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Summer is here; work smarter, not harder

How you can use technology in your workplace to save time and get out of the office

Summer slump. Summer brain. Summer doldrums. Whatever you call it, the decline in work productivity from Memorial Day to Labor Day is real. Employees are on vacation and unplanned absences spike on Monday and Fridays and before holidays. Employees also are distracted by the nice weather, taking longer lunches or daydreaming of pool parties, rooftop happy hours and backyard barbeques.

I’m not being critical. We all want to spend more time at the beach, in the mountains or at the lake and away from work during the summer. Time off from work prevents burnout, and breaks have been shown to boost creativity. In one study, backpackers scored 50 percent better on a creativity test after spending four days in nature disconnected from electronic devices.

What it does mean is companies need to look at how to help their employees work smarter and more efficiently to capitalize on the time they are in the office.

Companies have adopted technology to boost productivity and collaboration. Let’s take advantage of it to make our personal and professional lives better during the summer and throughout the year. Here’s how:

Instant collaboration

Precious time is wasted using e-mail as the primary source of communication. Important e-mails from clients get buried in your inbox. Scroll-like threads seemingly involving every employee in your company are created, making it difficult to find a simple answer or work on a problem. Email has become a new form of information pollution and often the reason for the communication bottleneck inside your company.

Luckily there are several software applications that improve team communication, including Slack, Skype for Business and Salesforce Quip. Such tools help you and your teammates become more productive by offering real-time messaging, file sharing and audio and video calls. Some even use artificial intelligence to take notes during calls and identify key takeaways from chats so you can focus on the conversation and task at hand. Connect with the IT department or your manager to see if one of these options, or another collaboration tool, is right for your office or team. An important thing to remember as you deploy new collaboration tools is adoption is key so make sure you deploy something that will work for the majority of your team

Big data

Whether you like it or not, your every digital move is being tracked in the workplace. While it may seem creepy and an invasion of privacy to some, companies are using tracking tools to measure performance. If you can’t measure it, you can’t improve it.

Embrace tracking tools to understand how you work. What are the most productive parts of your work day? What are your biggest time wasters? This information is vital to the company you work for (mainly for real-estate and technology decisions), however it can also be used to your advantage. Speak to your technology teams at the office to find out what data is available for you to see and make adjustments off of. Some of the most important data can be making your own workload more visible. The company Sapience Analytics provided a similar “Big Data” monitoring solution to an IT services company, and when workload information was shared publicly, the company experienced a $2M annual profit increase. If a company can make millions of dollars more by understanding how its people work, you can work smarter, better, and more efficiently by taking the same path personally.

Automation

Amazon Echo devices aren’t just for the home anymore. They can be your personal assistant, scheduling meetings, calling colleagues and even adjusting the lights in your office.

One-touch meeting start is being adopted by Fortune 500 companies to reduce time spent on preparing a board or conference room. The technology allows you to:

· Schedule meeting space from your phone or computer

· Prepare the room with the proper lighting and temperature

· Alert others that a meeting is in progress

· Turn on displays with one touch dial and start a call or presentation. No fussing with cables or phone numbers

Learn the tech

Businesses have invested millions of dollars in communications technology, building automation and network infrastructure to improve their workplaces. Ensure you are using this investment to your benefit by becoming familiar with the technology. You can have the most outstanding technology available to you, but it won’t help your productivity if you don’t know how to use it properly.

The incorporation of technology in the workplace has created a generation gap in adoption, sometimes causing rifts in teams or even hurting productivity. This was not what businesses intended. The goal is to increase productivity and efficiency, attract new talent, retain existing talent and use analytics to make better decisions.

To avoid this, seek out the subject matter experts for each tool and ask them to give you a demonstration ahead of your first meeting. Know how to start a video call in your huddle space, how to share documents, how to adjust the thermostat in the conference room or keep your digital workspace organized.

Whether it’s automation, collaboration or preparation, this summer, use technology to work for you – not against you. Your friends, family – and future self – will thank you.                        

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