Piecing together the productivity puzzle
Written by Chris Farinacci, COO at Asana
The productivity puzzle has presented challenges for UK business leaders and economies for some time now, with little hope of a solution. With a productivity gap growing rapidly between the UK and other developed economies, stakes are running high. Research from McKinsey, shows that medium and long-term improvements to existing business practices could contribute to more than £100 billion increase in UK economic growth.
As new tools and innovations in the technology sector are coming into play, teams are gradually finding their flow. One company, intent on helping teams do this is Asana. With the aim of tackling what is contributing to a lack of productivity, Asana is unearthing the factors hindering individual, team, and organisational productivity levels.
Falling into the category of ‘work management software’ Asana helps address the factors that are negatively impacting our productivity levels. Research we conducted early this year amongst a sample of more than 2,000 UK employees from teams and companies of various sizes indicated that more than half (51%) of UK workers believe their productivity levels would increase if they better understood how their work fits into company objectives. However, this isn’t the only contributing factor, and more pressingly we found that one-third of respondents said they were unclear on the short and long-term objectives of their company. This lack of transparency identifies a distinct chasm between business leaders and their employees, who don’t fully understand their objectives and the value of work they do.
The inefficient practices of communication platforms
McKinsey research indicates that we’re operating in an era coined ‘The Age of Urgency’. Businesses need to move at pace in order to stay competitive, however doing is a dangerous game, as it often comes at the detriment of clarity. We’re now communicating in a multitude of ways, through a vast number of disconnected platforms, and with numerous different teams and individuals. This can quickly turn the simplest of tasks into something a lot more complex as teams are grappling with more information than ever before. Collaboration hubs have, so far, merely scratched the surface and have failed to adequately address the need for transparency and clarity in work, which ultimately halters team coordination and productivity.
Increasing visibility across the board
The growing interest in work management tools has already been shown to have a positive effect in productivity levels across the UK. Employees and teams are able to share the correct information with their teammates, helping them to find their flow and perform their jobs with greater speed and efficiency. However, businesses are still falling short, and people are rightly asking why.
When it comes to coordinating information and actioning work amongst teams, there are a number of issues contributing to this that we need to address. Firstly, teams are struggling to identify and plan a clear process that bridges the gap between discussion and action. Secondly, they are struggling to coordinate copious amounts of information into meaningful work and solidify who is owning what and for when. Because of this, a number of employees still remain in the dark.
Through our research, we also revealed a common theme – UK workers don’t fully understand what their company objectives are. What’s more, those situated in the upper echelon of the organisational hierarchy don’t understand what work is being done at lower levels. Half of UK employees are of the mindset that their leadership team does not fully understand how work is completed in their organisation. If that isn’t a drain on motivation and productivity, we’re not sure what is.
This is where tools like Asana come into play. Integration with messaging apps, such as Slack, and file storage solutions like Dropbox, enable teams to collaborate and share information quickly, helping them to understand who’s doing what, by when, and more importantly clarify why. Having a myriad of tools at your fingertips provides teams with the information they need to delegate projects and files associated with each project, whilst tracking and maintaining deadlines to ensure the overall objective comes to fruition.
Work management software provides teams with clear visibility as to what is required to bring disparate teams across businesses onto the same page. We’ve shown that there is an urgent need for clarity on every level of the company, and the potential benefits for implementing this, especially considering the uncertainty of the future for UK businesses.
The future for UK businesses
The current state of affairs in the UK is a big concern for businesses. Collaboration tools were introduced to address gaps in productivity and bridge organisational silos. Despite the demand and ubiquity, these tools have fallen far short of initial expectations, with productivity levels continuing to suffer. Businesses need to able to bridge the gap between the execution of individual tasks and the broader organisational objectives of the team, if they want to succeed in bridging the productivity puzzle across the UK.
Company objectives are needed to show employees the purpose of the organisation and paint the picture of their future. They are intended to provide a clarity of purpose and in turn, heighten employee motivation, which overall, increases organisational effectiveness. Workers need to be equipped with the right tools and information needed to regain a sense of clarity and purpose with their work, without merely paying lip service to their current objectives.
With software like Asana, there is a brighter future for business productivity. Innovations in artificial intelligence has already been able to monitor our working habits and behaviors, providing employees with deeper insights on their day-to-day activities. From predicting which time of day we are best suited to perform certain types of work, to providing us with recommendations for structuring our day as to maximise productivity and efficiency.
Insights into how people are spending their day has the potential to pinpoint team pressures and the time it should take to complete certain tasks. There is hope that eventually it will also be able to dictate who is best suited to assume ownership over these tasks as well and start leading on certain projects.
If productivity levels are to improve, organisations need to take action and implement clear strategies that increase transparency and clarity of purpose. Our conversations with global organisations show that teams are siloed by a lack of clarity around work. We know that when individuals and teams are working towards the same mission, productivity levels rise and the potential for work management software in helping teams achieve their goals is huge. In the UK, we’re still on a journey to finding the most effective route for collaboration success and, while these types of improvements to business practices won’t solely ameliorate our productivity puzzle, they will shift the pendulum a great deal.