27/07/2015

By Maria Nordborg, Director of Customer Experience for Projectplace

As we enter an era of full connectivity, businesses are under more pressure than ever to do more with less. They must increase efficiencies while keeping both employees and customers happy, and boost productivity without compromising quality. As the working environment becomes increasingly complex, there’s an expectation for businesses to be more accountable, productive and collaborative. Yet some companies make the mistake of underestimating the impact of communication on their bottom line.

A lack of communication has a harmful effect on productivity because it leads to a disengaged workforce. According to a recent study, only 13% of employees worldwide are engaged at work. In other words, the majority of people are unmotivated to doing their bit to help their organisation reach its goals. As most of us spend around 10 years of our lives at work or working, the workplace experience largely determines how enthusiastic and invested we feel in what we do. How can businesses build a more engaged and productive workforce? Read on to learn how new ways of working can help.

Is the reputation of your business in jeopardy?

Technology has the potential to make people more engaged and productive, and enable businesses to crawl back some of the wasted time by enhancing communications, streamlining processes and empowering people to work more efficiently. However, businesses are paying a high price for inefficient ways of working, which costs organisations up to 2 hours and 45 minutes a week, equating to 20 working days a year.

In an effort to catch up, people work on their days off. Despite this, deadlines slip and budgets go out of the window. Worryingly, in the age of cyber-crime, sensitive data is also put at risk, jeopardising businesses’ revenue and reputation. To illustrate, two-thirds of project managers say they can access their organisation’s sensitive data, such as customers’ financial information or details of new products in development. Yet only half can easily see who has read, changed or downloaded a shared document, or has a solution enabling version control.

A disengaged workforce is less accountable and likely to feel less committed to doing everything they can to protect the organisation and its customers. This is a huge threat, jeopardising not only the integrity and security of sensitive data, but also the reputation and revenue of the business.

Missed deadlines and overspent budgets put revenue at risk

Businesses also admit that inefficient ways of working are putting revenue at risk due to missed deadlines. When managers have to deal with eight or more projects, these can quickly spiral out of control so that nearly one in five projects run late and 14% run over budget.

Half of project managers also say that they are taking on tasks outside of their main role. This means that they have less time to spend on making sure that the team is working together effectively, further increasing the risk of missed deadlines and overspent budgets. The knock-on effect is customer dissatisfaction and lost profits.

Stressed out staff cost businesses a lot too

Wasted time and the pressure that people feel to take on new tasks also leads to stress. Managers feel they have to make up for lost time by working outside of normal business hours, leading them struggle with work-related stress.

In the worst case scenario, a person might be signed off by their doctor for weeks or even months, meaning that a business needs to pay someone else to do the person’s job while they recuperate. Getting a new staff member up to speed and committed to the cause often takes time, leading to further inefficiencies and delays.

How to get rid of chaos and improve the bottom line

Research from the University of Michigan shows a happier workforce is more productive. Through greater flexibility and transparency, organisations can create a more engaged and committed workforce, having a direct positive impact on the business. The key is harnessing the latest technologies to boost employee engagement and pave the way for smarter ways of working. Organisations should eliminate internal processes that waste billable time – such as communication silos and over-reliance on e-mail – with more transparent collaboration and effective knowledge sharing. This will make people more motivated, improving employee productivity.

Minimising waste and streamlining communication will also accelerate decision-making, allowing businesses to become more agile. This in turn helps organisations spot new growth opportunities before others. As market conditions change rapidly, smarter businesses can roll out new products and services faster, making them more competitive and driving revenue growth. On the other hand, increasing transparency will empower businesses to avoid unnecessary spending by immediately identifying the areas that sap resources and potential failings before they impact on customers.

The rapid evolution of technology might cause headaches for businesses, but the latest innovations are proving invaluable in empowering organisations to tackle chaotic ways of working head-on. If businesses equip their always connected, distributed teams with the right tools, they will be able to get things done on time and within budget, achieve their goals and improve their bottom line.

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