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August 3, 2016

5 Top Tips to Help Your Business Combat the Summer Productivity Lull

List: Nicola Hodson, COO, Microsoft UK, looks at how you can keep productivity up in the summer months.

By Vinod

Summer hours are a thing of the past for most businesses. As companies look to improve their top and bottom line performance whatever the weather, the key is to get people working more efficiently and effectively during periods of productivity slowdown.

The latest figures from ONS reveal that productivity has fallen by 1.2 percent and labour costs are rising. Bosses are under pressure to boost workforce and organisational performance, but summer distractions, including the upcoming Olympic Games, can lead to a lethargic and unfocused workforce.

Holidays offer an opportunity for employees to recharge their energy levels and return revitalised to the workplace. Business needs to encourage these necessary breaks and a healthy business culture, whilst maintaining maximum productivity with dwindling employee numbers. So, how can companies maintain workforce productivity levels and keep growth targets on track during the summer? If employees are able to use resources intelligently – both in terms of time and money – they can do their jobs faster, more accurately and come away feeling better refreshed and more productive because of it.

Business can use a variety of techniques and technologies to improve worker efficiency. For example, embracing cloud computing platforms, such as Office 365 and Microsoft Azure, create an effective digital workplace where employees have the freedom to work flexibly throughout the summer months. Below you will find our Top 5 tips to maximise the potential of your workforce during the summer:


1. Communicate

Continue to communicate your company’s goals during traditionally perceived slowdown periods. Encourage teamwork and collaboration, and as employees leave for their summer holidays, ensure that your workforce has sight of their targets so they can hit the ground running when they return.

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Research from the McKinsey Global Institute suggests that use of social tools for workplace communication can raise the productivity of ‘interaction’ workers by 20-25%.

Managers can get a good idea of morale and productivity levels by engaging with workers in real-time, using enterprise employee communication tools such as Yammer.


2. Hold the fort

Encourage workers to switch off during their holiday – just make sure the team holding the fort is switched on. When it comes to managing resources during summer holiday absence, use tech support tools to help staff during the busy holiday period. Before employees go on holiday, tools like Microsoft Outlook 2016 allow them to set tasks and create calendar reminders for colleagues. Rather than leaving a handover note which can quickly get superseded by imminent work pressures, these tools keep tasks front of mind and ensure deadlines are met.


3. Embrace anyplace working

Embrace anyplace working by giving workers the tools to continue to work effectively from home or elsewhere should they be spending more time with family during the summer holidays or need to work abroad. Recent research from Microsoft finds that around 74% of managers have said that enabling their employees to work wherever they wanted was “important”, with 65% believing that this would boost productivity. However, a lack of suitable technology could be holding some workers back. Just 25% of employees surveyed used a work laptop versus 65% of managers.

The home team can often feel guilty for interrupting a team member’s holiday, whereas the away team can want to continue to be across key projects. Document collaboration tools such as Office 365 and OneDrive allow for quick updates and real-time collaboration through shared documents, reducing feedback time for people to get back to their holiday safe in the knowledge the task is in hand.


4. Be flexible

With events such as the summer Olympics just around the corner, many employees will have a live sporting event they want to catch on TV or online. Businesses should embrace a flexible working culture and not limit opportunities for colleagues to tune in. Instead, find a time for employees to come together to watch key sporting events in collaborative, down-time office zones. Organisations could find the run-up to the event the most productive part of the day for employees.  Harness the energy and excitement created by sporting success.


5. Get some face-to-face time

Encourage your employees to use online communications and collaboration platforms such as Skype for Business to join key meetings. For people that need to be on call whilst on holiday, face-to-face communication is the quickest and easiest way to communicate and allow you to get back to your holiday. Making the holiday blues on return to work less of an ordeal.


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