For years, the subject of productivity has mystified businesses large and small.
Why is one employee more productive than another?
What conditions must a business meet in order to maximise productivity?
How can productivity be measured?
Today, we know there is a strong link between employee experience (EX) and productivity. Forrester explores this at length in their 2020 paper, ‘The Employee Experience Playbook’. In its own words, “The time has come for businesses to retire ineffective EX practices and develop EX programs that attract, retain, and cultivate the modern worker.” What is Forrester describing when it refers to retaining and cultivating the modern worker, if not creating an environment that “put[s] employees in the best position possible to drive business results”Just as many businesses were getting to grips with creating such an environment, the global pandemic came and fundamentally shifted the way we all work. Initiatives designed to boost EX, and productivity along with it, found the EX on which they were based changed almost overnight.
In our new, remote working age, what does EX look like now? How can businesses pivot EX strategies to reflect these changes? And which technologies can they implement to help?
The shift to remote working has challenged companies’ existing EX initiatives, but it has also created new potential opportunities for businesses to unlock and maximise productivity.
We cannot have a meaningful conversation about productivity without examining EX, and the challenge surrounding EX is greater when a company’s employees are not all working from one location. (Not familiar with the term ‘employee experience’? Learn more about it here.) For one, an office-based team is easier to manage. Two, the team feels closer together because in very real terms, it is. And three, an office environment can be tailored to suit the needs of the team, leading to an optimal working environment. All individual components of productivity themselves, these factors compound to inform EX.
Remote working challenges many of these factors directly. A remote employee can be more difficult to manage because the manager is not around them every day. The team is not physically close together, making communication more challenging. This is as applicable to work-based collaboration as it is more personal communication between colleagues. According to global analytics and advice firm Gallup, a KPI for employee engagement includes a high score on ‘having a best friend at work’. Yet relationships require more effort to maintain remotely.
"In a recent survey, Gallup reports that remote workers “feel more worry, sadness, stress, loneliness and anxiety than in-house workers do”.
When working from home, each employee’s ‘working environment’ is different. Some members of a team will be well set-up to work remotely. Others may lack the space or the hardware they need to work productively. As a result, every business will find their team’s productivity challenged in different ways. Fortunately, not all of this is negative. Research also suggests that under the right circumstances, remote workers can actually have higher productivity.
Ways technology can boost business productivity
Providing staff with the technology they need to communicate and collaborate more effectively positions businesses to drive up productivity. It achieves this by improving EX and enabling employees to work better together, whether they work remotely, on-site or both.
By allowing people to work more flexibly, either as a group or individually, from anywhere at any time, businesses can minimise wasted time and significantly improve business performance. One of the reasons this is so effective is because it provides employees with the same level of communication they are accustomed to in their personal lives. If a person is too busy to take a personal call, they will often send a quick message to apologise and confirm they will call back later. With UC&C, it is now easy to replicate that in the business environment using instant messaging, improving relationships and boosting productivity.Take Mitel, for example, a global market-leader in the field of UC&C technology. With Mitel cloud solutions enabling employees to work together from anywhere, at any time, there is less dependency on the office environment. Whether staff are working from home while handling childcare or on the train to a meeting, they can still connect with their colleagues.
“Higher employee engagement led to better store performance for Best Buy. For every percentage point improvement, individual stores saw a $100,000 increase in annual income.”
Your guide to solving the productivity puzzle
Just as productivity is a complex puzzle made up of multiple business levers, UC&C is not a single service but a set of integrated services that enable your staff to communicate and collaborate more efficiently.
Real-time unified communication tools such as instant messaging, presence information, video conferencing, call control and speech recognition can be integrated with voicemail, email and SMS. This adds value by unlocking a wide range of benefits with applications that extend beyond productivity into the realms of resilience, agility and more.