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How To Stay Productive At Work In Our Always-On World

If any one person had a cure-all answer to how to stay productive at work, then they’d be a millionaire. The National Office for Statistics recently calculated that productivity in Britain has lately been 16.6% below the average of other G7 economies. Factor in hourly output falling by 0.5% in the first three months this year, and it works out at 0.4% below the peak recorded at the end of 2007. jugkjggg

Clear evidence that now, more than ever, we need to learn how to stay productive at work.

Effect On Small Businesses

SMEs, in particular, are under more pressure to maintain a productive workforce, with only four in ten start-ups surviving the first five years. One reason behind this could be the increase of an “always on” workplace culture.

It is becoming more and more common to reply to work emails outside of set office hours, but this apparent self-imposed work intensification can lead to lower levels of productivity and higher levels of stress amongst employees. This “always-on” environment can have a lasting impact on businesses, with stagnation in productivity causing workplace stress and in some cases, long-term absences or loss of employees.

With the rise of the gig economy and remote working, this “always-on” approach to work creates a mentality that allows little time to switch off or recharge, which is paramount in preventing stress. Failing to do so can lead to a disproportionate work-life balance, leading to personal conflicts such as relationship difficulties, an increased sense of anxiety and even physical ramifications.

Always-On Approach

With the rise of the gig economy and remote working, this “always-on” approach to work creates a mentality that allows little time to switch off or recharge, which is paramount in preventing stress. Failing to do so, can lead to a disproportionate work-life balance, leading to personal conflicts such as relationship difficulties, an increased sense of anxiety and even physical ramifications.

AXA PPP Healthcare’s top health and small business experts have come together in an attempt to uncover the magic formula for productivity. Mike Davis, Head of SME, warns small and medium businesses, in particular, to be aware of the potential pitfalls of an “always on” approach to work. In terms of measuring productivity, “Every business is different, and people go into business for very different reasons, so there is no ‘one size fits all’ approach”, comments Mike.

“The demands of an “always on” culture can lead to increased risk of burnout and, or, disengagement that can have the opposite effect on productivity. Certain individuals thrive in an “always on” culture, but everyone needs time to recharge and relax.

“Whilst you may be fortunate to attract a team that flourishes working round the clock, as your business grows and your employee needs change, it may become more difficult to maintain. There is also an increased risk of losing good people that need more flexible working hours due to other commitments.”

When it comes to improving workplace productivity, Mike states, “Ultimately you want to be productive, and you need your best people at their best for that”.

No, Really Kate… How To Stay Productive At Work?

On the subject of how to stay productive at work, Sara Fuller Head of Culture, Performance and Development at AXA PPP Healthcare suggests the magic formula to productivity could lie in the simplicity of soft skills from management, commenting that they should take an active role and interest in employee wellbeing.

Engagement & Recognition

“Employee recognition and feeling valued could be key to maintaining and even growing productivity levels in the workplace. Leading by example is vital, and managers should adapt their behaviour and approach to allow employees to switch off during holidays, or annual leave,” said Sarah.

When faced with the same “How to stay productive at work?” question, Jan Vickery, Head of Clinical Operations and MSK at AXA PPP Healthcare, comments on the importance of a good workplace mentality: Focusing on employee engagement and creating the optimal work environment through participatory ergonomics, could have the most significant impact on productivity in the workplace.

“Being “on” for long hours without a break may create stress and can result in a disproportionate work-life balance. That said, if the expectation on employee availability is offset by flexibility and trust, then I don’t think it is always a bad thing.”

In Summary:

With productivity in Britain at a low and many employees living in an “always on” world, AXA PPP healthcare’s insight suggests the answer to “how to stay productive at work” may finally have an answer. The magic formula could lie in the simplicity of employee relations, strong management and the development of soft skills to bring out the best in employees.

If you’d like some advice on developing your employers’ soft skills or improving their wellbeing check out my blog or get in touch to hear my tips on how to stay productive at work.

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