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How do you encourage employees who waste time talking about activities unrelated to work to be more productive instead ?

Context

Thought was not necessary but anyway. It's a software house company with like 20 - 30 employees, we own products that are used by 9 - 5 offices, so it's really relaxed environment here. But some workers keep talking for like hours and hours in absence of managers e.g. if they go to monthly meetings.

Please note, I don't have any problem with it personally....

I just trying to think, how do you encourage.... as i said above. There is no anger involved in my question, keep it biased and learning based please.

closed as too broad by IDrinkandIKnowThings, mcknz, scaaahu, gnat, Lilienthal Oct 22 '15 at 10:32

Please edit the question to limit it to a specific problem with enough detail to identify an adequate answer. Avoid asking multiple distinct questions at once. See the How to Ask page for help clarifying this question. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

  • .. what is your question? Right now this is very, very broad and not clear what your question is. Can you edit more context and clarity on what you are asking? – enderland Oct 21 '15 at 15:48
  • @enderland I edited the post, is it any acceptable now ? or I must need to add detailed context to it – user2262511 Oct 21 '15 at 15:50
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    Sounds like OP wants to prevent idle time due to office chatter by banning it altogether, which is a terrible idea unless it's a call centre or something. @OP: Are your employees not productive enough, and do you have evidence of that, or do you just think that they aren't because they act like human beings every once in a while? – Lilienthal Oct 21 '15 at 15:55
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    @Lilienthal Nope, I don't want to do that..., but idle time isn't in hours ever is it ? – user2262511 Oct 21 '15 at 16:01
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    I upvoted the question, because I've been in workplaces where it was really hard for me to be productive because everyone else around me was talking constantly. I hope someone has an answer! – Amy Blankenship Oct 21 '15 at 16:04
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I don't think you should do anything about it.

Since you're finding that they do this when the boss is away, it could be a sign that the boss is discouraging this. Like enderland mention, social interaction is important. They're making up for lost time.

When rules are too strict, there is a tendency for a little rebellion. Maybe in the long-run, everyone is more productive after taking a little break once in awhile.

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First, not all idle chatting is bad. Forming good team dynamics is important.

Second, the important question is whether your team is performing. If the team isn't performing it's going to be difficult to really justify any changes. And are those even needed?

But presumably you still want to influence this (as a non-manager). This is going to be difficult. A lot of it depends on whether or not everyone wants to chat or not. If everyone wants to, you are probably out of luck.

Some possibilities:

  • Be the example you want to see. Just work. Get headphones, or whatever, and don't participate.
  • Involve your coworkers who are talking in work related activities. "Hey, can you help me with this?" to your chatting coworkers might work (depends on the relationship you have with them)
  • Schedule meetings. If you can't beat em, join em. Setup meetings during this time that you'd otherwise have during "productive time" and hope for the best.
  • Talk with your coworkers about their socializing. Explain how it's distracting you.

You will have to use discretion in understanding which of these will work for your team. Every combination of people is unique and you can't just say, "do this" because everyone will react differently. But hopefully something from there can help.

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If workers keep talking for hours and hours in the absence of managers, then either their work is suffering, or they don't have enough work to do. If management hasn't picked up on either one, then no amount of "encouragement" is going to help.

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