I’m fed up with hearing people accuse the Internet of being a time-waster.
Guns don’t kill people, people kill people. In the same way I believe that people who like to waste time instead of working will find a way to do so, with or without the Internet. Try installing a ‘net nanny’ on their computer and confiscating their smartphone as they walk through the door. Such behaviour would probably get you hauled up in front of a magistrate these days, but if you could get away with it I bet you’d discover that the time-wasters find other outlets for their trifling. The hard workers on your payroll – because we all know there are both species in the average office ecosystem – would merely experience plummeting productivity levels, because who can do their job without the Internet anyway?
If you’re prepared to give me that point then I have a pretty radical suggestion. Perhaps encouraging employees to spend more time online could be the most productive strategy for your business? In my experience the Internet can be a powerful accelerant, allowing you to complete mundane but essential tasks in record time; automating; recording; storing and remembering things so that I can spend more time concentrating on the job at hand. For me that’s arguing with the Internet about whether it is wasting people’s time or not. For your employees however (the ones who want to work hard and do well anyway), it will mean doing more of whatever they do for you.
There will always be slackers, but you know what? With the right tools you can subtly but transparently keep an eye out for them. List managers like IQTell and Wunderlist are brilliant for this as they let you assign and monitor tasks through one central hub, so everyone can see what everyone else is doing (or not). Peer pressure could be your most effective weapon in the fight against office lethargy –after all if someone on the team isn’t pulling their weight, it rarely affects only the boss.
If you want to step it up a gear take a look at services like BasceCamp and Skylightit. For a modest monthly subscription these more professional collaboration platforms let you track tasks for lots of people across multiple projects, managing everyone’s calendars, billing and budgets, file-sharing, and keeping an eye on resources. You’ll know what your staff need even before they do; it’s a control-freak’s dream – just try not to be too creepy about it. Skylightit even has a messaging system and shared contacts database, so no more bothering each other for somebody’s mobile number and wasting fifteen-minutes chatting about last night’s TV while you’re about it.
I realise that makes me sound like a bit of a despot, but I’m not suggesting for a minute that you suck all of the fun out of the office. In fact if everyone is working more efficiently you should be able to relax a bit more about the occasional long lunch break, or fifteen-minutes spent shopping online for the perfect outfit for an upcoming occasion. Life happens, and people will always prioritise the things that are important to them personally. If you use the Internet to provide an environment where staff can get their work done and still keep on top of living their lives, you will find you have a much happier and more productive work-force.