Hindrance or a help? What’s your take on productivity tools?
When I speak with business leaders looking to modernise their companies, upgrades to productivity stacks rarely rank high on the priority list. Most just merely renew their contracts to be on the latest version and move on.
However, given the impact that these technologies have on how much people and teams can accomplish, I am often surprised by how few businesses evaluate what they actually need from these tools.
When it comes to defining those needs, time efficiency is obviously a key part of any productivity suite—but what if I told you that an emphasis on productivity can also raise your bottom dollar? In a 2019 study
examining the economic impact of adopting one such modern productivity toolkit and cloud-native platform for work (G Suite), Forrester researchers found that businesses who provide employees with next-generation collaboration tools are able to tackle the emerging challenges of the modern business. Bottom-line profits also increased by US$12.9 million.
In an era of organisational change, it is important to think about the dollar value of collaboration and ask some bigger questions.
First: Do your Productivity Tools Play a Part in Fostering Collaboration?
Simply put, the technology you choose moulds the behaviour of your team. If your technology’s default steers users to save team assets to “My Documents” instead of a shared location, that stops the flow of information. If you revert to E-mail to solve problems, instead of face-to-face in video conferencing, you risk losing valuable time in convoluted threads. If you attach a file, only to have a colleague follow up with an E-mail that attaches a different version, you’re inadvertently turning cooperation into competition. These seemingly minor actions affect how (and whether) people communicate with one another.
On the other hand, cloud-native productivity tools are designed to foster open collaboration from the very start. Because such tools are configured out of box to discourage version confusion and productivity killers such as the "save to my documents" dilemma, businesses that utilise these tools are more likely to get things done. Over a period of three years, for example, G Suite customers saved over five million hours of lost work and gained over one million hours of increased productivity. 1
Next: Are Your Productivity Tools Enforcing a Pattern of Unproductivity?
One of the biggest pitfalls of traditional productivity software is that it trains you to feel like everything you create should be final. There’s a false sense of permanency when you send an E-mail with an attachment, like there’s no room for error or edits. Instead, to avoid criticism, people wait to share information until it’s in a perfect state and this slows down work.
The most valuable input you can receive on a project is feedback related to the core idea—before you ever get started on execution. But such polished presentation of information gives people the idea that the core idea has been finalised, leaving them to only comment on the periphery. If you wait to get input on a proposal, only to learn that the strategy was faulty to begin with, what was the point?
There is a time and place to present polished work. However, make sure your productivity technology encourages early-stage collaboration, so that you engage colleagues from the get-go and get to the best possible ideas.
Finally: Do your Tools Maximise Protection Against Cybersecurity Threats?
No matter how productive software can make a team, it is critical that at its core, it keeps data secure.
Modern productivity tools incorporate security features that are designed to empower IT administrators and protect employees from spam, malware, and phishing attacks. By being cloud-native, users are automatically on the latest, most secure version without any updates, installs, or downtime needed.
This not only ensures a secure environment for storing confidential data; built-in security features also generate security savings. These include the reduced risk and costs of data breaches and incident remediation costs from E-mail malware and exploits that could accumulate up to US$7.6 million in security savings. 2
Don’t Sell yourself Short.
When it comes to collaboration, technology can subtly encourage positive—or not-so positive—behaviour. Good productivity technology should encourage you to approach work as if it belongs to the group, not the individual. It motivates you to share your work early and often (even if it’s not perfect), so that you can get help from peers. And it offers flexibility, you can work the way you and your team prefer.
1 A Forrester Total Economic Impact™ Study Commissioned By Google, page 11.
2 A Forrester Total Economic Impact™ Study Commissioned By Google, page 14-16
Diane Chaleff works for Google Cloud’s Office of the CTO. Passionate about technology's potential to get work done rather than hinder it, Diane strives to help people find the tools they need to advance their business in a flexible and secure way. She meets regularly with CxOs, recognising that how we get work done isn't a one-size-fits-all solution.
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