From communication to organization, in-office comfort to customer service, advances in tech are taking our work live to new levels of efficiency.
Of course, new tech can also be a disruption if you don’t know how to leverage it properly. Employers would do well to study the emerging trends sweeping across workplaces in every sector. That way, they’ll be better positioned to adopt new tech effectively and boost productivity.
1. Make Sure Your Office Computers Are Fit for Purpose
According to Hire Intelligence, 38 percent of office workers say an office laptop would significantly improve their working life. Why is that? It’s all about flexibility. Laptops allow workers to break free from their desks. A change of scenery — and remote work opportunities — can do wonders.
But it’s not just flexibility your employees are after. They also want more power. Thirty-five percent of survey respondents said their work computers had insufficient processing capacity and memory, and only 43 percent of office workers said their computers were fit for purpose.
Nothing leaves room for distraction and disengagement like a painfully slow PC, so be sure the tech you offer your workers actually serves the purpose it’s supposed to serve. Go beyond hardware, too. Up-to-date software is just as important as a speedy computer.
2. Try New Tech Before You Buy
It’s rare that employees end up with outdated, underpowered tech because their employers simply don’t care about being on the cutting edge. Rather, the problem is that buying new technology can be expensive, and organizations don’t want to invest in new hardware or software that ends up being ineffective.
One way to reduce the risk of investing in unfit tech is to try it before you buy it. These days, most office software comes with a free trial period of some kind, and there are even companies that will rent out hardware for your office to test.
If you’re considering getting those much-desired laptops for your team but unsure of what to buy, set up a test group with some trial tech. Compare their productivity to that of their colleagues, and you can see which new tech tools actually increase efficiency and output!
3. Encourage Remote Work
According to a study from Oxford Economics, 63 percent of office workers lack a quiet space to work in, which negatively affects productivity, well-being, and job satisfaction. This is partially the result of the open-office trend, which has taken the work world by storm. As good as a shared workspace can be for fostering relationships and collaboration, many employees also find bustling offices too noisy and distracting when it’s time for sustained, focused work.
If you invest in the laptops your team is looking for, you can also start offering them remote work opportunities. This allows you to solve the problem of distracting offices without radically redesigning your whole workspace.
If that’s not enough to convince you of the value of remote work, consider the fact that a recent survey found 31 percent of workers would prefer more flexibility over a 3 percent pay raise.
4. HD Monitors Are More Than Just Flashy Office Additions
While remote work opportunities can give your employees the quiet space they need for solo work, your office still needs to support collaborative teamwork as well. According to the Hire Intelligence survey, tech that facilitates such teamwork — including large HD screens and high-quality projectors — is particularly important to certain segments of your workforce, especially workers between the ages of 18 and 44.
It makes sense why workers would value this hardware. Many workers can relate to the difficult process of troubleshooting an issue when you are crowded around a tiny laptop screen with 10 of your coworkers. Similarly, conference calls with remote workers or clients can greatly benefit from screen-sharing and other tools that allow everyone to get on the same page — literally.
5. Teach Workers How to Use the Tech You Buy
In addition to better tech, office workers also want their employers to invest in their careers. In the Hire Intelligence survey, 44 percent of employees said they’d like to see their companies put more money toward training and upskilling opportunities.
These trainings can take many forms, depending on what your workers need. For example, you could set up training sessions to help workers get the most out of the new tech you’re buying, as well as trainings dedicated to specific skills, tasks, and processes.
As important as the content of the trainings is the channel through which the trainings are delivered. According to a 2018 study from Wainhouse Research, instructor-led training, short videos, and coaching and mentoring are the approaches most preferred by workers of all age groups.
6. Stop Wasting Money on Distracting Tech
While it may seem that kitting your office out with costly gadgets is the answer to all your productivity and engagement problems, the truth is you may be spending money you don’t need to.
In the Hire Intelligence survey, radios and music systems were among the least desired tech. Many workers enjoy listening to music through their headphones when they want to, but office-wide sound systems are often a distraction — especially when colleagues disagree over the type of music to be played!
Workers find the office distracting enough without the addition of an uninvited soundtrack. Consider saving cash on music tech and investing it in some of the suggestions above instead.
One final note to really drive home the lessons of this survey: Just under half of office workers said their companies should spend extra revenue on improving office technology. It seems that more than leisure activities and other trendy perks, what workers really want are the tools to do their jobs well.
Irma Hunkeler works for Re:signal, a digital marketing agency.