Published/updated: August 2011
By Martha Bennett
Productivity improvement is desirable, but elusive
When we asked 357 IT and business professionals in a recent study, a broad consensus emerged on what constitutes ‘productivity’. It also became clear that the majority of companies aren’t doing that well when it comes to supporting, never mind maximising, individual and team productivity: the right tools and information are often not available to the people who need them, and considerable amounts of time continue to be wasted as a result.
Information access is the biggest problem
Having access to the right information at the right time was singled out as the most important element of productivity. It was also the step-child when it comes to actually providing it: the majority of companies aren’t regarded as doing well, and there is much room for improvement when it comes to supporting individual workers with collaboration tools and access to business intelligence.
Changing work patterns are making the issue more acute
Most companies today have distributed workforces, and many office-based employees don’t exclusively work from the office any more. Mobile working is on the increase, as are nomadic and home working. Team structures are becoming more fluid, with temporary teams forming and disbanding, often in different locations, and across different time zones. Issues arising from lack of the right tools to support tasks as well as collaboration are magnified, and ever more time is wasted.
There is little direct support for productivity improvement
Few companies take any structured (in the shape of training) or unstructured (in the guise of mentoring or coaching) measures to improve individual productivity. There is also a strong sense that many organisations aren’t aware of what can – and should – be done to improve productivity.
The role of technology to support productivity could be greater
Comparatively little use is made of many of the technologies that can help people work better as individuals and as teams, and uncertainty remains regarding the value of particular technologies. Whether or not they are planning to make improvements, most companies could benefit from taking a more structured approach to assessing the role of technology in the context of productivity.
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