Smartphones. Social media. Non-stop notifications from instant messaging, news sites, Twitter feeds, and whatever else keeps popping up on every device in sight. It’s a new normal out there, so keeping employees focused on work in a tech-distracted world takes a whole new point of view, and some innovation too.
Stay focused on real productivity.
Blocking sites like Facebook is one way to work around the issue, but does that strategy really even work? Major studies and news outlets are reporting otherwise. Though over half of US employers block social media access at the workplace, the practice is often counterproductive. Not only do employees feel unjustly policed, but they often waste even more company time sneaking onto social sites using handheld devices.
Two recent studies, cited in the Forbes article, "Want to be a More Productive Employee? Get on Social Networks," found "digital connectivity appeared to boost metrics like productivity and retention." There are many reasons behind this, but this instant, easy connection is key, especially when it comes to other employees. When people feel social and up to speed, they stay more engaged and refreshed, which actually adds up to focus in the end.
If you can’t beat them, join them.
According to the report The Social Economy, by the McKinsey Global Institute, certain industries could raise productivity by 20 to 25 percent by implementing social technologies. Frequent interaction between employees can have unexpected benefits, especially when it comes to brainstorming and getting access to needed information, fast.
To focus employees, go with the flow. Employees now have more ways to work almost anywhere. So empower them with the online tools it takes to stay on track. Web-based time tracking and reporting apps like TSheets help employees prove they’re on the clock and on task, but with more flexibility in how and where work gets done.
TSheets allows employees to clock in and out using a tweet, text message, iPhone or Android app, phone call, mobile app, and more. So important work-related data, even down to the fine details like job codes and GPS waypoints, is collected in real time for a company, but it’s done on the employee’s terms. Flexibility and perceived freedom mean motivation.
Set realistic goals and incentives.
Self-incentivizing is the first step. When employees know a business’s big-picture goals, then the everyday steps that they need to take to reach them, they stay intrinsically more focused.
People love to do many things at once, even though studies show multitasking doesn’t actually work. Online time tracking can help achieve people concentrate on one thing at a time, but with the appearance of unlimited workplace possibility. Billing time to certain tasks tends to focus people in the moment. The internal switch says, "The red light is on, so better put my mind on that." When an employee feels like changing up the client or the job on a whim, clicking on that different job triggers a new focusing in.
Reporting tools can also give managers the real world information it takes to reward employees, re-strategize and even reshuffle workloads based on what people are most effective at getting done in actual life. This can lead to less strain and improved overall employee satisfaction too.
Clear goals and metric-based incentives help too. Built-in rewards, even ones as basic as a staff-wide acknowledgment or personal thank you, can also greatly improve employee morale.
So make the most of the brave new world, and take advantage of the social tools and technology on hand to keep employees on track.