Five ways to be more productive at work
Staying connected is the key to never missing a beat—no matter where your employees are
Think back to the last time all of your employees were in the office, at their desks, on the same day. Having trouble? Between travel schedules and off-site meetings, remote staff and teleworkers, flexible schedules and sick days, it’s no wonder that having every-one in the office at the same time has become a rarity.
Balance that with the fact that in today’s competitive business climate, organisations are driven and employees are measured by achieving results, and it’s clear how important it is to maintain pro-ductivity no matter where staff are located. But it’s not always easy to do. Here a re five ways you can improve employee productivity in your organisation.
1. Empower your employees to work from anywhere
Increasingly, work is defined as what you do, not somewhere you go. In fact, 54 per cent of information workers work from a location other than their company’s office once a week or morei, according to Forrester’s Forrsights data. The traditional office space is quickly becoming a place to meet up with colleagues when a face-to-face is in order. So where are today’s employees working, if not at the office? With answers that include home, remote sites, customer offices, airports, hotels and even the car, the question is, where aren’t they working?
To ensure employees can be productive from anywhere, it’s important to afford them all the same communication tools they would have access to in the office. Remote employees and teleworkers should have phones that allow them to use all the same features that in-office workers have, including extension dialling, call forwarding, voicemail, etc. Mobile workers should have the ability to use their mobile phones as seamlessly with the rest of the company’s communications infrastructure as they would on their desk phone. Those who come into the office occasionally have the ability to log into a desk phone, make and take calls, have access to messages, set preferences and speed dials through the hot desking capability. And for workers in highly mobile industries like retail, cordless handsets or wireless headsets can be provided. All of these capabilities ensure workers are productive from anywhere.
2. Encourage user choice of technology
Workers should have the same communication experience no matter what device is being used, a desk phone, company-issued mobile phone, personal mobile phone or tablet. Having a communications system that integrates with all devices is key, especially as more and more companies allow users to choose their mobile device or indeed use their own mobile device for work.
Forrester’s Forrsights data shows that more than 60 per cent of information workers would prefer to choose the smartphone or tablet they use for work while 47 per cent would prefer to use a single smartphone for work and personal purposesii. But no matter your organisation’s device policy, what’s important to the individual is never having to change the communication process depending on where they are and what device is being used.
Single enterprise identity is the feature to look for in a communications system that gives users one directory entry (extension) and one voice mailbox that can be used across multiple devices. That means employees have only one number to give out and one voice mailbox to check and manage, allowing the user to choose the mobile device or tablet that is best suited to his or her needs and personal choice.
3. Facilitate faster communication to a geographically dispersed work group
Because organisations and employees are distributed, seeing if a specific co-worker is available for a question is more difficult than peering across the office. But time should not be wasted tracking down colleagues, especially in a day and age when decisions must be made in the moment.
Access to presence information is a huge time saver. Simply offering presence information can give an accurate picture of an individual’s availability. Presence information is made available through the corporate directory, allowing employees easy access to one another and to make much better communication decisions knowing who is available and who is busy. Rather than leaving endless voice messages or waiting for an email reply, employees can contact each other when they are available or contact another colleague if their first choice is busy or away.
Presence information can let you know when colleagues are available for instant messaging, telephone calls and video conferencing, so you can choose how best to work together.
Of course, presence information is only helpful when people use it. But how often do workers walk away from their computers without remembering to change their presence status? Sophisticated presence software updates statuses automatically. For instance:
- Calendar information can identify meetings and make the individual “busy” and route calls to voicemail,
- if so desired.
- When in the car, identifying a Bluetooth connection can set a status to “mobile” and route calls to that mobile device.
- Smart device GPS settings can recognise locations of frequently visited locations, such as an office or a home location and route calls to a desk phone or a teleworker handset in the home office.
4. Turn your contact centre into a distributed centre of customer excellence
Whatever the purpose of your contact centre—customer care, technical support, billing, sales—it is almost certainly a highly results-driven part of your organisation. Your customers need to be directed to the right person the first time and every time, no matter what medium they’re contacting you through, including telephone, instant message, social media, email, etc.
As with the rest of your organisation, the “contact centre” is no longer a place where employees converge to do their jobs. Like many other workers, contact centre agents can perform their jobs from remote locations, home offices or even a mobile device. Forrester Forrsights data reports that 82 per cent of firms in Europe and North America are either planning to or have implemented support for home workers in their contact centres.
There are several key benefits to allowing contact centre agents to work from anywhere. One is that your hiring pool grows exponentially. You can look well outside your region for talented workers without having to worry about whether they’re willing to relocate. You’ll also be able to attract top talent, as working from home is a huge draw for many.
Another major benefit of allowing contact centre agents to work from home is staffing. It becomes easy to staff up for peak seasons, such as November and December within the retail industry or leading up to a new academic year within colleges and universities. You can even choose to staff up for peak hours of the day, as home workers are much more likely to agree to split shifts as compared with in-office workers.
In an economy where more and more people are looking for flexible working, opportunities for agents to be based at home is a win for the employer and a win for the employee who can enjoy flexible hours and avoid daily commuting.
5. Enable workers to make faster decisions
For mobile workers, as with all employees, the key to being productive and effective is having information at their fingertips. Giving workers a single number they can be reached at and offering up presence information on their availability and instant message capabilities are essential.
But what about for the times that a voice call or IM isn’t enough? How many times have you wished you could easily and instantly share documents or hop on a video call with a colleague in order to get something worked through? Unfortunately, sharing documents and engaging in multiparty conference calls or video calls have traditionally been cumbersome to set up and almost always require a separate session. And who knows when the expert you need to collaborate with will even be available again.
Advanced communications systems make audio and video conferencing, desktop and application sharing a natural act, enabling dispersed teams to work together more effectively.
The fact of the matter is that organisations and employees are only going to become more and more dispersed. But with the right tools in place, communication and collaboration among colleagues can be more productive and efficient than ever.