Office Productivity Is Down: What Can You Do About It?

Posted on: September 5, 2018 by Joerg Adam

If your employees are like most, they work fairly long hours. But you can’t assume that just because they’re working more, more work is getting done.

Long hours might mean they love what they do and want to give it their all. Or it could mean their day is full of productivity drains that make everything take longer, which is bad news for both your bottom line and your employees’ frustration levels

According to the Office for National Statistics, full time workers now put in a 42.7 hour week on average in the UK, compared with 41.6 hours across the EU, with only employees in Austria and Greece both putting in a longer working week at 43.7 hours. It’s a similar story across the globe according to Australian Bureau of Statistics, full time workers there put in a 40-hour week on average. And that’s not counting all those unrecorded “I’m just checking my email” moments that are now a routine part of our time outside work.

It’s hard not to scratch your head at these figures when research from Deloitte shows that despite the increasing adoption of new technology, productivity is at its lowest rate since the 1970s. It seems as if the “work smarter, not harder mantra” is not getting much traction.

Consequently, it’s important to understand where the barriers to productivity lie in your business and rectify them. Empowering employees with the tools they need boosts your business, with companies that have satisfied, engaged employees outperforming those without by 202 per cent. And once you consider the true cost of hiring a new employee when you factor in recruitment, training and lost opportunities, the last thing you want is to lose good employees because they are frustrated and burned out.

Workplace Flexibility And Productivity

These days, a flexible workplace is critical. It’s a deciding factor for many millennials looking for work. For Gen Xers in their parenting years, the ability to work from home is more necessity than lifestyle choice.

But can you trust employees who work remotely? Are they truly productive? Depends on your thinking. IBM raised eyebrows recently with a global policy shift to bring all workers in house. With 40 per cent of its employees working remotely, IBM’s ultimatum is widely viewed as a trigger for the top talent at Big Blue to seek greener pastures.

Certainly, pulling everyone back in-house didn’t work too well for Yahoo when they tried it in 2013. Once a leading Internet company worth $US100 billion, Yahoo tightened the reins on employees when they were under pressure and never regained their leading position. The company was sold to Verizon in 2016 for $US4.4 billion.

Whatever your view on remote working, you can’t equip employees with a compromised version of what they have in the office and expect the same results.

So Much Tech, But So Little Work Done

Being agile and flexible requires clever tech and many companies struggle to get this right. The reason? Different business tools each require a basic level of user proficiency and the skill to download, install, set up and synch them to various accounts. Then there’s getting them to play nice with their other platforms. The outcome? Less time for actual work.

Another layer of complexity is a digital divide among employees. Half the workforce is made up of tech savvy millennials and they’re frustrated when business tools are not as good as the personal apps they use in everyday tasks and communications.

And given that we are now working longer until retirement, your workforce may also have baby boomers who are less enamoured with ‘new and shiny’ when it doesn’t measurably do things better than existing methods. Finding tech tools that suit everyone’s skills and expectations can be a struggle.

The Solution? Make Tech Seamless

The list of essential technologies needed today seems endless: email, video conferencing, group chat, project management apps, wikis, CRMs, file-sharing, mobile messenger apps, personal drives and more. Smart businesses solve the problems of productivity and emerging technology with a highly selective process of elimination.

When systems aren’t unified and seamlessly available to employees in the form they need it, then cost efficiencies are difficult to measure, and time efficiencies are often lost in a familiar routine of connectivity fails and meeting times blown out.

The Cloud’s Silver Lining

Cloud-based communication is an obvious solution to the problems that have plagued employees trying to collaborate remotely. Businesses can reap the rewards of using collaboration tech for agile decision-making, while also offering flexible work arrangements to attract the best employees.

But not all solutions are created equal. Yours needs to be unified across channels, platforms and media for productive communications. When you can use any browser or smartphone to access communication tools without requiring yet another software install, teams can effectively collaborate from any location and even move from their computers to their phone mid-call, if needed.

Managing all this complexity also requires a single version of the “truth” as it were, by giving everyone who needs it access to the most up-to-date version of documents. Having all your communications work together, and integrated with other office productivity tools, means important information or data is not trapped on someone’s local desktop or unsanctioned cloud platforms.

Strong agile businesses are finding the tools needed for employees to do the best work. A workforce that can share their ideas, review work, and engage more naturally from anywhere are finding big results from smart tech and satisfied workers.

By Joerg Adam, Product & Account Manager at Unify

Download the Complete Connectivity eBook

Share this blog article

About Joerg Adam

Product & account manager at Unify