The development and evolution of the modern office is based on a series of technical and philosophical revolutions and innovations designed to increase accessibility, comfort and productivity.
Over the past few years, most offices have been working through another productivity revolution in the form of remote work technologies. VOIP phone systems, cloud computing and advanced videoconferencing have allowed companies to get the best talent possible working in environments that suit them best.
However, whilst there are main productivity tools, management systems and working styles developed with the best of intentions, if implemented badly or used in a system where it produces no benefit, it can actually lead to a drop in productivity.
This is known as a productivity trap, which is a decision made with the best of intentions that serves to make you less productive in the long run. Here are some of the most common productivity traps and how to avoid them.
Regularly Buying New Software Packages And Services Without Due Diligence
This is a very common trap for not only startups but also small and medium-sized enterprises who are looking for that final piece to unlock untapped productivity, growth and revenue.
In some cases, buying a project management system, accounting software or better design software can really help to improve productivity in the long run, but it is important to always remember that any piece of software has a learning curve.
When making the transition from one tool to another, there will be a period where employees will need to actually get used to using the software and integrating it into their workflow, which means a reduction in productivity.
The answer is to be selective, do your research, consult with the employees who will use these tools the most and be prepared for tasks to take slightly longer as people get used to the new tools.
Too Much Conversation, Not Enough Action
In the early part of 2020, when the vast majority of the workforce was getting used to remote working and the new normal, the term “Zoom fatigue” emerged to describe the exhausting effect of videoconferencing.
However, whilst the problem did exist, the cause was not the software so much as there being so many more meetings for nearly every small decision.
This led to the coining of the popular maxim “this could have been an email” used to describe meetings that were wholly unnecessary and unhelpful, reducing productivity and even causing mistakes to be made that would not have been had the request been an email, instant message or support ticket.
This is not exclusive to video calls, but when people have to travel to a meeting room or huddle in a corner of the office multiple times a day, it becomes more obvious when there are too many meetings.
Upgrading Your Computer
Much like with software upgrades, upgrading your hardware, either by buying a new computer, buying a smartphone, tablet or other productivity aid can sometimes be exactly what you need to unlock that last chunk of productivity that was previously missing.
Slow computers, slow internet connections and systems that are prone to crashing obviously damage productivity, but when considering an upgrade, make sure that it is actually the hardware itself (processing speed, RAM capacity, hard disk space) that is causing the issue.
As with new software, there will be a small productivity hit as you reinstall everything and re-establish your workflow, so regular upgrades can become a productivity trap.