The 3 Most Common Myths About Productivity in the Workplace

There are a million and one articles out there on how to boost productivity within the workplace, and it’s important to know this, but not all of this information rings true.

When it comes to advice surrounding productivity levels, you should take it with a grain of salt.

After all, we all have our own ways of working and it would be naive to assume that every individual thrives in the same way.

While some advice is open to interpretation, other tips proliferated around productivity seem outdated and largely ineffective.

In this article, we want to divulge what we believe to be the 3 most common myths about productivity in the workplace. We’re sifting through the overwhelming amount of advice out there to cut through the nonsense so you can focus on what truly works.

The following myths are widely circulated, but it’s time to stop sharing these ideas, as they could be more harmful to productivity than they are helpful.

Myth 1: 9-5 is the Only Way to Work Effectively

Ever since Henry Ford first pioneered the 40-hour workweek in 1926 as a way of improving work conditions in his Ford car automotive factories, companies have adhered to it as if it’s the one rule of business that’s not up for negotiation.

But this begs the question, is the 40-hour workweek still the most effective way to work in 2021?

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We’d argue that it isn’t, or at least that it isn’t the only way you can work efficiently.

Think of the type of work an IT worker does these days compared to the manual labor in automotive factories back in the early 20th century, they’re completely different. So why would they both work a 9-5 schedule?

While there’s no debate over the toll manual labor can have on the body, what about the effects of hunching over looking at a computer screen all day?

What if there was a system in place that allowed workers to take regular screen breaks and stretch their legs from time to time, wouldn’t this be healthier?

Regardless of speculation, it’s been shown in recent years that there are indeed effective alternatives out there to the 9-5.

Remote work has made it easier to deviate from this traditional system, and now we’re seeing the rise of an effective 32-hour work week in some organizations which has workers come in for four days and take a three day weekend.

Unlike Ford workers back in 1926, an IT worker in this day and age might be able to get their whole workload done before five o’clock rolls around each day. Yet most of the time they have to stick around until the end of the day, so there’s no incentive to work faster.

That’s why a shorter work week which places emphasis on working harder in short bursts can prove effective, since workers have a carrot dangled in front of them as they work: a longer weekend and more free time.

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Myth 2: Working from Home Will Reduce Productivity

Another popular idea we’d like to draw your attention to is that which claims it’s almost impossible to be productive while working from home.

The fact that the economy hasn’t collapsed in the midst of a pandemic that has forced many companies to push remote work should dispel this myth outright.

Yet we’ll examine this myth in more depth.

Working from home and being productive is tough, granted, but it can be done and companies can do a lot to help make the transition from the office smooth.

For example, tools such as project management and employee monitoring software can work wonders for employee output as they help visualize processes and enable swift communication.

These tools work so well that you may even find that teams can work better together when they’re far away from each other.

Why?

Because there’s no hanging around the water cooler or impromptu non-work-related chats to distract workers from the task at hand.

If you think about it, the home might be a hard place to get work done, but the office can also be rife with distractions. You’ve got phones ringing at all hours, the cacophony of keyboard keys clacking, and meetings taking place throughout the day.

Given that a single distraction can cause a huge deficit to attention, it’s safe to say productivity in the workplace can be hard to come by too.

Myth 3 – Employees Should Work Every Minute

Once an employee clocks-in for the day, it’s expected that every minute they spend sitting in front of the computer should be well spent.

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Yet is this a realistic idea to have, or is it just another myth of workplace productivity?

We’d argue it’s the latter.

While yes in an ideal work every minute of a worker’s time during office hours would be spent towards work-related tasks, this simply isn’t possible for many reasons.

You’ve got bathroom breaks, lunch hours, and endless distractions that wrestle for worker’s time and attention on any given day.

However, this doesn’t mean that as an employer you should accept that your workers will squander time when they should be working.

So what can you do to get the most out of your workers?

Employee monitoring tools will allow you to track how your employees spend their time in real-time. That means you’ll be able to build a clear picture of when the midday slump starts, what’s normal in terms of morning productivity, and more. You can then use this information to try and boost productivity levels, or to single out workers who may be slacking off more than they should.

Final Thoughts

Don’t believe everything you read about productivity.

While there’s a lot of good advice out there, there’s also a lot of myths that you can and should ignore.

You don’t have to stick to a 9-5 work model if you don’t think it’s the most productive option for your company. You don’t have to be afraid that remote work will reduce your workers’ productivity. You don’t need to obsess over whether or not employees are using every single minute effectively.

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