Productivity: Myth or Reality?

Mona Rudloff

The productivity of employees is increasingly becoming the focus of attention for companies. However, continuous productivity often turns out to be a mere wishful thinking on the part of managers. Why is it that productivity often falls asleep in the workplace despite the greatest efforts? There are many myths and theories around this topic. In this article we show that productivity-enhancing measures are often myth rather than reality.


Myth 1: Open Office

The concept of an Open Office is absolutely in line with the trend of the times. In addition to the advantage of real-time conversations and short communication paths, flat hierarchical levels and an aesthetic claim are often arguments for such a concept. But let's be honest, distraction has a place here, too. Open offices are often quite loud and tend to offer little privacy. Whilst some love the humming and buzzing, others look for a quite place to and a sense of belonging (which is coupled to privacy by the way)

If you really want to create a productive environment for your employees, here's a completely different suggestion: try a home office option with your employees. According to a study by Standford University, employees in their home office are 14% more productive than their colleagues in the office. Working in their own four walls leads to a higher productivity rate, sick days are reduced and the general well-being of the employees is promoted.

Myth 2: Productivity is only possible with absolute peace of mind

A very clear one: maybe! According to this study music can increase motivation and thus also productivity. By listening to (the right) music while working, the multitasking ability can be promoted, the mood of the employees can be lifted and the listener can be shielded from disturbing noises in the office. But beware, the music should be adapted to the task and is not the best choice for every job.

We recommend leaving the option open. Everyone should individually find out for themselves what the right volume is for them when working productively.

Myth 3: Long sleepers are lazy

The fact is that sleep deprivation affects both health and social skills and concentration. Consequently, too little sleep also has a negative impact on productivity, attention and creativity. According to this Havard study, companies in the USA alone lose almost 63.2 billion US dollars annually due to the lack of sleep of their employees.. Every person needs a different amount of sleep and has an individual activity curve throughout the day. While Mrs. Krause is rested after six hours sleep and is most productive in the morning, Mrs. Schmidt can need nine hours sleep and work most efficiently against the noon time.

Flexitime is the key for managers to employ rested and productive employees. In this way, everyone can find out for themselves when they are the most efficient. It is crucial for employees to plan enough time for sleep that their own bodies require of them.

Myth 4: Pressure increases productivity

Wrong! Pressure and stress must be exerted to a healthy degree. An excessively high stress level in employees can have physical, emotional, intellectual or behavioural effects that damage productivity.

Too little or no pressure also has negative effects on productivity, as the Yerkes-Dodson law shows: a medium level of tension is most productive with employees. But you can also help a little yourself. If you notice that your stress level is too high, simply take a short break to prioritize the tasks and then process them according to descending priority. If you lack the pressure at work, you can set yourself time limits to artificially create a stress level.

Myth 5: Working hours = productivity

In our society, working hours and productivity are often equated. However, this approach is fundamentally wrong. Parkinson's law states that work expands to the extent that time is available to do it. That is, if you work more on coercion, you become more quickly entangled in trivialities instead of concentrating on the essentials.

It is important to have the right time management, to plan enough (meaningful) breaks in order to become more productive in a shorter time and to use your time in a more focused way.

Myth 6: Everyone else has a lot more time than me

The fact is, the day has only 24 hours for everyone. How to use them is up to you. Admittedly, working hours limit you a little, but this was also the decision you made in the beginning.

Make effective use of your time at work, do without countless overtime hours and make full use of your free time (including breaks!). Here's a little extra tip: sport is not only good for body and soul, but also demonstrably helps at work. The efficiency is increased, one is more resilient and more social towards colleagues.

Myth 7: I do it myself, then it goes faster

Delegation is one of the most important skills for productive work. You should focus on activities and tasks in which you create real added value and are indispensable. By delegating tasks, you will spend more time on tasks that really suit you. In addition, you also promote the skills of your team so that it can take on tasks more often in the future. And who knows? Perhaps this will lead to completely new approaches and super results in your team.


As you can see, there are many myths surrounding productivity. In this article we have been able to clear up some myths and propose approaches to increase productivity. Unfortunately, there is no recipe for action that works for everyone. Test different approaches yourself and with your team to identify the right ones.

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