Tick-tock: time is precious in business. (Image: Flickr user blue2likeyou.)
Are communication and administration tasks diverting resources in your business that could be better used for other things?
A study conducted by Dynamic Markets on behalf of Google has found that even in this age of webcams, collaboration software and instant messaging, many workers struggle to work together effectively.
Many of the 3,500 small companies surveyed cited specific problems with communications and admin. They'll probably be familiar to your company too:
- Over half of respondents said they run into email problems on a weekly basis. The biggest single issue was mailbox size. It's common for some email systems to block incoming and outgoing messages when your mailbox fills up. No word on whether any respondents are secretly pleased for the breathing space they get when this happens.
- Arranging meetings eats chunks of employee time. The survey found that on average, a meeting takes one-and-a-half hours to arrange. Regardless of whether you accept that faintly ludicrous figure, it's clear meetings drain productivity. You can use a shared calendar system to book meetings efficiently (both Microsoft Office and Google Apps offer this function), but I'm not convinced that gets to the root of the problem. It would be far better simply to pledge to hold fewer meetings.
- Another big headache is collating feedback. On average, the people surveyed do this seven times a month, taking two hours each time to combine all the comments into a single master document.
Even when faced with these issues, many workers are still clinging to traditional methods of communication, relying on the phone, email and meetings.
However, some businesses are seeking alternative ways to communicate, with 39% increasing their use of online collaboration tools. The study found that these are more commonly used by organisations which saw an increase in profits or turnover in 2012.
This could suggest that more forward-thinking, tech-savvy small businesses are using collaborative technology to gain a competitive advantage.
Do you use any great collaboration tools in your business? Or is it better to pick up the phone and have a chat? Leave a comment to let us know.