The Coffee Break is Not The Real Productivity Killer

April 6, 2008

Published in My Office Today – July 2008

Many owners have considered removing such luxuries as the “coffee break” to help curb lost productivity. There is a guilty culprit to lost productivity, and it’s not the coffee break. The following will describe a workplace environment we know all too well.

In a firm that has multiple staff members, delegation and management for the owner(s) quickly becomes an issue. Consider when a staff member needs to ask you, what they should do next. They get up and say “hi” to somebody next to them and interrupt them, then they walk by and see another staff person and they think “I wonder what we’re going to do for lunch today?” After making lunch plans, they finally make it to the your office only to find you on the phone. While they are waiting for you to finish your phone call, the staff member waits for ten minutes to ask you what to do next. By the time the staff member collects the information they set out for, thirty minutes has passed and very little has been accomplished. These interruptions are compounded when you lose concentration on complex tasks. When you finally return to what you were doing, you are forced to regroup and pickup where you left off, losing valuable time. This permanent loss of time can be very frustrating and detrimental to productivity. After going through this scenario, it becomes obvious that getting a cup of coffee isn’t killing productivity.

The issue of delegation and management is not limited to the scenario described above. It is only further complicated when you add phone calls into the equation. For example: five phone calls come in today; they land on your desk. You immediately know which ones you have to handle because you’re the only one that has the information needed, but there are three that should have never been given to you. At this point you have two options: first, you could walk over to a staff member, interrupt them, wait for them, and then tell them they need to handle the calls and why; or second, you could route those through a Practice Management Suite to a lower staff member and even attach a note saying, “You need to take care of this for me.” You save time by not getting up, writing things down, or going to see somebody. You don’t interrupt their day by stopping them to say, “You need to take care of these three phone calls for me.” If you use a Practice Management Suite, they immediately get the message and can work from an automated to-do list, or for more pressing issues they can be reminded with pop-up reminders. We call this the Staff Activity List in Office Tools Professional.

Time management problems arise when information is not readily available. A Practice Management Suite can help reduce this wasted time, money and energy. If you have a well-working system where you can assign work to people, it is no longer necessary for staff to come in once or twice a day and say, “I’m done with this, what do you want me to do next?” When you use a Practice Management Suite, you can assign work to people, cutting interruptions by 50%, and with the right reports maybe 50% fewer staff meetings. In most cases the time savings on administration alone can be 1 hour a day. Imagine, 1 more hour of concentrated billable time. If this affects only the owner/manager the revenue ramifications is incredible when considered for a whole year. What if more than just the owner/manager was affected? Now that’s’ time management working for you.

The right Practice Management Suite brings together every aspect of the office allowing you to work more efficiently and to build a bridge of information between you, your staff and most importantly your client.

So go ahead and buy coffee for the whole office, celebrate by installing and implementing Office Tools Professional: The smart choice for small firm Practice Management.

Office Tools Pro pricing starts at $550 for a single license and $225 for each additional user. 888.667.8440

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