Simple & underrated productivity advice: the tactics used daily by 10+ people planners

Proven tips from resource managers, project managers, team leads, and people planners who’ve learned how to improve team productivity sustainably 📈

Graphic illustrating resource article



Summary: clear capacity requirements, regular workload management, balanced utilization levels, accessible project information, and frequent upskilling opportunities go a long way toward helping teams work productively and efficiently without burning out.



There’s a fine line between improving productivity and overworking your team. One step in the wrong direction and it’s hello, all-nighters and context-switching; goodbye, work-life balance 👋

But if you are a resource manager or people planner who wants to boost productivity without sacrificing your team’s well-being, there is a solution: you can build a happy team of high performers through effective resource management practices—like planning capacity, allocating sustainable workloads, and balancing utilization levels.

Keep reading for the tactics expert people planners (who also happen to be Float customers 😉) use to ensure their teams work efficiently to deliver projects on time, on budget, and within scope.

6 practices to improve your team productivity 

1. Plan work based on your team’s actual capacity

Your team’s capacity determines what is achievable in a workday, setting the limit for productivity. Use your team’s capacity as a guide when creating project plans. 

If you plan without considering your team’s capacity, you risk having an overworked team that struggles to ship projects.

At global advertising agency Scholz & Friends, the capacity management team uses weekly planning meetings to align the creative team’s capacity and current workload. Specifically, they stay on top of their team’s schedule in their resource management software—it’s Float! 👋—and shift allocations where necessary, ensuring nobody is overbooked. 

Maike Jahnens, Head of Financial Operations and Capacity Management at Scholz & Friends, manages the capacity of her entire team using the visual Schedule dashboard in Float

Find your team’s actual capacity

Let’s say your business has the typical 40-hour work week: you might assume everyone is available for 40 hours of billable work. In reality, your people typically spend less time on project work because of all the other activities that take up their time, like meetings, training, and administrative tasks.

Because these responsibilities reduce time spent on project-related tasks, you need to consider them to estimate team capacity accurately. It might turn out that only 75% of your team’s 40-hour week is free. 






Michael Luchen



Director of Product at



It’s important to understand your organization’s baseline capacity when planning projects. Think of administrative and management tasks that team members might have to do. For example, if the design lead has to do admin work for an hour or two a day and then meet with team members for another hour, that should be allocated on their schedule.



Review team capacity regularly 

Once you’ve determined your team’s baseline capacity, review it regularly because—and you can quote us on this—it will change. Unexpected scenarios like a team member calling in sick, a deprioritized project, and a changed due date can free up or reduce your team’s time.

Choose a review cadence that works for your team. For example, Scholz & Friends run weekly team meetings to discuss capacity and team allocations. If your team uses the agile methodology, you might review capacity every two weeks.

Involve stakeholders in planning

A cognitive bias called the planning fallacy often makes people planners a little optimistic with project plans. At one point or another, you’ve likely assumed your team would be able to complete a project within an unrealistic timeline.

The simple solution: involve your team leaders and managers in the capacity planning process—they understand the complexity, effort, and time required for each project task, and can help you make the right decisions.

2. Support your team’s health and well-being with workload management practices 

Stressed, overworked, and burned-out people do not make a productive workforce. Mitigate this risk with workload management practices like: 

  • Assessing work complexity
  • Prioritizing tasks by impact
  • Monitoring progress
  • Reallocating tasks when needed

Consulting firm Accounts and Legal regularly handles sensitive, time-bound projects like filing tax returns where reduced productivity has dire consequences for clients. Managing workloads in Float is an important part of their process—they revisit allocations in a transparent, central schedule every team member has access to. This visibility has helped them foster a healthy work environment with minimal stress. 

Monthly workload management at Accounts and Legal ensures that team members prioritize the right tasks and improves time management for the entire team



I don’t worry about prioritizing or catching up anymore. Compared to other firms, our stress levels are much lower. I’ve never worked in a place where I and my team know exactly what we need to do each day.


<pull-quote-author>Clara Tooth, Former Manager at Accounts and Legal</pull-quote-author>


Track all ongoing and potential projects to get an idea of the expected workload 

It’s easy to miss how much is on your team’s plate until they’re in the middle of an unmanageable, overwhelming amount of work. 

However, by proactively mapping out ongoing and incoming work, you’ll know what your team can handle and what needs to take a backseat. Once a month, the Accounts and Legal team sits down to plan the workload for the next month. They look at upcoming deadlines and incoming inquiries, taking on only important tasks their team has the capacity for. 

Float’s Project plan view makes workload management easy, enabling you to shift timelines and reallocate work in real time

Prioritize projects according to impact

After you determine what work needs to be done, decide on the most critical tasks. For example, consider prioritizing clients with a larger deal size or opportunities for future engagement. The team at Accounts and Legal prioritizes tasks that must be completed on fixed dates (like meetings) and projects that must be completed soonest (like VAT returns).

Proactively look out for signs of high workload

There will always be signs of overallocation: team members might be clocking out late, taking mental health days, or explicitly saying they don’t have enough hours in the day. 

Pay attention to feedback from the team on project allocations to spot those who need help. You can assist by redistributing tasks, offering additional support or resources, and encouraging open communication to ensure everyone feels supported and manageable workloads are maintained. 

Review workloads regularly

Because workloads might become lighter or heavier as projects progress, they require regular review. The Accounts and Legal team runs daily standups using Float, where team members can share progress and ask for support. You can choose a cadence for check-ins that works better for your team.



👉 For more actionable tactics from people planning pros, check out this piece on workload management





Spot unsustainable workloads early 

Don’t wait for work to pile up. With Float, you can see far ahead when planning workloads, thanks to capacity indicators that highlight consistent overages—the red blocks in the schedule are hard to miss!

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3. Keep an eye on utilization levels to ensure all team members are engaged

Every hour that a team member is underutilized is precious productivity lost. Monitoring and adjusting utilization rates ensures everyone contributes. This step is especially important in teams where some members are always allocated work while others remain on the bench. 

Use a resource management tool to monitor utilization levels 

There are formulas to calculate individual rates, but manually using a calculator is not time-efficient. If you use a tool like Float, you can easily monitor your team’s utilization rates in real time.

Date range insights help you understand your team’s workload so you can spot underutilization easily 

Comfort Agemo, Senior Capacity and Freelance Manager at Scholz & Friends, analyzes resource utilization levels in Float to ensure workloads are properly distributed. When she notices a team member is repeatedly passed over during allocations, she investigates further to find out the cause. Usually, it signals the need to upskill. 

There might be other reasons for low utilization rates, so speak to project managers or team leads to find the root cause 🔎

4. Give your teams opportunities to upskill

Upskilling is a win-win for everyone. Your team members enhance their skills, confidence, and motivation while you benefit from a workforce capable of handling more projects.



If I know someone is interested in a certain area, I pair them with the person who currently has the knowledge so they can learn from them. This gives me two options for that role in the future instead of just one that I have to keep reallocating across projects.


<pull-quote-author>David Hecker, COO of RenderHeads</pull-quote-author>


Listen to your team members

People are likely to express their interests and intentions by actively mentioning them to their direct managers or volunteering to work on projects. Keep your eyes peeled and take notes so you can be prepared to offer them opportunities to hone their skills 👀

Which brings us to our next point…

Offer hands-on learning opportunities

Consider pairing less experienced team members with highly skilled team members on projects, letting them switch between projects, or actively giving them the push they need to learn something new.

Jason Fisher, Co-Founder and Global Studio Director of marketing and comms agency Flight Story, ensures that his team members keep growing by encouraging them to pursue work-related curiosities. “It’s easy to accidentally book one person exclusively for editing and another only for shoots,” he explains. “However, if people prefer a mix of tasks, we schedule and manage their jobs and projects so they gain exposure to various aspects of their roles and different parts of the business.”

5. Encourage collaboration by communicating allocations openly 

Teamwork accelerates projects. Planning and communicating openly can have the unexpected benefit of encouraging team members to offer their time and expertise, even when they’re not currently allocated to a project. 

Effective communication can be visual too! A clear schedule shows all team members who’s working on what, and when 💪

Make resource plans accessible to your team

Keep individual team members’ allocations, skills, and capacity levels visible across the entire team (you can do this easily with a resource management tool like Float). At Flight Story, managers go a step further, dropping a screenshot of the team’s schedule in Slack. This way, the entire company sees what everyone is working on at a glance.


Pro tip: save time with a dedicated resource management tool

Managing work in a central schedule reduces the number of status meetings you have to run—and increases time spent on billable work. With information about the project’s progress available in one place, you can easily see what’s happening and save yourself hours (like the Flight Story team did, with Float).


Discuss project status and progress with your team regularly

Standup meetings or weekly syncs are excellent opportunities for team members to share their ideas and expertise on projects in flight. The team at full-service agency Show + Tell meets weekly to discuss their ongoing projects. It’s a short standup, but it helps them uncover possible bottlenecks and attract contributors from other teams. 

Actively suggest opportunities for collaboration

Another way to encourage collaboration? Suggest people work together! Consider actively identifying projects that would benefit from teamwork and match people with complementary skills. 

6. Set your team up for success by sharing the needed information and context

A simple but underrated employee productivity hack: give your team everything they need to get their work done before they need to ask for it. Having information upfront reduces errors, eliminates delays, and helps your team members make informed decisions.

It can be as simple as including project details and relevant documents in Google Drive and sharing a link in Float, like Jason Fisher at Flight Story team does. “We use the notes function within each booking to include links to briefs,” he says. “This way, team members don’t just see what they’re booked on but also the details of the job, allowing them to plan ahead. It eliminates many conversations and saves time when used properly.”

It’s always best to centralize information so you don’t spread it across too many disconnected apps, making it hard to track

Go beyond the basic information

In addition to project briefs, consider everything else your team needs to do their work well. Angela Faunce Leaf, Executive Producer of Integrated Production at creative studio Tilt Creative + Production, suggests sharing context, thinking ahead, identifying potential roadblocks, and fine-tuning the process to ensure team efficiency and project success. 

Ask the following questions to get an idea of what your team needs:

  • Does my team understand the bigger picture of the project?
  • Are there any resources or support needed that I haven’t considered?
  • Is the current workflow the best for productivity?

4 factors that negatively influence team productivity

  • ⚖️ Unbalanced workloads: if high-performing team members are assigned most of the work, they’ll get overwhelmed and might eventually experience burn out. Meanwhile, underutilized team members who don’t receive enough work or are repeatedly assigned tasks below their skill level are at risk of potential skill atrophy.
  • ❗ Inadequate resources: when there aren’t enough team members with the necessary capacity to carry out projects, the available team members often have too much to do in too little time. Inadequate resources can lead to double bookings and context-switching, resulting in slower work completion—if work is even completed at all.
  • 📉 Insufficient training and development: without continuous training and development, team members might lack the skills to complete their work efficiently. This leads to tasks taking longer than they should and often needing rework.
  • 🏠 Poor work-life balance: as workloads increase, team members may try completing it outside work hours. Bringing work home would likely make them overtired and unable to view work with fresh eyes, which is essential for creative teams. It results in longer working hours and insufficient rest, ultimately coming full circle to decreased productivity.
Overtime does happen, often as a last resort. It becomes a serious problem when it's consistent. A tool like Float enables you to stay on top of team members who may be doing too much.

6 team productivity metrics to monitor

Over 4,500 teams use Float to monitor how efficiently their team is working. Here are the top metrics these teams rely on to gain insights into their productivity and identify areas for improvement:

  1. Capacity: the total number of hours each team member works in a week. For full-time staff, it’s usually around 40 hours per week, but time off, public holidays, and custom holidays inevitably reduce a person’s capacity. This metric lets you know how many hours can potentially be spent on productive work.
  2. Billable hours: the hours spent working on tasks for which you can directly bill your client. This metric tells you how much time your team spends on work, which directly impacts revenue.
  3. Non-billable hours: the time spent on tasks the client isn’t paying you for. This metric tells you how much time your team spends on non-project tasks. While this work is often valuable and necessary (e.g. client meetings), it’s important that it remains correctly balanced against billable tasks.
  4. Overtime: the total number of hours worked outside of regular working hours. This metric tells you if your team is running over capacity. Keeping an eye on time is crucial to ensure your team members don’t burn out. 
  5. Scheduled hours: the total number of allocated hours assigned in the period. This metric tells you how much time your team spends on work as a whole and the amount of time spent on individual hours. 
  6. Logged hours: how much time was actually spent on the scheduled tasks. This metric measures how accurate your task estimates are.

️🔥 Pro tip: track all these metrics in a single source of truth

Over 4,500 teams use Float to monitor how efficiently their team is working and analyze all the metrics above. Our Report dashboard is packed full of insights, and super easy to understand and edit. Check out our quick tutorial on understanding real-time reports if you want to know more 👇

[fs-toc-omit]Build the right foundations early on

Starting early with a resource management tool helps ensure processes are in place to manage capacity, keep workload balanced, and stop over and underutilization, letting your team do their best work efficiently. 

Whether you’re a team of 50 or 500 people, it’s never too early to start laying the groundwork for a productive team. Why don’t you try Float for free today?



Lay the groundwork for a productive team

Don’t wait for work to pile up. With Float, you can see far ahead when planning workloads and make sure you keep building a productive and high-performing team.

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Some FAQs about improving team productivity

What role does effective leadership play in improving team productivity?

Leaders create a work environment conducive to healthy, sustainable productivity by sharing clear goals and benchmarks to guide their team. They leverage their team’s strengths through proper resource allocation by assigning them to the right projects. They also streamline processes, reducing the time spent to get things done.

Finally, leaders offer opportunities for skill development to empower team members, creating a competent and confident team.

What are the biggest impediments to team productivity?

The biggest blockers to team productivity are:

  • Misunderstandings and lack of clear instructions 
  • Poor collaboration
  • Excessive workloads and unrealistic deadlines 
  • Frequent interruptions and context-switching 
  • Lack of necessary skills

What are the best strategies for improving productivity when working in teams?

The best strategies to boost team productivity support individual growth and ensure teamwork. They create an environment that minimizes impediments, allowing for consistent and efficient work. These strategies include:

  • Offering continuous training and development opportunities to enhance the skills and competencies of team members
  • Running regular meetings, providing clear channels for feedback, and encouraging transparent communication tools to ensure everyone is on the same page
  • Acknowledging and celebrating team and individual accomplishments to boost morale and motivation
  • Ensuring teams have access to the necessary tools, technology, and budget for effective team performance
  • Monitoring and managing workloads to prevent burnout and ensure tasks are distributed evenly among team members
  • Promoting a collaborative work culture through team-building activities and productivity tools that build trust and cooperation