9 Proven Strategies to Make Operations More Efficient While Understaffed, as seen on AdAge

In an adequately staffed agency, getting everyone working together on creative problems is a little more straightforward. Everyone already knows their responsibilities. Writers do copy, designers work on art and they get together and build an excellent product that the client will love. When an agency is understaffed, however, what would typically be a simple project or two can turn into several nightmares happening at the same time.

In an understaffed organization, even everyday occurrences can be difficult to deal with. Responsibilities have to be reassigned as workers get drained mentally and physically, trying to meet the demand for work. For management, this can be frustrating as there isn't any new talent coming in the door, and the existing resources the business has are already stretched thin. With enough pressure, it could even lead to higher employee turnover.

Having an efficient workplace helps both employees and management streamline processes and improve their mental health. These nine experts from Ad Age Collective know how to make the best of limited resources and so share their insights into how an agency can streamline its operations, even when it's suffering from being understaffed.

1. Offer work-from-home options.

Your staff will do better when they have the ability to work remotely. They can manage time and recharge whenever needed. This makes for a happier and more efficient team that will be able to manage even when you're understaffed. - Syed Balkhi, WPBeginner

2. Create a culture of action.

It's tempting to stay with the same processes for a larger team, especially when generating content -- strategize, write, review, approve, publish. Use the opportunity of understaffing to instead give your team the autonomy to run with ideas without the need for approval. It might be scary, but if you've hired well, they will relish the new responsibility and create better content than before. - Patrick Ward, Rootstrap

3. Let technology do the heavy lifting.

The right technology can take off some of the burden. To make operations more efficient, sales and marketing teams have ditched their 40 to 50 siloed point solutions in favor of an all-encompassing platform armed with AI and big data. By adopting a platform to do the heavy lifting, sales and marketing teams can get back to what they do best: creating valuable prospect experiences that convert. - Latane Conant, 6sense

4. Focus on time management.

We've taught the team how to use the urgent-important matrix to help empower them to prioritize activities and make the distinction between what's important and not important and what's urgent and not urgent. When we have faced an understaffed team, distinguishing between what's urgent and what's truly important is key to running more efficiently, while giving valuable time back to our teams. - Warren Jolly, adQuadrant

5. Enable dedicated uninterrupted time.

Help your team plan their day by focusing a portion of their time on emails and daily operations. But then help them block out quiet time for work in an undistracted environment so they can get through creative work without interruption and let the creativity and productivity flow. - Jessica Hawthorne-Castro, Hawthorne Advertising

6. Turn off electronics and spend time together.

We get way more done more quickly when we meet in person at the start of a project instead of shooting each other emails about what's required, what the objectives are and passing works-in-progress back and forth and waiting for responses. I'm not advocating for more useless meetings, but getting together briefly at the onset of a new project can radically improve efficiency and clarity. - Todd Morgano, Falls

7. Take 15 minutes off each meeting.

I would suggest taking 15 minutes off each meeting you have and giving that time back to your teams to spend using their alpha thinking over beta. Make these breaks a time to meditate, read, brainstorm, stretch, go for a walk, etc.  Activating both sides of the brain will help with creativity and also efficiency. Fifteen minutes can add up to a lot better work. - Maggie O'Neill, Peppercomm

8. Learn to say ‘not now.’

An agency's best friend is the expression: "Instead of 'no,' learn to say 'not now.'" This allows for better pipeline management and ample creative time for every assignment, hence reducing the classic dilemma of being understaffed. Creativity should never be stunted. It's not about getting more raw time to think, but more quality time by minimizing distractions and allowing focused creativity. - Marc Landsberg, SOCIALDEVIANT

9. Bring in people from other departments.

Bring in folks from other departments to help with the creative process. We just did this to help produce marketing and training content for a new product and got a lot of new material, but the best part was the amount of learning the other functions got from trying to address issues that they do not normally consider. Those learnings made them much better and more empathetic in their own roles. - Dan BeltramoOnclusive (formerly AirPR)

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