The only way to ensure your team stays autonomously productive is to create a “culture of productivity”. Here are 5 productivity hacks you can use to build productivity into your company culture.


It’s easy to find productivity hacks on the internet.
 
Searching “how to be more productive” on Google gives you over 44 million results. But not every member of your team is thinking about performing that Google search. 
 
Even if they’re actively seeking to improve their productivity, they might not take the time to do the research, let alone take action to incorporate those tips into their everyday lives.
 
That’s why you need to create a culture of productivity at your company.
 
Making productivity (and the ways to increase it) part of the norms at your office will mean it’s on everyone’s mind. Each day, from the moment they turn on their computer, they’ll be thinking about how to perform their jobs faster and better.
 
Here at Teamwork working productively is written into our company values and our entire software suite is designed to maximize team productivity.
 
That’s why we put together a list of 5 hacks you can use to build productivity into your company culture.

1. Encourage Employees to Take Productive Breaks

Motivated employees at every company feel the pressure to make the most out of every minute of the workday. When you’re working against tight deadlines, taking a break can seem like the last thing that will make you more productive.
 
But that’s not true.
 
Some of the most effective productivity methodologies, like the Pomodoro Technique and the 52-17, actually require you to take breaks.

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It’s not as simple as giving everyone a 30-minute break during the 3PM slump, though. Everyone works differently, which means that there can’t be a one-size-fits-all policy. Some people work in short bursts, while others need long, uninterrupted stretches of time.
While a hard-and-fast break policy doesn’t accommodate everyone’s individual habits, it’s in your company’s best interest to encourage employees to step away from their desks and take breaks. Here are some ideas to help you do this.

  • Set a good example. If your employees see their CEO or their manager taking a few 10-minute breaks to stretch or step away from their computer, they’ll be less hesitant to do it themselves.
  • Create an office library. Not only does having an office library build a reference area for professional development, it also signals that the office isn’t “all work all the time.”
  • Share hobbies. Jeremy Kenisky, owner of Geomedia, encourages employees to bring their hobbies to work to share them. One employee taught the office how to juggle bowling pins! A company-condoned knitting lesson or two provides a much-needed break and lets employees know it’s okay to take them.

By creating a break-friendly environment, you are propelling your team to work productively and integrating it into your company culture. 

2. Harness the Benefits of Breakout Areas

Your office space determines your productivity.
Factors in your environment like windows or the temperature can have a significant impact, and a little extra space can really improve focus, too. A breakout area is any space that’s different from your employees’ regular working environment—and is an easy way to increase productivity in your office. 

google breakout area
Breakout area in Google’s Mexico HQ

The purpose is to give employees a place to go away from their desk, or outside the three walls of their cubicle, because the benefits are numerous.
Here are some of the ways you can use breakout areas, and the productivity boosts they each give.

  • A place near inspiring team members. Working alongside a group of highly productive people, according to research from Harvard Business School, can help boost productivity for employees who struggle with focus.
  • A space to unplug. A breakout area is great for when you need a timeout from digital screens—whether you need to step away from your desk or have an informal meeting.
  • A corner for games. Playing games during breaks at work increases dopamine, which in turn increases motivation and confidence. You don’t need to go out and buy a giant ping pong table, though! Shared email platform Front stocks Legos and board games in the office—with personalized Lego figurines for each of their team members. 
  • A nook for naps. Drowsiness costs U.S. businesses $18 billion a year, while quick naps (especially in the early afternoon) increase productivity immensely. Companies like the Huffington Post and Google famously use nap pods, but a couch in a breakout area will do the trick, too.

You don’t have to pick just one use for your breakout area—you can use it for all of the above. If you don’t have a lot of extra space, you can still reap some productivity benefits just by purchasing a few extra comfy chairs (and maybe some LEGOs!). 

3. Make Meetings Shorter and Less Frequent

Employees can attend up to 62 meetings per month. And they consider half of them to be a waste of time. While your company might not host that many meetings, unproductive chatting still cuts into your teams’ day. 
But your employees aren’t just burning time inside those meetings. They need to take the time to prepare, and after the interruption, it takes them about 25 minutes to get back on track.
With 62 meetings per month (62 x 25 = 1550 minutes or 25.8 hours wasted), that means meetings waste more than 25 hours per month not including the meetings themselves.
While this is an extreme, worst-case scenario, it’s easy to see how those hours add up. You can avoid constantly derailing your employees by keeping a few days meeting-free. Companies like Twitter and Apple make Mondays a designated meeting day, so that they can leave the rest of the week open for hard, focused work. Buzzfeed forbids meetings on Tuesdays and Thursdays to make sure that employees have at least two uninterrupted days per week.
Having those interruption-free hours lets team members who frequently need long stretches of quality work time do their job at maximum capacity.
Another idea for running more efficient meetings is to switch to stand up meetings.
We’re big fans of stand up meetings here at Teamwork.com, and use them to help keep our meetings fast and efficient.

Teamwork.com Stand up meetings
Stand up meeting at Teamwork

The standup format prevents everyone from settling in and encourages them to keep things brief.

4. Provide Healthy Snacks to Keep Energy High

Food is fuel. Glucose fuels your brain, so you need to keep your blood sugar high otherwise it won’t work as well—you lose focus and your productivity tanks.
 
But not all fuel is created equal when it comes to feeding your employees. A candy bar or a donut causes their blood sugar to spike, but when they crash, their productivity plummets. Providing healthy snacks in the office keeps their energy levels high, and helps them resist the temptation to snag a candy bar from the deli next door—and crash later. 

Stock your office with bananas for optimal productivity. Our brains work best when we have about
25 grams of glucose coursing through our bloodstream, which is the amount found in a banana.

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Other foods to stock in the company kitchen include:

  • Blueberries. They’re known to improve memory, and their antioxidants lower stress levels.
  • Avocados. Not only is avocado toast trendy, but the mono-unsaturated fats help more blood flow to the brain.
  • Almonds. They contain phenylalanine, which stimulates mood-boosting neurotransmitters and makes you feel happier. They also contain riboflavin, which improves memory.
  • Chewing gum. The act of chewing is known to increase focus, and it also contains mood-boosting phenylalanine.

Stocking these in your office makes them a part of your office experience—and will help your team stay focused and productive throughout the day. 

5. Single-Task Your Way to Success

The idea that multi-tasking means you get more done is a myth. Your brain doesn’t process multiple tasks at once, so multi-tasking isn’t really multi-tasking at all—it’s switching rapidly between tasks.
 
This rapid switching decreases productivity by 40% and makes your IQ go down by 10 points. That’s nearly as bad as the impact of being sleep deprived for five days.
 
Commit as a company to single-tasking for both better and faster work.
 
The Infomagical Challenge invited 25,000 people to single-task for one whole day, and 40% of them said they consciously felt less overloaded by the end of it.
 
But single-tasking is easier said than done. To make sure your employees focus on one thing at a time, you can encourage them to use time blocks, which are pre-set chunks of time dedicated to a specific task.

Create a Culture of Productivity

The best outcome of a strong company culture is that employees automatically understand company values without needing constant reminders.
 
They’ll strive to do quality work without needing rewards or consequences because excellence is a company-wide habit.
 
We’ve tested a lot of tips and tricks to improve team productivity, and we’ve concluded that the hacks mentioned above are more than fads. Regular breaks and healthy snacks keep our team energized and focused. Breakout areas are perfect for a quick recharge or uninterrupted work, and shorter meetings increase the amount of quality work we can produce. An emphasis on single-tasking helps us to avoid distractions and gives the job in front of us our full attention.
 
If your team is struggling to take charge of their own productivity the solution lies in creating a “culture of productivity” at your company.
 
The hacks mentioned above are a great starting point for baking productivity into your culture—and helping to ensure your team stays autonomously productive.