How Technology Affects Your Business Productivity | Fora Financial Blog
How Technology May Be Affecting Your Business Productivity
February 23, 2020

How Technology May Be Affecting Your Business Productivity

Technology is making it easier to be productive than ever. Yet, some workers are realizing that there can be too much of a good thing, as staying connected 24/7 can negatively affect our work.

Luckily, there are ways you can manage technology so that it improves employee productivity. These tactics include sensible time tracking and creating a daily schedule. In addition, there are ways to avoid technology’s detriments, including stress and burnout. They include limiting contact outside work hours and spending time away from your devices.

The Technology Revolution Is Invasive But Beneficial

The same aspects of technology that help increase employee productivity can become a hindrance.

Often, employees have trouble disconnecting from work, especially if they have access to work documents on their smartphones or laptops.

A 2019 study by Adobe found that 13 percent of people check their work email while they’re still in bed. 25 percent do so while eating breakfast. Among Millennials and Gen X respondents, 25 percent check their email multiple times per day when they’re on vacation.

During work hours, we’re interrupted by a constant influx of notifications. Emails and instant messages pop up and demand our attention. While staying connected to colleagues is a good thing, these interruptions make it hard to focus.

Although screens let us connect with people regardless of their location, they can impede social development and in-person relationships. The average mobile phone user glances at their phone 150 times per day. This can hinder nonverbal communication, such as eye contact. Studies show that young adults struggle with phone calls in the workplace because they’re used to texting.

When it comes to technology, what can a business do to improve its productivity? Start by being aware of the risks and taking steps to mitigate them.

Benefits of Technology In Productivity

There are numerous ways in which technology can lead to increased productivity and better time management.

  • Connecting remote workers:

More and more employees are working from home or taking on remote work. In addition, many companies have offices all around the world. Technology allows people to communicate with others, no matter how far away they are. Coworkers can connect instantly to ask a question or seek help with a project.

  • Organization:

Time trackers and online calendars can make employees more efficient and avoid wasted time. They help with managing schedules and keeping track of meetings and appointments.

  • Collaboration:

Tools like Google Docs and project management software let people avoid duplicate work. Employees can see what their peers are doing and collaborate more effectively.

Potential Drawbacks

For all its benefits, technology has the potential to reduce efficiency and even harm workers’ health.

  • Health:

There are health risks for employees who are constantly attached to their devices. These risks affect their mental, emotional, and physical well beings. Spending too much time on your phone can lead to stress and burnout. Also, hunching over your screen causes physical pain, including “tech neck.”

  • Distraction:

Your computer and phone are goldmines for distraction. When you check a text or email, it’s easy to get distracted by less important online tasks.

  • Unrealistic expectations:

Most people know what it’s like to have a boss who expects you to be “on” all the time. Being reachable outside work hours makes it hard to set boundaries.

Strategies To Harness Productivity In Your Business

There many ways to limit technology while still taking advantage of its benefits. Pay attention to the time you spend interacting with your phone and computer. You might be surprised to learn how many hours you spend looking at screens, both at work and at home.

Try these methods to ensure that your devices are improving your productivity, not thwarting it.

1. Time Track, But Don’t Be Obsessive

There are several benefits to tracking your time at work. You and your employer can better understand how much time you spend on different tasks. You can pinpoint inefficiencies and identify ways to work smarter.

Time tracking becomes an issue when you spend as much time on it as you do on your actual work. It’s also a problem if employees feel that management doesn’t trust them to manage their time. The key is to find a reasonable balance. Use time tracking to look at the big picture, not to micromanage every minute.

Tracking your time can help you stay healthy at work. Pay attention to how much time you spend on breaks, not just how much you work. Studies show that frequent breaks make you more productive while reducing stress.

Don’t forget to acknowledge your own or your employees’ accomplishments. In addition to tracking what tasks you spent your time on, make a note of what goals you met. Positive recognition can fuel business productivity.

2. Constant Contact Is Great, But Can Also Be Detrimental

Some of us remember the days when it was difficult to reach an off-the-clock team member. You’d call their landline, leave a message on the answering machine, and hope they responded.

Now, most people have their phones with them all the time. This connectivity is useful when there’s an emergency or a fire to put out. However, it can also take a toll on workers’ health.

Talk to your boss about what issues are urgent enough that they need to be addressed outside work hours. For everything else, ask your boss and colleagues to wait until the next day. If you’re not on-call, put your phone away, so you’re less likely to check emails and texts.

Too much connectivity can also become an issue during work hours. Of course, it’s helpful to be available when your boss needs you, but it’s easy to be distracted by unnecessary notifications throughout the day.

In addition, set boundaries with your coworkers. Let them know if you’re in the middle of something and don’t have time to interact.

3. The Importance Of Planning Your Day, And Sticking To It

Having a set schedule can help you avoid technological distractions. Consider scheduling time each day to check emails or texts and turning off notifications outside that time.

If you need to check emails outside of work, set a limited amount of time to do so. When you’re done, put your phone away.

As often as possible, schedule some time away from your devices. Plan some time for relaxation, socializing, and exercise. Don’t just assume that those activities will happen during a busy day.

If your work schedule is flexible, base your day around when you’re most productive. Planning your day this way is one of the major benefits of flextime and can improve your quality of work.

However, you should still be realistic. You’re a human, not a productivity robot. If you know you don’t do your best work in the late afternoon, use that time for easier tasks.

4. Learn How To Step Back From Your Devices

Make sure you have activities in your life that don’t involve devices, such as a sport or other hobby. Exercising helps counteract the adverse health effects of being glued to our devices. Plan time with family and friends, and agree to put your phones aside.

Staring at your phone or laptop’s screen at night is detrimental to sleep. To combat this, set a time each night when you’ll put away your devices. Try to choose a time at least two hours before bedtime.

Most of us use our devices for activities like social media and games when we’re not working. Set a time limit for these activities to avoid endlessly scrolling Instagram or playing Candy Crush for hours.

If you can, set boundaries with your boss and coworkers for when they can reach you. Let them know you won’t be available during certain hours outside work. Set an away message during those times so people will know not to expect an immediate response.

Final Thoughts

Technology isn’t going anywhere. By using it mindfully, you can avoid some of its pitfalls. Many employers are putting more effort into helping workers maintain a healthy work-life balance. Part of that balance includes setting limits on how you use your devices.

It might seem unlikely, but limiting electronics in specific ways makes you more productive. By avoiding distractions, planning, and stepping back when you need to, you can make technology work for you.

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Frequently Asked Questions

How is technology detrimental to workforce productivity?

Being too connected to your devices can increase stress. It can also lead to health problems that make you less productive at work. Tasks that are easier due to technology, like checking email, can distract you from important duties.

What are some ways to make sure technology doesn’t hurt my productivity?

Start by simply being aware of technology’s potential to create distractions. This awareness can help you avoid problems. Be intentional when you use your devices, such as only checking emails during specific times. Set boundaries for when people can contact you, both during and outside of work hours.

Fora Financial

Editorial Note: Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author's alone, and have not been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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Fora Financial is a working capital provider to small business owners nationwide. In addition, the Fora Financial team provides educational information to the small business community through their blog, which covers topics such as business financing, marketing, technology, and much more. If you’d like to see a topic covered on the Fora Financial blog, or want to submit a guest post, please email us at [email protected].