Increasing productivity in the workplace should be the goal of any CEO or business leader. It can lead to increased sales, reduced waste and higher salaries for motivated staff.
However, it’s not always easy. Productivity figures have been in decline in the US for years – a trend mirrored in many of the world’s advanced economies. To understand how your organization can go about increasing productivity in the workplace, it’s first important to understand why productivity rates are struggling in general.
Why has workplace productivity taken a hit?
Productivity growth – defined as output per employee per hour – has been in decline for many years, especially in industries like healthcare and housing. Even though the economy has picked up since the 2008 recession and unemployment has dropped, productivity hasn’t returned to pre-crisis levels. If we can understand what’s going on, we can put forward solutions.
At present, there’s no widespread agreement among experts and economists as to why US workers are not increasing productivity at the same rate they did a few decades ago. Some of the most widely accepted explanations include:
- The skilled baby-boomer generation is retiring, and it will take decades to replace their skills and experience
- There’s been a growth in unsecure work in the US since the crisis, so employees are not motivated to work hard in a job they might not keep
- We’re measuring the wrong thing; while it’s easy to determine how productive a factory worker has been, measuring the productivity of a knowledge worker is more difficult
- New technology, such as the cloud or improved mobile devices, have only recently become capable of helping people in the workplace, so it will take a few years before this feeds through into productivity statistics
- There’s a growing gap between leading companies that have invested in new technologies and are now charging ahead, and those that failed to invest and are being left behind
At Worksighted, we’re more convinced by the latter two points. Over the last decade, there have been enormous improvements in enterprise technology, with new, powerful cloud-based software, low-cost storage in remote servers and hardware in the form of smartphones, laptops and wearables, all of which are increasingly effective when it comes to facilitating productivity.
However, while certain industries such as professional services and IT have managed to capitalize on these new technologies, others, like housing, healthcare, leisure or education have lagged behind. The technologies have not fitted around their business models, or they have been held back by regulations. This has proven an obstacle to utilizing these new tools and, as a result, limiting those companies’ potential for improving productivity. Nonetheless, if they are serious about improving productivity, these firms will need to invest in the technology which supports growth.
Increasing productivity in the workplace with the cloud
The cloud has all the hallmarks of a technology which can revolutionize productivity. While it’s certainly not the only solution to the productivity crisis, its potential for increasing productivity in the workplace is enormous. Let’s see why:
No more IT problems: A massive dampener on enterprise productivity has been the dependence on on-premises servers and tech which regularly fails. Hours are lost by employees waiting for a password reset, for servers to be updated, or searching for documents on slow systems.
The cloud resolves these issues. You get the latest versions of enterprise technology, many of which receive rolling updates to give you the latest functionality and security as soon as it becomes available.
Significantly cheaper IT estate: Traditional enterprise IT environments are extremely expensive to buy and maintain, and must be updated every three or four years with a costly migration. By contrast, the cloud offers highly flexible storage and access options, where you pay for low-cost access per user, per month.
More flexible working: In traditional IT environments, employees can only access their company’s documents, emails and content when they are physically at their desk and logged into the system. However, the cloud allows them to access content and be productive anytime and anywhere.
More collaborative workforce: In traditional IT setups, there is really very limited opportunity for collaboration. Employees cannot edit documents at the same time, they cannot easily organize video conferences, or quickly launch forum-style discussions with colleagues in other parts of the business. Once again, the cloud allows for all of this.
Solving the productivity crisis
Increasing productivity in the workplace is undoubtedly one of the most effective ways of empowering your employees and growing the business. However, in many organizations, a dependence on outdated technology and processes makes it almost impossible to improve productivity rates. Employees are held back by their tools and simply cannot do more work in their day to day.
At Worksighted, we believe that the cloud can play a huge role in kick-starting workplace productivity. The technology is relatively new, yet is already having a profound impact on how businesses work. While the cloud is clearly not the only solution to productivity problems, it could play a huge role in helping you increase productivity in your workplace.