Ever since Neanderthal man found that sharpened rocks helped to cut through the tough meat from the latest kill, mankind has sought to find ways to ease tasks, either with methodology or with tools. With all the will you can muster, and with the best intentions you can find, you cannot reach your maximum productivity without the correct tools and the skills to use them.
Our number one tip is to find the right software to fit your tasks, rather than trying to fit your tasks into your existing software. For example, whilst Microsoft Office can create PDFs, if your business uses PDFs regularly then you should consider using a PDF editor. Similarly, while it is tempting to try and manage your accounts through Microsoft Excel, you would be better served by investing in a specialist accounting program.
Time saved that would have been spent trying to fit square pegs into round holes can instead be spent on using the correct software tools to enhance your business.
You should also think about the hardware that your business uses. For instance, you may be able to get a good deal on a suite of desktop PCs, but if your workforce is required to be mobile, this would be a false economy. If you have a sales team, think about equipping them with laptops, tablets or smartphones for working on the go. These are more convenient than pen and paper in many circumstances.
Although the initial layout for new hardware can seem prohibitive, it is likely that you will recoup expenditure through cost savings in the form of man hours sooner than you think.
You won’t get the best out of your new software and hardware unless you and your staff are able to use them correctly. Rather than relying on the ‘Chinese whispers’ method of cascading training through your staff, you should look for specific training courses and qualifications that your workforce can take to enable them to use the technology reliably.
Office ergonomics relates to both the layout of the office and the equipment (think chairs, desks etc.) that is contained within. Studies have repeatedly shown that understanding and implementing ergonomic practice within the workplace can measurably enhance productivity.
The effect is twofold; first, if the office is correctly laid out, staff will be able to move through the workspace efficiently and complete tasks economically. Secondly, incorrect use of equipment and workspace can lead to staff injuries, such as bad backs, thus increasing the amount of time they are away from work or understandably decreasing their motivation!
An engaged workforce is a motivated workforce and a motivated workforce is a productive workforce. When an employee is engaged with the goals of the business they are more likely to be able to work on initiative, work autonomously and complete tasks with desirable efficiency.
You can achieve employee engagement by educating your staff on your business plan, explaining their role and importance to the company and by rewarding staff with credit for good work.
Guest Blog: Simon Crowfoot is one of the managing directors of Iceni Technology, a leading software development company based in Norwich. Simon studied at Loughborough University and in his spare time likes playing on Angry Birds.