How Have Business Tech And The Pandemic Redefined Productivity?

The future of work looks uncertain.

Some have fully opened offices, others are in a WFH mode, most are doing the hybrid thing.

All decisions should not be set in stone right now as white-collar work has never seen such a major shift in the past.

The pandemic didn’t really bring the low productivity discussion to the table. With social media and other procrastination traps, this was a hot topic way before. However, back then the extent of this problem was much smaller as the standard office hours and commuting time still put a frame on most office workers’ work dynamic.

Human interaction is still at the core of the business – the pandemic has just forced us to adapt it to a different pace, borders, and locations. Although before, work from home was frowned upon by many employers, they have had to accept it and be open to more transparent, carefree, and relatable ways of collaboration and communication.

It is now normal to have kids, family, and pets in the background, or have messy hair and sip your cup of tea while in a Zoom call (though it is still deemed as unprofessional by most, we are all a lot more accepting of such bloopers).

So how do people make sense of this transformation of concepts like a “meeting” and “office” in the current situation? With the help of technology, more than ever before. A meeting is now a Zoom chat, and the office is Slack. Workflow optimization, HR processes, and task coordination have now been channeled through project management tools such as SaaS BPM that allow everyone involved in an organization to see everything that matters to a task in one place (template).

Knowledge and work relations are time-bound and more focused on the matter of fact. Time wasting is hence brought to a minimum as all steps, deadlines, and targets are defined digitally – so there’s hardly any room for misunderstanding and time-wasting. Everyone on the team has access to the same information so ‘he said she said’ situations are highly unlikely.

The Productivity Obsession Pre/ Post – pandemic

Before the pandemic foisted upon us, many people perceived productivity as ticking off tasks on a list. Once the remote world model became the main way to work, people started paying more attention to stuff they previously didn’t have time to do, such as exercise, hobbies, and life goals. Ultimately, this shift brought to a change in people’s values, many realizing that their life before COVID was not satisfactory nor healthy or happy. 

The “old” normal was waking up early enough to get ready and commute to the office, where you’d spend 8-10 hours fuelling yourself with coffee, only to get back home after the same commute and go to bed at a decent time and get a ‘decent’ amount of sleep. So, before, work was a priority at the expense of other aspects of life, usually crammed in the weekends.

The pandemic output has pushed a shift in the traditional understanding of what productivity is. Corporate productivity has given way to a more holistic stress-less approach to productivity associated with more freedom of the mind, flexibility, and…more productivity as more is achieved for less!

We never know what would happen when the world of work settles post-COVID but it seems like many employees are pretty happy with remote work. Whether it is full-time remote or hybrid, the new model may actually prove to be more beneficial business-wise and healthwise. 

The magic of remote collaboration

The pandemic took businesses by surprise, but those who had already incorporated a collaboration system in their workflows were much better prepared. The transition to digital was a real pain but employers soon realized that productivity is actually more measurable this way. When all the work is on a task management platform each team member is part of, there’s not much room for distractions and cover-ups.

Firstly, collaboration tools like business process management software save a lot of money for your company. As the job description lineup and the onboarding process are broken down into scrutinized easily-to-follow steps, you no longer need a big HR department doing the regular daily tasks.

These include writing and uploading job offers, refining the recruitment stages pre-hire, handling queries by the new starters, describing responsibilities and seniority within specific teams, etc. Not to mention that having numerous in-house solutions is both expensive and insecure compared to a low-maintenance, cloud-based smart solution.

Secondly, task management systems bring scalability and flexibility within your resources to a whole new level. Remember when every bit of information was stored in different files, or when you had to use different tools for different types of data in order to move the workflow forward? With BPM software, that’s no longer the case due to its transparency and project prioritization opportunities.

Last but not least, collaboration tools make remote/ hybrid work a breeze. All projects are broken down into tasks and subtasks, have due dates and teammates get notifications on everything concerning the projects they’re involved in.

This means no more skimming through long chat messages, or even notes scattered somewhere on your desktop that only you know and see. Every bit of essential information about a project is on that specific project template, and all communication on its execution is stacked there available for the team to revise and act on.

The Big Productivity Gap

Naturally, organizations that used to be productive before the pandemic used the lockdowns and remote work to their advantage. As a result, productivity increased by 5-8%. On the other hand, companies that had adopted poor collaboration and time management practices suffered from a 3 to 6% decrease in production time.

Many companies started investing in new business tech as soon as the pandemic hit the world but that was already a little too late.  It takes time for a team to adjust to a new tool especially when working remotely.

Understandably, a drastic shift like this leads to a drop in productivity, quality of work, and unfortunately, customer relationships. When an employer introduces a new project management technology, they need to take into account that there will be adjustment periods, updates, downtimes, and additional training associated with it. And let’s face it, the pandemic rush gave the business world anything but extra time.

However, organizations already at ease with business software really only felt the transition to home office mode. Once processes are right in place and staff are used to using them correctly to the point this has become a part of your company culture, the only change is more video calls that are shorter in duration. Therefore remote employee time tracking is essential for managers to track employees and support them with time management.

Innovations in Recruitment

Both the unprecedented circumstances in the past two years and the evolution of productivity software have affected recruitment practices tremendously. Remote work has made a lot of talent available to businesses that would have never considered these options otherwise. 

With the help of business process management software, team management software, or other team collaboration tools, HR managers can automate mundane everyday tasks. Having set them aside, they can channel all their energy into finding the best talent out there.

Recruitment on a BPM tool is very interactive and efficient. Job descriptions and requirements are stacked in specific tasks which allow candidates to do most of the work by themselves rather than relying on the recruiter. 

Also, business process management is great when it comes to onboarding and training. Automate the first essential steps of new hires and expect results straight from their first day. As this type of software is transparent and based on templates, it’s easy to monitor and manage their progress and minimize additional questions, misunderstandings, and blocks.

Final Thoughts

Productivity has always been the main priority in the business world – how to achieve more and save more. Before 2020, people were still obsessed with efficiency – the daily commute, the office meetings, KPIs, late nights, reduced sleep, and repeat. Many organizations got on the business tech wagon as soon as they saw its potential to automate and speed up results, improve employee engagement, and team and customer satisfaction. 

However, those who didn’t were forced to adapt project management tools quite quickly and learn along the way, which affected productivity poorly. The future of work looks uncertain, but it is clear that technology would be the way to success as remote work seems to be the new normal.