Your digital agency’s profitability is closely tied to the productivity levels of your agency team. With lots of clients to manage, conflicting deadlines to juggle, and ever-growing to-do lists, it can be difficult for your team to determine whether the work they are doing is productive, or just keeping them busy.
Today I’m looking at 10 quick wins you can use to keep your agency team focused, help them reduce wasted time, and improve your overall team productivity.
1) Stop Multi-tasking
When you’re multi-tasking, your attention is split between lots of different things at once. It’s much more efficient to focus on one task at a time – you’ll complete the work faster and to a higher quality than if you’re multi-tasking and thinking about all the other things on your to-do list.
2) Remove Interruptions
Interruptions can be a big drain on team productivity. Research suggests that it can take up to 23 minutes to get back on-track with a task after an interruption, so imagine how those lost minutes add up across your team, every single day.
Encourage your team to turn off notifications on their computers and their phones, to reduce the number of potential distracting interruptions.
3) Encourage Your Team to Manage Their Own Schedule
Working 9-5 Monday to Friday doesn’t suit everyone. Where possible, you should encourage your team to manage their own work schedule, to fit in with their productivity peaks and how they work best. A good way to do this would be to allow flexible hours, with core hours during the middle of the day to ensure you all share some office time.
4) Manage Your Meetings
When arranging a meeting, whether internally or with a client, encourage your whole team to consider: is this meeting necessary, or could an email or phone call or Slack message do just as well?
If you decide that a meeting is needed, it’s important to clearly define its purpose and end goals, and set a concrete time limit. That ensures that the time your team spends in a meeting is productive, and cuts down on unnecessary meetings.
5) Introduce No-Meeting Time for Heads-Down Work
Providing your team with time during their day for heads-down work is essential for improving productivity. Where possible, you should block this time out in team calendars – time where (as far as possible) you don’t arrange any meetings or client calls. This provides your agency team with a predictable, regular timeslot when they have a chunk of time set aside for heads-down work.
6) Limit Your Email Time
Email is a tool that lets us trick ourselves into thinking we’re being more productive than we really are. But it can be a huge drain on your productivity: it distracts you from your to-do list with ‘urgent’ tasks and attention-sapping notifications.
Encourage your team to set aside specific times to check their emails – maybe around lunch time and mid-afternoon. It’s best not to check emails first thing in the morning: try and keep a window of time where you can get important, high-priority work done before emails intrude and confuse your priorities.
7) Automate Common Tasks
Identify common, repeatable tasks that your agency team completes regularly. Many of these can be automated using tools like Zapier and IFTTT. You can also use tools like Calendly to automate appointment booking – it lets you share a link with clients or colleagues and shows available timeslots so they can pick a time for a meeting, eliminating time wasted with emails back and forth to agree a time.
8) Provide Visibility into Project Progress
A Resource Management tool is a great way to provide your team with at-a-glance insights to your agency projects. They will be able to see the constraints limiting each project, as well as how each project is progressing.
This will help them prioritise and plan their workloads, by helping them identify what they need to work on each day.
9) Let Your Team Manage Their Own Workloads
Micromanagement will sap away team energy and productivity. Instead of setting out exactly who will work on which tasks, and when, you will be better served by allocating team members to specific projects, but leaving up to them to decide who will work on each specific task. As long as they have good visibility into project constraints and key deadlines, your team will be much more able to prioritise their own workloads than you.
10) Use Tools to Improve Productivity
There are countless tools available to help your team improve their productivity. For example, you may want to use a tool like Slack for internal communications, to cut down on emails. Or you may want to use browser plug-ins to improve your productivity while online, such as Gmail Offline, to allow you to search or refer to emails without being distracted by new, incoming emails.