A productive workplace is crucial for business success. It doesn't matter where you fall in the office hierarchy, everyone plays a part in getting your company to reach its goals each month. Being able to nip un-productivity in the bud can be hugely valuable for any business. But do you know the signs to be watching out for - and what to do when they arise? Catching them early on is key.


Perhaps the most deadly enemy of productivity is fatigue. Tired employees will never be able to give 100 percent to the job in hand, no matter how much you try to motivate them. They are exhausted. There are many reasons for this; they could have simply had a bad night's sleep, feel over-worked, have sleeping difficulties or insomnia, be dealing with stresses, or suffering from chronic illnesses or musculoskeletal disorders. While your job isn't to diagnose them as a doctor, addressing fatigue is important given that it costs you in time, manpower and productivity. It will also cause your staff to have reduced reaction times, feel less engaged, and their minds won't be focused. 

One way of dealing with fatigue is through looking at the ergonomics in your workplace - this includes how the office is laid out, the set-up and equipment. If they are someone who is used to looking at the computer screen regularly, this could be tiring their eyes. Integrating regular breaks into their day where they need to get up and walk around can help. 

Additionally, dim lighting or heating can make a place feel more like 'night-time'. Bring the temperature down (to a comfortable level) and brighten the lights. If they are doing tasks that are long, repetitive or boring then this will also make them tired. Many modern workplaces are bringing in areas where workers can take a quick nap before driving home or on their lunch break. This may seem unusual, but in getting that quick 15-minutes shut-eye, it boosts their productivity more in the long-run. It can also help from a health and safety perspective.

Messy desks

There are always going to be clean people and messy people in this world, and plenty who fall in-between the two. However, a messy desk could be a sign that your staff are over-worked. While this may not sound like a bad thing when it comes to productivity, this could be causing them to feel fatigue (see above) or could mean they're juggling lots of tasks at once and not doing all of them effectively. It could also be because work is piling up, which demonstrates a workflow process that isn't working. In these events, it is always best to talk to your staff to find out how they're coping and to look at ways of helping them manage their workload. It might mean getting other staff to find ways of supporting them.


When people spend time excessively moaning about their job or tasks they don't enjoy, they're wasting time - simple. It could be much better spent just getting the original requirement done and completed, otherwise, it's just procrastination. If your staff are hanging around other staff members' desks moaning, they're also passing their negative mood onto their co-workers, which will do nothing for motivation. If someone seems to generally be very 'anti' in their entire attitude to work, then you may need to consider whether they're a right fit for your company. 

If they are making lots of comments that could potentially help your office, but are making the comments at the wrong time, then suggest to your whole office that you will hold weekly, fortnightly or monthly feedback meetings where they will be heard and their thoughts will be noted down, but until then you would like the focus to be on the job in hand. It is important to listen to your staff, otherwise, you risk losing them when they don't feel valued. In feeling as though they're not being taken seriously or their feedback isn't heard, they can start to also become unproductive. It's a fine balance to maintain.


If your staff feel as though they are being micromanaged, and having everything they do watched with hawk-eyes, this can lead to them feeling disgruntled and fed up. It will come across too domineering and will suggest to your staff that you don't trust them to get on with the role in hand or believe they have the necessary skills to do it. 

If the manager is always taking over, then it can leave staff wondering why they should bother. Additionally, if staff are micromanaging every little detail, then they can end up spending far too much time on the smaller aspects of the business, rather than focusing on the bigger picture. Perfectionism is good, to a degree, but it isn't always productive. Avoid it where possible.

Ineffective teams

Teamwork often yields better results for a business overall than lone rangers. However, this comes with the big proviso that this teamwork is valuable, results-oriented and has solid task management structures in place with efficient communication. When teams work together on projects effectively, positive results can happen. If they don't have these core elements though, teamwork can often become less accomplished than if people worked alone. When many minds come together, great things can happen.


It might seem unusual but some people work better when they're listening to music. They can find silence to be un-motivating and this can lead to them not being productive. Music can help many people to concentrate and focus on what is in hand. In particular, music can help people with creative minds. In productive offices, they will typically allow staff to listen to music through headphones - bothering co-workers can be equally disruptive though, so it is important that respectful rules are in place. 

Unstructured meetings

A productive office will have a clearly structured plan in place for the workflow management, how tasks are assigned and implemented, and who is in charge of each role. Without this, people won't know exactly what is required of them. This structure will come to a business through strong and effective leadership, which can be best communicated to staff through structured meetings. 

These are a core time in which to speak with your employees about the key topics. It is always best to produce an agenda for meetings so people know exactly what will be covered. It will help them remember after the event, especially if they have to attend lots of meetings. However, it is important that staff only attend meetings that are relevant to them. A lot of time can be wasted during meetings that staff didn't need to be at, or covering topics that could have been added to an e-mail. It will lead to a lot of frustration as staff will know there are more important things they could be getting on with. 

Drab decor

You'll always know you're in a productive office because of how it looks. Lots of bright colours, fresh plants, artwork on the walls, and a feeling of 'buzzing' will indicate a happy team who are motivated. Creating an atmosphere that people actually want to be in will inspire them to be more productive. It will help people feel inspired and will show that you are investing some of your profits into helping keep your staff engaged. They have to spend a lot of their time at work, so making it pleasant is key.

We can help to make your office an even more productive one by offering our remote PA services, freeing up your team to carry out their job role. Contact us today to find out more.