From the first stone tools to today’s machine learning, humans harness technology to work for and with us to help us do and make more ––and to do it faster and better than ever before. Contrary to popular belief, technology was never intended to give us more leisure time. It is and always has been to improve our lives, and expand our output capacity.
Today, we look to workplace technology to find ways to increase productivity, and it doesn’t disappoint. Let’s look at a few key ways to increase productivity at work with a little help from technology.
1. Automation does repetitive and time-consuming tasks for you.
As humans, we don’t care much for work that doesn’t challenge our brains. So, it makes sense that one of the first things people did with computer technology was to assign work like this to machines.
But did you know that you can take automation even further into your everyday work?
Let a chatbot schedule all your meetings.
Put an end to the constant back and forth of meeting scheduling. Amy Ingram (initials "AI," get it?) is one of the latest workplace technology innovations that takes on the task of setting up, sending invitations and reminders, and even rescheduling meetings. Connect this cloud-based software to your Google, Apple, or Outlook calendar, mention a meeting in any communication forum (Amy supports email and many of the workplace tools you know and love) cc Amy, and the bot takes it from there. It’ll negotiate meeting times with attendees based on your availability, set up calls, and more while you’re doing something more substantial.
Create a connected all-star tech team to automate your day.
Wouldn’t it be great if there were a way to get your workplace technology apps to work in concert while you were off doing something else? That’s what applets created by workplace technology IFTTT are for. This site is a powerful way to increase productivity because you can set it to do things like:
IFTTT requires no programming, and, like its counterpart Zapier, you can use it to create custom applets (or zaps, as Zapier calls them) and even share your creations with others online. There is almost no limit to what you can do — and a great way to increase productivity.
Elevate editing to a new level of cool.
No matter how many times you proofread something, a typo always seems to pop-up right after you send it. Consider workplace technology that gives you access to a first-rate digital editor and proofreader that will catch errors, suggest alternatives, and even tell you if what you’ve written matches your intended tone and audience. It’s possible to shave hours off of any writing project using this kind of tool to turn in letter-perfect work every time.
Take control of email effortlessly.
You may not need to achieve "zero Inbox" if you use the native sorting and tagging features built into just about every email program out there. Most people know that these advanced features are there, but few bother to activate them. That’s a shame because those features are a powerful way to increase productivity. Let’s focus on one of the most popular ones: Gmail.
Many people are aware that email extensions and add-ons can extend workplace productivity, but they aren’t using them. Filtering out spam is so common, so take that idea and run with it, and you’ve got a productivity machine in your inbox. Here are just a few:
A sorting hat for your email: Working on a project with a set group of people? Use filters to move existing and future related emails into a specific folder, and without lifting a finger, all your project-related emails sort themselves into correct folders for you to find easily. Mischief managed. Since you knew they were going to ask: You’re already familiar with canned (or pre-prepared) out of office replies. Gmail lets you take that concept further by allowing you to set up response emails to the questions you’re asked most often. Then, when those questions come in, you need only hit "reply," then select a canned response from the drop-down arrow at the bottom of the email and send it. Predictive text: Like that friend who is always finishing your sentences for you, predictive text uses machine learning to take a stab at what it thinks you’re going to say next and types it out for you. If it’s correct, just hit tab to accept it. If not, continue to type over it –– just as in real life.
Relief for those OMG moments: We’ve all been there. That searing regret the moment you hit "send." Fortunately, Gmail feels you on that. Just enable "undo send" to give yourself a few seconds to cool down, or realize that you might have cc:d wrong person. But take note: you’re only allowed 30 seconds to change your mind. After that, remorse is eternal.
Connect your mail to apps you use every day. No matter which software you use for project management, communication, note-taking, e-signatures, video conferencing, storage, HR, or pretty much anything, there’s a Gmail add-on for it. What that means is you can work in your existing apps without ever leaving email. It’s an incredibly fast way to increase productivity without a lot of additional brainwork.
2. Stay in touch with history: let workplace technology organize company documents
An IDC survey revealed that the average office worker loses 4.5 hours per week looking for files. And that’s despite the advancements of storage apps like Dropbox and Google Drive. So what’s going on?
We’re turning our cloud storage and hard drives into digital junk drawers, and it’s crippling our productivity up to 18 hours a month. All that lost work represents a company’s legacy. We need these files to get a sense of what has already been done, so we don’t repeat mistakes.
If you use one of the popular cloud storage solutions, carve out some time to create and socialize a file system of tags, links, folders, and keywords. Apps like Evernote allow you to tag documents with multiple keywords, so research and finding anything takes just a matter of seconds.
A workplace productivity tip: make it a best practice never to leave any document unnamed, either in a shared drive or a local one. You will not remember in a week which document is which, and you’ll find yourself opening every "untitled" file looking for the one you want.
3. Enhance your workplace security footprint.
Protecting a company’s data, physical property, and employees is a 24/7 job. Workplace security has become part of everybody’s job description. Yet at the same time, we don’t want to work under the constant scrutiny of cameras and keystroke monitors. Many companies use workplace security like key badges to deter unauthorized people from entering the building, and visitor management software to vet any guests on the premises.
Turn these necessary precautions into user-friendly benefits. A card-key could also unlock personal preferences for heat, light, and music. Digital visitor management automates a guest’s arrival and departure logs and notifies hosts of guest arrival. While the guest is waiting, the same visitor management system can delight a guest by offering them secure (and temporary) WiFi access.
The same system can also provide visitors with any legal documents they need to sign. Then, it can even take note of a guest’s beverage preferences, so their favorite drink is waiting for them at their meeting. That’s a powerful yet elegant way to increase productivity for front desk and security personnel while providing impressive hospitality, personalization, and a memorable first impression –– all at the same time.
Curious about more ways technology can improve workplace productivity? Get the ebook on the workplace of the future and how to best prepare.