In the past 15 years the growth of technology has gone above and beyond expectations. Smart watches, tablets, smart phones and social media have changed the working environment forever.
Used correctly, technology can truly enhance the way we engage with colleagues on a global stage. Instant responses via email, direct calls to mobile phones or a Google Hangout with your Hong Kong partners, have allowed constant connectivity.
Technology has assisted with the improvement of time management. Resource management tools have allowed for transparency across entire companies, if not countries.
Where Technology Can Get It Wrong
Managing time, and remaining efficient, is a difficult balance precisely because of these technological advancements. The main issue with technology is that it can be completely and utterly distracting. It can zap precious minutes, or hours, from a day already jam-packed with events, meetings and deadlines. A recent article noted that symptoms of technology overuse included:
- an inattention to team members i.e. you never have a face-to face meeting;
- scattered focus and multi-tasking (so you’re not really getting anything done)
- lost productivity
That is, you’re checking emails or updates so many times a day you’re wasting time on activities that aren’t important (and by default not doing the ones you should).
Where Should You Start Looking?
In order to get the job done, employees and employers need to recognise that good time management techniques come from the top down. Managers must enforce a healthy working relationship with technology across the shop floor. When are employees reasonably expected to log off? Do they need to check their Slack updates at 9 pm? Without reasonable working hours, the pervasive nature of technology can have a detrimental effect on employee productivity and well-being, both of which suffer when too much interaction is encouraged.
Social Media’s Role in The Debate
Hand in hand with the professional use of digital media is the current defining culture of personal use of social media sites. The average person will spend around 5 years of their life on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, SnapChat and the like.
From these figures it’s easy to assume much of this updating is done at the office. Therefore, it’s imperative that employers have clear expectations, if not defined procedures, to ensure their staff manage their time at work without personal distractions.
Forbes Human Resources Council recommended the following guidelines to be included in office policies:
- Educating employees about social media
- Reminding employees of blurred professional / personal lines
- Presenting views in a professional manner
- Respecting professional boundaries
- Keeping workplace issues of conflicts confidential
- Clarifying whose opinion is expressed
- Representing an employer across all platforms
- Non-Disclosing Confidential Or Proprietary Info
How you can improve your personal life time-keeping
On a personal level it’s recommended that using technology as a time-saver rather than time-drainer is done through the adoption of the following protocols;
- removing apps from your phone
- prioritising your work during office hours (rather than updating your LinkedIn profile)
- tracking your time online.
From the workplace perspective, there are a number of reports that argue social media can be used for the power of good. According to a report published in Forbes by the McKinsey Global Institute, internal use of social media can enhance productivity across the office. It noted that the ‘interaction employee’ spends 28% of their work week answering email and 20% shifting through internal information.
But, “when companies use social media internally, messages become content; a searchable record of knowledge can reduce, by as much as 35%, the time employees spend searching for company information.”
One other suggestion to increase productivity and time management skills is to implement social media breaks. A National Workplace Flexibility Study in 2014, found that flexible working practise bought a 53% increase to employee morale as well as a 20% increase in their productivity level. It also noted that the same employees needed boundaries, which is where the transparent breaks come in.
By leaving their desks at designated times, rather than sneaking a peak at BuzzFeed, could it concluded, increase time management efficiencies across the board. Other companies, can and do, successfully monitor, block access to personal email services or YouTube during office hours.
In the area of time management, there is no one-size fits all approach to controlling social access use across a workplace.
How successful planning helps with time management
Keeping that team organised and motivated is key to productivity and successful use of time.
Excel spreadsheets are still the go-to planning method for many companies, with 750 million users worldwide. Often seen as a ‘free’ tool, they can help organise and streamline procedures. Although without real-time updates and any collaborative functions, they can sometimes hinder successful time management, rather than enhance it.
Apps which help save time
There are also a number of Apps that offer services via Android or iPhone:
- Slack is the most well known of these, and offers communication and collaboration, across work flow spaces. Regardless of a company’s size, Slack cuts down on email communication and brings it all under one roof.
- BlueJeans is described as the ‘meetings platform for the modern workplace‘ it’s a video, audio and web conferencing service that works with internal service such as scheduling tools, to help run meetings successfully. Both Facebook and LinkedIn use the service at their respective HQs.
* Dropbox is familiar to most companies and is a file hosting service, that offers cloud storage, file synchronization, personal cloud, and client software.
A new wave of resource planning tools
Technological advancements are also heralding the arrival of resource planning tools such as Ganttic, which allow for an overall vision on how a company and its many separate resources are functioning (these could be offices, people or even equipment).
Having clarity on who is responsible for which task and what their deadlines and milestones are, allows employees to see what’s expected and when. Good time management can only be apparent if everyone is ‘on the same page’ as it were.
The benefits to time management within business are easy to see:
- They can offer real-time updates, so everyone using the system can work with the same information and avoid expensive errors.
- Drag-and-Drop scheduling allows for a quick and easy way of rescheduling and rearranging tasks and resources.
- Custom views to see both the big picture and details allows for planning across days, weeks, months and year. Clarity on the situation highlights possible pressure points, early on, avoiding delays and time wasting.
Resource planning tools can also offer easy data visualization and reporting, custom colour schemes, task milestones and dependencies, resource utilization tracking and Google calendar synchronization.
With technological advancements looking to continue, we are a workforce that is likely to become more connected over the next decade, whether we use applications and/or devices to improve our time management remains to be seen. With the help of the smartest tech on the market, we can certainly give it a go.
Ganttic is high-level, online resource planning software, which can be used for managing a project portfolio, while also planning resources with maximum efficiency. With Ganttic, you can create clear and comprehensive visual plans that give you an instant overview of all your resources and projects.
Ganttic is highly flexible, designed to be used in whichever way that fits your organisation’s needs. Whether you are looking to build a very simple resource scheduling system, a complex resource management system, or something in between, Ganttic can help you to get things done efficiently and on time.