Did you know that, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, productivity in business has been consistently falling for the last decade? It’s probably no coincidence that this was about the same time when the use of smartphones became ubiquitous. Those pocket-sized computers have undoubtedly contributed to the problem of lower productivity in business, but that doesn’t mean that they or technology, in general, are totally bad.
If you want to increase productivity in your business, you probably aren’t going to want to ban tech – far from it in fact! Here are just some of the ways you can fight back against the time suck of technology and start using it for good:
Choose the Most Appropriate Tech
If you want tech to save you from your productivity slump then, first and foremost, you need to make absolutely sure that you’re using the right technology for your needs, For example, if you’re a small business, using something like QuickBooks to do your accounts instead of paying for an accountant is likely to save you money, but if you’re a big business, having a human take care of that stuff is more likely to be advantageous come tax season. It’s all about working out what works for you!
Make Use of Automation
Whatever industry you happen to be in, there is a very good chance that you’ll be able to find numerous tools to automate the tasks that you have to do, but which take up lots of time. You can find apps that do everything from scheduling to paying invoices and even making your products, so it’s worth taking the time to see what’s out there. Automate as many of your processes as you are able to and you will notice a huge boost in productivity, I have no doubt.
Invest in a Content Curation Tool
What is a content curation tool? It’s a simple piece of software that aggregates news, research, data and basically any information you have, all in one place. It’s good to have this available to you because, it saves a whole lot of research time, and it enables staff to work collaboratively, wherever they might be, by giving them instant access to the data they need. Whether you’re in marketing and you’re looking to collect inspirational ideas, or you’re in finance, and you need to keep a close eye on the stock market, it’s a wonderful, productivity- boosting tool to have.
In a similar vein, technology like Skype can help to connect your employees from different branches. If you have more than one location, it can be a nightmare to get everyone together at the same time without it wasting a lot of time, not only in the organizational stage but also during the meeting, even when it’s essential that you do so, but with smartphones, webcams etc., then it really doesn’t have to be.
Ditch the Passwords with Biometrics
Using biometric technology, like fingerprint and retina scanners, or even using voice recognition software, instead of passwords might not seem like much of a time saver, but think about how much time you spend entering passwords every day, or how much time you and your employees spend trying to remember them! It’s a lot, right? That’s why you might want to start looking into some more high-tech alternatives. Oh, they’re a lot more secure too – you can’t fake a retina scan!
Be Selective When Using Apps
If you allow your employees to use apps, and if you plan to use them to boost your productivity yourself, it’s important that you all know when they are truly necessary. You see, apps don’t always save you time, and being distracted by them can actually decrease your productivity. So, what you need to do is sit down and evaluate the areas of your working life where you are wasting time right now, due to the availability of an efficient app. Download only those apps and keep doing the other stuff just how you are now.
Chrome Extensions Are Great
If you want to make your business much more efficient, use Google Chrome’s browser as default and ensure that all of your employees do too.
Do this because Chrome has some of the best time-saving apps out there. From Stayfocusd, which helps to keep you and your employees off unhelpful websites, to Dayboard which keeps track of your day’s most important tasks, there is a lot of good there. Just make sure you actually put them to use once they’re installed!
Google is the God of Answering Questions
In the past, if you had a pressing question that you needed answered or a problem that could only be solved with certain information, you’d have to send an employee out to the library in the hopes of finding it, or perhaps go to the local bookstore and pick up a book. Today, you can answer most of your pressing questions in a few minutes with a simple Google search, and that saves a serious amount of time.
Google Calendar is Great
Google Calendar is a free and simple tool to help you plan your days and ensure that you squeeze the most out of your time. It might be simple, and there may be newer alternatives with lots of extra bells and whistles, but they tend to take away your time as you mess around with them, so stick with Google on this one!
It’s pretty obvious how using outsourcing websites like People Per Hour, and Upwork can benefit your business in terms of productivity. By letting a freelancer handle those little tasks like data entry that don’t make the best use of your or your employees’ time, you can boost everyone’s productivity and ensure that everything gets done.
You might think that hiring freelancers would be a bad move financially, but because it will free up so much more productive time, quite the opposite could actually be true.
Install Filters and Blockers
If you’re running a business and you’ve noticed that your employees seem to spend more time on the internet than they do on their work, then you might have to get tough and install filters and blockers which prevent them from going to the most popular websites.
Alternatively, you could also think about setting a time-limit on using these sites. Turn the time-limit into a policy and install software to monitor every member of staff’s usage, so that they know if they exceed it, there will be consequences. This will probably go down better with the staff because at least they’ll be able to use their favorite sites some of the time.
Performance appraisal software is a great way of accurately gauging how well your employees are doing in terms of productivity and a whole host of other things. It monitors your staff throughout the working day, and you can generate reports on them whenever you want. Take advantage of this, and it’ll be easier to identify things that could be improved upon. You’ll save time and money trying to manually monitor the situation too!
Network More Effectively
In the past, if you wanted to get in touch with other key players in your industry, potential clients, or well anyone really, you’d have to rely on attending conferences, handing out business cards and hoping to catch them on the phone. All of that stuff took up a lot of time, and if you’re still doing it, it’s time to discover the joys of LinkedIn and other social media sites, which enable you to quickly connect and send a message to the people you want to get on good terms with.
The right technology enables many businesses to be more effective. If for example, you happen to operate in an office environment, it gives you the power to let your employees work flexibly from home. How does this help with productivity? Numerous studies have shown that employees who are given the freedom to telecommute are 10-15 percent more productive than those who stay in the office, and many of the tools that are required for telecommuting (Excel, Skype and Google Hangouts) are all completely free! You might have to pay for VPNs to keep your work private, but other than that, you can pretty much start letting them work from home now. Not only will your productivity increase, but employee happiness will probably go through the roof too!
The great thing about technology, even if it’s only something as simple as an Excel spreadsheet, is that it enables you to keep track of everything with a very good degree of accuracy. Driver tracking tools, for example, are a lot more efficient than using timesheets and relying on your employees to keep note of every move they make. They cut down on tracking, minimize error, and therefore, massively increase productivity.
So there you have it – although technology can undoubtedly lead to procrastination, when it’s used in the right way, it can be a real boon to business, and individual employees, helping to increase efficiency and raise productivity across the board.