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What is the real enemy of productivity?

It’s a business no brainer, the better the productivity the better the profits, yet despite all the technology and knowledge available it seems to be as elusive as ever. In the 1980’s and 90’s soon after computers and software became mainstream in the workplace, productivity soared. But now while employees seem to be as busy as ever, productivity is not on par.

What’s the real cause of this? Is it a stream of constant distractions via email, social media, meeting requests or workshops? Is it that employees are not as committed or are simply overwhelmed with tasks? Or is it because managers are not using technology for productivity resources available to help employees become more productive?

Technology for productivity

Technology for productivity

Technology for productivity

With many companies operating across borders and time zones, trying to manage teams productively can be a challenge. However, there are three areas where technology can make a real difference to productivity, namely; communication, co-ordination and collaboration.

Communication – Technology eliminates the need for meeting face-to-face. Using Skype, Facetime or other video calling technology, employees can have online meetings instead. The video format provides the same face-to-face discussion ability but is generally more efficient as people tend to get to the point and keep discussions succinct. Webchat and instant messaging technology can also be used to get quick answers to questions and are more convenient and less intrusive than a phone call or face to face discussion. Group chat software enables multiple people to give their input and ensures that everyone is kept in the loop. Some project management programmes have chat features built in which is beneficial because then conversations can be logged and referred back to if there are any queries at a later stage.

Collaboration – One of the challenges for teams is that that multiple people may need to work on the same documents or spreadsheet, yet it’s difficult to keep track of the changes and ensure accuracy on the latest draft. Google Docs, Dropbox and even Office 365 enable multiple users to work on documents simultaneously while keeping track of changes and different saved versions. This can enhance productivity as everyone can get on with tasks without having to wait or worry about the version they’re working on.

Co-ordination – workflow management systems can help managers and team members keep on top of project tasks. As part of this it’s important to have clarity relating to project roles an overall project objectives. Making sure these two align can help prevent people getting side tracked with less important and unrelated tasks. It’s also important that team members understand the overall objectives so that they can see how their role contributes to the overall project success.

Regardless of what technology is used a good rule of thumb is to keep things simple. Find one system that can manage most tasks and objectives rather than working on multiple platforms. Use technology that is user friendly and easy to understand. In this way productivity can be enhanced without adding to the workload of employees or managers.

What are your thoughts on technology for productivity, can it enhance, or is it simply applying better time management that can make more of a difference?

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