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Simple Ways to Improve Workflow Efficiency in the Office

As your company grows, you’ll discover an entirely new set of challenges emerge. And while this is a good problem to have, it’s frustrating, nonetheless. Many of these challenges occur on the workflow front.

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The Problem of Wasted Time

According to various surveys, approximately three hours out of every eight-hour workday is spent wasted on unnecessary tasks, personal tasks, or distractions. If you have a team of 25 employees who earn an average of $40 per hour, that comes out to roughly $15,000 of wasted man-hours per week (and more than $750,000 per year). In other words, it’s a big deal. 

Another study suggests that office workers spend approximately 552 hours per year on repetitive administrative tasks. Using the numbers above, that means you’re paying each employee an average of $22,000 per year just to do repetitive tasks that could be automated or outsourced.

Both of these data points speak to the problematic nature of poor workflow efficiency. And if you want to improve your team’s productivity and output (while simultaneously conserving financial resources), you need to take workflow efficiency seriously. 

Tips for Better Workflow Efficiency

Improving workflow efficiency requires an intentional and concerted effort that starts from the top and trickles down throughout your organization. Here are a few ways you can lead the charge in your office

1. Recalibrate Processes

The very first step is to analyze your current processes and study where they’re hitting and missing. You’ll want to take a deep dive in every area of your organization, including:

  • How do you assign tasks? What do your employees do when they receive tasks? Are their unnecessary gaps or awkward lulls in between tasks getting handed off?
  • What sort of feedback loops do you have in place? Is it easy for employees to speak up and for people to be held accountable for their actions?
  • Which tasks are being handled manually that could theoretically be outsourced, automated, or delegated to someone else?

Every process and department should be analyzed at a granular level. No questions are too dumb to ask. The goal is to identify areas of the business where current processes are inefficient and wasteful. There are no guarantees that you’ll be able to implement a good solution, but at the very least, you’ll bring them to light.

2. Use the Right Tools

Once you’ve taken inventory of processes and problem areas, it’s time to find and implement tools. More specifically, you need to find and implement the right tools. Here are some examples:

  • Stop relying on slow, archaic approval processes that require you to send a document to one party, who then prints, signs, faxes, and then repeats again with each additional party. Instead, switch over to an electronic signature platform, like Box that makes it easy for all parties to sign remotely without any delays.
  • Nix email usage internally and switch over to a more efficient communication platform like Slack, which is designed for business teams and makes it easy to communicate in a distraction-free environment.
  • If running a virtual team, use time-tracking software like Time Doctor to track your team’s work time. Not only does this hold your team accountable and force them to own their time, but it also gives you visibility into areas where they could be more efficient.

3. Invest in Proper Training

It’s not enough to equip your team with a few tools. They must be trained on how to properly use these tools, so that they can integrate them into their daily workflows and successfully reallocate that time to more important tasks that require manual energy and creativity.

The secret to good training is to do it frequently. Training should be an ongoing investment, rather than a one-time event that takes place when an employee is onboarded. By making training a part of your culture, you turn your company into a place that prioritizes constant and never-ending improvement. 

Putting it All Together

Every team has its own unique style or flavor. What works in one organization may not necessarily work in yours (and vice versa). The key is to continually try new things, study the results, and then iterate to great. Eventually, you’ll dial in your approach and stumble into a workflow that’s efficient, productive, and cost-effective for your organization. 

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