3 ways to improve workplace collaboration and productivity

One of your developers has a question about the code they’re writing—but they may want to think twice before interrupting a team member to get the answer.

Researchers at the University of California, Irvine, found that the typical knowledge worker is interrupted or switches tasks every three minutes and five seconds. And these interruptions can have a major impact on concentration: It can take more than 23 minutes just to regain their train of thought.

Interruption culture is likely costing your company millions in lost productivity each year. Here are a few strategies for getting your team back on track.

Provide more autonomy

It may seem counterintuitive that leaving your employees alone would result in better work performance, but studies have shown that providing your employees with more accountability helps them become more productive. To this end, consider letting your employees choose how and when to perform their work, choosing their own schedules and whether to work at home or at the office. They should also have the ability to prioritize tasks—while leadership may spotlight some longer-term high-priority projects that your team should be working on, it’s not a great idea to ask your team members to put out fires as they arise.

Audit your communication tools

You put a lot of time into building a solid tech stack for app development—but how closely are you monitoring your team’s communications toolkit? Pay attention to which tools your team is using for chat, project management, and long-term knowledge management. How easy is it for them to find what they’re looking for? Can other people who need access to the same information find it easily? How often are team members interrupting their coworkers to help solve a problem instead of finding the answer through self-service methods? By monitoring your current tool usage and asking your development team questions about their communication habits, you should get a good sense of what’s working and what’s not.

Fill in the knowledge gap

Likely in auditing your team’s communication tools, you’ve found that employees aren’t always finding the information they need without having to ask for it. So rather than forcing them to interrupt coworkers to answer questions they’ve already answered many times, consider implementing a knowledge-sharing platform. A Q-and-A based platform allows team members to write out their questions as they come up, and for their coworkers to answer them and add context and updates to existing answers. The knowledge is documented in its current form, but can be constantly updated through a crowdsourced model in which users vote on accuracy and usefulness. This can help your team remain agile while making knowledge-sharing a key priority.

By ensuring that your team members have the ability to determine their own most productive strategies for completing tasks, that they’re able to use the right tools, and that they’re making knowledge-sharing a key part of their company culture, you’ll be able to enhance the productivity of your entire team.

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