Recent times have seen an unprecedented change in how we work. If necessity is described as the ‘mother of invention’ the pandemic surely falls into this category.
With the rapid deployment of remote working the modern workplace was changed forever with employees needing to adjust to the new reality.
This often involved setting up home offices where work could comfortably and efficiently be carried out.
But these developments, along with different generational attitudes, have presented enterprises with a multitude of questions that urgently need answering.
These are aimed at ensuring productivity, not just in the home environment, but also for those employees who have ventured back into the traditional workplace: That’s why we’ve asked industry experts about the best ways to make the modern workplace as productive as possible.
Kat Warboys, Marketing Director, APAC at HubSpot, one of our contributors to this month’s Editor’s Question, offered this advice regarding health and wellness: “Implement practices to actively ward off burnout and you will be rewarded tenfold in not just loyalty, but productivity, too. Access to wellbeing and health services is critical to this, so ensure your workforce has adequate services set up for when they need them most.
“Every one of our 4,500 plus team members has access to personal coaching, therapy, digital courses, meditation and more through Modern Health, which is just one of the services we invest in to ensure the health and wellbeing of our staff.
“This year, we also introduced HubSpot Unplugged, off the back of feedback around how employees were feeling during the pandemic. This initiative included taking a company-wide ‘Global Week of Rest’ in July, no internal meeting Fridays and adding more mental health and wellbeing programming.
“Encouraging our teams to ‘unplug’ not only meant they came back to work refreshed, but it also connected us on a human level by acknowledging that, whatever level you are in a business, we all need a break to do our best work.”
Kat Warboys, Marketing Director, APAC at HubSpot
Since the world began working from home 18 months ago, productivity has been the word on every business leader’s lips. Though some were firm believers from day dot, others took more convincing that the workforce really could get through just as much of their to-do lists – and often more – surrounded by their home comforts.
With the line between business and leisure becoming increasingly blurred by our new remote ‘normal’, the question of productivity should go hand-in-hand with efficiency. Productivity isn’t about how much an employee can achieve between 5am and 10pm, it’s about how much they can achieve within the confines of a flexible yet structured working day.
If optimum productivity is achieved, your workforce will have a better work-life balance, leading them to be less stressed at work and, as the cycle continues, they will remain productive members of your team.
While there is no silver bullet for boosting productivity, here are two places to start:
While offering training to employees will show them that you are supporting them in their career journey, remember that your business will be an equal benefactor, reaping return on investment for potentially years or even decades to come. Just as our mission at HubSpot is to help millions of organizations grow better, we’re committed to creating a culture where employees can grow better, too. As our Culture Code states: “With great people comes great responsibility. We believe in investing in life-long learning.”
Technology is interwoven into all of our lives, personal and professional and there are many ways that we can look at the role of tech on productivity.
The first is equipping your teams, particularly those who are customer facing, with the right tools for the job. This starts with accessing the data and insights they need to do their roles well and best serve the customer.
Enabling your teams to have a single source of truth through technology like a CRM platform will make their job infinitely easier. Not only does having a centralized view improve your team’s ability to be confident in their insights and recommendations, but it will also free them up from cobbling together reports and trying to align mismatched data sets from other departments and other systems.
The second is automating those repeatable tasks to free your team up to focus on the strategic work that matters. This not only solves productivity and efficiency, being freed from these laborious tasks helps foster innovative, creative thinking too.
Lastly, the majority of us are working remotely at least some of the time. This means that our hours of work, whether we’re in the same time zone or not, likely don’t always sync up. Encourage teams to adopt an asynchronous communication style wherever possible, leverage tools like Slack and Loom to support thoughtful, inclusive communication that fosters collaboration while being mindful of people’s life outside of work.
Tom Cornell, the Head of Assessments (APAC) at HireVue
The silver bullet for workplace productivity is undoubtedly automation. In fact, teams that automate tedious tasks like data entry and day-to-day admin have the ability to innovate in ways their peers don’t. Time is power, and by redirecting your team’s time away from tasks that can easily be automated by computers, you will see a natural increase in out-of-the-box thinking and with it, productivity.
Far from the common misconception that robots will one day take over our jobs, less than 5% of all roles consist of activities that are fully automatable. 60% of roles however do have an automation potential of around 30%, and it’s this figure that businesses need to aspire to in order to reach maximum productivity potential.
A workforce that can fully focus on the job they applied to do, rather than getting bogged down in laborious tasks, is also a happy one. This is particularly true of the newest generation entering the workforce which has grown up on technology and incorporates it into nearly every aspect of their daily lives. Gen Zs are conditioned to expect a fast, self-driven, mobile-first digital experience both in their personal and professional lives.
For a demographic that welcomes asynchronous communication, prefers engaging chatbots and receiving text reminders, you can guarantee that automation will not only be well received by Gen Zs, but they will find ways to make it more efficient, more convenient for them, and in turn, increase productivity across the company at every level.
Just as employees require automation in their roles, so too do the recruiters that get them there in the first place. Through the use of conversational AI, asynchronous comms and video interviews, recruiters are no longer spending their days scheduling tasks and interviews or reviewing piles of CVs and cover letters. Instead, this added layer of automation is allowing them to focus on more meaningful work – making human connections and strategic hiring decisions.
Another way to bolster productivity is by working closely with the freelance economy. Australia has borne witness to a freelancing boom, with Australian outsourcing platform Airtasker recording a 24.8% increase in finance and business tasks over the past 18 months, along with a massive 48% increase in general business and administration tasks overall.
By leveraging freelancers as an extension of their teams, businesses can enjoy numerous benefits such as a fluid workforce that is adaptive to change, wider access to specialist talent, cost savings, and critically, an increase in productivity prompted by a freelancer’s key traits; hyper-specialization and accountability.
Anurag Kahol, Founder and CTO, Bitglass
As Asia Pacific companies navigate increasingly distributed environments, the question of zero trust keeps recurring, as is the relationship between this framework and secure access service edge (SASE).
Security teams are looking to understand zero trust security and SASE better, including whether they are mutually exclusive or compatible. So, what are each of these security models and how can companies determine which will be appropriate?
In fact, they are highly complementary. In almost any case, the two work better when used together to support security teams striving to ensure that the company’s digital footprint does not expand beyond their control.
Historically, companies have relied on virtual private networks (VPNs) to provide employees working remotely with a secure ‘tunnel’ into the on-premises network.
Even before the shift to remote work caused by COVID-19, the effectiveness of this model was weakening. The perimeter-based security approach does not combat the threat of insider attacks or the fact that non-employees may need access.
A cybercriminal gaining access via methods such as VPN credential abuse, is typically able to move laterally across resources on the network without any restrictions.
COVID-19 has pushed IT teams into revisiting their infrastructure to balance security with productivity. Zero trust and SASE solutions are being adopted together because they help organizations unite a least-privilege access approach with an architecture that streamlines how highly distributed users and cloud resources are secured.
Organizations are looking to secure their expanding surface areas with policies that enforce least-privilege access control via technologies like zero trust network access, secure web gateway (SWG) and cloud access security broker (CASB), to name a few.
But when these technologies are deployed in a one-off fashion, it can leave organizations manually replicating policies across different dashboards.
While zero trust focuses on appropriate authentication and secure access to data and systems on an as-needed basis, SASE refers to cloud-delivered platforms deployed at the Edge which provide wide-ranging protections any place data reaches. As integrated platforms that consist of an array of complementary solutions, SASE offerings are crucial when following a zero trust framework.
Sometimes the effort to follow zero trust security principles can inadvertently drive up the amount of deployed point products and produce unanticipated disparities in protection across use cases.
SASE addresses this challenge by helping organizations preserve and sustain common security controls across all enterprise resources. This ensures consistency by helping security teams remove blind spots that can arise due to disparate tools and solutions. SASE offerings typically offer CASB, SWG and ZTNA functionality in order to achieve this.
Security teams can configure policies that safeguard SaaS apps, control access to web destinations, identify shadow IT and secure apps on-premises from a sole control point with a single dashboard for configuring wide-ranging policies. This provides consistent, comprehensive protections and consolidated ease of management.
By uniting SASE and zero trust, organizations can establish and maintain an environment that reliably enforces security procedures for any interaction on or off premises – through a single unified platform.Click below to share this article