Having helpful technology, from hardware to software to gadgets, there are many tech tools to help you work smarter and increase office productivity. Here are some tech tools to consider that could be helpful to both your business and your staff to streamline work, make tasks more efficient, and limit employee discomfort. They may even help staff avoid burnout and boost employee morale.
A dual-monitor setup has multiple benefits, including saving significant time lost in switching between windows when doing research or otherwise focusing on two applications. One monitor can be used for the working document, the other for the supporting materials.
Having two monitors also saves on mouse clicks, which is a significant ergonomic benefit. Keeping one's hands on the keyboard without excessive mouse clicks is a healthier way to work on a computer. A trio of monitors could be appropriate in some situations.
An alternate option is to use an oversized monitor on which employees can set up applications to share screens. You can buy a 32-inch monitor for less than $500 if you shop around. With today's widescreen monitors even that size won't give you much in terms of vertical view, but you'll have enough room for two side-by-side applications, such as a word processor and a website, two documents, or design software and a photo editing application.
For anyone who must use a computer while on the phone, as stated in ITWorld's article, 6 Proven Office Productivity Tools, a telephone headset frees up both hands and avoids uncomfortable neck posture with a standard phone receiver tucked awkwardly between one's ear and shoulder. A cordless headset is virtually effortless and comes with the added benefit of the employee being able to answer calls away from his or her desk.
Most desktop computers are not built to make life easier for those of us who have multiple USB devices, some of which need to be transported from time to time. While computers today generally have enough USB ports, most are still typically found in the back of the computer, which depending on the desk situation may be difficult to access. These ports tend to be used for peripherals that rarely have to be moved: printer, scanner, webcam, etc. Perhaps two or three ports will be within easy reach in the front of the computer. If you work on a laptop, your options are even more limited, unless you plug into a docking station.
Solve the problem with a USB hub that gives you more room to plug in devices such as an external hard drive, camera, cell phone and flash drive. Choose between a powered hub or one that's powered by the USB port it plugs into, but keep printers, scanners and other high-performance USB devices plugged directly into onboard ports if your hub doesn't run on external power.
Products that keep power cords and cables neat and out of the way help maintain clean desks, which can be a factor in productivity. Hangers, hubs, wraps, strips and other organizers work in various ways to avoid a tangled mess of cables on and/or behind desks.
Transcription Hardware and Software
Transcription equipment and software can save hours for people who need to transcribe meetings, interviews and other sessions. Foot-pedal software makes it possible to do transcription without taking your hands off the keyboard. Some foot pedals come with software, or the software can be purchased separately.
Some workers swear by standing desks to ward off back, neck and shoulder pain, burn calories, and feel more energized. But being on your feet all day comes with its own issues. Washington Post writer Sydney Trent found that her standing desk led to toe and calf discomfort, likely caused by hyperextension of her knee. In her article, Standing up at your desk may energize you, but it also may be tough on your legs, Trent states the answer seems to be moderation; it's not good to stay in one position most of day while seated in a chair, but neither is it good to do the same while standing. A standing desk that easily converts to a seated desk can provide the best of both settings while also limiting the negatives of both.
Mobile Laptop Desks
If you have situations that occasionally necessitate hauling around a laptop and working while standing -- for example, staff demonstrations or technical support -- consider a height-adjustable mobile laptop desk or tabletop laptop stand. It's more efficient than bending down to use a laptop on a desk or table, and avoids the backache that might be associated with doing so.
Assigning tablet computers to your workers gives them greater mobility than relying only on laptops. With a tablet, a worker can use mobile broadband or Wi-Fi to take notes, read documents, prepare reports, conduct transactions, and do other business. People who work in sales can run credit cards and print receipts with special hardware attached to a tablet. These tablets can also be set up with productivity apps to access company files, manage schedules, get directions, check email, take notes and communicate with colleagues, among others.
Balance Between Work, Personal Life
A Pew Research Center study found that 46 percent of workers who utilize technology tools and the Internet in their jobs feel more productive in the workplace, and 39 percent reported online tools made their hours more flexible. While these numbers sound promising, 35 percent felt they were working too many hours because they could connect anytime. As the workplace continues to become less structured but more connected, the balance between work and home life becomes more blurred and complex.