Imagine you’re at your desk, working on a difficult task. After an hour of being laser-focused on the issue, you arrive at a solution that seems like a good fit. Feeling extremely satisfied and proud of yourself, you channel that energy to tackle the next item on your to-do list. Now multiply this situation across all employees in a business. That’s a productive workplace.

When employees are firing on all cylinders, their company can benefit from their efforts by growing and expanding, bringing in more customers and revenue. Fortunately, a productive workplace isn’t simply the result of inspiration striking any one individual. Managers and team leads can proactively use tactics that motivate their teams and encourage them to do their best work, thereby creating a culture of productivity in the workplace. Here’s how.

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What is workplace productivity?

Workplace productivity occurs when employees perform their jobs effectively and with a high degree of quality. In a productive workplace, employees are motivated, bring their best ideas to the table, and are able to complete their work quickly and efficiently. As a result, they make meaningful contributions to the overall business and the company thrives—producing new products, selling more items, or onboarding new clients, all of which lead to more revenue.

Common productivity blockers

There are, unfortunately, far too many blockers—both in the office and when employees work remotely—that can get in the way of having a productive workplace. They include:

Email and chat messages

It might be tempting to believe that replying to emails and chat messages all day shows employees are being productive. They are, after all, work messages. But the incessant ping of the inbox actually interrupts employees from entering a state of focus and even flow, both of which are needed to finish complicated tasks. Employees who answer messages reactively all day might look up at 6 p.m. and find that they haven’t made any headway on that big project they were assigned.


A company is a place where many people with different expertise have to collaborate. As such, communicating effectively in the workplace is key to getting things done. When there’s a lack of clear communication, or miscommunication, employees are left in the dark about a company’s direction and priorities and may spend their time doing unimportant tasks or busywork rather than work that is ultimately important for the bottom line. Even worse, a study by Grammarly and The Harris Poll shows that poor communication from company leaders leads to higher levels of stress among employees, increased costs, and missed deadlines—all of which result in lower productivity.

Competing priorities

In order to be productive in the workplace, team members need to have a clear understanding of what they are expected to accomplish, and in what order. If an employee is assigned a project and invests a lot of time in it only to have their manager change direction and ask them to pivot to another project, they’ll feel as if their efforts were for naught. This type of whiplash leaves employees feeling unengaged or demoralized, which results in a less productive workplace.


It seems counterintuitive that doing multiple things at once is not productive. But a productive workplace is not just about completing tasks—it’s about employees doing them in a way that produces high-quality work, then having the energy to get up the next day and do it again. Studies show that multitasking takes brainpower away from any one task, which results in poorer work quality.

Chatty colleagues

The office coworker who wears noise-canceling headphones is not being antisocial. They’re likely just trying to avoid having other colleagues come by to chat about the weekend. In-person distractions, just like virtual ones, can make it hard to focus and put a dent in workplace productivity.

9 ways to increase productivity in the workplace

There are some tried-and-true methods to boost productivity in the workplace. The best part is these tactics can be used by anyone—from entry-level employees to upper-level managers—who wishes to contribute to overall workplace productivity.

1 Cut down on non-critical meetings

Some meetings are necessary, like ones that create a forum for a group to decide on the direction for a new initiative. But others can reasonably be scrapped to give people time to actually do their work.

2 Structure meetings

For the necessary meetings, make sure the meeting has an agenda. An agenda tells participants what to expect in the meeting, keeps the conversation on track, and ensures that everyone’s time is used productively.

3 Make a list, and agree upon it

Get buy-in from all stakeholders involved in a project—including the direct manager of employees working on it and any cross-functional colleagues—before kicking it off. That ensures everyone is aligned on the direction of the project, which will (hopefully) limit future changes once any one person finishes their part.

4 Commit to asynchronous working

Asynchronous work is when employees work hours whenever they feel most energized (like early morning or late at night), rather than working simultaneously with their team. One employee in New York can write a draft of a press release, for example, and another in San Francisco can edit it when they sign on three hours later, or even days later if the deadline allows it.

Allowing this type of work makes the best use of people’s individual schedules and preferences, which allows them the freedom to determine when they’re most productive. It also allows a company to have employees in different time zones, which opens up the talent pool. Note that with asynchronous working, it’s even more important to communicate clearly across teams about expectations and deadlines.

5 Check in regularly with stakeholders

If you’re working on a large project with many moving parts, create incremental deadlines and meet with stakeholders regularly to ensure you’re all on the right track. Checking in intermittently mitigates the risk that you do all the work on a project only to have that project be derailed or critiqued at the last minute. During these check-ins, managers also have the opportunity to hear about any blockers to progress, as well as the opportunity to clarify priorities, concepts, or dynamics the employee may not be privy to.

6 Reduce distractions

Place your phone in another room. Put on those noise-canceling headphones. Block off your calendar to let others know you’re in work mode. Don’t answer that email or Slack message (most coworkers don’t expect these messages to be answered immediately anyway!). And whatever you do, work on only one task at a time. That allows you to focus and bring all your mental energy to the task at hand. Managers can actively encourage this by telling their teams to adopt these strategies then model these behaviors themselves.

7 Embrace new technologies

Depending on what your team needs to be most productive, there may be an app already out there that can streamline their workflow. A shared project management calendar, for example, can help your team stay on track to finish projects by their deadline. A customer engagement software that allows customers to file tickets can help your customer success team prioritize queries. You may choose to experiment with integrating generative AI into your workflow as well. Business leaders agree that when it’s deployed thoughtfully, generative AI has the potential to help employees access and gather information, all of which increase workplace productivity.

8 Give praise and positive feedback

Everyone likes to hear they did a good job. So if a colleague or direct report has done something noteworthy, go ahead and tell them. Better yet, celebrate them by giving them kudos in a public forum, like on Slack or the company Intranet, so that they can be more visible and other people can join in too. Doing so makes employees feel recognized, which positively reinforces hard work and motivates them to keep doing their best in the future.

9 Encourage time off

No one can accomplish their best work when they’re tired or burned out. Rest and relaxation are essential to humans being able to function at their peak. Good managers know this—not only will they encourage their teams to take time to rest and recharge, but they will also model the behavior by doing it themselves.

Ultimately, a productive workplace is a boon to all—employees feel encouraged to do work that they’re proud of, which gives them a sense of accomplishment and helps keep them motivated. Companies will benefit from all their hard work by increasing their revenue. With some thoughtfulness and strategic practices, every workplace can increase its level of productivity.

Productive workplace FAQs

What is a productive workplace?

A productive workplace is one in which employees complete tasks and projects effectively and are motivated to do so. When this occurs, companies are able to generate more revenue and grow.

What are some blockers to productivity?

Miscommunication, multitasking, and distractions such as email and unnecessary meetings are blockers to productivity in the workplace.

What are some ways to boost productivity?

Employees can boost productivity by reducing distractions. Mute messages and block calendars so that coworkers know not to interrupt them. Managers can help their direct reports be more productive by checking in regularly, helping them prioritize tasks, and providing positive feedback.

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