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Companies are always looking for ways to increase employee productivity, but some organizations might be unwittingly sabotaging themselves and their employees. Little things from how employees work to technology investments made by the company can have a major impact on productivity. Old processes may seem like they fall under the “if it’s not broken, don’t fix it” mentality, but ignoring changing workforce trends and innovations can burden employees and have an outsized impact on real time productivity.
If productivity isn’t where you want it, take a step back and assess if business processes and management are the root cause.
The days of sitting in an office 9-5 are in the past. Today, employees routinely work outside the office either part time or fully remote. It’s time to embrace this trend and its benefits. Several studies have shown that employees are more productive when they work remote, unburdened with in-office distractions and often working longer hours.
This situation has gotten more interesting lately as some companies – like IBM, Best Buy and Bank of America – have brought remote employees back in house for collaboration reasons. In many cases this is causing even bigger productivity issues as employees used to working in quite environments and on their own schedules adjust to commuting and office life. We’ll have to see how things settle out to determine if productivity levels return to normal or if the strive for face-to-face interaction has an unintended effect on productivity.
For the time being, trends point to the fact that not allowing work flexibility could be hampering employee productivity.
Skype for Business, Slack and Office 365 are common tools today and let employees across locations quickly and easily communicate and collaborate on projects and shared documents. Email and phone calls may seem like a viable alternative, but compared to these solutions they’re slow and don’t allow for as much interaction. In today’s fast-moving work environment, waiting for an email can slow down workflows dramatically.
Collaboration tools empower employees to work together easily and move quickly. The increase in productivity makes the investment worthwhile.
It may seem like the more options employees have to collaborate, the better. But having too many solutions can have the opposite effect, making collaboration harder and slowing down productivity.
When employees have access to four different company-approved chat applications it’s easy to end up in a situation where Employee A prefers App A while Employee B uses App B. Before they can work together they need to decide on which platform to use and then the employee who doesn’t use that application every day needs to become familiar enough with it to take advantage of all its features. That’s a major and unnecessary slow down.
As a company, carefully vet and choose a limited number of collaboration and communication tools that best fit your needs, company culture and the way your employees prefer to communicate and interact (this may require forming an input committee or taking a company-wide survey). Once you decide on the right collaboration tools, conduct training to familiarize employees with the functions and features to encourage adoption.
This is another version of the “stuck in the past” problem. The old way employees accessed business critical applications may still technically work fine, but it doesn’t match the way employees work now or their expectation for near-instance access.
Adopting cloud applications, app streaming, SaaS solutions and virtual desktops enable employees to work from anywhere using the programs the need on-demand, boosting productivity. As app stacks grow, it’s also important that companies adopt solutions – like Single Sign On – that allow employees to quickly and easily log into the programs they need. If you rely on desktop applications or make employees individually log into multiple programs a day you’re automatically decreasing their level of productivity.
Security is a critical consideration for any company, especially with data breaches reaching a record high in the first half of 2017. But focusing too heavily on security measures without understanding how they affect employee workflow can have a detrimental impact on productivity. In fact, the 2017 Dell End-User Security Survey found that 76% of employees feel their company prioritizes security at the expense of productivity. Security is important and should not be ignored or compromised, but smart companies are finding solutions that let them have the best of both worlds.
If you want security and productivity, look into solutions that make it easy for employees to be productive but that also implement strong security measures, such as isolating data on a virtual desktop or cloud application. Policies and procedures are important to security, but you should have a good understanding of how they affect productivity and put solutions in place that support the company’s security posture while still making it easy to work.
Technology has changed the way the world works and given organizations and employees more opportunities for productivity than ever before. Smart organizations are keeping up with the changes and seeing the benefits, but companies that are stuck in the past or unfocused in their approach to employee enablement could be the source of their own productivity problems.
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