For this year’s World Productivity Day (20 June), teiss spoke to a number of tech and cyber experts on how to boost productivity while maintaining security in this new, nearly post-COVID world.
For employees and employers alike, the last 18 months have been a rollercoaster of change. From being permanently remote to a potential full-time return to the office, remaining productive has remained a significant consideration.
New working models and the technologies powering them
Unsurprisingly, the shift towards hybrid and remote working has sparked discussion around how we define ‘being productive’. Hugh Scantlebury, Founder and CEO at Aqilla, offers his insight as to how we might view being productive in the likely event that we continue to work in a hybrid or remote fashion: “Let’s get one thing straight. Productivity in the workplace doesn’t mean working every hour of the day. In our new hybrid working world, you can be immensely productive in a couple of hours and, if you get everything done, take half a day off. It’s the old saying work smarter, not harder. That’s everyone’s dream, right?”
Expanding on how to achieve this, Scantlebury mentions the tools and technologies organisations should look to invest in to maximise productivity in a smarter working world: “Automation, artificial intelligence, and machine learning can help considerably. They can do the heavy lifting, the time-consuming data entry tasks and the repetitive work that can fill up so much of the working day. They also remove much of the grind and monotony — hopefully making work more enjoyable.”
For Joel Reid, UK&I VP/General Manager at Axway, APIs are key in helping to increase productivity: “APIs are the building blocks of brilliant digital experiences and have become vital tools for business growth and technological agility. In short, they enable different services to interact and complement each other, opening the doors to a host of engineering and business possibilities. If APIs are not the poster child for World Productivity Day I don’t know what is!”
Many industry insiders believe hybrid and remote models are here to stay, so reassessing how we think about productivity, and what technologies can help us be productive are clearly important considerations. Tom Cotton, Agile Workspace Technical Director at Six Degrees is one of those insiders: “The world of work changed irreversibly in 2020. Global events prompted a massive shift towards remote working, and many organisations will be evaluating their need for maintaining extensive brick and mortar operating locations as their people continue to maintain productivity while working from home.
The move to a new hybrid working model that combines remote and office-based working will be driven by a number of factors, not least people becoming accustomed to the lack of commuting and seeing more of their family. Many will not want to transition back to their old ways of working any time soon.”
Given this reluctance to fall back into old ways, it makes sense for employers to ensure they give the most efficient direction to their employees when scheduling work: “Technologies such as scheduling software and mobile workforce management are some of the ways to help boost productivity at a time when it’s needed most, and these applications are being adopted by a range of companies to help speed up their business practices. Scheduling software that can identify a backlog of jobs in one geographical area can help ensure that local teams can focus on these jobs first and move between them quicker,” said Mike Blackburn, Chief Revenue Officer at Totalmobile.
Assess for success
Across this range of technological solutions, the final step is for organisations to assess what really counts – achieving goals and hitting KPIs. Brook Candelore, Product Manager at BrightGuage Software, a ConnectWise solution asks the following question; “For business owners who feel like productivity levels haven’t yet returned to normal, what is the best approach?”
Candelore believes that setting and understanding clear metrics enables businesses to identify areas of high and low productivity, and adjust accordingly. “By tracking KPIs and metrics, you can drive action and provide clarity in your business. Over time, these actionable data points affect your bottom line. The kind of metrics you track depend on a number of factors, but often boil down to what type of data is going to move the needle for your business.”
An evolving industry
Martin Taylor, Deputy CEO at omni-channel cloud contact centre solution provider, Content Guru, believes the contact centre industry will harness its pre-existing focus on productivity to evolve into something more efficient than ever before. “There has always been a strong focus on employee productivity in the contact centre industry, which employs more than 4% of the UK working population.
“The COVID-19 pandemic, however, has changed the industry significantly – we won’t see a return to the ‘new normal’. Instead, the industry as a whole will evolve. We are already seeing the vast majority of contact centres going through this right now, by implementing remote working frameworks. How this has affected the productivity levels of employees will, of course, vary from individual to individual and contact centre operators need to be mindful of how their agents are managing this transition.”
The relationship between productivity and security
A final, but important point worth noting about the benefits of maintaining productivity, is the role it plays in keeping organisations safe from cyber-attack. Samantha Humphries, Head of Security Strategy EMEA at Exabeam explains that “Security analysts receive an overwhelming number of alerts every day, leaving them inevitably suffering from alert fatigue and unable to identify genuine threats. This can be unmanageable, and often mean teams miss or ignore a significant number of alerts, leaving their organisations vulnerable.
“With teams often time poor and overstretched, security leaders should look to automation tools and machine learning-based analytics to help free up teams and allow them to focus on what matters most – fortifying their organisation’s cybersecurity defences to detect and prevent breaches.
“Empowering employees with security tools and resources can help boost analyst team productivity, rewarding them with better management software and visibility into all of the alerts, and channel focus on specific types of alerts that demand time and expertise.”
And according to Axway’s Joel Reid “Digital business is a term that has been around for decades, but in the past few years it has become one of the hottest topics across the business landscape”.
As such, perhaps now is the time for businesses to intertwine their productivity strategies with the latest technologies in order to ensure a positive, efficient start to post-COVID working.
Main image courtesy of iStockPhoto.com