Information and communication technology has vastly changed the face of the workplace. It has redefined how we work, where we work and when we can work. In fact, a study by O2 Business and CEBR found that productivity in the workplace has increased by 84% during the past 40 years because of advancements in digital technology.
Employers need their staff to work harder and longer hours, increasing productivity while cutting costs; while employees expect more from employers in terms of job satisfaction and flexibility.
Workdays are no longer 9 to 5 and doesn’t necessarily need to take place at an office. In fact, with the near-daily explosive innovations in digital technology, “the office” has become everywhere and anywhere you are.
This has pros and cons. While it allows for flexibility in working hours and enables employees to work beyond the traditional office hours, it also means that the line between work life and personal life has blurred, if not disappeared – something that needs to be managed carefully then, especially to prevent burnout and subsequent reduced productivity. It becomes clear that we need to work smarter, not harder.
So how can we use advanced IT infrastructure to better manage employees and increase productivity?
Time is money – make it fast and easy to work
The better the IT infrastructure, the faster employees can work. It also makes communication easier and therefore more effective.
Implement infrastructure that allows people to work and communicate from wherever they are, be that at work, at home, on vacation or while commuting. They need constant server and email access, and be able to connect via cellphone to encourage remote sharing of information.
Remember that even the best team is only as effective as its resources and infrastructure available to them.
Allocate time for social media and private business: Use the carrot and not the stick
Companies generally frown upon employees using social media at work, as well as conducting private matters such as internet banking or booking a holiday. The assumption is that it takes up time that could be spent working, and therefore is bad for productivity.
Yet this is not necessarily the case. Giving your employees access to social media and allowing personal use of IT infrastructure have some advantages that might actually lead to increased productivity.
Firstly, it builds goodwill and therefor loyalty among the workforce. And once they can access Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, pay bills or book that holiday or weekend away; most people will do so and return to work. There will always be some people who abuse the privilege and spend hours in front of their screens while not attending to their actual work, but these can be identified by monitoring internet use or limiting it to certain times.
Some people work better when they are multitasking, so drafting a document while checking their Facebook feed and talking on Skype can increase their focus and raise their productivity.
Additionally, it creates a minibreak which rests the brain – it has been proven that people who take short breaks from work are more focused and can better concentrate after these breaks, as it cuts down on mental fatigue.
Happy employees = productive employees
Good IT infrastructure allows people to work even when they are not at the office. It can be astonishing how much more work gets done if people work on their own time, outside the regular 9 to 5. There are plenty of reasons for this.
Not everyone is a morning person and many people can concentrate better and work better at night. Forcing them to work during their least productive personal “time zones” is counterproductive and makes no sense.
Allowing people to work from home when necessary, such as having a sick child or being unable to get to work, allows them to still be productive without having to take unnecessary leave. They still get the job done and no time is lost. Similarly, allowing people to work flexitime enables them to avoid rush hour traffic or make doctor appointments, while still putting in a hard eight hours of work.
Other ways the proper infrastructure can increase employee satisfaction is by ensuring fast network connectivity, up-to-date software and having all the IT applications they need to do their jobs. By streamlining processes and implementing state-of-the-art planning tools, more work gets done.
Use IT to communicate clearer, faster and more often
The proper IT infrastructure can provide real-time feedback, both positive and negative. Issues can be picked up if the correct processes and procedures are in place, and can be addressed immediately and privately.
The company’s business objectives can be communicated easily, which allows all employees to see the bigger picture and work towards the same goal.
Recognition for outstanding performances can be communicated, which motivates employees to be productive and stand out.
Teams within the company can reach each other with ease and therefore deliver better results.
Create in-house IT training in software – people feel they are upskilled and creates loyalty
People like to feel valued, so creating in-house training programs focused on the company’s IT infrastructure will not only empower them, but also give them confidence to achieve more. In addition to the subsequent increase in productivity, it also creates loyalty and a positive, empowered company culture.
As your business grows, so do your IT requirements. As dependence on IT grows, it becomes vitally important to efficiently manage and safeguard IT and data assets. Strategix Infrastructure Management solutions can help keep your systems up and running and maximise IT and employee productivity. We also assist your IT team to efficiently roll out new software solutions or upgrade existing ones.