Productivity. It's one of the biggest goals in the enterprise, and with good reason. Companies that aren't working as efficiently as they could are pouring time, money and skills down the drain.
That said, identifying why your company is experiencing a loss in productivity can often be a major challenge.
Poor communication, an inability for staff to access the right information, outdated technology solutions and a lack of employee engagement are frequently named among the biggest killers of workplace productivity. Fortunately, many of these problems can be swiftly tackled with a few changes to the way companies manage their systems.
We've put together a few key strategies that businesses can look at to streamline their operations and make sure their employees are working to their full potential.
1. Go mobile in a true, not superficial, way
In the past, remote working usually meant hauling a heavy laptop and charging equipment around. It was inconvenient and unreliable, with workers often either hunting around for a wired Internet connection or trusting slow and inconsistent Wi-Fi signals.
Not so now. Smartphones and tablets, coupled with much more widespread Wi-Fi and 4G mobile connectivity tools make it easy to keep in touch on the move. Researchers at Informa estimate there will be 5.8 million public Wi-Fi hotspots worldwide by 2015, up from 1.3 million in 2011.
Outside these areas, 4G mobile internet is increasingly widespread. In the US, Verizon claims its 4G network reaches 95 percent of the population, while AT&T recently brought 4G to its 400th market. Wherever you are, you should be able to get online.
This means users are able do much more than just catch up with emails. Remote workers can now access data-intensive applications and business information on almost any device, so almost any business-critical task can now be done on the morning commute, at home or even from the beach.
2. Give employees the tools they want
Spend a day in the average office and you're almost guaranteed to hear at least one person complain about the limitations of their tools, whether it’s a slow desktop PC or an application that doesn't have the features they expect.
Today, it's easier than ever to give employees more choice about how they do their tasks without compromising on security issues. For example, “bring your own device” ensures people are able to use the gadgets they are most comfortable with. According to Gartner, 70 percent of mobile professionals will use their personal smartphones to conduct work by 2018.
And in many cases, these personally-owned items will bring productivity benefits, as they are likely to be more up-to-date that those an enterprise's IT budget can afford.
3. Adopt video conferencing
Travel remains one of the most costly and time-consuming activities for many businesses. In fact, the Aberdeen Group estimates companies will spend around 10 percent of their total budget on expenses related to business travel.
Sometimes, a phone conversation just won't cut it, which is where the next-generation of video conferencing comes in. Having a face-to-face conversation via this technology is a great alternative to actually travelling across the country for a meeting. It's not only cheaper, it’s a big time-saver, letting workers spend more time on productive activities.
The latest solutions offer much more than just a high-resolution camera. They now allow participants to share documents, participate in slideshows and much more, ensuring that relevant information is at everyone's fingertips.
4. Collaborate in the cloud
The ability to access the most up-to-date information is essential for employee productivity. Adopting cloud solutions gives employees access to key applications and the most recent versions of documents, no matter where they are located.
When sharing documents via email, for instance, confusion can quickly arise, and the more people involved in an exchange, the harder it is to get clarity. Questions such as “Are we all working from the same version?” are tricky to answer. This is one of the many things that sharing via the cloud can help with, as it can enable multiple users to collaborate on a document, track changes and ensure that everyone instantly receives the latest revisions.
Large companies in particular are set to see great benefits of collaborating in the cloud. Research by CDW reveals 40 percent of these firms rate collaboration as the top benefit of cloud applications. Meanwhile, federal government organizations and healthcare providers also rate these capabilities highly.
5. Look beyond technology
Having the best technology solutions is a great start if enterprises are looking to improve their productivity. The most important asset any business has is its staff. Keeping employees happy and engaged is key.
Every company is different, so there is no magic bullet to boosting morale. By looking closely at their company’s culture and asking what you do well—and where you need to improve—bosses can draw up a strategy.
Ask what your workers want. This could be more flexible hours, improved working processes or even a new coffee machine. A happy workforce is a productive one, so the impact of meeting any concerns should be felt immediately.