Technology has long been a double-edged sword in the business world. For every new invention, workers have new ways to avoid working on company time. First they were playing Solitaire, then checking forum postings. That gave way to e-mail and social media, until finally, employers are wondering if there will ever be a way to be sure workers are truly working on company time.
According to a new study from Staples Advantage, those employers have nothing to worry about. The study found that 70% of workers and managers found workers are more productive today than they were five years ago. Respondents listed mobile technology, break times, and telecommuting as the top three essential elements to a productive workday. Decreased productivity, on the other hand, was attributed to technology limitations and non-collaborative work environments.
“We’re seeing a trend in the right direction with 70 percent of workers and managers saying they’re more productive now than five years ago,” said Tom Heisroth, senior vice president for Staples Advantage. “Providing employees with the right tools and resources is essential to improving office-wide productivity. At Staples, we make it easy for businesses to be productive with everything they need including technology, break room supplies, furniture and office products.”
Staples recommends businesses take the following measures to ensure workers are as productive as possible:
- Collaborative workspaces. The workplace is rapidly evolving, with “cubicle mazes” being replaced by shorter walls that create a more open, brighter environment. By replacing your office furniture, you can boost productivity by encouraging workers to collaborate throughout the day.
- Comfortable break areas. By filling your break areas with inviting furniture and snack options, you can encourage workers to take frequent breaks throughout the day. Breaks recharge employees and encourage additional collaboration with staff members they might not normally encounter in the course of their work.
- Technology. Productivity can be hampered when employees aren’t equipped with the proper tools to do their jobs more efficiently. Consider replacing daily planners and legal pads with tablets for meetings. Outsourcing software and print services can help free up administrative staff for other duties, as well as having your I.T. operations taken care of.
The study also revealed workers’ feelings about BYOD. With Gartner predicting that by 2017, 50% of employers will require workers to supply their own devices, Staples recommends that small businesses begin moving in that direction. This means creating a policy that addresses the security risks BYOD poses, including setting strong password requirements, setting up “remote wipe” capabilities in case a device containing work-related data is lost, and restricting information that can be saved to personal devices. To remain as productive as possible, respondents recommended limiting meetings, since 44% of respondents listed “too many meetings” as one of the hurdles to productivity. Respondents also listed nice outdoor weather and uncomfortable indoor temperatures as productivity-killers.