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How organisations can keep productivity thriving

(Image credit: Image Credit: Andrey_Popov / Shutterstock)

According to the Office of National Statistics, in the UK productivity is still continuing to fall. When it comes to running a business, productivity is the key to success. However, it can sometimes be tough to remain productive, particularly when it comes to encouraging employees. With this in mind, this article shares some advice, tips and comments from leading IT experts, on how businesses can best keep up productivity levels on a day to day basis.

Rich Pugh, co-founder and chief data scientist at Mango Solutions

“Boosting productivity is one of the biggest challenges in the modern enterprise and, although data can help, many companies have so much data, that some of it is falling between the cracks and taking valuable insights with it.  With sensible planning, however, data science initiatives can help companies save money and gain competitive edge by accurately predicting future behaviour rather than guessing at it. Advanced analytics-based solutions have actually changed how forward-thinking employers manage their workforces to help them become more productive.

“Examples of such solutions include real-time analytics which make use of historical data as well as proactively generating insights alongside action that can support business productivity “on the fly” by creating possible upsell opportunities based on contextualised profile information.  Analysis of work patterns and productivity can also improve performance by analysing, for example, whether employees are more productive when working from home or in the office and appropriate policies can be put in place in order to exploit this insight.  Finally, when hiring and developing talent, data-driven organisations are turning to algorithms to help predict the engagement of potential employees in order to produce optimal performance and, once hired, ensuring that the right training methods are being used for the right employees for the same reason.”

Richard Buxton, Head of Collaboration at Node4

“Employees being able to communicate effectively is critical for pretty much every business. Because of this, deploying unified communications (UC) tools is becoming increasingly important. By bringing together voice, messaging, web and video conferencing, and presence information, UC encourages employee engagement and allows staff to collaborate more efficiently.

“Waiting for a colleague to reply over email can often take some time, whereas with instant messaging, responses are likely to be more immediate. By utilising UC, users can move seamlessly from an email conversation to a video call, for a faster decision-making process. This increase of productivity leads to innovation, and creates a competitive advantage through knowledge, good practice, and information sharing.”

Krishna Subramanian, COO at Komprise

“Being productive at work can sometimes be a challenge, particularly if your data is a hindrance instead of a help. Finding relevant data is one of the biggest challenges that businesses face in today’s data-driven world, so having a data management solution that can sift through all of your company's unstructured data, to analyse it and provide detailed insights is crucial. With this type of data management software, IT teams are provided with visibility into all of their data regardless of where it’s stored and can see whether it is ‘hot’ or ‘cold’. A solution that can also, if desired, move cold data to off-site storage either in a data centre or in the cloud enables IT teams to not only manage data growth efficiently but also see all of the active data clearly in front of them.  Indexing and analytics on the unstructured data enables both business users and IT to search and find what they need easily - no matter where the data actually lives.

“With effective data management solutions in place, your data becomes more useful – being able to see the most valuable data helps employees to increase their productivity and thereby deliver better results to customers.”

Jude Mott, Product Director – UC at Six Degrees

“The case for the four day working week gained further momentum earlier this year, as a New Zealand firm's pilot scheme resulted in staff being happier and 20 per cent more productive. World Productivity Day highlights how lines continue to blur between work and home life, and provides the opportunity for both employers and employees to reflect on how better productivity is intrinsically linked with a good work-life balance.

“Part of the solution to achieving a good work-life balance lies in the flexible, efficient working enabled by an agile workspace. But enabling an agile workspace means more than just giving users laptops and sending them off into the world; it’s important to think about what a truly agile workspace can mean to your organisation, your users and your clients.

“At Six Degrees, we believe that the agile workspace represents the future of work. Delivering users the same experience wherever they are is great, but it fails to address a key aspect of our working lives today: that we have different techradar pro working needs at different times.

“Simply grabbing a laptop and smartphone and ‘getting on with it’ is not enough: to deliver effectively, it’s essential to equip yourself with tools that empower you to work efficiently and appropriately, anywhere.

“The latest communication and collaboration technology allows users to work in a manner that’s most appropriate to their immediate requirements. It empowers users by recognising that they need time to communicate and collaborate, but they also need time to concentrate and contemplate.

“The way we work is evolving at an unprecedented rate. Adopting an agile workspace will help you improve employee wellbeing whilst meeting today’s complex organisational challenges head on, driving competitive advantages and empowering you to achieve your organisation’s strategic goals.”

Kleopatra Kivrakidou, Marketing Manager EMEA at Ergotron

“We’ve all heard of books like The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People and How to Get Things Done but sometimes it doesn’t need to be that complicated… Simply ensuring your employees have a regular allocation of breaks and the opportunity to work in a healing, ‘recimercial’ working space where office solutions can be tailored to their needs can actually make a huge difference to productivity.

“People are progressively in need to take back charge of their health and wellbeing. They are not designed to remain static for the entirety of their working day. Standing up every now and again at work not only gives you a chance to stretch your legs and have a change of scene, it has benefits for your mental health too. If your workforce is happy and healthy there’s a much greater chance of higher productivity levels.”   

Aad Dekkers, EMEA Marketing Director at Scale Computing

“Two things often combine to challenge the productivity of IT teams: lack of time and lack of resources. But the job of technology is to automate human tasks and free up the time of IT experts to do something more strategic and impactful for the organisation.

“Typically, there was a line in the sand where automation stopped and IT teams had to take over to keep systems up and running, which meant that priorities would have to constantly change and, as a result, productivity would suffer. But now, with the emergence of high performance, converged technologies that simplify IT infrastructure and are able to detect and self-heal problems, we have the capability to shift productivity of IT teams for the better.

“Automation covers everything from the mundane to the complex, and technology leaders that build proven, automated and hyper converged technologies into their strategy will see a ‘productivity dividend’ for their teams and business as a whole.”

Steve Blow, Tech Evangelist at Zerto

“Business leaders know that productivity is the key to success, but it can be a struggle to keep  employees  productive. When it comes to the IT team specifically, there are many obstacles that may actually be standing in the way of the team’s productivity. It may sound antithetical, but technology can sometimes be a hinderance. One example of this is backup.

“We know how important backup is – it’s been ingrained into us all – but the importance of it doesn’t mean  continually performing backups isn’t  tedious and time-consuming. So, to ensure productivity when it comes to backing up a business’s data, the key is having one platform that makes data available when it’s needed and where it’s needed. You need a solution that is continuously protecting data, making it easily searchable for long periods of time and ultimately, preventing lasting damage from any data breach you may suffer.

“If IT teams can eliminate periodic “snapshot” backup that puts organisations at risk of downtime with the potential of losing hours of data changes or bounce back from an attack or outage of some kind with the mere touch of a button, the team can use their time saved to be productive in other, more efficient ways. Productivity may be the key to success, but IT resilience could be the key to productivity.”

 Sascha Giese, Head Geek at SolarWinds

“The public sector is the foundation of the U.K.—it provides services that every citizen relies on, from educating the young to caring for the old, and everything in between. Employees working in this sector are crucial to enabling these services to run smoothly and their dependence on technology continues to grow. However, technology should be empowering, not a hindrance to productive and efficient work. This is particularly true of the IT teams who support the rest of the organisation with technology—if their productivity is impacted, it has a ripple effect across the workforce. Automation of management and monitoring tasks can reduce the amount of time that IT teams spend on mundane tasks, freeing them up to focus on more critical work that supports our country and will raise productivity levels. By investing in the best technology for your employees, you’re investing in the best technology for your organisation’s future.”

Richard Hamaker, HR Business Partner at Leaseweb Global B.V

“One of Leaseweb’s core values is ‘get things done’, which we strive to achieve with the Eisenhower Matrix in mind. It’s a principle that was created by President Dwight D. Eisenhower decades ago, when as a general fighting in World War II, he didn’t react on small setbacks, choosing to prioritise by urgency and importance.

“There’s certainly something to be said for applying lessons learned in times of extreme crisis to the everyday. The important things must be done first, because it’s these that count in the long-term. Equally as productive is sorting out less urgent and important tasks, which should either be delegated, or not undertaken at all.

“World Productivity Day is a great opportunity to stop and think about doing what’s important and impactful, both for ourselves and our customers.”

Naaman Hart, Cloud Services Security Architect at Digital Guardian

“Without productivity you have decay or stagnation and ultimately a failing business.  Remaining consistently productive is the only way for a business to grow, and when they do, employees grow with them.  Ultimately everyone wants to work for a thriving business that offers them opportunity to grow.  Without this growth the best and brightest will leave as their opportunities are diminished by staying.

“Another key to productivity is motivation, and leaders can have a great impact an employee’s motivation level by leading by example and by providing a positive work environment. The best leaders I’ve had in my career were open and honest and they felt approachable even without them saying they had an ‘open door policy’.  This gave rise to a blame-less culture that allowed people to flex and grow within their roles, being less constrained by rigidly following guidelines.  Ultimately motivation is born of enthusiasm in ones work and being able to impact your own work with fresh ideas greatly improves this.”

Stephen Moore, Chief Security Strategist at Exabeam

"Both unknowingly compromised individuals and malicious insiders exfiltrating sensitive data can be identified with the right security team and tools – but many companies lack both. Exabeam’s State of the Security Operations Centre (SOC) report revealed three key issues: too many alerts, a shortage of talent and a lack of current technology.

“Security analysts have alert fatigue, which is not only overwhelming them, but causing them to miss what is important. Fatigue leads to lack of prioritisation, which is a muddled mess that then leads to never running down one thing completely. You’re just halfway done with lots of things. Plus, many survey respondents said the people they work with aren’t qualified enough. It’s not the fact that there’s an empty seat but that the person in the seat is not experienced enough to do the job right. Plus, a lot of security technology used in the SOC has aged to the point where it is ineffective.

“It’s the perfect storm that has arrived on our doorsteps. Security teams need to do fewer things better--including paying attention to fewer alerts and identifying current tech deficiencies. They should consider investing in systems that accelerate and automate the manual responses performed during a breach investigation. This is the best example of when completeness matters – and then benefit from this efficiency for each incident, making them muscle memory.”

Steve Wainwright, Managing Director EMEA at Skillsoft

“Work/life balance can be a tricky issue, especially for today’s mobile, always ‘on’ workforce.  In the digital world, modern workers are time-pressed and distracted, meaning that classroom-based learning and away days have long since lost their relevance.  Modern workers need learning and development tools that meet the demands of the modern workplace, as well as the instant, curated content delivery expectations set by social media and entertainment platforms like Netflix.

“Forward thinking organisations are turning to intelligent eLearning solutions that provide employees with engaging, multi-modal content and tailored learning paths.  This approach can meet each individual’s learning requirements and encourages people to fit learning into their working day when and where they can.  Employees can decide when they learn, where they learn, and how they learn (choosing from eBooks, quizzes, or videos).”

Mike Schuricht, VP Product Management at Bitglass

“The pace at which businesses operate today means supporting productivity has never been more important. One way of fostering productivity is through BYOD policies to offer employees a more flexible working regime. In fact, a report by Frost and Sullivan found that using portable devices for work tasks saves employees 58 minutes per day while increasing productivity by 34 per cent. And it looks like businesses are taking note - a recent Bitglass report found that more than 75 per cent of organisations are embracing BYOD, making it available to employees.

“However, organisations should also be sure to embrace and address the security risks associated with having so many vulnerable endpoints connecting to the cloud and corporate network. The best approach here is to focus on the data, rather than the device. This approach will help to sidestep the major privacy and logistical issues associated with more invasive, device-based security tools, like Mobile Device Management (MDM) or Mobile Application Management (MAM) and lead to a win-win for organisations and employees.”

Hubert da Costa, SVP and GM EMEA at Cybera

“What defines productivity will differ from one business to the next.  Regardless of how it is defined, productivity is important because the output is likely to be the provision of more goods or the delivery of an enhanced customer experience – both of which should translate to increased sales, and ideally higher profits.  As more and more companies embark on their digital transformation journeys, choosing the right technology partnerships to help navigate the route can be the difference between success and failure. In an increasingly application-driven and cloud-based economy, companies should look to leverage technology and services that let them focus on the productivity element of their day to day – however that’s defined in their individual business-case.”

Brett Cheloff VP of ConnectWise Automate

"Be honest. Do you ever feel more of your time at work is spent jumping through the hoops of process than actually getting something accomplished? Never has there been a time when our work lives have been supported by such an impressive amount of technology. So getting things done should be a breeze, right?

“The truth is, the more IT innovations are put in place to increase user productivity, the more complex tasks all of us are expected to do in greater detail and in on-demand real time. For most tasks within an organisation, there’s an associated process, many of which require access to the right IT application. Any delay or complication with that access creates an interruption in workflow. Add up a few of those circumstances each day and the sum can be a frustrating level of unproductivity.

“The antidote for all this ‘hoop-jumping’ is business process automation, simplifying IT deployment, configuration and access. But a word of caution—you can’t just throw any automation at the problem and hope for the best."

IT Experts