Productivity is an elusive beast that’s hard to pin down. You want your team to push through as much work as possible, but you also want the work to reflect high quality.
Automating repetitive tasks is one significant step toward higher productivity. But most small businesses and startups can do much more without increasing work hours.
Here are nine proven ways you can double the productivity of your marketing team:
1. Do a full audit
Start by figuring out how much output your team accomplishes now. You may want to invest in time tracking tools or use project management software. Don’t assume that because one person works faster that they are better. The audit is simply a tool to find current levels and strive for improvement.
You don’t need to get fancy here. A simple spreadsheet or good notes can do the job.
Don’t assume that people working 40 hours per week are productive. If most of their time is spent in useless zoom meetings or hangouts, they’re keeping busy but are probably not being productive.
It’s equally pointless to ask people to spend 40 hours per week in meetings and then ask them to do their work outside of those 40 hours. When people work more than 40 hours a week, they can’t produce their best results.
Fortunately, there are many ways to double marketing productivity without losing your edge and without working more than 40 hours per week.
Pay attention to how much actual work gets completed, client feedback, experience level, and how helpful the employee is to other workers.
And don’t get distracted by busywork. People may seem busy, with many to-do items on their lists. But, to-do lists can actually be hurting your business.
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2. Declutter your office space
Did you know that clutter can increase stress levels and lower productivity? A mess distracts some people more than others. Look around the office and figure out what can go. If you aren’t using it and won’t in the next year or two, it’s time to sell it off and create some cash flow for your business.
If your team works remotely, help them understand the benefits of decluttering their workspaces.
An organized space doesn’t interrupt the flow of work. The employee can zip over to the files, find what they need, and get right back to the task at hand. Make it a goal to get rid of things you don’t need.
You may also find you don’t require as much space when you reduce clutter, which can save your company money by cutting down on rent.
3. Prioritize health
Companies are dealing with unprecedented times. Many people are fearful about entering a shared space with others and potentially exposing themselves or vulnerable family members to illness.
Offer a lenient sick-day policy. Your best employees won’t abuse the privilege. The rare few who do take sick days when they don’t need them can be terminated. If someone contracts a virus, you don’t want them coming in and spreading illness to the rest of your team anyway.
It’s hard for people to focus and do their best work when they don’t feel well. Prioritize the health and well-being of your team, and you’ll see the payoff in productivity levels.
4. Be flexible
Schools across the country go to e-learning on a dime. It’s particularly hard for families when the kids suddenly need supervision during the day. How can you fix those worries so your staff can focus on putting out fabulous work?
Let people work from home when necessary so they can somewhat monitor their children while they meet via Zoom or other online meeting spots. Be more flexible with work hours. As long as projects get completed by a set day and time, it doesn’t matter if your employees work from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m or on a more flexible schedule they need to overcome other challenges.
What matters is that the finished product is in your inbox by the deadline. Flexibility gives your employees peace of mind and helps them work when they know they can be most productive. During the day when kids are scrambling around and their spouse is home for lunch may not be the ideal time to finish a big marketing campaign.
By promoting flexibility, you help people become more mentally resilient. This helps them cope with daily hardships and adversity and boosts their productivity.
5. Let people work remotely
Global Workplace Analytics looked at over 4,000 studies and reports on an agile work environment. It found two-thirds of employees want to work from home, and 36% of them would choose it over a raise.
Some employees even said they’d take a slight pay cut if it meant they no longer had to commute to an office.
If you don’t let your team go remote, you risk losing your best members to a competitor that will.
This also benefits your marketing team since remote workers are often more productive at home than in the office.
Consider the distractions in a typical office. The boss comes by to chat for a minute, pulling you away from your work. It takes a few minutes to remember where you were and get back into the groove.
Everyone on the team heads to lunch and you tag along, forgetting where you were in the project until you read your notes. A loud co-worker two desks over bickers with her teen daughter, the fire alarm goes off — it’s just a drill — and you hear people shuffling, chit-chatting, and coughing.
A typical office can be very distracting. It benefits your team to at least take a hybrid remote approach.
And if you’re starting a new business, consider adopting a remote-first mentality. This will save you on rent, let you hire the best people anywhere in the world, and probably also save you quite a lot of money on salaries, especially if your startup or new business is located in a more expensive geographic market.
6. Encourage frequent breaks
The average person can work productively for a short stint of time before losing focus.
Everyone is a bit different, so you have to figure out how long you can center yourself and set up frequent breaks between.
If you discover you do amazing work for 20 minutes and then start to fizzle, you may want to set a timer and take a quick break every half hour or so. Get up, stretch, do some light yoga or get a drink of water. Taking short breaks may make you much more productive than working full-out without stopping for hours on end.
Breaks are also easier on your body because you won’t be hunched over a keyboard for too long. You’ll have less back pain and neck and shoulder strain when you care for your physical needs.
7. Clarify roles
One thing that hurts marketing teams’ productivity is when things fall through the cracks and someone has to go back and find the missing pieces. Clarifying roles and what task each person is responsible for helps avoid such issues.
If Sam’s job is to complete all the images for the social media campaign, the project manager shouldn’t have to go looking for those assets. Sam knows they are his job and should be uploaded by a certain date.
Clarifying roles and tasks also avoids misunderstandings between co-workers. Hard feelings start to develop if one person feels they are doing more than their fair share of the work. Making it clear who is in charge of what helps ease tensions and keeps everyone working toward the same goal. If there is any doubt, refer back to the written documents about various roles on the team.
The team manager must guide people toward the tasks they need to complete. It’s OK for people to sometimes step out of their role and help a co-worker, but it has to be a two-way street.
8. Look for workflow patterns
Look at the daily workflow of your team and each individual. Are some things not efficient? Perhaps you start every day with a long, meeting that drags on.
Do you need so many meetings? Maybe a five-minute scrum session would work better.
Are there bottlenecks throughout the day? Is the social media manager waiting for illustrations from the graphic designer? If so, how can you ensure they are a day or two ahead?
9. Diversify team members
A diverse team works together to figure out the best way to accomplish tasks. You want a nice mix of young college graduates, experienced professionals, and people from all cultures.
A new marketing staff member is full of exciting and fresh takes about getting the word out. They may be more comfortable with the digital world.
An experienced professional has already made mistakes and knows how to avoid them. They can look at a campaign and tell you in an instant what will and won’t work.
A diverse team bounces ideas off one another in a mutually respectful way. Each member learns something from the others they can apply to their work.
Grow as a team
You can hire the best people, automate repetitive processes and encourage your staff, but everyone must still learn to work together efficiently. Look for team-building opportunities and embrace the mistakes as learning experiences from which you can all grow and improve.
Over time, as you apply the insights we shared above, your marketing team will become happier and more productive.
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