8 Strategies to Improve Work Efficiency

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The clock is ticking, deadlines are looming, and your team is on the back foot. If this is a familiar scenario, these 8 strategies to boost efficiency in the workplace will help you get back on track. Read on to discover how to help your team do more with less while maintaining morale and keeping burnout at bay.

8 Strategies to Improve Work Efficiency
  1. What Is Work Efficiency? 
  2. Why Does Work Efficiency Matter?
  3. What Stops Teams From Working Efficiently?
  4. 8 Strategies to Improve Work Efficiency.

What Is Work Efficiency?

Woman working efficiently
Efficiency = result / effort.

Work efficiency means achieving the best possible results with a minimal amount of time, effort and resources. To complete a task efficiently, your output must be at least equal to the time and effort you invest.

Efficiency = result / effort

Why Does Work Efficiency Matter?

Efficient team collaborating
Working efficiently makes it easier to maintain a work/life balance.

Efficiency in the workplace is a hot topic in business because time is money. From infrastructure to employees, companies want the most out of their investments. And for good reason: an efficient workplace can be the difference between failure and success. Inefficiencies can be expensive, causing delays and putting business relationships — as well as your reputation — at risk.

Even if things are running smoothly for your business, you should still aim to improve work efficiency. An efficient company can tap into opportunities for growth, creativity and innovation, all of which are essential to thriving in a competitive market. 

Beyond the benefits to overall company performance, when you work efficiently, you:

  • Accomplish more.
  • Make a greater impact.
  • Are more invested and engaged in your work.
  • Can maintain a healthy work/life balance. 
  • Have more opportunities to advance in your career.

The same goes for your team. Efficient team processes:

What Stops Teams From Working Efficiently?

Stressed worker
Is your team stressed, frustrated or just confused?

Despite the advantages of efficiency in the workplace, according to a study by VoucherCloud, the average worker is productive for fewer than three hours per day. So where does all that potential go? There are many reasons the efficiency of your team might be suffering. Identifying the cause is key to solving the issue.

1. Slow and Ineffective Processes 

If your team is spending a lot of time on administrative tasks that take away from their primary responsibilities, your internal processes could be to blame. Complex rules, having to follow multiple steps to get basic tasks done, or a convoluted approval process can all impact work efficiency

2. Lack of Clarity or Direction

A lack of clarity around goals and objectives, or even who is working on what and when creates confusion. This leads to delays and missed deadlines, as well as time wasted on fixing mistakes. Similarly, multiple conflicting priorities can lead to poor time and resource management, negatively impacting output.

3. Too Many Restrictions

On the flip side, too much direction can also hamper work efficiency. If your team doesn’t have the freedom to make decisions and manage their time effectively, efficiency will suffer. Too many restrictions can zap creativity and innovation and lead to a frustrated, unmotivated team.

4. No Tools — Or The Wrong Tools

Even with the best intentions, your team won’t be efficient without the right tools or equipment in place. If your team works with multiple stakeholders, processes, and projects, digital tools tailored to their needs are essential for smooth and productive collaboration.

5. Personal Challenges

Stress, anxiety or an inability to focus can affect anyone on your team and lead to inefficiency in the workplace. These challenges might be due to issues at work — such as those mentioned above — or to things outside of your control as a manager.

8 Strategies to Improve Work Efficiency.

1. Set Clear Goals and Objectives

Dart board with bullseye
Know what you’re aiming for.

When your stakeholders are aligned on goals and objectives, they can pull in the same direction to achieve desired outcomes. By documenting your goals and objectives transparently, your team can refer to them at any time to ensure they’re focusing on work that counts. Make your goals effective by adhering to SMART criteria. This means your goals should be:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Achievable
  • Realistic
  • Time-bound

Use the SMART Goals template in MindMeister.

Empowering your team to work independently boosts their productivity – and yours. They’ll rely less on you day-to-day, which means
you can devote more time to strategic work that drives the team forward. Clear and realistic goals are also important in setting and managing stakeholder expectations, which saves time in the long run. For example, by agreeing on deliverables at the start, you’ll need fewer revisions or feedback rounds throughout your project. You’ll also spend less time explaining what you’re doing and why, leaving more time to actually do it.

Learn more about setting and achieving goals as a team — and the pitfalls to watch out for.

2. Plan For Success

Woman holding a goal setting meeting.
Keep the bigger picture in view.

Behind every project should be a solid plan that provides clarity on scope, KPIs, methods, and timelines. Like your goals, your plan needs to be documented for your stakeholders. Documenting your project plan in clear, simple terms will help you get buy-in from decision-makers. It will also make it easier for your team to understand and execute your plan

Project and task management software with documentation functionality –– like MeisterTask — facilitates efficient project planning as it:

  • Enables you to share your plan quickly and easily with your team.
  • Reflects changes and updates in real-time and lets you notify stakeholders quickly.
  • Provides a centralized space for your team to add questions or feedback via comments.

As part of a successful planning process, you will evaluate your resources and allocate them strategically. By making the resources you have go further, you set the foundation for efficient project execution, delivering on time and within budget. Your plan is also your roadmap to success. By regularly referring back to your plan and assessing your performance against your KPIs, you can quickly identify when you’re going off-course and make adjustments.

3. Stay Organized With a Task Management Tool

Innovation pipeline project in MeisterTask.
Efficient task management in MeisterTask.

Managing tasks by email is confusing, time-consuming and ineffective – think about how many times you’ve missed important information because it got lost in your inbox. In-person meetings are just as problematic as it’s impossible to revisit what was discussed or share it with others who may need to be looped in.

A task management tool helps you and your team stay organized by providing an overview of task progress that can be accessed at any time, from anywhere. By managing your projects and tasks centrally and transparently, your team can easily find the information they need to collaborate efficiently — whether they’re in the office or at home.

With MeisterTask’s Kanban board view, you can see task progress at a glance. Keep the sections on your board simple, like “To Do”, “In Progress” and “Done”, moving tasks across the board as they’re worked on. Alternatively, you can adapt the sections to your team’s workflow. 

Every task has an assignee and deadline, so responsibilities and due dates are clear. This increases accountability and limits confusion around what needs to be done, when and by whom. On-task comments keep your team’s conversations transparent and easy to follow (no hunting through email threads or Slack channels), which reduces duplicate questions and misunderstandings.

Discover Organized, Efficient Task Management.

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4. Simplify Workflows and Processes

Maze symbolising complex workflows.
Don’t turn processes into a maze.

Want to speed up? Then simplifying your processes is a great way to start. If you often find your projects are held up by multiple rounds of input from stakeholders, ask yourself who really needs to be involved. Remember, not everyone should have decision-making power in a project. The buck has to stop somewhere, otherwise your project will never get off the ground. On the flip side, if there are meetings or projects you and your team are involved in but don’t feel are relevant – or you can’t add value – speak up. Your time is better spent elsewhere.

Workflows can be complex for other reasons, such as technical or legal considerations. You don’t want to cut corners when it comes to employee safety or data protection – but there are ways to optimize your efficiency without compromising on quality. For example, you can:

  • Use tools and software that simplify or condense processes — look for tools that can automate repetitive manual tasks or administrative work.
  • Invite feedback from your team on how processes could be improved — there might be something you’re missing.
  • If one or two people are always bottlenecks, re-evaluate responsibilities within the team and ensure an equal distribution of work.

5. Cut Out Busywork

Woman busy with admin tasks.
Working hard or hardly working? Make sure you’re using your time wisely.

Busywork is anything that takes up your time but doesn’t really contribute to company goals. This can include creating unnecessary documentation or holding meetings without any clear agenda. It’s both inefficient and ineffective.  

Do you know the difference between inefficient and ineffective work? Get a breakdown of the two terms – and why they both matter – in this blog post.

To avoid falling into this trap, consider impact versus output when evaluating your own or your team’s work. According to the 80/20 rule, 80% of outcomes result from 20% of all inputs for any given event. Identifying that high-impact 20% and focusing your attention there is a good starting point. As a manager, you can encourage your team to do the same. Help them succeed by reducing unnecessary meetings, filtering out unimportant, low-impact tasks, and creating a culture that rewards results and impact over hours worked.

6. Stay Agile

Agile rower
Keep moving forward.

Waiting for perfection can hinder progress, allowing your competitors to overtake you and steal your market share. That’s why it’s important to move quickly and maintain momentum. Flexibility is key in fast-moving industries such as tech and retail, but it can also benefit traditional industries like finance and law, whose “old” models are going up against innovative challenger brands. Just think about how brands like Monzo and N26 have revolutionized the banking sector.

Staying agile means being prepared to adapt to changing circumstances and new information. This requires you to:

  • Avoid doing things out of habit.
  • Take decisions based on data.
  • Iterate and test new approaches quickly (think “better done than perfect”).

To coordinate efforts and implement changes quickly, you need open and transparent cross-team collaboration. Find out more in this blog post.

7. Push Back When Necessary

No on a post-it note.
Practice saying “no” – the success of your team depends on it.

Just because you can do something, doesn’t mean you should. Pushing back on requests that don’t align with your team’s goals is key to protecting your team’s time and resources. Only when your team can focus on priority work will you be able to achieve your KPIs. 

Of course, it’s not always so simple. Say you’re overloaded with requests for work that does contribute to the overarching company goals and is within the scope of your team’s responsibilities – what then? 

It all comes down to prioritization.

This means saying no to things that are not urgent or important and focusing your team’s efforts where they have the most impact. To make this easier and less stressful for everyone involved, communicate openly with stakeholders and respond to requests in good time. More often than not, they’ll appreciate your honesty, if not relate to the challenges your team is facing.

8. Beat Procrastination

Woman procrastinating at work.
Step away from the phone.

Procrastination is the enemy of efficiency. If you’re anxious about doing a good job, prone to perfectionism, or simply lacking motivation, you’ve likely experienced the procrastination cycle

Creating a calming environment that encourages concentration can be helpful. Listening to soothing music or tidying your desk – these are small changes that impact your frame of mind and boost productivity. Similarly, taking regular breaks creates a healthy distance between you and your work. This can help you break out of your rut and regain perspective. Coming back to your desk with “fresh eyes” also makes it easier to review your work objectively, spot mistakes, and attack challenges from a new angle.

If procrastination is a problem for your team, reach out and encourage them to talk it through. Keep in mind that there could be more complex issues, such as struggles with mental health, behind their procrastination.

If you’re looking for more structured ways to tackle procrastination in the workplace, give these practical productivity methods a try.

Put Workplace Efficiency Into Action.

Efficient team celebrating success.
Efficient teams are happy teams.

With these eight strategies to improve efficiency in the workplace, you can boost your team’s output and achieve even better results. Not only that, but with more time for things that matter to you and a happier team, you’ll feel great while doing it! Get started now and enjoy a better, more efficient way of getting things done. 

Maximize Your Work Efficiency.

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Why Is Work Efficiency Important?

Efficiency in the workplace matters because it directly impacts productivity, cost-effectiveness, and overall success. Inefficient processes can lead to delays, increased costs, and strained business relationships. Moreover, a focus on efficiency enables companies to tap into growth opportunities and remain competitive.

What Are The Common Obstacles To Work Efficiency?

There are several factors that can hinder work efficiency, including slow or ineffective processes, lack of clarity or direction, inadequate tools, and personal challenges such as stress. Identifying and addressing these obstacles is crucial for improving overall efficiency and productivity.

Is Work Efficiency or Work Effectiveness More Important?

Effectiveness refers to taking the right steps to achieve the right goal, while efficiency refers to achieving that goal with as little time, effort and resources as possible. Work can be efficient without being effective, or effective without being efficient. However, a successful team must be both efficient and effective.