— July 30, 2019
Those of us that have stepped foot in any number of offices over the past ten years realize that the open office concept is not a passing fad. In fact, nearly a third of knowledge workers report working in an open office. Some experts argue the open office was designed to increase employee collaboration and some say it was merely a way to decrease office size and spending. Regardless, its affects have been widely felt.
Contrary to one of the aforementioned reasons, it has been reported that open offices have actually weakened employee collaboration and harmed productivity; a study from Harvard Business School found that employees spent 73 percent less time interacting in-person in open-plan offices and email use increased 67 percent. As these realizations come to light, management is racing to find new solutions within the confines of an open office.
Not surprising, technology is predicted to play a major role in boosting productivity. According to a survey of C-suite executives, 49 percent of business leaders believe digital will have the most impact on knowledge worker productivity. While many of us would agree with that point, the big question is how do we implement technology successfully? And where should we invest?
Consider Employee Behavior
Not every solution will be right for your unique group of employees. Talk to employees and think about what they really need to successfully perform. Let that guide your research and investments. Do you have a large number of employees that travel and could benefit from more unified communication and project management tools? Or, are employees conducting lots of research, and would a tool that compiles and analyzes that research and data help them save time? Always consider who will the technology impact and how will it help.
Data and Analytics
The deeper we get in analytics, the more value we’re finding for everyday business processes. So much so that 25 percent of US C-suite executives identified data and analytics as the biggest driver of productivity among knowledge workers in the next three to five years. From analyzing how much time employees spend on tasks to evaluating office space is used by leveraging data captured in communication and video technology, employers can make data-fuelled decisions.
I cannot stress enough the importance of training for new digital services and hardware. You can likely think of at least one solution that was introduced within your company in the last year that goes completely unused – probably because employees weren’t properly trained. While there can be a rush mentality when it comes to technology onboarding, adequate time for training ensures the investment is not wasted.
A strong business leader is always looking for solutions and guiding the company towards growth. If your office is experiencing productivity obstacles due to an open plan format, don’t accept that as the status quo. There are lots of technology resources that go beyond office design to help improve employee productivity. Start a task force to research options, invest where you can, prioritize training and adoption, and you’ll see the productivity rewards.