A focus on productivity, and its development is a good thing – indeed, an essential thing for all organisations.

However, there is a danger that we over-focus and forget about balance.

There is a tendency to bifurcate all activity into being either productive or non-productive.  So, a worker operating his/her machine is (clearly) productive.  A worker taking a break is (just as clearly?) non-productive.

Yet what would happen if we did not give our employees any breaks. Would productivity rise?

Perhaps temporarily – until the employees become exhausted and start making errors.

Those of you who are, or were, involved in work measurement will know that rest and recovery times are built in to work standards for this very reason.

Another example of this dilemma is employee training.  If employees being trained are taken away from their machines, they are clearly non-productive.  Yet presumably we are training them so they can be more productive in the future.

So.be careful with your simple binary approach.  Think of the longer-term and consider whether non-productive time and events will have (perhaps indirect) productivity benefits over the longer-term.  

You should be optimising, rather than short-term maximising, productivity.