The link between employee happiness, corporate culture, and profit have long been established. One study from the Department of Economics at the University of Warwick, for example, found that happy employees tend to be 12% more productive than the average worker. Unhappy employees, on the other hand, tend to be about 10% less productive. All told, unhappy and generally unsatisfied employees cost American business owners a collective $300 billion each year in terms of lost productivity alone.
However, it's better to understand the important role that technology plays in all of the above.
The major reason why prioritising the creation of more flexible (and therefore more productive) workplaces through IT is so important isn't necessarily because you're giving employees the tools they need to do their jobs each day. It's because a flexible workplace gives them the technology they need to do their jobs in the way that they like to do them.
Essentially, this concept is not about using technology to drive organisational productivity but personal productivity. Organisations that truly see technology as more than just a ‘means to an end’ tend to enjoy a tremendous amount of success as a result. If a chain is only as strong as its weakest link, more productive and flexible workspaces help make sure that each individual link is as strong as it can possibly be — thus improving the effectiveness of the entire chain at the same time.
Perhaps the most important thing to understand about all of this is that technology is just a platform. In order to actually leverage that platform to create the business outcomes you need in terms of employee happiness, productivity, corporate culture gains and more, there are a few key things you'll need to keep in mind.
Empowerment Through Flexibility
In an interview with the Financial Review, Nicole Birbas, General Manager of Workplace Strategy and Operations at Telstra, recently gave a tremendous amount of insight into how her organisation uses technology. She said that — yes, technology was a means to boost productivity— but it is also intended to bring a newfound level of excitement to the workforce and generate a new sense of fun in terms of how work can be delivered.
Telstra has recently made workplace flexibility a top priority and is using technology as a way to achieve these goals. Not only do employees have the option to come in at different hours or even work from home should the need arise, but VoIP solutions allow them to take calls on every company laptop regardless of location. As long as work is being done and outcomes are being achieved, the specific ways in which this progress is being generated is less important than the progress itself. But without the right technological foundation, none of this would be possible.
"We give people flexibility to manage their work-life balance, changing perspectives" said Birbas. "We have thought about how best to distribute our workforce to get a better outcome and not just have a centralised workforce."
She concluded by saying that "the result is to change what it means to work for an organisation like Telstra."
Many studies have been conducted over the years that ultimately confirm these simple concepts. The Centre for Economic Performance published a discussion paper on this very topic all the way back in November of 1997 which was titled "The Impact of Workplace Practices and Information Technology on Productivity." This particular study points out that what is most associated with higher productivity is not necessarily an employer adopting a particular work practice, but rather how that practice is actually implemented within the business itself. The study also revealed that businesses that have adapted to new or transformed technologies have higher productivity rates and achieve better results than those that do not.
Technology may have changed quite a bit since November of 1997, but the core concepts behind these findings have not. If organisational leaders make an effort to create more agile and more flexible workplaces, they create more enjoyable environments where employees are more in control of their own success. From that perspective, an investment in technology is more than just learning and adapting to a new tool — it's a workforce investment at the same time.
The Powernet Approach
As a leading technology provider, we at Powernet understand that IT is a critical ingredient in the success of your organisation. Flexible workplaces do more than just boost employee morale and engagement — they also assist with mission critical qualities like efficiency and performance at the exact same time. Building a more flexible (and therefore more productive) working environment creates a ripple effect in the best way — one that can help cement your competitive advantage in your industry for many years to come.
But this flexibility also presents something of a challenge, because there is truly no one "right" way to deploy an environment that meets these qualities. There is only one way that suits your specific organisation, which is allowing everyone involved to play to the strength of this newfound sense of malleability in the best possible way.
If you have any additional questions about empowering a more productive and flexible workplace through IT, or if you'd like to learn more about different benefits you'll unlock by working with a managed IT service provider, don't delay — contact Powernet today.