4 Ways to Kick Your Productivity into High Gear
By Ian Slack - May 06, 2019
Good workplace productivity starts with training and building the right culture, but having the right technology tools is critical too. The cost of productivity tools is coming down, and that's good news for businesses.
What Can You Do?
Businesses are always looking for ways to do things faster, cheaper, and more efficiently as they strive to get the edge over competitors. Studies, pundits, and experts always seem to point to good workplace productivity as the key to achieving these goals. Doing it starts with training and building the right culture, but also having the right technology and approach.
1) Automate to Collaborate
How much time does your organization spend doing repetitive tasks that could possibly be automated? A highly-visible example that anyone who goes grocery shopping knows is self-service checkout and payment, but smaller tasks like document signing and sharing can be automated with tools like DocuSign and HelloSign. Think about how much time is spent printing, signing, and scanning and/or faxing documents.
As automation tools become more widespread, the cost is coming down, putting them in the price range of smaller organizations.
A good place to start with automation is with a simple workflow analysis for each worker position to look for repetitive or time-consuming functions, and then searching for appropriate technology. If you need help evaluating the potential of a product - or lack the expertise to implement and maintain it - now may be the time to partner with a managed IT services provider.
Areas like basic customer support functions can now be handled by digital chatbots that answer many frequently asked questions, freeing up your team for other work and improving the customer experience. A study by Aspect Software Research found 44% of consumers would prefer to interact with a chatbot over a human customer service representative. Artificial intelligence devices like Alexa and Siri have the potential to automate some communications with consumers.
And of course, manufacturing functions are ripe for automation. From quality control to fabrication, any step in the manufacturing process that can be automated saves time and money while improving the quality of the product.
2) Rethink Communication
Clear and fast communication is critical to workplace productivity. The rise of mobile devices has radically changed the way we pass information in the workplace, but there are other ways to improve too. Team messaging apps like Slack or Chanty are digital spaces where teams can quickly touch base and share documents or other files. Projects and workgroups can be gathered together in ways that are more effective than email.
3) Remove Time Troubles
It's hard to know where to improve productivity if you don't know what the team is spending time on. That's where time management apps can help you analyze worker hours and productivity so you can improve workplace efficiency.
Similarly, collaboration apps like Jira and Asana are ideal for keeping projects on track. They’re web-based and platform independent apps that offer one place where single tasks or entire projects can be mapped out and organized into manageable segments. Pieces can be assigned to individual team members or groups and deadlines can be set. Related files can be stored in the cloud and shared with stakeholders.
4) The Internet of...Well, Everything
IoT – basically devices that connect to a network that can interact and share data – has tremendous potential to boost workplace productivity.
In retail businesses, inventory can be tracked in real time using IoT sensors in warehouses, stockrooms, and even store shelves. That makes for better strategic decisions, and time isn't wasted trying to locate items.
Sensor data in office environments can be parsed to evaluate the productivity of workspace layouts and furniture. Meeting rooms with IoT devices like smart monitors, user-friendly communication, and online scheduling make collaboration with remote workers seamless.
IoT can control lighting and environmental systems to improve worker comfort, which improves productivity and also cuts energy costs.
Using IoT, remote workers can get data from devices that monitor everything from manufacturing to inventory, which makes them exponentially more effective.
Putting It All Together
The above examples are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to ways technology can boost productivity in your business. New and affordable solutions come online regularly. Some will even let you take a free test drive, so you can better evaluate the potential before you buy.