COVID-19 forced a work from home explosion that many businesses were not entirely prepared for. A big fear for managers was whether staff would buckle down and work or swap the desk for the couch to Netflix and chill. While there will always likely be employees who do both, a key area that managers and HR practitioners often tend to overlook when trying to boost employee productivity is the role of tech.
This is according to Dale Hurwitz, Managing Director of full service managed IT company, GSolutions who was speaking at a recent HR Celebrity webinar. Hurwitz says that most companies look at their internal structures and policies to see where they can make improvements to workflow and systems. “While this is important and shouldn’t be ignored, these types of changes can take time. Don’t overlook the easier, more straightforward way to improve productivity and efficiency.
Hurwitz shares his top three tech hacks for boosting employee performance below.
Don’t ignore the obvious – you could add 3 days of productive time per employee per year
The simple computer – whether it is a desktop or laptop – is a good place to start in terms of efficiency. “The physical IT infrastructure, especially items used daily, can often be overlooked. Generally, most computer life cycles allow three to four years before they should be evaluated for replacement,” says Hurwitz. He says this because larger leaps in technology tend to take this amount of time to come to market: “In almost all cases in the IT sector the improvements made yearly are marginal however after 3-4 years of this process the gaps in improvements become quite substantial”.
With software getting more and more robust, Hurwitz explains that the computers needed to run the necessary programs efficiently and effectively evolve. “A simple improvement many desktops or laptops can benefit from would be to simply upgrade the older SATA hard drive to the newer faster Solid State Drives. A simple change like this can have a massively positive productivity impact – over the course of a computer’s lifespan this equates to over 24hours of saved time per computer per year.
What does this mean for employee productive time? Hurwitz says that every second saved due to the extra speeds adds up to over 3 days of standard work hours over the year for the business per user. Bonus.
But Hurwitz cautions that the constant monitoring of your IT hardware distributed throughout the business can become quite cumbersome over time and keeping track of which users are assigned which machines can also become a huge undertaking without proper management. This is where the value of a managed IT support service (IT MSP) comes in. “This level of IT management and maintenance should fall under the remit of your trusted IT MSP. Unfortunately off the shelf IT providers don’t tend to offer this level of consultative support,” explains Hurwitz.
Don’t be a tool about tools
COVID-19 and the subsequent work from home revolution has brought with it a flurry of team management software, video conferencing and other IT tools. Hurwitz says that using one of these effectively can do wonders for the efficiency of a team. But he says it needs to be a well thought through exercise in conjunction with your IT partner. “The last thing you want is to implement something and find out a few months in that it hasn’t got certain required functionality – aside from cost implications, we all know getting employees to adapt to and use new systems can be tricky,” says Hurwitz.
He adds that retrofitting other systems into the environment to plug these gaps can reduce efficiency and – worse create data security risks – where certain tools are not properly rolled out in a secure environment.
He suggests working with your IT MSP to fully understand the requirements, then to choose and commit to a tool. Lastly, clearly communicate with staff on the change, and provide adequate, effective training.
Don’t cut corners
With our new digital reality likely to remain our normality, the importance of solid IT infrastructure to maintain employee efficiency can’t be understated. “All too often in-house IT staff are consumed by fixing malfunctioning software or equipment. This pulls them away from making strategic improvements to the business’ core IT strategy and structure. Freeing them up from these smaller tasks can have wide reaching effects for the internal stability and improvements within the IT business structure,” explains Hurwitz.
Hurwitz adds that any time your users cannot work due to IT issues, the business loses money. “The International Data Corporation (IDC) estimates that between R300 to R1000 is lost per hour of downtime.”
He concludes that by actively trying to improve IT stability and systems the immediate benefit becomes a more robust IT environment with minimal downtime and problems: “The increased efficiency and reliability of IT operations can take time to accomplish but remains a core foundation of most IT MSP providers”.