5 Ways to Keep Employees Focused and Productive

5 Ways to Keep Employees Focused and Productive

4 minute read
Noreen Seebacher avatar

How do you maintain morale and productivity in The Era of Constant Distractions — and real or imagined ADHD?

"We used to ask employees to leave their mobile phones in a basket by the door to the conference room. But that just seemed to make them more anxious and distracted. So now they can bring their phones into the meetings. The only rules: They need to be on silent and they can't stare at their phones," explained one team leader at a digital marketing agency.

We have some other advice for keeping meetings on track, too. But first things first. There's a major sporting event in play, so let's figure out how managers can get the best out of their workforce in spite of it.

Keep Your Eye on the Ball

Soccer's most spectacular spectacle kicked off in Brazil yesterday. For the next month, diehard soccer fans worldwide will likely be dreaming more about watching the games than completing their work at the office. 


Unlike the Super Bowl, a one-day extravaganza of sports, entertainment and seven-layer dip, this event lasts a full month. That means it could have a long and significant impact on workplace productivity, with workers doing everything from covertly watching matches during office hours to leaving early or calling in sick to accommodate their desires to view and celebrate the matches. 

Learning Opportunities

Magdalena Brzakala, public relations manager at TeamViewer, a provider of online collaboration and desktop sharing software, said the best thing businesses can do is to recognize the potential distractions the soccer tournament is likely to create. "The key is not to see the tournament as a threat, but as a chance to maximize engagement,” she said.

5 Productivity Tips

So what does she think companies should do? Here are TeamViewer's top five suggestions, designed to help managers get the best out of their workers during this or any other distracting event.

  1. Set clear time-off policies -- Turn unplanned absences into planned absences. Encourage fans to work with their managers in advance to schedule vacation or personal days that coincide with important matches. This gives managers the ability to plan and mitigate some of the productivity loss.
  2. Be flexible -- Companies can boost worker morale and productivity with flexible work polices. Allow employees to arrive earlier in the morning so they can leave sooner in the afternoon, let them work the same amount of hours in fours days instead of five or increase telecommuting options.
  3. Use the tournament to increase teamwork -- Turn conference rooms into tournament screening rooms or allow workers to listen to the games on radio. This can help foster connections among colleagues and stimulate discussions, which indirectly helps to promote a team spirit.
  4. Plan accordingly -- Use the tournament to demonstrate how much you value your employees. Don't plan important meetings for the morning after a significant match, especially if it’s a late event. And encourage employees to take leave or time off to watch matches rather than being present at work but unproductive. 
  5. Think long-term -- Making reasonable accommodation for fans could enhance their job satisfaction, making them happier, more committed and more productive at work.

Encouraging Teamwork

Whether you plan to hold real or virtual meetings — during the World Cup or any other time — it's helpful to have some policies in place. Here are some team meeting rules to consider: 

  • Phones have to be on silent or vibrate
  • No staring at phones
  • Pause before speaking to avoid interrupting
  • Be constructively honest
  • Embrace new opinions and ideas
  • Avoid reflexively dismissing ideas
  • Understand you can like an idea without liking the person who suggests it
  • Challenge at the right times
  • Be prepared
  • Be responsive to requests and respectful of deadlines
  • Focus on "contributing" instead of "complaining"

So ok then. We'd tell you more. But several matches are close to starting. Here's today's schedule, in Eastern time: 

  • Mexico vs. Cameroon at Estadio das Dunas, Natal (noon, ESPN2)
  • Spain vs. Netherlands at Arena Fonte Nova, Salvador (3 p.m., ESPN)
  • Chile vs. Australia at Arena Pantanal, Cuiabá (6 p.m., ESPN2)