In today's business world, working remotely is hotter than Terry Jeffords' non-toxic brand of masculinity. But, there are some tricky challenges that come with it. That’s because efficiency is about more than just cutting costs. Operational efficiency is key to making sure you're getting stuff done, while keeping costs low and quality high.
Since you need to strategize and forethink to bring it about, it’s unsurprising not even 30% of UK businesses manage to reach operational efficiency according to this PwC study! And if you think it doesn’t take hard work to sustain that level of efficiency once you reach it, you’ve got another thing coming!
Because the same study also shows only a fifth of those organizations managed to keep cutting costs for the next three years. Operational efficiency can take your company places as these big names found out.
In this blog, we're gonna show you how to be more operationally efficient than Captain Holt's filing system, and give you some tips to overcome the common challenges that remote teams face.
So grab a drink, maybe some Wings Slutz, and let's do this thing!
- Being operationally efficient isn’t easy but essential for the continued survival of businesses
- Brooklyn 99 is an awesome show! (see below)
Cool, cool, cool, cool, cool. No doubt, no doubt, no doubt–So, What is Operational Efficiency?
Let’s start with what it’s not. Efficiency and productivity aren’t the same. Or as HBR’s Mankins would say, when you keep doing the same thing with less, you’re being efficient. However, when you begin doing more with the same thing, you’re being productive. So, if a manufacturing company wants to improve the latter, they’d have to increase the output of their machines. But if they wanted to boost the former, they’d need to find a way to keep the number of machines the same and yet make more products.
Not to be missed: Chrome Productivity Extensions That Help You Work Efficiently
Why do the worst things always happen to the best people–Why is it Tricky to Calculate Operational Efficiency?
If you’re a business owner struggling to assess exactly how efficient your workforce is, you aren’t the only one! It can be tricky because inputs like costs are easy to calculate. You put in $1 and recover $3, which indicates efficiency. It’s the other aspects of the business, such as quantifying the efficiency of your employees that give you trouble. Add to that the complexity of having more than one department and numerous positions, and the waters get murkier.
Here are some challenges that commonly impact businesses when it comes to efficiency and the workarounds for handling them:
Noice! But How Do I Keep Making It Happen?
Many remote businesses make two big mistakes when they decide to become operationally efficient. First, they begin working without a standard. And the second one is not planning to ensure an unhindered flow of improvements.
What they should do instead is:
- Align the different teams with a common purpose and smart goals
- Make room for cross-functional collaboration
- Keep the progress going with active alerts and notifications
I’m not going to stand here and listen to you accusing me of things I clearly did. Just Tell Me What I Need to Do
What you need is end-to-end transformation. That means not relying on just a top-down approach but also factoring bottom-up detailing into your plans. Both the leaders and team members should be aware of the real problems their customers have. Then they can focus the transformation efforts on solving them.
Captain, turn your greatest weakness into your greatest strength. Like Paris Hilton–How will I Even Know My Business Needs Operational Efficiency?
That’s easy. Want to know if your remote teams can operate more efficiently? Then, look for the following indicators:
I’m a detective. I will detect–Why should I Check if We’re Understaffed?
Forbes postulates the level of efficiency drops when employees have too much to do. So, you should start by determining if you’re running an understaffed ship. A time tracking tool, such as timegram, can help you do that. Things you should be looking for:
- Overtime–do they spend their lunch time working? weekends?
- How many hours your employees spend working–are they starting early yet leaving late?
Those are the markings of overloaded and overworked employees. On the other hand, if your workforce doesn’t begin working on time, spends too much idle time, or leave off working before punch-out time, the number of the staff isn’t the issue. Maybe, it’s all those long meetings you have…
I’d describe the workflow today as dismal, with a tiny dash of pathetic–What Do You Mean? We shouldn’t Have Meetings?
Whether they happen online or off, long meetings can negatively affect operational efficiency. Finding that out is simple enough. Since timegram keeps working once you log on, it can monitor how much time you and your team spend having meetings. If you find it to be high, you may need to do something to rectify that. Take a page from Musk’s book and instruct employees not to join meetings where they cannot add any value.
What is the bandwidth on the Wi-Fi here? We have much content to stream–Can You Repeat that? I was Distracted
A Bloomberg study shows how using too many apps for work can distract employees. The problem is your company may be using multiple apps when one multi-functional app would be sufficient. timegram, for instance, takes care of tracking time, productivity, and invoicing.
Managers working on improving operational efficiency can also use it to determine the time individual employees spend daily, task-wise, and projectwise. Say, a team member takes longer than allotted time to complete every task. Their manager can suss out if that’s a behavioral issue or if that person is overworked. Either way, once they know the issue, they can work on its resolution.
Now number 5–So, How Do I Go about Improving Operational Efficiency?
So, we’ve covered things that can go wrong when remote teams and companies try to become more operationally efficient. It’s now time to see how to do things the right way. And first on that list is communication. Yes, you already know it’s important, but do you also realize it could be the obstacle keeping you from efficiency?
Every time someone steps up and says who they are, the world becomes a better, more interesting place–What should We be Talking about?
Communication is vital to operational success but doubly so for mobile workforces. Think about it. Some of your workers will be working in situ, while the others may be doing so from home. This can make staying up to date complicated. And what’s worse, your team members could be using disparate communication tools, such as emails, Slack, text, and phone calls. Or they may not have real-time access to crucial info.
All that can affect their productivity hours and make them feel excluded–something that 80% of remote workers already say is an issue. So, you need proper operational efficiency measures not just to keep the business running. But also to keep miscommunication from impacting employee satisfaction.
Streamlining asynchronous communication through the right tools, like timegram, can help your back-office and deskless staff stay on the same page. Managers can trace out their teams’ activities via the compacted view, aka, Highlights. Team members, on the other hand, can rest easier, knowing their good work won’t go unnoticed–even if they don’t keep the same hours as their team leads.
Well, no one asked you. It's a self-evaluation–So, What, I Let Employees Set their own Hours?
These aren’t the times to stick to the rules that have governed office spaces for decades. If you’re going remote and doing away with assigned desks, stuffy cubicles, and working on-site, then you also need to do away with the one-size-fits-all idea of operational productivity.
Every team member won’t be at peak productivity between the precise office hours you insisted on before. Some may want to begin early in the morning, but others will want to work in the evening–or even later. There may be workers who are active even before traditional office working hours begin. For instance, Microsoft’s internal study found its remote workers show three heightened productivity periods, instead of the usual two–at 10 am and 2 pm. Not all employees experienced the third peak, but 30% of them did. So, it changed its tactics to maximize operational productivity accordingly.
Doing the same with your team is easily achievable. Ask managers to encourage their teams to figure out where their productivity peaks lie via timegram’s time sheets.Then leverage those personal preferences to plan out individual schedules. That’s crucial info most how to maximize efficiency guides don’t factor in! You can keep overall productivity the same but also allow your employees the satisfaction to regain control over managing their working hours.
Not to be missed: What Makes the Working World Tick – Average Working Hours Worldwide
Okay, no hard feelings, but I hate you. Not joking. Bye–What Else can I Do to Retain My People?
We’re so glad you asked! Engaged employees work longer and harder. If you can boost employee engagement by opening avenues for professional development to them, you can also improve operational efficiency. That’s because your workers will feel they aren’t just working towards the betterment of the company but also to better themselves professionally. Having a direction gives them a sense of purpose, increases their motivation, and encourages them to stick with your company for longer.
However, professional development doesn’t just happen. To get this ball rolling, you’ll have to have honest conversations with them, plan to give them exactly that, and do so consistently.
Here are some best practices that take you from employee development to efficiency operations management:
- The first step is simple enough. You should ask them one-on-one what they expect for their future and then discuss how the company will help them achieve those goals
- Identify growth opportunities for individual team members and then provide them with the tools and resources they’d need to follow the path.
- Look for virtual programs and other digital resources your remote employees can access from anywhere. Get company subscriptions to online learning platforms and share access with your workers. If you have experts on site, set up regular online company training or lunch'n learn sessions with them. And if you don’t, contact the experts to see if they’d do webinars.
- Foster employee bonding and smooth out transitions after onboardings with remote mentorship programs. This is also great for speeding up lateral promotions and teaching employees the ropes quickly.
I’m playing Kwazy Cupcakes, I’m hydrated as hell, and I’m listening to Sheryl Crow. I’ve got my own party going on–Anything Else?
If you’re searching for ways on how to maximize efficiency in operations, you must not ignore remote worker wellbeing. That’s because burnout is a real risk, especially for beginner remote workers. Your employees might need help with their schedules before they settle in and understand the new rhythm of working while at home. Many may keep working all day long while others cannot find their sea legs and understand when their work hours begin.
While it’s true, working remotely does improve work-life balance and provides greater flexibility. Deskless employees usually put in more hours and take less time off than their office counterparts. After all, the distance to their work device–be it phone, laptop, or PC–is only as far away as the next room!
Therefore, they might not realize how close to burning out they are but, as the leader, you should be extra conscious. In fact, being proactive about employee well-being will also improve operational efficiency by lowering employee absenteeism, sick days, and turnover rates.
So, try out these efficiency operations management measures:
- Instill a cutoff time practice, like a no-emails-after-6PM policy
- Do the same for weekends and public holidays, so your workforce gets ample time to rest and spend time with their families
- Have managers monitor individual employee workload–easily done through timegram since it provides project and task-based progress reports–and look for overworking symptoms
- Check in with teams regularly so you don’t miss non-verbal signs of job dissatisfaction, problems at home, etc.
- Learn to read signs of burnout, so you can catch it in its early stages
- As mentioned above, allow greater work schedule flexibility with room to boost individual productivity
- Make generous employee benefits a part of your remote working culture, such as time off for health and PTOs, and prioritize wellbeing
In short, draft policies that prioritize employee well-being, happiness, and professional development and make them a part of your remote teams’ work culture. Reward your workforce with your care and reap the benefits that trickle down to increase your business’s operational efficiency.
Not to be missed: Employee Burnout: Here is How Effective Resource Planning Can Help
timegram is an intelligent solution that boosts deskless productivity and improves how you manage your remote team. It also collects time tracking and other pertinent data without interrupting employees’ work. We’d also recommend it to companies wanting to improve their operational efficiency, but that’s because we love it. Don’t take our word, signup, and see for yourself!
Want to know how to be one of the best operational efficiency examples? Talk to us, and we can get there, together!
What is operational efficiency?
Companies or teams that operate efficiently are using their resources, such as people, time, finances, in a way that best serves the business. So, you can expect them to be leaner and more agile besides being more profitable.
How can I show operational efficiency?
The operational efficiency formula requires you to:
- Add up all your company’s operating expenses
- Divide the value you get in #1 by your company’s total revenue
Why is being operationally efficient so important?
It’s so important because it keeps businesses from wasting money and effort. When you calculate its value, you factor in everything that’s a part of operations resulting in the creation of products or services. And, your business can only be cost-effective with minimal wastage, quality maintenance, and best service.
Who is Adrian Pimento?
Adrian Pimento is one of Rosa Diaz's love interests. He's also one of the more chaotic, quirky, and interesting characters of the bunch. And with the Brooklyn 99 cast being how it is, that's saying something!