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Improving efficiency in the workplace doesn’t just help your business’ bottom-line – it also improves employee morale, overall productivity, and results.
The reason is simple. When employees don’t have to waste time searching for the documents they need, determining what deliverables are due when, finding the right person to ask questions, and so on, frustration decreases and outcomes improve.
With that in mind, a top priority for business owners and leaders should be identifying ways to improve efficiency, remove obstacles that keep employees from doing their jobs effectively, and streamline processes. Following are five free ways you can do it in your workplace.
1. Master Project Management
Who is responsible for what? When is this task due? What’s holding things up? Where is the most recent version of that document? All of these questions and more can be answered within seconds if employees use an effective project management tool.
The key to making such a tool work for your business is to ensure everyone is fully trained on how to use the tool in two ways: the actual features of the software and the processes employees are expected to follow in order to use the tool effectively.
2. Simplify Processes
How many steps does it take to convert documents or files from one format to another? How many steps are required to submit an expense report? Chances are, there are a lot of processes that employees follow every day that can be streamlined to save time and money as well as to reduce frustration.
Therefore, review all of the processes in your business. Yes, this takes time, but the results will lead to significant savings and reduced employee turnover in the future. While you’re at it, document all of your processes. You’ll be glad you did later.
For example, a way to convert PDF to Excel online is Adobe’s free tool for PDF to Excel conversion that’s fast and only requires a few mouse clicks.
3. Eliminate Manual Tasks
What manual tasks can you eliminate or streamline using free tools? What repetitive tasks can you automate? For most businesses, eliminating manual tasks has a significant impact on worker productivity and overall business results.
Talk to every employee and ask them what repetitive tasks they have to do manually and what tasks they do often that require a frustrating amount of time to complete. With this information, you can look for tools to streamline and automate.
For freelancers and businesses that have to track time according to client projects, using a free time tracking tool, like Toggl, can eliminate manual tasks and automate processes. Time can be tracked by client and project, and rather than adding up time spent per project every month, the software does it for you.
4. Reduce Unnecessary Email Messages
How much time do your employees spend reading unnecessary email messages? We already spend too much time in our email inboxes at work, so anything you can do to reduce email overflow will help your workers and your business.
A great place to start is by talking to your employees to learn what email messages clutter their inboxes and what email communications are time-intensive or frustrating. Look for problems that, if solved, could improve efficiency for a large number of employees and give them back a significant amount of time every week. Those are the problems to solve first.
Meeting scheduling is a great example. If your employees are spending a lot of time emailing back and forth with clients, vendors, and even coworkers to find times to schedule meetings, consider using a free calendar scheduling tool like Calendly. Employees can set up times when they’re available each week, and anyone they give their calendar link to can pick an open time to schedule a meeting. No more long email chains just to schedule a 15-minute meeting!
5. Improve Meeting Effectiveness
Speaking of meetings… research has repeatedly shown that meetings amount to a lot of wasted time for employees. How much time do your employees spend in meetings each week? Could they be using that time better if meetings were streamlined to make them more effective? Probably.
Start solving this problem by determining how much time your employees actually spend in meetings each week, and then, add the amount of time they spend preparing before meetings and following up after meetings. You’ll probably be shocked by how much time it all adds up to.
A great way to improve meeting effectiveness is using a tool built for that specific purpose. Hyperconnect is a software that allows employees to streamline meetings with features like collaborative agendas, meeting minutes, next steps, and more.
Key Takeaways to Improve Workplace Efficiency
Improving efficiency is critical in today’s workplaces, and the five ways to streamline processes and tasks discussed above provide an excellent starting point for your business. Each of the tools introduced in this article are either completely free to use or offer a free plan, so go ahead and start boosting efficiency at your company as soon as possible!