Do your employees spend all day at work and yet don’t seem to get much done? Asks Richard Harris from Okappy. Are you always playing catch up but never seem to make any progress? Are there lots of things you would like to do but can never find the time to do them?

If so, this is a sign of poor productivity. Unfortunately, this is an all too common problem in the UK with labour productivity 16 per cent below that of our peers in the G7 as per the latest Office for National Statistics (ONS) Productivity Survey.

So how do you go about maximising the productivity of your business and your workers so that more time is available to grow your business and less time is wasted on unproductive tasks?

If you’re an electrical contractor, a plumbing or drainage contractor or if you simply have people working at different locations, then the following tips might help you increase productivity, increase your profits and get more from your business.

Collect and know your data

It is crucial to collect data on how productive your workers are being. Knowing which jobs are completed, how quickly they have been completed and the standard of work that has been done are crucial to understanding productivity. Are tasks and work being completed in the right time frames or is there some issue that is causing them to take much longer than expected?

Without adequate data, it is difficult to know where to focus your attention. Collecting and understanding your data might include a mixture of collecting and monitoring information from external systems as well as self-monitoring in the form of workers logging their own jobs once they have been completed. With job management software, work can be logged by the staff in the office or by engineers out in the field. The status of the work can be monitored and assessed in real-time through a centralised platform. Thus allowing you to build up an overall picture of how productive your workforce is.

Once you and your engineers know how productive they are being, and where things are falling behind, then steps can be taken to improve.

Encourage self-reflection

Improving productivity starts with the individual workers themselves. However, it is often difficult to tell whether we are working in an unproductive manner until faced with clear evidence. Job management software can help provide this evidence so individual workers can better understand how they’re working and what could be done better. You might also wish to allow them to compare their own performance with that of their colleagues. The result? Workers will be able to reflect on their own performance with the data to hand, and start to make more positive changes in the way that they use their time.

It’s not just about software and data, simply spending time with your employees, giving effective feedback and putting in place proper incentives can dramatically improve productivity. But make sure you have cold hard and actionable facts rather than simply complaining about someone’s work.

Schedule tasks appropriately

In our own experience having talked to lots of engineers working at electrical, plumbing and drainage contractors. Often they are working very hard, but their work is not as productive as it could be due to poor scheduling. Tasks might not be assigned in the best possible order which means more travel time, there may be too many contractors, or not enough contractors, being assigned to specific tasks or employees might simply be sent to jobs with the wrong tools or without adequate information. Ensuring jobs are scheduled and managed effectively from the office can improve productivity. Knowing your staff, knowing what tools they have and what is their existing level of experience can help ensure work is allocated and scheduled correctly and wasted time minimised.

Set up prompts to remind contractors what they need to do

Productivity is often poor and time is wasted when people have to wait around for colleagues, spend time waiting for paperwork or attend pointless meetings.

Using cloud based job management software reduces the need to come into the office to pick up paperwork as well as the time spent chasing engineers. Job management software can also alert everyone when new jobs have arrived or when they are running late.

Alternatively, you could use a centralised calendar to keep everyone in the loop and alert them when tasks are due, with enough time to ensure there is no waiting around. The latest iterations of the Apple and Google calendars will now even prompt you at the right time based on traffic conditions.

Engineers could use the reminder apps on their phones or you could use your job management software to automatically alert engineers of new jobs or when jobs are running late or taking longer than expected.

Start managing your productivity today

Poor productivity can be a big drain on your business and unfortunately it is an all too common problem in the UK. However, there are lots of ways productivity can be managed and improved.

The above tips can help increase productivity. For more tips and suggestions, check out 7 tips for increasing productivity and 10 tips for better managing you time. Also, see why the best companies care more about productivity than efficiency.