Is your workplace truly working?

One of the truisms about productivity is that what works today probably won’t work tomorrow. Witness the rise of hot-desking and the mobile worker. Not to mention vast strides in technology that are allowing new ways to collaborate.

For all the benefits, these changes also create big challenges for organisations. How do you keep pace with technology? And how do you make sure you’re offering your best people the kind of working environment that will have them want to stay?

One way is to ask the right questions. In this article, we look at four of the most powerful questions you could put to your organisation.

Question 1: Can people find and share information easily?

The days when critical information might only be available “back at the ranch” are well and truly gone. Likewise with information being out of date, or missing, or scattered among various locations.

Smart workers expect their employers to be masterful with information. That means you’ll:

  • Be using intelligent mobility solutions that allow access to information on multiple devices.
  • Have a cloud-based intranet as your company’s “single source of truth”.
  • Be less reliant on emails to convey key information.
  • Make searching for and locating information intuitive and friendly. Business Intelligence will be an important part of your business.
  • Have appropriate security systems in place that don’t hinder authorised users’ access.

If your business has critical information like customer billing details readily available (to the right people), but is weaker around support information like product details, user manuals and so on, that’s a big red flag. You’re getting behind and risk losing good people out of frustration.

50% of working hours are spent searching for, gathering and duplicating information.

Question 2: Do our people work collaboratively?

In the modern organisation, “siloes” is a dirty word. It’s a sign of lost opportunities and a lack of creative spark. It’s also a sure sign of missed revenue opportunities.

Research shows that companies with a collaborative culture enjoy twice the average revenue of those that don’t. That’s not so surprising: Collaboration gives you the flexibility to create temporary project teams based on appropriate skills and experience, not rigid structures driven by job title and seniority. It also allows you to pull teams together from more than one location, drawing on the full talent pool within your business.

Silo-bound organisations are characterised by frequent meetings that go on too long and are unproductive. Emails are used to drive projects, but are also a barrier to things moving quickly. Projects take longer to complete than in your competitor companies.

Technology is both driving collaboration and being driven by it. More and more companies are adopting:

  • Cloud based portals that make it simple to share information even create virtual working spaces for the duration of a project.
  • Enterprise social networks that encourage idea and information sharing – like Facebook for grown ups!
  • Policies that see less reliance on email as an information sharing tool, in favour of a permanent knowledge base that can be accessed by whoever needs to.
  • Rich staff directories that paint a full picture of each person’s skills, experience and interests. Coupled with instant messaging, these allow powerful and innovative teams to get created quickly.

The final, but by no means smallest, benefit of collaborative working is that it’s yet another cultural expectation of Gen Y employees. Adopt it, and watch your people – and business – flourish. Ignore it, and the price could be heavy indeed.

Companies with a highly engaged workforce enjoy twice the revenue of those without.

Question 3: Are our processes simple and flexible?

Is managing day-to-day stuff like annual leave, expenses approval a pain in the butt? Your business may be at risk of becoming a dinosaur.

Modern technology means no straightforward business process needs to be slow or complicated. Nor does it ever need to rely on one person – you know the scenario when Julie in accounts is off sick and the things she looks after grind to a halt till she gets back.

In dinosaur companies, people actually spend more time managing business processes than they do on productive work – ie, getting stuff done. The result for staff is ongoing frustration, more mistakes and lost productivity.

Once again, technology is your friend here. One of the keys is a cloud-based portal that provides a single source of key, up to date information, including forms and processes. This portal should be accessible from any device, including mobiles.

Of course you’ll need to update your processes at the same time, and because change can be uncomfortable, that may take some discipline and persuasion. But the time will be well spent. Typical benefits include way less time spent on paperwork (including looking for lost documents) and better decision making based on up to date, accurate information.

Did you know that 15% of all paper handled in business is lost?

4. We love our technology! But do our staff?

It’s easy to fall in love with a technology solution, forgetting that the people who’ll end up using it may have very different opinions than yours. In fact, around 70% of technology projects fail to deliver on their full promise from a lack of user acceptance.

If you’re implementing a new solution, the time to start sharing it with end users is before you start designing it. That will reduce development time by half and your ultimate support costs by 90%. If the solution is supports productivity (it’s an intranet or mobile app, for example), then sharing it from the get-go is even more critical. Put simply, if the solution isn’t widely adopted, it will fail.

With that in mind, it pays to choose a technology partner who understands business and people as well it understands technology. It’s something we work hard at, and is one of the keys to the trust our clients reward us with.

Keep in mind, too, that innovative solutions don’t have to mean throwing out your existing legacy system. Cloud-based portals and smart apps can often integrate happily with legacy systems, providing users with a modern, user friendly experience. The key is to find solutions that “play well with others” – such as Microsoft Office 365, Power BI and Dynamics CRM.

Want to know more?

We drew on the following sources for some of the information in this blog. We recommend them to anyone wanting a deeper understanding of how technology can support you in raising the productivity of your workplace.

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