Ask the Expert: How can businesses maximise their employees’ productivity?

This week’s Ask the Expert is answered by Robbie O’Connor, head of EMEA business at Asana.

Ask the Expert: How can businesses maximise their employees’ productivity?

Today’s businesses are operating in what McKinsey & Co calls “The Age of Urgency.” This means that companies have to move faster than ever before to keep up with the pace of change. Fast-work environments have proved fertile ground for cloud services, and collaboration tools such as messaging and file-sharing have delivered on their promise to bring ease, speed and simplicity to communication. However, research by Michael Mankins at Bain & Company suggests that while the volume of team collaboration is growing exponentially, actual productivity is struggling to keep pace with the rate of inflation. So, are employees really feeling more on top of their work, more in tune with company objectives and ultimately, more productive?

Our research into the UK’s working habits showed that 42% of employees believe they spend most of their day navigating status meetings, organising work, and tracking down information rather than getting work done. Essentially what we’re seeing is a UK workplace broken by constant notifications and endless “work about work” – a phrase we use to explain the busy work that often happens to just to get something done. Moving fast and with purpose is a business imperative, but if employees feel that their productivity is being hindered by inefficient working practices, then that imperative is compromised.

So how do we navigate this issue? In addition to establishing some new best practices around structuring your team’s time (such as setting aside one day a week for focus rather than meetings), a major part of the solution is great collaboration technology. At Asana, we believe that effective teams require three aspects to their collaboration: content (a way to create and share work product through Content apps such as Box, Dropbox, and Google Drive), communications (connecting and messaging with teammates, or receiving notifications through apps like Gmail and Slack), and, finally, coordination, e.g. effectively tracking and managing work and projects together.

As the complexity of teamwork outgrows what’s manageable over chat or in a shared doc, an entirely new category of software called Work Management has emerged to solve this latter problem, with the aim of clarifying who’s doing what by when. At Asana, we’re focused on providing Work Management software that’s easy enough for any type of work team to get going, yet powerful enough to help entire businesses and departments organise, manage, and complete their work with clarity and efficiency at scale.

And because the software’s ability for teams to visualise progress or understand the latest state of their project at a glance eliminates the need for those time-consuming updates, productivity increases and teams can once again spend their time on getting work done. Our own research is proof of this, as customers report being 45% more effective with Asana than without. And for more than 35,000 paying organisations, Asana acts as one single source of truth for who’s doing what by when, including whether or not campaigns and projects are on track toward deadline.

Another benefit of Work Management software is helping leaders understand the bigger picture of their team’s workload. Overworked staff quickly become disillusioned and unproductive, and unevenly distributed workloads can damage morale. For managers and senior team members, Work Management provides insight of employees’ workloads; by maintaining visibility over employees’ active to-do lists, work can be better distributed. Whilst there are many factors that can be attributed to productivity, at Asana we believe that providing teams clarity of purpose, plan, and responsibility is a great place to start for every business, at every level of growth.

It’s important for the management of work to be easily accessible, for goals to be clear and for teams to be aligned on what success looks like rather than spinning their wheels trying to piece together what’s going on. Teams and individuals who are together on the same path to success, will ultimately be more productive.