Take Control of Your Technology: 7 Ways to Increase Office Productivity
Technology provides a multitude of opportunities to streamline the workplace and increase employee productivity. But with all the apps, devices, and websites available, technology also has the potential for a cluttered work environment rife with distractions. By following a few simple, effective steps, businesses and entrepreneurs can take control of technology and use it to create a more productive office.
Streamline Email Usage
The McKinsey Global Institute reports that workers spend, on average, 28% of the workweek checking and responding to email. There are several programs and websites that can help decrease the amount of time spent cleaning out an inbox. Gmail has a newly designed inbox that sorts emails into categories, making it easier to see what's important, what can wait, and what you can ignore entirely. If you don't want to switch employee emails over to Gmail, try inbox filtering sites like SaneBox. Also, consider taking stock of how much back and forth emailing happens within the office; it may save time and reduce misunderstandings to have face-to-face conversations instead.
Invest in Quality Equipment
Old operating systems and crashing machines limit the amount of work an employee can do. One surefire way to increase productivity is to make sure your hardware and your software work the way they're supposed to. Keep operating systems up to date and properly installed. Attach devices like printers and copiers to your network so employees don't have to use flash drives or cables for access. Check your operating system's compatibility with your hardware and your applications, and ensure everything will still work together if you decide to upgrade something. Windows has a site to provide this information.
Use Job Scheduling Software
To take pressure off the IT department, invest in job scheduling software to run batch jobs and reduce or end the need for IT staff to do the work individually. ORSYP's job scheduling software Dollar Universe works across multiple operating systems, and comes with software to help in maximizing workload automation which monitors processes and conditions in real-time, not just on a schedule.
Store Files Online
Programs like Dropbox and Microsoft SkyDrive offer both free and paid options for file storage in a secure online location. The files are automatically backed up, which saves businesses from losing valuable data to hardware malfunctions or system crashes. Plus, employees can access files from anywhere there's an internet connection, making it easier to do work at home. You can share files and folders with multiple users, too, which makes transferring data between people simpler than emailing files back and forth. Online file storage also helps eliminate paper clutter.
Monitor Internet Activity
Surfing Facebook or cruising Pinterest boards reduces workplace productivity, and even the most motivated employee sometimes feels the draw to check favorite leisure websites. Consider using software that monitors employee internet and email activity; that way you don't have to physically police the workplace, which saves you time and energy. You can alert employees when they've spent too much time surfing, or you can block certain websites that aren't relevant to running your business.
Take Advantage of Freeware Applications
Operating systems don't come equipped with everything your employees might need to do their jobs, so consider freeware supplements. For zipping and unzipping files, try Peazip. Apps like Evernote collect, synch, and share information—from images to lists to websites—in an organized and searchable way. To cut down on notes and to-do lists cluttering your desk, Simple Sticky Notes does the trick. If your business needs to utilize multiple social media profiles and you want to eliminate the headache of logging into different sites, HootSuite puts all your profiles in a convenient location and offers a free plan.
Organize Scheduling and Calendars
If you or your employees need to work remotely, programs like Skype and Google Hangouts are good for one-on-one interaction or to include someone not physically present in a meeting. If emailing or texting back and forth to plan a meeting is eating up time, try Doodle, which allows everyone to vote on a meeting time. The Microsoft Outlook Calendar offers a similar feature, with the added bonus of viewing group schedules and multiple calendars at once. Google Calendar is free to use, and allows users to share calendars, edit multiple calendars, and synch information to different devices.
From games to websites to malfunctioning programs, technology has the potential to provide distractions and frustrations in an office environment. But by taking advantage of certain software, devices, and apps, businesses can reduce and eliminate time-consuming activities, resulting in a more productive workplace.
The following article is from one of our external contributors. It does not represent the opinion of Benzinga and has not been edited.