ETBureau: What improvements do you think are required in the productivity tools available in the market today?
Zeb Evans: As the need for productivity and collaboration solutions increased, so did the number of tools and platforms claimed to help. The problem is, there are just too many tools.
The average employee uses between 3-5 separate programs to manage their workday, usually having one app for project management, one for chat, one for email, one for document management, and so on.
The influx of all these different solutions has actually had the opposite effect. They’ve made companies less efficient overall, becoming more time consuming to manage and requiring more communication, not less.
To optimize productivity, solutions should be streamlined so that all of the necessary tools are in a single platform that keeps track of everything: projects, tasks, schedules, conversations, docs and more. Otherwise, employees will lose time juggling too many productivity tools.
ETBureau: How do enterprises ensure the work-life balance for employees in this new remote working normal? What initiatives would you suggest?
Zeb Evans: Work-life balance means different things to everyone, especially while most are working remotely. It’s crucial for enterprises, as well as SMBs, to provide the tools that increase remote work efficiency to support those striving to maintain more life balance. Also, these tools should enable employees to work at full capacity and to work more when desired.
The key is transparency and alignment. Open communication between managers and employees can help avoid issues, but when employees do express issues with work-life balance, some policies can help.
One policy is ensuring notifications (like Slack for example) are turned off company-wide outside of work hours. Apple can also assist with this using app controls to require employees to stop from working in certain timeslots. Time management software can also help managers see when certain employees are overburdened and vice versa.
It’s also essential for leaders to be empathetic and understand where certain life situations might affect someone’s work/life balance and cause stress outside normal parameters. Managing kids at home, depression from staying inside, and loss of regular vacations can all increase stress in these remote times, and enterprises can help with extra benefits like mindfulness programs, life coaching, personalized support, and more.
ETBureau: What trends do you think will take a stronghold within productivity tools?
Zeb Evans: More consolidation. As companies add more required apps and platforms for employees to use to manage their workloads, employee burnout will increase.
Companies are most efficient when employees spend their time executing, not managing five different apps that all serve another purpose but don’t contribute to overall results. There will always be those companies that chase tools and trends.
However, executives and managers that understand the value of getting things done and not just appearing productive are able to notice when too much of an employee’s time is spent reporting on work rather than working and look for the solutions that combat this app fatigue.
ETBureau: How has the rise of pandemic changed the landscape of collaboration and tools for enterprises?
Zeb Evans: The workplace, as we know, is changing. Trends that were anticipated to play out over the next 10 years were accelerated to account for quarantine needs. While some companies experimented with remote work in the past, many were not prepared to transform into a digital workplace overnight.
The pandemic has proved the need for adaptability and flexibility. Not every company will stay remote forever, but several enterprise giants have already announced work-from-home plans into mid-2021. Companies will need to consider their most valuable asset – their employees – and their preferences in figuring out what model works best for them.
My best guess is that many workplaces will move towards a flexible or hybrid workplace, where some employees are in the office and some are remote. Collaboration tools will need to reflect this new way of working and accommodate teams across all locations.
They will need to be intuitive, robust, and flexible enough to work across all departments so that every employee can work from the same platform and deliver transparency, even in remote conditions.