The average enterprise employee works less than 3 hours per day.

Alright, I admit it, I made the number up to grab your attention. 

Still, if you factor in unproductive meetings, coordination overhead, constantly dealing with superfluous work emails and instant messages, lunch breaks and small talk by the coffee machine, you'll come with a number way smaller than the nominal working hours.

Of course large enterprises you can usually afford all this overhead. Small businesses operating on ultra-competitive markets, not so much.

In this post we will give you several tips for how to increase productivity in the workplace. Starting with...

Plan ahead

Most small businesses have delivery date and deadlines for their projects -- they have to, as customers want to know when they'll get their stuff done. Few small businesses though actually take the time to create a fuller schedule and organize their work in between deadlines. 

By planning ahead for all the stages of your project you will get better insight on who is supposed to work on what, what project is falling behind, etc.

Keep tabs

This tip is closely related to the time-keeping advice above. How can you even know whether your employees are productive or not? And how would you know if their productivity improves or worsens? 

Measuring productivity in the workplace is a prerequisite for increasing it.

This doesn't mean you need to go measure everything your employees do, but that you should keep some key metrics. E.g. measure how many products (e.g. t-shirts, cupcakes, websites, etc.) each employee produces over time, how many customers they serve, etc.

Give them the right tools

The right tools can give your employees an impressive productivity boost -- even enable a single person to do the work of 2 or 10. This, after all, is why businesses moved from physical spreadsheets to Excel, from faxes to emails and from typewriters to Word Processors. 

Invest in decent equipment (including a fast internet connection) for your business, and see your employee productivity soar. You don't have to pay top dollar -- just avoid cheap stuff.

It's not worth to save $50 dollars on a printer, only to buy one that will give you constant headaches and fail when you mostly need it.

Be involved

Don't be an absentee employer. As a small business owner there's no excuse not to closely follow your projects.

Heck, Steve Jobs was very hands-on and he had tens of thousands of employees and hundreds of managers. 

Being hands on (and getting your hands dirty when needed) will motivate your employees and make them work even harder themselves (well, the one's with the right work ethics, at least).

Don't be TOO involved

This one is a corollary to the previous tip: be involved, but don't be too involved. In other words, don't micromanage. If you do, you'll only annoy and slow down your employees. 

Instead, show them that you trust them, and have them take initiative on their own.

When people get more control at work, they take more pride in what they do, and work harder.

Don't make it all about work

A sure-fire way to have unmotivated employees is to make them see the workplace as a drab, overly serious place.

Have some fun, build a friendly corporate culture, and allow them to be casual (e.g. with their attire) when the occasion doesn't call for formalities.

Even something as simple as letting them decorate their desks and offices, can go a long way towards making them feel more satisfied in the hours they spend working there.

Money, money, money...

In the end, the best motivator for more productive employees is money. After all, that's why your employees come to work for you in the first place.

So give them a cut of projects they bring in or complete early, give them bonuses for great performance, etc., and sit back and watch their productivity rise.

If you are cheap or struggling for money, try giving them extra days of as conpensation.

Bottom line

In smaller businesses, which rely on a small pool of employees and often take on projects above their weight, productivity is not just important but can also be a matter of life and death for the company. In this post, we give you some tried and true tips to increase productivity in the workplace. There are, of course, many others (and we might get back to this topic at some point), but those are some of the most basic ways to encourage employee productivity.