We are all – whether we’re the employee or the employer – infinitely distractible. Studies have proven that multitasking is a myth – that while we can switch between and among tasks – we can’t actually do many things all at the same time. I learned a valuable lesson in my business about increasing productivity, and I’m going to share it with you.
In my office, we didn’t think we had a problem with the staff wasting time on apps that distracted them from their primary function – at least no one was willing to admit to wasting time on Candy Crush when they should have been coordinating calendars. Imagine our surprise when we installed a device that prohibited access to sites and apps that are major sources of time suckage in an office. Productivity magically increased, despite the claims that no one had been using those sites previously. We couldn’t argue with the results; many popular apps are bad for your business.
Here are the apps you need to eradicate from your workplace:
1. Any kind of virtual drive (Google Drive, Dropbox, Sugarsync, etc.) – Protect your proprietary information by making your data less portable. Virtual drives make your files much more susceptible to theft or even accidental sharing. An employee may legitimately have files, but if they’re accidentally shared along with his vacation pics, your information could end up in hands it shouldn’t. Should you absolutely need a virtual drive, your most secure choice is a corporate drive with far more security than the many free apps that make file sharing far too easy.
2. Netflix, Amazon Prime, Google Play, YouTube – these digital media players are far too tempting. Even if you access YouTube for a legitimate business reason, it’s far too easy to get sucked into True Facts About Sloths…and Land Snails…and Chameleons. You get the idea. Shut it down before it starts.
3. Angry Birds, Candy Crush, and the other addictive games – these games are expressly designed to entice folks who intend to play for a minute or two into losing huge blocks of time. Your staff may legitimately need breaks, but you’re much better off getting them up and away from their desks. A walk or even a Foosball game will help your staff decompress and be ready to get back to work.
4. Facebook, Google +, Twitter – Company policy must be clear here – business matters aren’t discussed on employees’ social media apps, and the apps aren’t used during the workday. Your social media team should be the only folks authorized to put your business out there on Facebook and Twitter. The last thing you want is for a potential client to read about inter-office drama in your company, and you must keep your business secure by limiting the number of people who share information publicly.
5. Pornography, gambling sites – There are lots of reasons to keep these vices out of your workplace, and lost productivity is one reason. The other biggie is to limit your company’s exposure to criminal investigations. You do not want to be part of a child pornography investigation and discover that your company’s computer had been used to store illegal material. Again – the goal is to head these things off before they start. These vices don’t ever belong in your office.
6. Most productivity apps (Orchestra, etc.) – You’d be surprised how much time you waste when you open an app, wait for it to load, remember what you wanted to record, and have to settle back into a task. Sometimes low-tech is best, and your biggest time saver could be a pen and paper. Jot notes and reminders as they occur to you, and you’ll be able to keep working without interruption.
7. Interoffice chat and texting – Multiple factors make this tip practical. First, your message is far more likely to be understood properly if you make a call than if your writing is misconstrued. Second, if you send a message and distract an employee who feels compelled to answer right away, you may be introducing a wake of disruption into their workflow that could last for up to fifteen minutes. It’s often quicker to pick up the phone, pass on the information, and let everyone get right back to work. Or use your pen and paper to remind yourself to deal with matters that aren’t time sensitive. We waste time when we convince ourselves that everything must be dealt with immediately.
You’re the captain of your company, and if an app doesn’t make your ship run more efficiently, then your best bet is to throw it overboard.