Though we’re living in a digital world, our offices are surprisingly analog

Here's how to bring your office up to pace with the digital world

14Aug

Technology shouldn’t “just work;” it should make life easier. Otherwise, what’s the point? And it’s this question that businesses often forget to ask themselves in regard to tech.

Too often, companies are slow to respond to changes in technology and the implications of this can be damaging. For one, outdated or cobbled together tech isn’t doing much to help staff members save time and effort; in fact, it could be harming their productivity. Even a small glitch in your system can interrupt workflow. And if it’s happening consistently throughout the day, just imagine how much time is lost.

Failure to launch

For many companies, outdated technology is just the result of the business itself — you can get so focused on the day-to-day operations that you lose sight of the resources available to make things run that much smoother.

It can also be a case of not knowing what you don’t know. A small business, for instance, won’t necessarily have a dedicated IT department to keep tabs on advances in technology, so it doesn’t realize how old technology slows the business down and can cause the entire ship to fall behind, if not capsize.

This isn’t to say a business can’t exist without technology. There was certainly commerce before computers, mobile devices, or even the telephone, and productivity soared during the postwar era, with an average annual increase of 2.06% from 1948 to 2007. But we’re now seeing slower growth over the last decade, with productivity increasing just 1.2% each year.


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Now, this is not to imply that technology alone is the cause of this productivity loss. However, it’s important to remove any barriers that could be compounding the problem — and outdated tech is one of them.

How you go about updating your business is entirely up to you, but I suggest you start with the following:

1. Go paperless and declutter

Paper is time-consuming. Once printed, someone’s got to file it, then find it again when needed. And if you’re not in the office, there’s also the problem of access. Besides, going paperless can save a business a lot of money: The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimates that an office cuts costs by as much as $80 a year for each employee when going paperless. That means that a company with 500 employees can save $40,000 per year, so just imagine how much larger businesses can save.

Paper isn't the only thing that can cause a cluttered workspace; device clutter can also make it difficult to work. With dozens of wires and devices like scanners and phone chargers strewn around a desk, it can be challenging to wade through it all and focus.

2. Ditch the phone

The phone is going the way of the fax — it’s just a piece of office equipment no longer necessary in the digital age. Instead, switch to Voice over Internet Protocol. VoIP is a group of technologies that allows for voice, video, and, depending on the system, collaborative interactivity over Internet Protocol networks (i.e. the internet). Set it up on desktops, laptops, and mobile devices to route calls to every employee — even remote ones.

3. Add more screens

Sometimes, one screen isn’t enough, especially when you need to see two sets of data simultaneously. Imagine how much employees could get done with a dual-monitor setup. In fact, Wichita State University found it increases productivity by as much as 18% when compared to single screens — not to mention the fact that 91% of users prefer it. The dual-screen configuration is one more step to becoming a smart office.

4. Integrate standing desks

Gone are the days when employees need to be stationed in their cubicles all day long. Standing desks are a relatively recent invention that can do a lot for the health and well-being of your employees. Being sedentary too long can affect mood, brain health, blood sugar, posture, and more, which can reduce productivity and increase healthcare costs. Apple, Google, Microsoft, and Facebook have all invested in desks that can be raised, giving employees the option to stand or sit while at work.

You expect a lot out of your employees, at least as far as productivity goes. But you should really ask yourself whether the environment is right to make that possible. After all, happier employees are more productive employees — sometimes to the tune of 12% more productive. If you devote some attention to the workplace itself, you establish a foundation for success.

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