“How to be more productive” is arguably one of the most searched topics online among modern-day employees. More complex and fluid roles and increasing workloads are prompting employees throughout various industries to constantly look for productivity hacks.
However, the responsibility for increasing productivity should weigh more heavily on managers and business owners, and not the employees. The tricky part is that every workplace is so different; offering clear and consistent behavioral changes, processes, and systems to increase productivity can be difficult.
Considering the above, what’s a common productivity strategy that can be applied to different workplace compositions and dynamics? Technology.
In fact, the absence or lack of technology is one of the things employees blame when unable to reach their productivity target. According to the Staples Business Advantage Workplace Index, “3 out of 4 respondents say their employers don’t give them access to the latest technology to do their job efficiently.” In a separate survey by The Economist, respondents who say their employer is either a “pioneer” or “good” at mobile use, score themselves 7% higher for productivity than those who do not.
If you work in HR or operations, or if you’re a business owner, developing a technology investment roadmap requires a well thought out strategy. However, if you’re raring to use technology to increase your productivity, here are 10 worthwhile opportunities where you can start right away.
1. Take Advantage of Group Chats
Miscommunication has a hefty price tag ― literally. In her article, Debra Hamilton revealed that small companies with 100 employees lose about $420,000 per year due to inefficient communication among employees.
One way technology can improve communication efficiency and productivity is to utilize group messaging or group chat. This minimizes the email back and forth among employees which is like chasing a rabbit for many.
Urgent questions can be answered immediately, leaving no more room for the classic “I missed your email” excuse. Most of these group messaging applications can be accessed from both desktop and mobile devices to keep employees in the loop wherever they are located.
2. Create an Environment for Solid Collaboration
Nothing beats a productive in-house brainstorming session. However, technology allows for creating more innovative venues for employees to come together and discuss ideas, create something new, or collaboratively find a solution to a problem.
Simple things such as cloud-based note taking technology greatly improves collaboration among team members. Most of these tools can also be accessed across different devices so employees can collaborate wherever they are located. Employees can hold virtual meetings whether they are in the office, in transit, or working from home.
Adopt collaboration technology into your day-to-day operations and your business can enjoy up to a 30% increase in productivity.
3. Simplify Small Daily Tasks
Everyone does small, mundane things every day that takes a few seconds or a few minutes. You probably don’t pay a lot of attention to the time spent in accomplishing these tasks, but over time, they add up.
Technology is useful to simplify these tasks and improve productivity along the way. You can also minimize your employees taking unnecessary extra steps, or getting stressed just to get these things done.
For example, if your team shares systems and files that are password-protected, password management tools may be a good option. This will grant them access to the things they need without having to give them the actual password. This increases data security. It also saves your employees time because they no longer need to bother someone to get the information they need.
4. Make Project Management Seamless
Consider this story.
A big project is coming to its conclusion and everyone is running around in a panic to get things done. Employee A starts working on Task X. Not knowing there’s already someone working on it, Employee B starts working on the same task. Confusion arises and both employees feel that they wasted their time.
You may have a different version of the same story, but it’s clear that poor project management is a productivity leak in any company, not to mention the negative impact on employee morale.
This is easily avoidable with the use of project management apps. Team members will know who is working on what. It also clearly outlines deadlines, tasks dependencies, and bottlenecks in the project, allowing project managers to take certain steps to maintain a high level of productivity.
5. Eliminate the Need for Manual File Sharing
How many times have you had to wait several minutes (or even hours) waiting for a colleague to send you a file that you needed? At the same time, how many times have you been interrupted by a colleague to get a file that they desperately needed?
Sharing files is one of the most basic tasks employees do every day. Yet, it’s also one of the most common productivity killers. File sharing technology has been around for several years, yet many companies are still not using it to their advantage.
File sharing tools also make it easy for employees to track the history of changes that were made to a document. Team members can quickly identify who made what changes and provide clarifications if necessary.
6. Automate Time Tracking
If your employees or colleagues are still using time cards to clock in and time sheets to manually log in their hours, then you’re missing out on the many productivity benefits of using automated time tracking.
For one, you are significantly diminishing the probability for your employees to commit time theft, saving your company thousands of dollars and hundreds of lost hours.
Second, you are doing your HR managers (if you’re not an HR manager yourself) a huge favor by helping them save time from manually auditing time entries and correcting erroneous time logs.
Lastly, you will gain significant insights as to how your workforce is allocating and spending their time. This allows you to identify productivity leaks and optimization opportunities. This also paves the way for better project planning, which increases overall productivity.
7. Streamline Payroll Processes
The phrase “preparing payroll is not easy” is an understatement. It is tedious, time-consuming, and prone to errors if done manually. There are a number of components that need to be considered including labor laws compliance, benefits, taxes, as well as following the rules of complex collective bargaining agreements (for those who employ union members).
Advanced payroll technology is able to streamline many of these payroll-related tasks. For instance, it can easily take into account what hours the employee worked and calculate for shift differential compensation automatically if it is applicable.
Most payroll technology also integrates with time tracking apps which lessens the need to address payroll disputes. It also boosts workplace morale as employees are confident that they are getting every dollar they worked for.
8. Empower Self-Service
Your employees are smart and you have to trust that they can do many things on their own. For example, instead of taking the long route to the HR department to get forms, your employees can access what is needed from their workstation and print the forms themselves.
With technology, you can customize self-service platforms where your employees can accomplish certain tasks on their own instead of asking other personnel in the office. This improves the day-to-day efficiency for all employees in the workplace.
9. Make Your Workplace Conducive to Remote Working
Experts project that by 2020, 50% of the entire workforce will be working remotely one way or another. According to a survey, companies who are “seeking to boost employee productivity should pursue mobile strategies that support the ability to work anywhere at any time.”
This is why employees of organizations that invest in remote work technology that allows them to telecommute rate themselves 16% more productive. They also report 23% higher job satisfaction compared to employees of companies who have neglected to invest in good telecommuting tools.
10. Bolster Employee Engagement
Employee engagement and productivity may appear like mutually exclusive concepts at first, but they’re not. In fact, 80% of employees would be willing to put in more hours to get things done if their employers are more empathetic. While working overtime is not the goal of productivity, it shows how employee engagement has a direct positive impact on work output.
How can technology improve employee engagement? Using an employee engagement tool like TINYpulse is a great start. Employee engagement tools allow you to send out pulse surveys, open anonymous feedback channels, and facilitate easy peer-to-peer recognition. Tech-enabled employee engagement is only as limited as your creativity-- you can incorporate an element of fun such as sending your employees cute cat videos (which, by the way, according to a study, can improve productivity).
A New Age of Productivity for Your Workplace
Productivity is a concept that affects almost all key business metrics such as operational costs, revenue, employee retention and attrition, and even customer and client satisfaction. It also has an impact on more intangible, yet equally important, things including company culture, work environment, employee experience, and brand identity.
The reality that every manager or business owner needs to accept is this: unless you’re planning to scale back on your operations, workplace demands and requirements have nowhere to go but up. That said, increasing productivity should always be the priority to meet these demands without overworking your employees.
Thankfully, technology is constantly evolving. New tools are created to help businesses improve productivity and make the work more enjoyable for both employees and managers. It’s up to you to make a conscious decision to invest in productivity technology and incorporate it into your core business strategy.