5 ways to improve your workplace productivity issues

Author Lee Stevens Lee’s sessions Office 365 User Adoption – 5 Simple Steps that will send your Users into Orbit! and Microsoft Teams Deep Dive – 29 Practical Tips and Tricks

Increasing workplace productivity should be a key objective for any Senior Executive at a large organisation, so why are so few succeeding?
When I arrived in New Zealand in 2014 New Zealand’s poor productivity was in the news every other month.
5 Years later, it still is.
The OECD citing our small population, lack of internal competition and lack of investment in technology as possible reasons.
So, what can we do about this?
Here is my personal take on how we can start improving Workplace Productivity.

#1 Make workplace productivity a priority

In a survey Brighter Days conducted last year, we established that an average 50-person business will be losing $200,000 a year in unproductive time.
Despite this, workplace productivity projects such as Intranets, Team Collaboration and Project Management are always #3 or #4 on a large organisation ‘to do’ list, if at all.
There is always a CRM / ERP / Core HR system upgrade as #1 priority.
There always will be.
However, In NZ this seems to mean that anything else simply can’t happen.
In other large OECD countries, like the UK, Business improvement teams sit alongside ERP and large Programme teams.  There is a common understanding that they need each other.
If anything, tools like Office 365 and Microsoft Teams can help with these large programmes with their communications and collaboration.

#2 Assign an adequate budget for workplace productivity improvement

Related to #1. Most CIO’s will tell you that they are underfunded under-resourced and have no bandwidth to work on projects that are not core systems.
They are often right and in many cases, I am stunned at what they are able to achieve with such limited resources.
The main thing to note here is that the cost of implementing productivity tools is probably 75% of what it was 5 years ago, so a lot can be achieved on even a reasonable budget these days.

#3 Employ ‘agents of change’ not stereotypical IT people

We really really need to start giving people reasons to not think that IT is like the ‘IT Crowd’ character ‘Richmond’ who is only allowed out of his room every so often.
In New Zealand, the perception is that we have an abundance of ‘traditional’ IT people who busy their selves on managing networks, systems and other ‘IT stuff’ that no one really understands and isn’t adding value to the average employees working lives.
Perception can be reality sometimes.
On the flipside, there is a drastic shortage of IT talent (nationally) that can both understand technical matters AND effectively marry this up to what the business is asking for.
In larger OECD countries, the ‘Business Partner’ role (one that sites in between IT and the business) has been established for well over a decade.
I like what these roles do as they provide an important link between IT and Shared Services like HR, Finance and IT.
Expect to see more larger NZ organisations establishing similar functions, if they have not done so already.

#4 Give HR the tools to really drive employee engagement

When working in London, HR Directors would always be highly visible, highly respected and typically in a CEO’s inner circle.
In New Zealand, 5 years ago, it seemed like HR was ‘Tracey from accounts who manages payroll and contracts’. (Apologies to any Tracey’s!)
This is an area I have definitely seen a dramatic improvement in recent years.
HR teams have become ‘People and Capability’ and many organisations are hiring business-savvy HR Directors whose primary goals are not only attracting and retaining but also engaging the talent they have.  Organisations like Virgin in the UK have recognised that the way they engage their staff needed to change.
To engage you need the correct tools. Having an effective Intranet that promotes two-way communication will be a necessity these days rather than a nice to have.

#5 Leverage your existing Office 365 Investment

If you are paying for Office 365 already, there is a good chance that you are also paying for tools that you are not using.
An Office 365 E3 licence, which is what most organisations pay for but probably only uses a fraction of its features.
Tools like SharePoint Online and Microsoft Teams provide a real opportunity to improve Workplace Productivity in timeframes and budgets that we could only have dreamed of 5 years ago.