Finding ways to increase productivity in the workplace is a primary goal for many employers today. It’s also often one of the biggest challenges, especially in today’s fast-moving, frequently disrupted work environment.
LaU.S. productivity dropped by 4.6% in Q2 2022, the largest annual drop since the Labor Department started tracking it. That’s a concerning trend, but improvement is possible, with many new technologies making it easier than ever to boost engagement and output.
Top Tips to Improve Workplace Productivity
Here are seven tech-driven ways employers can improve efficiency and productivity:
1. Streamline Communication
A lack of communication is one of the biggest barriers to productivity across any business. When employees don’t understand what leaders expect from them and vice versa, it’s difficult for anyone to feel engaged and dig into work.
Thankfully, improving communication is one of the most prominent ways technology can increase efficiency in a business. Instant messaging platforms let workers communicate with their teams whenever and wherever they are, removing time, place and convenience barriers to collaboration. These tools’ immediacy makes clarifying issues and resolving topics easier, too.
Features like the ability to include photos, screen captures, documents and other data make these messages more informative. When team members need more clarity, video conferencing apps let them talk face-to-face to improve understanding without needing to schedule a physical meeting.
2. Improve Accessibility
Similarly, improving accessibility is one of the easiest ways to increase productivity in the workplace. Many employers don’t recognize that the devices, information or documents workers need aren’t easily accessible and that inaccessibility hinders how quickly people can do their job.
Digitization is a simple yet effective way to boost accessibility. Cloud storage lets workers access documents and data at any time from anywhere, eliminating wasted time requesting files or having to move to access them physically.
Similarly, digital productivity platforms can consolidate all the files, tools and information various teams need into a single pane of access, preventing wasted time from app switching and searching.
Opting for digital, cloud-based solutions also enables bring-your-own-device policies. This flexibility removes inefficiencies that may result from the inaccessibility of company devices.
3. Boost Transparency
In that same vein, technology can increase efficiency in a business by providing more transparency. Traditional, paper-based approaches to managing resources or organizing workflows make it challenging to understand where each employee stands in their roles. Digital solutions can help visualize this information, making it easier to understand the next steps and stay engaged.
Workflow management software provides visual aids for what tasks staff members have coming up in the pipeline, including their urgency and who else is involved in each project. These visualizations clarify different employees’ responsibilities and timelines, making collaborating easier.
Other technologies — like time-tracking apps — can show workers how they spend their time. This information helps them and their managers see where they can improve to set personal goals and become more productive.
4. Automate the Mundane
Another way to improve productivity in the workplace is to automate repetitive or non-value-adding tasks. People spend as much as 60% of their time on work about work, leaving them with just two days a week to do productive work. Automating these mundane, unengaging tasks gives workers more time to focus on practical and exciting projects.
Some of the most common time-consuming, easily automatable tasks include data entry, scheduling, invoicing, basic customer service, payroll and file-sharing. In addition to taking time away from more urgent needs, these steps could be more engaging, making it easier for employees to focus. As they become disinterested, they’ll be more likely to make errors, requiring more work to correct them and they’ll have less energy to exert in value-adding work.
Employers should look for the highest areas of repetition and non-value-adding administration and compare these to available automation solutions. Even saving team members a few minutes a day can significantly impact overall company productivity.
5. Enable Flexible Working Environments
As many employers discovered amid the COVID-19 pandemic, hybrid or remote work can also improve efficiency and productivity. A recent report found workers with flexible schedules report 29% higher productivity and 53% better ability to focus.
Enabling more flexible hybrid work environments means capitalizing on technology. Moving to the cloud over on-premise networks is an important step in that process, as it allows workers to access everything as easily from home as in the office.
Similarly, using videoconferencing services and message apps instead of relying on in-person communication fosters remote collaboration.
Embracing hybrid work also means moving to digital means of monitoring employees’ time and progress. Productivity tracking apps can provide that service.
6. Track and Reward High Productivity
As businesses integrate productivity trackers into their workflows, they should use these to incentivize the staff. While it’s easy to focus on these apps as a way to hold workers accountable for their on-the-clock time, it’s better to use them to recognize high performers. The former can make employees feel untrusted, which hinders productivity, while the latter encourages them to aim higher.
One of the most effective ways to reward high productivity is with monetary incentives. Offer top achievers a cash bonus or a raise for consistently pack-leading performance. These rewards give them a concrete, desirable motivation for focusing on work.
Other possible incentives include public recognition, team activities outside the workplace, gift cards to local businesses and more paid vacation time. Whichever option organizations choose, they should reward them consistently and fairly.
7. Create Ongoing Learning Programs
A more often-overlooked way to increase productivity in the workplace is providing career development opportunities.
Research shows a positive correlation between career growth and engagement, with the ability to progress one’s career promoting more investment in work. Technology can help employers create ongoing learning programs to provide that mobility and concentration.
Online learning platforms are an excellent way to teach people new concepts and skills. Employers can give workers access to these tools and reward them for using them to encourage career development.
Cloud platforms and goal-tracking software can help workers monitor their progress in these programs, too. That visibility will help motivate them to grow their careers, boosting their productivity as a result.
Technology can greatly improve efficiency and productivity in the workplace. These seven steps illustrate some of the many ways technology can improve efficiency and productivity.
Which specific technologies provide the most help depends on the company in question and how they use it, but all of these services can be useful. So, learning how technology can increase efficiency in a business is the first step in boosting workplace productivity.
When employers know what services and solutions are available and how to capitalize on them, they’ll have an easier time helping their workforce reach its full potential.