Isn’t it always inspirational to read what exactly others do to increase company productivity levels? We all want to be successful, and we know the way to reach our goals is to be productive and persistent in our efforts. It is also essential to find what works for us instead of sticking to routines that get us nowhere. Otherwise, we keep repeating the same thing repeatedly, hoping to achieve different outcomes. A common mistake is to think that whatever works for one business can be adopted by another. You can learn a lot from how other companies cope with productivity declines, but you need to try and find out what will work for you in the end. 

Working in a bespoke software development company taught me that team spirit and productivity are interconnected. When like-minded and motivated young professionals come together with a common goal, devoted to creating great software products, productivity is easily achieved because of team members’ high inner motivation. In the case of motivation and productivity slopes, one can always rely on others for a lift up. Colleagues can be a reminder of what those hard efforts are all about.  

Nevertheless, the present Covid-19 pandemic situation is a game-changer for many businesses that need to overcome financial difficulties and maintain high productivity while working remotely. The following six strategies cover well-established practices to boost productivity in your company. 

1.Schedule Quiet Hours in the Office 

There have been experiments in office environments backing up statements that blocked chunks of time dedicated to individual work is one of the best secrets for boosting productivity. Many companies give it a test period and then incorporate “Quiet hours” as a routine practice after seeing the results. I a digital world full of constant distractions fighting for your constant attention and focus, this seems like a powerful practice, but how does it work?

One of the reasons that silent hours are such a hit is that they allow your teams to focus and devote their full undivided attention to a particular task by themselves. Apart from receiving updates and information emails, Slack alerts, meetings or video conferences take up valuable time and energy resources. Self-imposed interruptions such as social networks or web surfing are also recipes for productivity drops. On top of that, the Covid-19 pandemic provoked fatigue from remote work has influenced the lowering overall productivity rates by 14% among US employees. 

As a result, companies are looking for ways to deal with this phenomenon on an organisational level. Introducing the so-called “Quiet hours” may act as a powerful push for your employees’ productivity as well. Uninterrupted time gives you time to work independently, analyse and learn from your own mistakes. When disconnected for a while, everyone gets a chance to think on their own and reach deeper concentration and better productivity. 

How we do it: Since September 2020, our Talents and Culture Department at Dreamix introduced daily Quiet hours as a way to let everyone be fully immersed in the current work task.  We receive daily reminders from our T&C Manager and Business Partner, Stoyan Mitov, that between 2:00 PM and 4:00 PM all team members can enjoy the uninterrupted productive time we deserve to achieve great results. 

2.Increase Employees’ Engagement

This strategy is related to the previous one and directly affects productivity because employees are more engaged. As human beings, when we feel engaged and responsible for an important task, we tend to get more productive. Statistical data shows that engaged employees are 21% more productive than those with lower engagement. Nevertheless, the question of how to achieve sustainable engagement remains.

One powerful factor that can affect engagement is the freedom to choose your work tasks and the approach you want to adopt to tackle them. Suppose your company is in the IT sector. In that case, the chances are that it has several expertise levels of employees in accordance with their seniority, e.g. in a software development team you can have Junior, Middle, and Senior software engineers. 

3. Give More Individual Authority 

After you’ve attained stable engagement within your organisation, it is time to look for opportunities to increase individual authority. You would want to do that because people can be extraordinarily productive and show great creativity when they are made accountable for a task they recognise as important and helpful for their career development. Giving your employees the proper amount of authority you invest in their professional skills will bring them a sense of satisfaction.

Depending on your employees’ level, you can give more individual authority by providing them with opportunities to make work-related decisions after showing themselves as trustworthy and credible. Even developers on Junior levels can handle complex coding tasks on their own and by engaging them in a meaningful task, they will be motivated to unfold their full potential. 

How we do it: Our dream team cares a lot about both personal and professional growth and thinks they are intertwined. We are convinced that striving for mastery requires high engagement and the way to achieve that is for everyone to have an opportunity to choose how we approach a specific task. For instance, we have lots of internal clubs withing our company like the Tech Club (Basics and Advanced), Algorithmix, Software Development Process Fundamentals and Project Management Advanced. 

All these initiatives are self-organised and serve two of our primary goal. Firstly, it is important to us to share knowledge and don’t just keep what we know to ourselves – software developers can choose a favourite topic and present it to the club members. Secondly, proactive initiatives promote autonomy and as a consequence, authority. We see ourselves as life-long learners with unique interests and expertise. When we improve ourselves personally, this affects our career development as well, and when we pass down knowledge to our colleagues, we improve as a community. 

4. Be an Attentive Listener

Fact is you cannot solve the problems you are not aware of. Keeping that in mind, a valuable strategy would be to listen closely to what your employees are saying. Do they complain more recently and what may be causing this? If they experience a lack of motivation, at some point this is also bound to affect their productivity, so make sure to observe on a company level mood take notes. Even though nobody has reached out directly to you yet, it does not always mean everything is going on smoothly. 

Set up one-on-one meetings with team leads to determine whether they deal with work problems and how they approach them. If they happen to have a lot on their plates both work-related and personally, it is expected that their performance won’t be on point right now. Maybe there are complaints or changed expectations from a client about a product you’re launching, which affects productivity. You can first familiarise yourself with the situation and then, given the circumstances, propose optimal solutions.

How we do it: Whenever someone at Dreamix experiences a more prolonged productivity setback than usual, they know that they can rely on others for support. As a close community, we always have a sympathetic ear, ready to offer help. For example, one of our Senior Software Developers and a Team Lead Veselin Pavlov once told me about a real-life situation his dev team was going through. 

He regularly schedules one-on-one meetings with his teammates to talk about how life is going. Last year one of his colleagues’ work was getting delayed, and he decided to check on him to see if everything is alright. It turned out that the guy was moving out at the time and could not fully devote himself to work and felt guilty that his performance suffered. As a Team Lead, Veselin assured him that it is normal that he is not 100% focused on work right now because he was moving house and was under a lot of stress. Veselin was an attentive listener and actively supported his colleague, who on the other hand, felt understood and relieved. Less than a week after their conversation, everything began to turn back to normal, and their team was closer than ever with increased productivity levels. Isn’t it amazing how connecting with someone on a human level can sometimes do wonders?

5. Simplify Work with Digital Tools 

The digital era we work in allows us to choose from a vast pool of available digital resources that promise to make our lives easier and more productive. As a business owner or CEO of a technological company, you most probably use some of them already. Just in case though, here a couple of the most valued digital tools and apps.

To perform best, your team of software developers need to create a work routine to make it easier and faster to navigate through daily tasks and manage projects. GitHub, Stack Overflow, Git are excellent open-source distributed systems that allow programmers to simplify code writing and learn from more experienced developers’ contributions. Other software like Jira or Jenkins help plan and automate workflow and receive informative feedback on code quality. 

How we do it: Our company loves the Agile methodology, and most of the dev teams follow Scrum or Kanban to keep their workflow consistent and to stay productive after each iteration. We also use Jira as software that helps developers and clients to track bugs, comment on and prioritise tasks. It is a real-time visual tool that improves teams’ productivity and performance and as a result, the whole software development process. 

6. Offer Support if Needed

Provided that most companies are still forced to work remotely, it is understandable that there might be staff members who feel demotivated and find themselves less productive. Regardless of the industry we work in, many of us suffer from the long-term elevated stress levels from isolation. In fact, studies on prolonged isolation state that being socially disconnected for an extended period of time may lead to decreased cognitive performance and impaired memory functions. 

When cognitive abilities decline, productivity is inevitably affected. To prevent this, you can arrange psychological support for those seeking outside help to cope in this challenging situation. We are all unique human beings with the individual capacity to adapt to changes. One thing we all have in common though is that we all want to be understood and respected. By offering mental health support within your company, you do exactly that. 

Biography Aleksandrina Vasileva Aleksandrina is a Content Creator at Dreamix, a custom software development company, and is keen on innovative technological solutions with a positive impact on our world. Her teaching background mixed with interests in psychology drives her to share knowledge. She is an avid reader and an enthusiastic blogger, always looking for the next inspiration.