding opportunities can be healthy for both to grow in confidence and become more vocal in team meetings.
There’s also plenty of evidence out there to suggest that overworked employees that have little opportunity to bond with colleagues can carry an adverse effect on team productivity. What’s worse is that too much work on a regular basis could lead to burnout and even anxiety.
(Image: Buffer Open)
The graph above illustrates the dangers of burnout among startup workers. Naturally, when a new business is seeking to establish itself, there can often be the prospect of tight deadlines and longer days. There can often seem like little time to escape the demands of the job, but one of the most rewarding steps you can take is to spot the signs of overworked employees and arrange light-hearted activities and games to help keep them feeling fresh and mentally stronger.
It’s perhaps no surprise that leading organisations like Google offer staff plenty of games within their office buildings – from table tennis to volleyball, indoor climbing and bowling. Notably, arranging team-based games can work wonders in building trust and co-operation amongst groups of workers. This, in turn, can help to boost productivity.
Invest in time-efficient tools
Ensuring that workers are performing to the best of their capabilities without feeling burned out is a key challenge for entrepreneurs, but there are plenty of great time-saving tools to help all aspects of your business to run smoothly too.
The tools to help your business will vary greatly depending on your industry, but some productivity platforms are great across a range of sectors. Slack and Monday are particularly good when it comes to creating a comprehensive collaboration platform where employees can communicate, share, and supply information to each other instantly online.
If you’re running an online business, you’re probably spending a lot of time analysing and tracking the audience. There are tools that can quickly digest large volumes of data about your audience. Platforms like Finteza are capable of providing invaluable analytical insights into your presence online – bringing data-driven suggestions on traffic quality and how to convert customers into making a purchase online.
Other tools like Upwork help to make the task of sourcing the help of freelancers significantly easier, while Grammarly ensures that all written tasks are taken out in a way that requires little editing.
When setting up your business, take the time to investigate the range of tools available to you. Perform cash flow forecasts to monitor whether the cost of the efficiency tools you’re looking to buy into will outweigh the value of working hours saved.
When deadlines are tight and teams are smaller, it can be tempting to micromanage your employees. The best way for managers to encourage productivity and creativity in an office environment is for the manager to take a step back and give employees the freedom and independence they need without causing them to second-guess themselves or become stifled.
Encouraging employees to trust your venture isn’t worth much if you don’t trust them in return. Be sure to remind yourself to keep faith in your employees. After all, you trusted them enough to recruit them – give them the leeway to work without distraction and you’ll be rewarded with good productivity in return.