01 Jun 2011

Creating workplace harmony through technology

One of the biggest boosts to productivity you can give your workplace is not about having the latest technology, but in how your employees use it.

It’s a no-brainer: happy staff equals more productive staff. The easiest way to ensure they’re happy is to remove IT frustrations. You know how it goes: when email is down everyone stops work; when a program won’t open it becomes lost time trying to find a fix; when the internet connection is slow staff get exasperated.

At a basic level, you should make sure you keep everything up to date and in working order. If you’re unlucky enough to come across a problem, fix it as soon as you can. Moreover, if you’ve outsourced your IT, make sure you choose a service provider that will be accessible and can deal promptly and politely with frustrated staff.

Communication is also key. Let your staff know they can contact you or your IT service provider about any niggles before they become problems. This culture of openness in dealing with problems makes for a more comfortable environment.

Another thing you can do is to create a workplace community. Technology is ideal for this purpose, especially if you have salespeople on the road, people who work from home, or interstate/international staff. Encourage these ‘offsite’ staff to stay in sight and become part of the conversation through unified communication, whether that’s through regular video conference meetings (formal or informal) down to having a messaging system available that lets everyone keep in touch easily.

Encouraging a workplace community is really about fostering staff engagement with each other. You can do this in a work context by creating a communal depository such as an intranet or a workplace wiki, so that staff can share tips and advice with others. Even the shyest person in the organisation can get involved without emerging too far from their shell!

As with most elements of technology, you may need to set policies around use of the tools, whether that’s around appropriate communication—or suitable content concerning the communal depository—to prevent bullying or misuse.

The benefits definitely outweigh these restrictions, however. Technology can foster a great ‘virtual team’ environment and can help with knowledge retention in your business.