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Ruthless efficiency. Always demanded, today’s workplaces are characterised by the constant need for more. More productivity, more profit and more output. The mounting pressure is often felt very keenly by CIOs as they’re tasked with helping employees achieve those (sometimes impossible) goals. Although technology can help, as organisations continue to battle an ever-increasing amount of information, productivity has gone from being a top priority to an urgent requirement. The data deluge is slowing businesses down and the figures speak for themselves. A recent study from Canon found that workers are spending an average of 25 minutes per day locating historical documents! Multiply this by the number of workers in your organisation and the number of days in a week and the significant level of wasted time and resource becomes abundantly clear.

Can anything be done about it? Training, investment in the best equipment and better employee motivation are often named by IT leaders as key factors to help achieve productivity. But none of these solutions can work by themselves. Training can only prove useful in the context of an efficient framework with many principles and practices already in place. Investment in the best equipment is pointless if staff don’t know how to use it. Employee motivation can only go so far if they are limited by their knowledge and capabilities. Have you ever been motivated by a task that you didn’t feel you could do? Of course not. The trick then, is to be able to train, invest in and motivate staff without unnecessarily increasing workloads, budgets or time spent.

Sounds impossible, right? It doesn’t have to be. With only three small steps, CIOs can reach these goals and genuinely attest that business technology does improve business productivity. The best part is the steps themselves come from the very place where productivity starts: the workforce.

Workers across Europe tell us that their productivity (and indeed, business productivity) can easily be improved by addressing the following:

1. Central storage systems

It’s crucial for CIOs to focus their efforts on managing information and to remember that this is where the real productivity investments start. Without proper storage systems to help employees contain and manage information, any hopes of long-term productivity gains will be damaged as files get lost, duplicated or compromised. Over three quarters of respondents claim their organisations already have central servers, but at least four in ten aren’t making use of them as often as they should be.

2. Standardised processes

A lack of standardised processes is exactly the reason for the four in ten statistic above. Almost half of office workers view their company as unproductive due to information not being shared effectively. However, this is not usually due to a lack of infrastructure, but a lack of processes. From agreeing on whether documents are stored in hard or soft copy to coming up with consistent file taxonomy, different organisations will need different procedures but these are absolutely crucial for the long-term efficacy of the business.

3. Training

Naturally it’s not enough to have standardised practices in place – CIOs also need to make sure these are adhered to. On-going training is a key way to help workers master these methods and stop wasting time. Indeed, over half believe it should be the main priority when it comes to improving productivity, as they recognise that learning more about the technology they use means they can get the most out of it and do a better job. The other benefit of training is that it builds knowledge, which in turn builds confidence and motivation. And, as many truly exceptional IT leaders will attest, employee motivation is invaluable in the results it can generate.

Employee productivity can be improved with the right technology and tools. But by following the above three steps it is possible to make real long-term changes to the running of your business, improve motivation and actually develop a framework in which no employee is left behind and productivity continues to grow. Remember: centralise, standardise and train. The rest will come to you.