There are a lot of productivity software out there right now, and choosing the right one for your organization can be a daunting task. It is easy to just download (or worse – purchase) all the apps on the market without really understanding how they can be used to increase productivity.
The truth is, high-tech solutions only help us become efficient if we understand what they are meant to achieve. The point of these productivity apps is to augment your organization’s existing capabilities. They won’t magically increase your productivity just because you use them.
Let’s start with the basics – what is productivity?
Simply put, productivity is the amount of output for a given amount of time. Increasing productivity is then a matter of (1) increasing output, (2) lessening the amount of time, or (3) a combination of both.
That being said, here are three things to consider before diving into the world of productivity apps. These basic concepts will help you understand what exactly impacts productivity, and how some simple tweaks produce the biggest results in improving work performance.
Hopefully, these concepts will help you decide what productivity software works best for your company.
1. Acknowledge a manager’s impact
A huge driver of productivity in an organization is, obviously, the leader. Regardless of the size of the business, the leader sets the pace of work and ensures that everyone is performing as they should.
It’s easy to forget the impact of a manager on the productivity of an organization. Research shows that a good manager can increase the productivity of their staff up to 10% – all this, just by having the right and effective managerial style.
Acknowledge this when trying to improve productivity using technology. Managers are the main people that should be concerned with increasing their team’s productivity, so you should outfit them with tools that are in line with how they want to run their department.
Maybe you are the manager, or the owner of a small business, with just a handful of staff – understand, then, that you have the power to influence your people and keep their productivity levels high. It is then your responsibility to ensure that you are comfortable with the tools that you are using before you start implementing them for your team.
Once you’ve figured out the app that you want to use for your team, make sure that the workflow that you establish is simple and easy, but not to the point that it encourages “busywork” (i.e. work that keeps people busy but have very little value).
For example, the amount of time an employee spends inside the office is irrelevant – what matters is that this time is translated into meaningful work. So if you’re using a time-tracking app, for example, track how much time they spend on their work, but consider the quality of the work that they create.
2. Take care of your employees
A happy employee is a productive employee. Making sure that your employees feel that they are cared for is an essential first step in increasing productivity for your organization.
Remember to give incentives for good work. With productivity tools at your disposal, you can actually track their progress with their respective responsibilities, so you have all the data you need in order to support why they deserve that bonus (or even pay raise).
Make sure that you fix your work environment to cater to the needs of your employees. This includes your actual office and the productivity software that you use. Maybe that complicated collaboration tool that you’re making them use is not what they really need – in that case, maybe it’s best to stick with just email threads.
That being said, if collaboration really is important for your team, and it’s good for everyone to see what everyone else is doing, make sure that they know how to use the software that you give them. Give them enough training on how to use the software, and encourage them to ask questions. That way, they’ll get the most out of the software, and you get the most out of your investment.
3. The point being – communicate meaning
All the fancy productivity apps will be irrelevant if you forget one simple thing that you need to ensure that your employees know: the “meaning”, or the point of what they are doing.
One of the major things that cause disillusionment for an employee is thinking that the work that they are doing is irrelevant. That they are just a cog in the machine, and they don’t know what the point of the machine is. Disillusioned employees become demotivated employees, and this leads to procrastination and low productivity.
Make sure that your team is clear about the meaning of the task at hand, and its impact on the overall objective. Let them know why exactly their work matters and increased productivity will definitely follow.
This is directly related to making sure that the purpose of each productivity application you implement is clearly communicated to your employees.
For example, the purpose of implementing a time tracking application is not to police, restrict, and penalize an employee for not doing their job – the point is to use time tracking to figure out gaps in their workflow, and recommend improvements to make their job faster and easier.
Another good example is the purpose of collaboration apps – they are meant to streamline collaboration, not to simply keep tabs on what everyone is doing. These apps work because they provide a quick and easy platform for communication and exchange of ideas, which minimizes delays in the exchange of information and redundancies in the work that everyone is doing.
It is always good to understand what the impact of your work is on the bigger picture. Everyone should feel motivated if they feel that what they are doing matters. The bottom line is, productivity apps are just tools to ensure that everyone is well equipped to achieve their goals, for the betterment of everyone in the organization.
Hopefully, these three basic things help you figure out what the best productivity tools are for your organization. Remember, technology is there to help you. The point of these productivity tools is to augment the existing capabilities of your organization, so make sure that the basics are in place.
Empower yourself and your managers to better lead your people. Take care of your employees and equip them with the tools to help them with their work. Ensure that everyone is on the same page with their work, and clear with just how much being personally productive contributes to the greater good.
These basic things go a long way in increasing productivity in the workplace, and helping you and your organization succeed.
Editor’s Note: This was a guest post by Arthur, one of the recent additions to PL. Arthur is a productivity coach who helps entrepreneurs achieve massive results without giving up their lives. His favorite tool is daily planner.