We’ve been discussing work-from-home (WFH) or hybrid working environments for a short while now, and there’s one concern that’s been ever present: how can organisations keep their staff accountable and just as productive outside of the office space? This is a question with many potential answers, but those answers can be broken down into four main categories: equipment, cloud familiarity, clear policy expectations, and closing the gap on social distancing. Let’s break them down one by one.
In regards to productivity, nothing makes it more stable that having the right equipment. Too many employees are relying on old laptops, with unsecured environments and potentially unreliable internet connections. There are also peripheral concerns—lack of additional monitors, non-ergonomic chairs, and so on. These things limit the tools available, slow down productivity, and leave employees uncomfortable and distracted. The University of Utah found that people with multiple (or simply larger) monitors complete tasks 52% faster than those without.
It’s also important to keep your staff cyber-safe. Make sure your team’s computers are equipped with the latest cybersecurity protection software. We also highly recommend setting your team up with multi-factor authentication for additional security. It goes without saying that a cybersecurity breach will have a devastating effect on productivity and your reputation.
It’s important to be familiar with your existing or potential cloud-based solutions. This could range from the known-and-trusted Microsoft Office 365 business suite to a cloud-based data storage solution, or more. If you’re already using Office 365, then we want to highlight one tool in particular: Teams. Teams is more than an instant messaging platform—it also supports video conferencing and recording, filesharing, collaboration, conversations, and more. We’ve noticed a lot of organisations underusing Team’s functionality, and we wanted to highlight it as a powerful tool for your use.
Clarity in Policy and Expectations
One of the easiest ways to improve employee accountability and productivity is to provide clear expectations and a comprehensive policy. For example, we at Sensible have been open about what are Key Performance Indicators are for our WFH employees, and we have provided guidelines for how to go about said work. These policies can be as rigid or loose as your organisation’s culture requires, but they should be clear and widely understood.
It’s incredibly important to stay connected while socially distant. We’ve taken steps to keep our employees socially involved via online ‘huddles’, where we meet and socialize at least twice a day. Sharing this support, recognition, and encouragement has resulted in a noticeable spike in productivity. If your employees feel appreciated and supported, they will support you as well.
These are our tips to keep people productive and accountable in a WFH environment. It’s relatively simple, all things considered, but it’s important nonetheless. If you’re looking for assistance with your technology or hardware needs, Sensible is here and willing to help. Give us a call!
Workplace Analytics is a program that helps managers determine staff productivity levels using data gathered from their email, calendar, documents, and other applications within Office 365. Previously, Microsoft’s MyAnalytics allowed only employees to view their individual data, but with this updated version, managers now have access to this data, too.
Now available as an add-on to Office 365 enterprise plans, Workplace Analytics extracts behavioral insights from data gathered from Office 365 email, calendar, documents, and Skype. This means that any data an employee types into their email and calendar -- whether it’s on the subject line or the main content itself -- can be used to indicate their productivity status.
The program has an overview dashboard that provides specific information:
Workplace Analytics aims to address what, according to Microsoft, are businesses’ most common challenges: complexity, productivity, and engagement.
Using Analytics data, managers and human resources departments can form productivity strategies for the entire company. If, based on Workplace Analytics data, a majority of your employees are spending 60% of their time attending meetings and not enough time doing creative work, they can come up with a strategy that reduces meeting time and focuses more on productive tasks.
It also identifies how employees collaborate with internal and external parties. Suppose one of your sales staff frequently communicates with certain contacts. By using Workplace Analytics data, the employee’s manager would be able to determine whether this particular collaboration pattern is helping the employee hit sales targets or whether he or she is missing out on other more critical contacts. Also, based on this info, managers would be able to determine which employees are most likely to meet or exceed their targets and set company-wide standards accordingly.
Data gathered by Workplace Analytics also allows managers to determine an employee’s level of engagement (i.e., whether the organization’s collaboration patterns are good for the company) and whether workloads are fairly distributed among workers and/or departments.
Large corporations have been using Workplace Analytics, but small businesses can also benefit from it. For one, the data used to provide the insights are all based on data generated by employees themselves -- how much time they spend on meetings, whom they frequently communicate with, and how much time they spend on productive tasks.
Aside from letting managers examine their staff’s working behavior, Workplace Analytics also provides an overall look into what happens at an organizational level. If you want your organization to harness the capabilities of Workplace Analytics and other Office 365 tools, give us a call today.
Even a single second of downtime at your business can cause a ripple effect that sees operations become unhinged. While most Business Continuity Plans (BCPs) take into account longer power outages, short ones can be just as dangerous to your company. An Oakley Greenwood report showed that 58.9% of outages in NSW were for less than 2 hours. It is important that you and your employees be prepared should a power outage strike. We’ve prepared some information to help you do just that.
Power outages are one of the only disasters that can strike just about anywhere in Australia. If you are in Blacktown, chances are tropical cyclones are not going to be an issue and i
A US Department of Energy report noted that power outages cost businesses nearly $150 billion in 2014 and added that increasing demand for energy coupled with an aging infrastructure could see the number of blackouts increase. When a power failure disrupts IT systems, 1/3 of companies lose AU$18,500-$465,000 per incident. While weather-related events are the most common cause of power outages in Australia, it is far from the only thing that can disrupt energy service.
Since this is a problem that will continue to plague businesses, especially those ones that are unprepared, it’s important to be ready should a blackout strike. Here are a few things you should consider when it comes to power outages.
The most notable issue a business faces when a power outage occurs is an inability to work. Employees often will sit around unable to do anything until the power is turned back on. Once the power does return, additional time is needed to safely turn everything back on and to check if all your files are still there.
There are also numerous indirect consequences that your business may face either during or after a power outage. These include a loss of revenue from potential sales, a decrease in customer satisfaction and a drop in your company’s reputation. The more your company is prepared for a power outage, the better continuity you will see and the less damage will be done. While it may be impossible to completely avoid issues caused by blackouts, you can minimize their impact.
One of the biggest sources of frustration for employees during a blackout is losing files they had been working on. Autosave features do help prevent this but sometimes you’ll still lose that one important note or sentence you didn’t have the chance to save. Uninterruptible power supplies (UPS) are one way to buy your employees a little extra time should the power go out. You're able to plug your computer into these devices and they will operate as a battery when the power goes out. The life of these power stations is anywhere from ten minutes to an hour for some models which should give you enough time to save your work and properly shutdown your computer.
If you want to stay in business during a power outage, a standby commercial generator can help. These normally run on petrol or natural gas and immediately switch on as soon as your main power supply goes out.
If you aren’t concerned about the lights but want to keep your employees productive, equipping them with 4G enabled laptops and tablets with the right cloud vendor will let them continue to work on files and even your database systems that have been saved and stored or running virtually in the cloud. The better cloud systems will even enable you to send employees home or some other location (where power is available) and work one everything exactly as if they were in the office.
Regardless of what your company's plans are during a power outage, you will need to test them on a regular basis to ensure everything runs smoothly when the real thing does happen. If you utilise a UPS or standby generator, you will want to test these out every six months at the very least to make sure they function properly. If your business has special plans for what employees need to do during a power outage, you should run a practice drill on a yearly basis to ensure everyone is up to speed on their duties. You should also document what steps everyone should take - so nothing is forgotten in the panic of responding to the outage.
They key to business continuity is preparation. Let our team of experts help prepare your business for anything thrown its way in 2016 and beyond.
When it comes to increasing your employees’ efficiency and productivity, technology can provide countless opportunities to streamline workflows, eliminate redundant processes and reduce costs within your organisation. If you’re looking to stay ahead of the competition, you need to ditch the traditional ways of working and implement technology to your practices to encourage more employee productivity and efficiency - here’s how.
In order to increase efficiency, set up instant messaging software such as Skype on your employees’ workstations. This allows them to send instant messages to correspondents instead of having to get up from their desks to see whether the person is available. Of course, if you need to discuss big projects or issues, face-to-face communication is likely the best choice. But you can simply send a quick message for more trivial conversations, saving precious minutes and allowing you to get more work done.
Another way of improving business productivity is to use Yammer.
Traveling to offsite meetings and training sessions takes time and, all too often, time spent on the road is time lost. Rather than commuting for hours outside your office, opt for a networked phone solution that offers video calls and conferencing. This way you can hold a video conference to discuss business matters from the comfort and convenience of your office. You can also take things up a notch and equip the conference room with tools to pull up documents and have them displayed on a big screen, so that everyone in the meeting can follow the conversation with ease. New video conferencing technologies work seamlessly across mobile devices and far more affordable than they used to be.
Outdated technologies and workstations limit your business’s progress, and are a hindrance to developing clued-up, efficient employees. Aging phone systems and slow networks can frustrate your team and bring productivity to a standstill. So it’s important to take the time to assess your current workstations, applications, hardware, and tools. This doesn’t mean that you have to buy a set of entirely new workstations. But you should replace obsolete equipment with more up-to-date machines. In addition, make sure all software and applications are up-to-date to ensure maximum efficiency and employee satisfaction.
Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) is business process management software that allows organisations to automate processes and centralise data in order for employees to collaborate more efficiently. ERP software provides employees with up-to-date business information that they can easily access and make use of. What’s more, ERP also eliminates redundant data entry and reduces the number of spreadsheets that are used to record critical business data, by storing information in a centralised database.
To get the maximum return on your technology investment, it’s also important to partner with a knowledgeable and reliable service provider. Get in touch with our tech experts today to find out how we can implement technology to help your employees become more efficient and productive.