2021, career advice, New Year

December is usually the time of year when HR departments across the country send the annual ‘employee satisfaction survey’. And, while this attempt to establish staff’s likes and dislikes from the past 12 months is bound to uncover much more than usual this time around – it always leaves business owners with something to think about.

But for Lorna Stellakis, managing director of managed IT support firm, Q2Q, she regularly asks her clients and their colleagues: “Does your company give you the tools and technologies you need to do your job well? Because try as you might, without those, performance will only ever be lacklustre.”

Although business owners might be fearful of the barrage – or complete lack of – feedback when employees are asked to evaluate the suitability of their tech stack, the question is so much more pertinent as we head into a new year – and one where many workspaces morph from a traditional office environment to either a home set-up, or a combination of the two.

As the owner of a technical business, I would use HR departments, company owners, and technical leads to expand that question even further to ask: “Does your team have the necessary equipment and environment that are conducive to providing both a suitable workspace and the tools they need, in order to work smarter and at maximum efficiency?”

From my experience, it can often be a culmination of lots of little things that cause the most frustrations – ultimately leading to disengagement and low morale.

Once such example would be access to the relevant IT systems. It shouldn’t seem like too much to ask, but from a technical perspective, something as simple as having an old laptop that is a little slow to load files and webpages can have a massive impact on productivity.

Team members who begin each day with the frustration of having to wait for a slow machine to fire up – pressing the ‘power’ button and having enough time to make tea and toast – can be compounded by missing deadlines because they didn’t plan the extra ‘loading’ time, or the added stress that a slow machine brings, when being pressed for information quickly.

Meanwhile, from a working environment perspective, consideration should extend far beyond whether a chair, monitor and desk are at optimal working height – but also consider other contributing factors such as space, light, noise, and temperature.

As a business leader, it’s important to put yourself in the shoes of your team and ask whether they’re likely to feel motivated if they are constantly frustrated with their equipment and/or environment?

Like many of our peers, a shift to hybrid working has meant we needed to conduct a complete inventory of all the technical infrastructure we have available in the office to establish a hot desking set-up. While this concept is nothing new, for our techies – who have a lot of hardware – they have previously kept all their work-related collateral in one place. So, lugging it between home and HQ was not an option.

But, by investing in additional items, such as desk phones and monitors, staff can ‘borrow’ whatever they need when working from the office, and leave it behind for their colleagues, the following day.

This small investment means that the team’s day to day isn’t littered with distractions from not being able to function as seamlessly as they would normally. And the return on investment when it comes to our staff satisfaction levels makes it totally worth the cost – I am sure this will pay dividends in the long-run.

While returning to a shared space following eight months of relative isolation can be unnerving, removing the disruption of not having the right kit can make a significant difference. Colleagues feel valued, listened to, and cared for, and this pays back in droves in terms of their dedication and work ethic, and of course, efficiency.

As we all transition to whatever the new version of the working day looks like, a new year is the ideal time to identify where there are any gaps, ask – and answer – the question: “is there something missing that you can easily resolve and would it make a major change to team morale?”

About the author

Lorna Stellakis, MD of Q2Q ITMy role is to provide the overall direction and “eye on the compass” as to where we, as a team are heading, setting the overall business strategy and financial budgeting. Whilst always having been involved with systems implementation throughout my career, I have an operational background and no specific IT experience. However, if anything, I believe this makes me more qualified to ensure the team deliver great service, drawing from my operations experience, and having been on the wrong side of poor IT support in the past. I can relate to how crippling this can be to a business, making it paramount that we ensure that IT issues are as invisible as possible, leaving the customers to get on with running their businesses smoothly.


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