Doing More with Less: Productivity in the New Era of Work

Cise Kilic | 9 May 2024

The modern workplace is a whirlwind of demands. Shrinking resources, tight deadlines, and an ever-expanding digital landscape can leave teams feeling overwhelmed and under-productive. As leaders look for ways to achieve more with less, Cise Kilic explores how employees are looking for ways to meet these demands while attempting to strike a healthy work-life balance.


Generative Artificial Intelligence (Gen AI) and automation have become hot topics in recent years but amidst the unknowns and ambiguity surrounding these technologies, some organisations understandably have hesitated to fully embrace and step into this space. However, given their increasing prominence, it’s unlikely these technologies will fade away. Therefore, forward-thinking organisations would be remiss to ignore them and miss out on the productivity benefits they offer.


Complexity of workplace productivity

Productivity, especially within the intricate dynamics of the workplace, is not a simple concept. Unlike tangible “factory-style” products, it’s not easily measured. However, it can be assessed based on the input of effort (typically time) compared to the output (such as length or quality) of tasks. These are often dictated by a person’s intrinsic and extrinsic motivation, shaping their mental energy levels when approaching tasks. We’ve all encountered the frustration of tackling tasks that feel tedious or daunting, often leading to low motivation and excessive procrastination. Paired with an ever-expanding workload, this dynamic can leave employees feeling overwhelmed and leaders grappling with frustration.


Doing more with less

So, how can we bridge the gap between workload and desired output? Drawing from our extensive experience collaborating with leaders to enhance productivity within their teams, here are some suggestions.


  • Automation: Identifying the most critical tasks and automating the rest. Leveraging technology to streamline repetitive processes. Even before the emergence of this evolving Gen AI landscape we find ourselves in, Repetitive tasks can be increasingly automated, freeing your teams to focus on the uniquely human and “high value” aspects of their jobs.
  • Time management – the tomato-timer (also known as the Pomodoro Technique): Certainly not a novel concept or time management tool, this involves working in focused 25-minute intervals with short “breaks” for shorter tasks. A great way to systematically multi-task, we certainly see many leadership teams reap the benefits of this tool across their neurologically diverse workforce, helping to manage distractions and promote motivation for cognitively demanding tasks.
  • Sharing efficiencies: We’re often caught up in the rush to move on to the next task, neglecting to reflect on lessons learned and how we can improve our efficiency in future tasks. While it may sound counter-intuitive, how many of us have yearned for shortcuts and more effective methods of working, only to stumble upon them through the wisdom of colleagues? It’s imperative to share efficiencies, no matter how seemingly small. This applies not only to larger projects but also to the quick wins that prove to be significant time savers. Cultivating this mindset within teams can lead to greater productivity and innovation.


A case for continuous learning

The landscape of work is constantly evolving. As technology continues to advance, so too must our approach to productivity. By staying informed about the latest research and developments, we can continue to refine our strategies and create a future of work that benefits both businesses and employees. Crucially, leaders must recognise the key to this evolution lies in investing in training and technological advancements.


Looking ahead

While the modern workplace presents challenges to productivity, there are ways to achieve more with less. Technology like Generative AI, automation and applications can be leveraged to streamline tasks. Just as important is the effective use of time management techniques and teams spending time to share efficiencies and ‘shortcuts’. Leaders wishing to make an impact on staff productivity must encourage continuous learning and investment in training and technology to stay ahead in the evolving work landscape.


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