In tough economic times, businesses tend to cut costs wherever possible. While it may be a necessary means to an end, strategies should be in place so that productivity remains unaffected. Since IT can often become a roadblock to productivity, we’ll have a closer look at how improving the quality of staff’s equipment can not only improve productivity but profitability as well.Research shows that a slow and under-performing workstation can cost employers as much as 25% in lost productivity. While it can be hard to quantify the output of an employee’s productivity, consider the following scenario:
If ten employees lose one half-hour per day due to slow desktops or laptops, in one year that translates to about 1,225 hours of lost productivity – over $33,000 at $27 per hour.
When computers are slow, troublesome or unreliable, your staff’s performance is affected. Having your workflow interrupted not only impacts an employee’s stress level, but can adversely disrupt customer relations as well.
Creating a Productive Environment
Forming a productive work environment starts with the right work culture in place. If efficiency is made a priority throughout the organization, the following recommendations can then be implemented as well:
- Quality of Tools. Examine how much time your team is wasting waiting for computers to boot or slow programs to load. The faster the tool, the faster your staff can start attacking their work duties. Computers have temporary and permanent kinds of storage. The data storage system purchased with your laptop will be responsible for booting your system, storing your applications and storing personal files. Consumer grade products will come with standard storage systems while business grade workstations can be customized and configured for optimal business use efficiencies. Selecting the right storage drives can also help extend the life of your computer.
- Access to Information. Perhaps the largest drain on each user’s time, is searching through file shares and making sense out of duplicate business documents. Foster a productive environment by implementing standard naming conventions for file names and make sure it is strictly adhered to. Deploying an effective document management system, like SharePoint, can also provide the visibility and accessibility your staff has long desired. Take advantage of the several mobile solutions available, so small bits of time can become productive. With access to e-mail and network files available for retrieval, real-time collaboration on files can be completed on any device, from any location.
- Block Distractions. Geofencing features on your network firewall can be used to help your staff from being distracted during work hours. Non-work related websites like social media, gambling or streaming services can be made inaccessible.
Hardware Effects on Network Security
Recent global cyber attacks have exploited unpatched holes in Microsoft products, even though Microsoft had released patches for the vulnerabilities several months prior to the initial attacks. This can happen when businesses don’t put enough emphasis on upgrading in a timely fashion or when they are running on outdated hardware that cannot be updated.
Standardization of workstations (and mobile devices) used in the work place helps IT manage and push out security patches in a timely fashion, better protecting your environment. Set basic minimum operating standards that are strictly adhered to proactively manage the devices that access your network. Replacement expenses can then stretch throughout the year. As devices become old and outdated, manufactures will phase out technical support and upgrades may no longer be available.
Procurement Impact on Productivity
Managing the procurement process of hardware can be a time consuming task to handle in-house. While many small business owners initially decide to purchase hardware on their own seeking attractive low price points, partnering with an IT Service Provider, like Compulite, that has ongoing relationships with distributors could be more cost effective in the long-run.
Service providers are familiar with the standard of services vendors provide, the quality of their products and their return policies should products be defective or require additional support post purchase. When shopping online, the majority of resellers are shipping from the US, and you may be receiving pricing information before shipping, import tax and USD currency exchange fees have been applied. Compatibility of the operating system with software you intend to use, functionality, warranty information and vendor support become very important when selecting the right hardware for business use.
Things to Consider
It’s not just the workstations at the office that need to be evaluated. Consider all the time and potential security risks employees take when accessing the company’s network from home. While BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) policies are great in theory, the balancing act between users, devices, data and employers is a sensitive one, and requires a carefully developed plan. As an IT service provider we encourage technology adoption and provide support for a wide variety of devices. We also help organizations define their bring-your-own-device approach. Successfully blending security, performance and IT service efficiency is one of our top priorities in this area.
Intel (the world’s largest semi-conductor maker) studied the work habits and productivity of more than 100 Intel employees who were upgraded to wireless notebooks and found a gain of more than two hours per week; more than paying for the cost of the upgrades in the first year. Ultimately they discovered that wireless notebook PC users increased their productivity by 100 hours per year. Perhaps issuing laptops rather than desktops to staff is a more effective hardware strategy for your business to consider as well. To enhance the performance of laptops, consider purchasing a docking station with each. This will result in the laptop having the same performance function of a desktop workstation with the obvious benefits of mobility. If fully encrypted and secure this can be a much more convenient and cost effective alternative to providing a workstation and a laptop for each employee.