The relationship between technology and staff productivity can be a double-edged sword. On the one hand, staff can become much more efficient with improved tools at their disposal, but they can also face productivity challenges when this technology fails to deliver.
A recent study by Deloitte found that nearly half (49%) of workers waste an average of 10 minutes per hour due to issues with their technology. This time soon adds up, creating a huge black hole in a business’ output and effectiveness.
Making tech consistent
There are many reasons why a company can face issues with their technology, but they can all be put down to consistency – or a lack thereof. Many problems are often caused by conflicting application sets, working processes or hardware across the user base, for example, with staff working on different versions of key business application or on out of date laptops.
Technology generally needs to be regularly updated in order to maintain and improve productivity, but many businesses delay the process to save money. Unfortunately, the impact on IT system speed, hardware faults and time lost in replacing hardware far outweigh the money saved from not upgrading.
It also should be noted that the historic rise of Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) and mobile working has created yet another inconsistency that businesses need to address, as staff can face technological issues and delays if they work across a range of devices. This model also makes it challenging to resolve any technological issues, especially if employees are using their own devices to conduct work in the field.
Even if a company has a standardised device policy in place, many businesses still lack the infrastructure that allows these devices and associated applications to work together effectively – such as easily transferring files from a mobile to the desktop. Without a consistent system in place, staff will still struggle to utilise the technology available to them.
Building employee knowledge
To avoid any costly downtime, businesses need to keep their IT systems up to standard, but employees also have a role to play. Staff can often help to limit any delays caused by technology issues – but only with the right training.
Unless employees understand which issues to escalate, they can often end up raising relatively minor issues with IT unnecessarily. As such, training employees to understand common IT problems, as well as the steps needed to resolve them, will ultimately aid the business. By understanding how to resolve these basic challenges, employees will be able to explain the issue clearly and confirm they have done due diligence when it comes to troubleshooting.
This type of knowledge will become especially helpful during software upgrades. These processes are rarely without challenges, so providing a basic understanding to every member of staff will ensure the business can complete any upgrades as needed, with a reduced impact on operations.
When something goes wrong
Even with the most robust technology and trained staff in place, problems still arise. However, IT departments can take steps to reduce the impact these challenges have on the business.
By standardising and monitoring their IT systems, companies can create the same environment for all staff across every platform – whether it is at their desk, on the road or on mobile. Cloud-based applications such as Office 365 have already done a lot to achieve this, but businesses also need to be looking at other application sets in order to enhance productivity.
Applications like these enable staff to access the same documents, applications and emails regardless of where they are located and what device are using. As a result, the cloud not only helps to improve productivity in the event of a hardware failure, but also provides a consistent experience for every member of staff as well.
This technology can certainly help employees stay productive, but IT needs to implement robust management frameworks as well. Guidelines like ISO 20000 are an extremely effective way for the business to ensure it is continually improving its IT service and will also help the company create a management system and clear structure that it can build on for the future.
IT issues are a fact of working in a modern business, but there are methods the business can employ to limit any disruption. Better still, many IT challenges can be avoided altogether by implementing the right tools and ensuring that staff know how to use them. This approach will not only prevent major losses of time and money if a problem occurs but will also ensure that the business is operating efficiently at all times.
Robert Rutherford, CEO of QuoStar