Operational efficiency is always important for a business. However, the current fragility of the global economy in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic has created a uniquely unstable environment.
Everywhere you turn, there are threats to stability, from supply chain disruption to war in Europe to inflation in the US and even deflation in China.
Efficient activity and productive operations haven’t been more important to successful business since the Great Recession started fifteen years ago. With that in mind, here are a few techniques and strategies you can use to improve operational efficiency in your company.
1. Make Communication a Perpetual Investment
Optimization isn’t something reserved for search engine marketing or data and analytics. It also applies to more nuanced activities — like communication.
It’s easy to set a vague standard of “prioritizing communication” at work. But the truth is, healthy communication isn’t a set-it-and-forget-it kind of activity. It requires ongoing investment, adjustment, and improvements.
Forbes and Harvard Business Review Advisory Council Member Sharesz T. Wilkinson points out that communication is the “core activity” at work. It is the number one thing we all do. Wilkinson adds that despite its critical role, there is a significant skill gap between current employee communication skills and those required to unleash higher efficiency and, by extension, greater success.
Both the need and lack of communication skills make it a key investment. Businesses that want to remain efficient must start by addressing this core activity. You can do this through perpetual upskilling and setting communication standards.
You can also improve and consolidate your communication tools and channels. Using a platform, like Zight, for example, can facilitate faster, clearer communication by seamlessly recording and sending videos and screenshots between coworkers. This reduces the number of unnecessary meetings, improving communication and enhancing productivity.
2. Consolidate Your Tech
Speaking of consolidation, the concept should be applied to much more than communication. Technology has been a godsend for businesses everywhere, but it is a two-edged sword.
A quarter of the way into the 21st century, many companies that previously basked in the efficient power of cutting-edge tech solutions are now mired in an expensive and complex tech stack that just keeps growing. The solution? Consolidation.
While there are still plenty of companies leading the charge into new ideas and iterations of technology, a growing number of brands are focusing their software development on consolidation. Tools like Trello bring everyone’s workflow into a single platform, boosting productivity in the process. Slack helps communication take place in a single app.
Investing in both targeted and comprehensive consolidation tools like these can have a dramatic effect on efficiency. It removes complex barriers and siloed information and helps teams tap into the true productive power of their technology.
3. Try an SOC 2 Audit
An SOC 2 audit is a framework created by AICPA (the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants). The system focuses on managing client data in a trust-approved way and emphasizes things like data security, confidentiality, privacy, and integrity.
While the focus of an SOC 2 Audit is often on data privacy and security, it is also a powerful way to improve efficiency. A thorough audit of your data management can improve the availability and processing of information within your organization.
In addition, the security offered by the audit can help you avoid downtime or other time and resource-related costs that come with a security breach. By investing in up-to-date and strong data management practices, you can create a clean environment that keeps your company firing on all cylinders.
4. Consider a 4-Day Work Week
Sometimes, the right thing to do is the most counter-intuitive option. In the case of looking for greater efficiency and productivity for a brand, a 4-day work week may be the solution.
The efficiency angle actually isn’t too hard to grasp here. If everyone only works for four days a week, they will be able to come to work more rested and apply themselves more fully throughout their shorter work week.
Surprisingly, studies have shown that a 4-day week isn’t just more efficient. It can also be more productive and improve overall job satisfaction and well-being.
A shorter workweek enhances productivity by motivating and equipping employees to get more done in a smaller window of time. The end result, when observed for 18 months, was that workers could still get the same amount of work done in 33 hours as they originally had done in 38.
This means more productivity in less time and with fewer resources and overhead. Translation: it’s efficient.
Increasing Efficiency Within Your Business
We are in an economic environment where businesses don’t have the luxury of making mistakes. Efficiency and productivity are no longer tools to excel. They’re required for survival.
As you guide your business, remember to invest in efficiency — no matter what form it may take. Improve communication. Consolidate tech stacks. Audit data management. Embrace a shorter work week.
If you can make these kinds of changes with confidence, you can pave the way for your company to survive the present and thrive in the future.