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Redefining productivity this World Productivity Day 2021

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Today is #WorldProductivityDay. Celebrated annually, the day provides both organisations and people the opportunity to find new ways to boost their productivity and commit to more efficient ways of working for the year ahead. 

The events of the past 15 months and the introduction of mass home-working have challenged many of our preconceived notions on productivity. Indeed, whilst many organisations were skeptical about working remotely pre-pandemic, the CIPD found that 71% of firms reported no loss of productivity during a year in lockdown – a third had even seen an increase.

With an increasing number of organisations now also confronted with a possible return to the office, a mix of home and office working is expected to continue for most. World Productivity Day has once again taken on a new significance. 

The future is flexible

With employees now accustomed to no commute times and a better work-life balance, the move to a new hybrid ‘work from anywhere’ model looks set to stay.

“I’ve always been a champion of remote and hybrid working,” said Kathryn Barnes, Employment Counsel EMEA, Globalization Partners. “You get more out of your employees when companies work flexibly, that’s been proven time and time again.”

She continues: “Flexible working enables workers to establish their own peak performance times, scheduling timely breaks to optimise their efficiency. Furthermore, by trusting employees to manage their own time – and balance work with home responsibilities such as the school-run – employees will feel more incentivised to work efficiently. As the world recovers post-pandemic, companies now have the opportunity to make temporary fixes into permanent benefits. Implementing flexible work structures can be instrumental in boosting productivity and engagement, making for a happier and more efficient team.”

“In the contact centre industry, we won’t see a return to the ‘new normal’ – instead, the industry as a whole will evolve,” agrees Martin Taylor, Deputy CEO at Content Guru. “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.”

He adds: “Investing in a cloud-based Contact Centre as a Service (CCaaS) solution would provide continuous communication and monitoring between call agent and supervisor. Screen recording, for example, enables both supervisors to keep an eye on their agents in real-time, and agents to feel supported in their work. This kills two birds with one stone, as supervisors can be safe in the knowledge the same excellent standards of customer experience are being delivered, and call agents can be freed from any concerns that they don’t have the proper support to work as effectively at home as they would do in a contact centre environment. Ultimately, for an industry typically averse to change, it has never been clearer that increased employee productivity starts with effective communication.”

Let’s get technical

This past year, productivity levels were disrupted like never before when working from home became the overnight norm. Brooke Candelore, Product Manager at BrightGauge Software, a ConnectWise solution, suggests that KPIs and metrics are one way to ensure productivity levels remain high. “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. I’m often asked what type of metrics should be tracked on a regular basis. 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.

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“World Productivity Day is a great reminder of the importance of KPIs, and the value of having everyone in an organisation responsible for specific metrics. That’s because an accountable metric drives action. Measuring those metrics should be done regularly, and if possible, that should be done in the broader context of the business’ KPIs. A great way to do that is through data dashboards. Doing this will lead to greater productivity and improvement throughout your organisation.”

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. However, Joel Reid, UK&I VP/General Manager at Axway, highlights that connectivity is something we take for granted. 

“We’ve come to expect it and depend upon it heavily, especially now many of us are working remotely. But how is it that we can access emails on our phone, download maps, shop online and have orders delivered the same day to our doorstep? The answer is API – application programming interfaces. 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!”

Putting employees front and centre

Boosting workforce productivity is often easier said than done. Research shows that while 94% of organisations are seeking to increase on-the-job productivity, 29% of leaders are overwhelmed and under-skilled. 

“Having a structured learning and development programme in place is key to help bridge that gap and enhance performance within specific roles,” suggests Agata Nowakowska, Area Vice President EMEA at Skillsoft. “However, with an increasing number of organisations navigating a newly-hybrid or remote working business model, employees require training that meets the demands of the modern workplace.

“In the digital world, employees are often mobile and running against time. Intelligent learning solutions that provide employees with engaging and tailored learning paths that will help them developing themselves, their teams or their business, are the solution for many forward-thinking companies as it enables them to meet each individual’s requirements while encouraging them to take control over their own learning. Employees can learn on the go, whether that means doing an eLearning module at their desk or watching a video whilst on their train journey home. By giving employees the freedom to choose their own path and investing in employee training, organisations can create a more engaged and productive workforce.”

Ultimately, World Productivity Day provides the perfect opportunity to reflect on the past year and reevaluate what is important and effective within teams and for customers. “At Leaseweb, productivity is at the core of everything we do; a motto we subscribe to is simply ‘get things done’,” explains Terry Storrar, Managing Director UK at Leaseweb.

“Encouraging the right mindsets and implementing simple yet effective methods, such as the 80/20 rule, can provide immense value. The 80/20 rule states that 80% of a business’ income comes from 20% of its projects. It’s a tool used to highlight the importance of identifying the highest priority work, ensuring that the available manpower is being spent on the most valuable projects instead of being wasted on unimportant details.

“Now, as we transition back into the office, many businesses will be looking to implement a hybrid framework that assures that all staff are connected, regardless of location,” he concludes. “During this big change, it will be important to once again reflect on productivity models such as the 80/20 rule – reminding employers and employees alike what are the most essential tasks to complete to ensure business continues to run as efficiently as possible.”

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