Technology is everywhere, from smart devices that automate chores at home to applications that let teams work remotely. The capabilities of these tools promise to make life easier by streamlining routine tasks. While tech does and can fulfill that promise, it can also become a source of distraction.
Smartphones and web browsers allow you to browse social media, shop online and chat with friends. It’s easy to get sucked into hours of Instagram scrolling or e-retail therapy. The conveniences of online connectivity may not be an issue during non-working hours. But they can hurt in-office productivity if you don’t exercise some degree of restraint.
Despite its potential pitfalls, technology encompasses such a wide range of functional tools that doing without it is unthinkable. Without certain apps, employees couldn’t collaborate across time zones or simultaneously juggle numerous projects. When leveraged correctly, technology can bolster the efforts of individual workers and teams. Here are four ways you can use tech to boost productivity.
1. Manage Projects and Group Tasks More Smoothly
Keeping track of every task that makes up a project isn’t something you want to do in your head. Although spreadsheets and outlines can help, these methods aren’t dynamic enough to support the input of several contributors. In addition, static tools don’t always have the flexibility to facilitate real-time changes and updates.
In contrast, project management software supports teams that need to collaborate on essential tasks. Instead of having one person hunt everyone down for updates, the whole team puts them in a centralized application. If someone needs help on an assignment, they can make a note that sends a message to a team lead. Project management solutions also facilitate group brainstorming and one-on-one work sessions in real time.
According to Shortcut, organizations that want to boost productivity should look for specific features within project management apps. Planning and scheduling are givens, but there are ways of going about them that may be more or less suited to your team. Perhaps you want to use a Kanban board or require burndown charts. Look for an application with these features; it should be easy to use and let you map out where projects are headed.
2. Streamline Telecommunications
Most onboarding checklists include setting up office phone lines for all employees. But in the age of remote and hybrid work arrangements, traditional phone connections can be an obstacle to productivity. To overcome this, companies could choose to reimburse remote employees for a portion of their personal phone service. Organizations could also issue cell phones for work use only.
Although these solutions can ensure staff members stay connected to the office and clients, they present a few problems. Employees will still need to use their phone service at home for personal reasons.
What happens when non-work-related calls come through? Or the company reimburses staff for the use of a personal cell phone? Employees might justify the distractions that come with using a cell phone for work and individual purposes.
Voice over Internet Protocol or VoIP services, such as RingCentral, offer organizations a more cost-effective and streamlined solution. VoIP lets employees make and receive phone calls over a company’s high-speed internet connection when they’re in the office.
Remote staff members can still use their work number from home or anywhere with internet service. Most VoIP calling features like voicemail are also accessible through mobile apps, allowing teams to stay in touch.
3. Take Advantage of Automated Workflows
Since most professionals perform so many different tasks during the day, they might overlook what’s become routine. However, employees could also recognize that some of what they do is repetitive and ask for more efficient processes. Research indicates 59% of workers believe they can save six hours a week by automating repetitive tasks.
Since many applications offer automated workflows, the question seems to be why more employees aren’t taking advantage of them. For instance, CRM solutions have built-in workflow processes for sending emails and streamlining lead generation activities. Project management software automates assignment handoffs between team members. And some apps sync and trigger tasks between various tools, including communication and survey platforms.
Awareness of automation’s availability may be less of a hurdle for employees than understanding how it works. While investing in the proper tools is important, staff training and follow-up are even more critical. If someone takes an online course on how a tool works but never uses it, that knowledge becomes wasted. Designating subject matter experts to help others work with a platform’s automated features can help close the gap.
4. Identify Opportunities With Time Trackers
You can’t be more productive if you don’t know what activities or tasks you’re wasting time on. On average, a working professional spends about 12% of their day on social media. In addition, 45% of organizations don’t have a formal social media policy in place. This makes it challenging for managers to regulate social media use while employees are supposed to be productive.
Time tracking apps can reveal what’s keeping workers from staying on task. These tools show how much time someone’s spending in various applications, such as web browsers and word processors. Time tracking solutions also show when a person is most productive.
Maybe one employee accomplishes most of their tasks before lunch, while another checks off their to-do list in the afternoon. Each individual can be encouraged to schedule their highest-priority work accordingly.
The caveat to using time tracking applications is to not make staff members feel punished or micromanaged. Present the apps as a way to make individual improvements and help the team or organization meet its objectives.
Try to use what the platforms highlight as coaching or mentoring opportunities in time management. Some applications also integrate with project management software and allow you to run employee and team productivity reports.
Increased efficiency is often the aim of using technology and its many capabilities. That said, tech use in work environments can be problematic when the lines between personal and professional use become blurred.
This still isn’t a good enough reason to prevent employees from using devices that will positively impact productivity. Project management apps, VoIP solutions, automated workflows, and time trackers are some of the ways companies can use technology to improve productivity.
These tools synchronize individual and group contributions while exposing time management opportunities that may be difficult to identify. Embracing technology’s functional capabilities will give teams the edge they need to satisfy operational and client demands.