Everyone has the best of intentions when they come into the office. They’re going to get a lot done today and stay on task. But John in marketing needs to talk to Yasmeen in purchasing about the product he’s about to advertise. He needs to know if it came in and how much is on hand. They start talking, and soon the conversation drifts into their upcoming weekend plans and shared interest in basketball.
Then the network unexpectedly goes down. No one can get to their documents, and the IT person is still en route to the office. It takes a few hours to identify the problem and restore connectivity. Your staff then feel pressured the rest of the day, trying to make up for the lost time.
Maximizing your office’s productivity and efficiency sometimes means planning for worst-case scenarios and having workarounds in place for technical glitches. However, achieving higher output levels also involves using tech to give employees the tools they need to collaborate. With the right technology, you can improve processes and/or fix common hiccups before they become major deterrents to productivity. Below are three office tech tools you may not have thought of.
1. Intelligent Wi-Fi Solutions
Your office’s Wi-Fi can be much more than a simple way to get online. Your business might only have employees who use it or both visitors and workers who need network access. Either way, intelligent small business Wi-Fi solutions like Plume Workpass can turn your network connection into a suite of services. This includes the ability to monitor your Wi-Fi’s performance and perform remote equipment updates.
Other features of intelligent Wi-Fi solutions include employee productivity tools, network security protection, motion detection, and guest analytics. While it’s expected that staff will bring their own devices to the office, you don’t have to let them connect. The more devices you have on the network at once, the less bandwidth you’ll have for running what’s most important.
With an intelligent solution, you can either restrict BYOD devices from connecting or limit the sites those devices can access. While employees are in the office, their smartphones can connect to Wi-Fi to extend battery life. However, those devices can’t get to social media sites unless that responsibility is in the employee’s job description.
Setting up network profiles for each staff member will also let you see who’s at the office. You’ll know when they arrive and leave, which can help you manage staffing levels for hourly workers. With built-in analytics, you can match trends in employees’ schedules with business needs, including visitor volume.
If you decide to let staff have unrestricted network access, an intelligent solution will allow you to see how they’re spending their time. You could end up setting new policies or access levels based on productivity trends. You can also identify situations and behaviors you might need to address with individual employees.
2. Collaboration Software
You may have heard of project management or communication software, but some of these apps have become full collaborative solutions. Applications like Microsoft Teams or Slack combine project management, digital communication, and videoconferencing into a single platform. Projects that require the input of multiple departments or individuals can become visible to everyone involved.
For a new product launch, purchasing can communicate when manufactured items are expected to arrive and how many will be in stock. They can update inventory numbers over time and inform other departments of shipment delays. At the same time, departments like sales and marketing can indicate when they’ve performed crucial tasks or completed important milestones. Everyone will be on the same page, whether they’re working in the office or remotely.
The project management and communication components of collaboration apps let you set up multiple projects and project teams. Within each project, you can designate different stages with smaller tasks. You can then assign those tasks to the appropriate employee. If departments need to share information or documents, they can upload them right into the application. They can also initiate instant messages and video calls to discuss and clarify tasks before completing them.
Employees can keep a project moving by seeing its progress and getting the information they need. Marketing won’t have to wait for details from subject matter experts or arrange a time to meet in person. Staff members who are traveling can share documents, provide insights or feedback, and communicate without causing delays. The same applies to teams who work hybrid work schedules or in different buildings.
Project delays are common, with research showing that only around 50% of projects worldwide can expect to be completed on time. Ineffective project management is one of the reasons why they can get off track. This includes confusion among staff about responsibilities and the interdependence that often exists between tasks. Failure to report and measure the project’s progress also falls under ineffective management. Collaboration software can help your team address and avoid these roadblocks.
3. Workflow Automation Tools
On average, employees remain productive for about three hours each day. This isn’t because they’re not spending time in the office. It’s largely due to the fact that most individuals can only focus on one task in 20-minute intervals. Automating repetitive and common tasks is a way around this. With workflow automation tools like Zapier, your staff can leverage those 20-minute intervals to focus on strategic initiatives and ideas.
Workflow automation tools allow your employees to set up commands that work across several applications. You can create a workflow that automatically copies email attachments to cloud-based storage folders and alerts you about the attachments. This way, you won’t have to spend time sorting through emails and saving documents to safe locations. Once you receive the alerts, you can go directly to the cloud to review the information and respond to the sender.
Team members can also configure different workflows according to their job responsibilities. After a prospect fills out a contact form on your website, the workflow can send an alert to the appropriate sales rep. Simultaneously, the automation software can trigger a confirmation email that goes to that lead. The workflow could even enter the person’s information as a contact into your CRM database. The rep can get back to the lead faster and concentrate on closing the sale.
Higher levels of productivity can make your office more efficient by increasing the number of finished tasks. However, sometimes efficiency is not so much about how many duties get done. Instead, it’s about which tasks and responsibilities employees can see through to completion. Technology like intelligent Wi-Fi solutions, collaboration software, and workflow automation tools can direct your office’s human resources to what matters.
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