Make your employees productive

I’ve stated this many times before, but I can’t emphasize enough how important it is to do anything you can to make your employees productive.

This recent article explains how important this is at Facebook, to the extent that they have two vending machines on every floor where employees can self-serve themselves to common equipments such as keyboards, mice, cables and headphones using their employee badge (items are free although prices are displayed to encourage staff to question whether they really need $200 headphones). This was because they found 20% of help desk calls were for simple equipment requests.Facebook also makes sure staff don’t spend unnecessary time fixing issues with their laptops:

Mr. Campos said that some companies try to squeeze every last penny out of laptops that aren’t working properly and employees bear the burden of that approach. The cost of a laptop, $1,500 to $2,000, is minor in comparison to hampering the productivity of an employee who makes $100,000 per year, he said.

~ Rachael King – Wall Street Journal – on Facebook


So if you have staff who work in software development, make it as easy as possible to be as efficient as possible by providing everyone with:

  • local admin rights to computers so employees don’t waste time contacting the help desk to install necessary development tools;
  • unfiltered high speed Internet, free of restrictive proxies, so staff can access the material they need to do their job quickly;
  • reliable and efficient hardware including solid state drives for every staff member;
  • choice of browser: locking machines down to use an old version of IE is like torture for most staff who use a modern browser like Chrome at home;
  • up to date software: employees resent having to use Windows XP at work when they’re using Windows 8 or Mac OS X at home;
  • a clean, consistent place to work eg. don’t make employees hotdesk (and if you do – provide enough clean workstations to avoid employees spending time ‘hunting’ for workstations); and
  • like-for-like remote access: to make it easy to work whenever you want to.

Some of these seem almost ridiculous to mention, as without them your staff can’t be productive at all, but the number of workplaces I have seen that fail to meet any of the above provisions is crazy. I can’t count how long I have spent on the phone to a corporate help desk to get trivial things done, spent copying software from personal USB keys to workstations because the proxy blocked it, hunting for a free workstation or dealing with reliability issues of hardware all because employers have failed to take any of these things into account.

Author: Alister Scott

Alister is an Excellence Wrangler for Automattic.