10 secrets of highly productive companies

Some companies just seem to get it done, but it’s not voodoo. We’ll have a look at what makes the difference between productive winners and less-efficient also-rans.

1) They enable flexible working.

Work is something you do, not somewhere you go and the most productive companies know it. They assess work and results, not presence and hours.

‘The happiest employees are those who can work partially from home and partially in the office,’ reports Dr Beauregard of the London School of Economics and Political Science. ‘They report the highest levels of work/life satisfaction because they can juggle personal responsibilities yet are not socially isolated.’

But it’s not just increasing happiness. Allowing staff to bring their own laptops, tablets and smartphones to work with a ‘bring your own device’ (BYOD) policy not only cuts costs, but also gives employees more flexibility in how they work, boosting productivity.

Of course, you need the right tools to make a success of flexible working.

Samsung’s Chrome-based notebooks give your employees the flexibility they need. Using Google Apps in the cloud, rather than storing data and applications locally, makes for a light, secure, responsive and naturally mobile machine. No matter where they’re working, employees armed with a Chromebook Series 5 will be up and running in six seconds.

In addition, cloud-based software-as-a-service (SaaS) applications provide your employees with powerful and mobile enterprise-level technology without the need for costly on-premise systems, giving them the power to work wherever, whenever.

But you also need the right culture to foster flexible working. Flexible and remote working removes the water cooler moments of the office and can make for a disjointed and unmotivated workforce if poorly managed.

You need to establish a set of standard core processes to facilitate routine tasks, encourage a culture of openness and sharing and, crucially, trust your employees to work hard, wherever they are.

2) They exploit the benefits of mobile.

The proliferation of tablets, notebooks and smartphones has changed how business is done, and highly productive businesses are taking full advantage of it.

A powerful smartphone like the Samsung GALAXY S4, kept up to date and secure with Samsung Knox’s mobile device management system, lets you stay in touch and scan, review and share your information on the move, while a business-ready tablet like Samsung’s Galaxy Tab 2, complete with apps like SmartOffice and Google Drive, allows you to create and edit documents anytime, anywhere.

If you’re looking for more power but still want to be mobile, try a Samsung Series 9 notebook. It’s one of the world’s thinnest laptops and, thanks to Samsung Fast Start™, it wakes from sleep in as few as 1.4 seconds so you’re ‘instant on’ whether in the office or on the go.

And, with the average office worker making roughly 61 trips a week to the fax machine, copier and printer, it’s time the printer entered the mobile world, too.

Multi-function printers (MFPs), like Samsung’s CLX-6260FW are compatible with Google Cloud Print and Apple AirPrint, allowing you to print documents, emails and more from an iOS or Android device from wherever you are using an internet connection. You can even start a print job from elsewhere and then pick it up when you get to the office.

Of course, mobile policies must be backed up by the right attitude and safeguards, particularly if you let employees bring in their own devices. Be sure to provide anti-virus software for all devices and establish basic protocols for sharing and data security.

3) They create productivity-friendly workspaces.

Highly productive companies understand that productivity doesn't just happen, it needs to be nurtured, which requires a well thought out work environment.

Twenty seven percent of the 400 workers polled in a 2008 National Association of Professional Organizers (NAPO) survey said they felt disorganised at work and, of those, 91 percent said they would be more effective and efficient if their workspace were better organised.

You don't you have to build a minimalist glass cubicle in the middle of a forest or spend a fortune on interior designers to turn things around. Painting a few walls in a bright colour or tidying up desks can make all the difference. And you could even give your employees a budget and ask for suggestions – you’ll then have a work environment exactly tailored to the talents of your team.

But don’t be swayed by the collaborative dream offered by the open-plan office; they actually create more distractions and stop real work from getting done. The most productive configuration, according to the book Peopleware, is two people per private office.

Lighting and temperature are also vital for creating a productive workspace; getting it wrong has significant repercussions for employee output. No one wants to work in a cold, dingy office.

Natural sunlight is best, but you can make up for it with the right lighting. Samsung’s cost-effective and eco-friendly LEDs are easy on both the eyes and pocket. And Samsung’s DVM VRF air conditioning system can keep your office at the perfect temperature for productivity and happiness.

4) They know the importance of down time.

Counter intuitive as it may be, taking frequent, short breaks and quick naps can significantly boost productivity.

Sitting down all day, hunched over a computer and staring at a screen is neither healthy nor productive so taking regular breaks is essential. Meditate, start that book you’ve been meaning to read, go to the gym or just take a walk to refresh yourself. You can use S Health, which comes with the Samsung Galaxy S4, as a pedometer to track your progress.

Ten is the magic number for power naps, recent research shows. Ten-minute naps are long enough to yield the benefits of sleep, such as greater creativity and improved concentration, but short enough to avoid the groggy feeling that longer naps can bring and are best taken mid-morning or early afternoon to avoid adjusting your natural sleep pattern.

This ‘me’ time is particularly important for CEOs and upper management, letting you step back from the workaday worries and consider the long-term strategic issues that are critical to the continued competitiveness of your business.

5) They have a clear, supportive company culture.

An uncomplicated, encouraging company culture is a must, particularly with the rise in remote and flexible working. It ensures that everyone’s happy, engaged and singing from the same hymn sheet, wherever they’re working.

HupSpot’s ‘culture code’ is a brilliant lesson in less is more when it comes to forming a company culture. The marketing company simply trusts its employees and recognises that ‘great people want direction on where they're going – not directions on how to get there.’ If you trust your colleagues you can give them, in the words of HubSpot, ‘the autonomy to be awesome’.

Ultimately, this means you can do more with fewer people.

This relies on hiring great people, but having a cogent, effective company culture makes this process much easier. You’ll have no qualms about turning away a high-flying candidate who doesn’t fit with your company culture and you’ll know you can trust those that do.

6) They understand the value of good document management.

Bad document management holds businesses back. Duplicates, reworks and lost data all cost time and money.

The average US executive wastes six weeks per year recovering misplaced information from disorganised desks and files, reports the Wall Street Journal. For an executive earning $75,000 a year, that translates into a loss of $9,221. And for a company with one hundred executives at that salary, that’s almost $1 million in lost productivity. There’s an incentive to tidy your desk.

Add that to the fact that 80 percent of filed documents are never looked at again and the average office has 19 copies of each document and you’re looking at a lot of wasted money and effort.

Rather than just re-sorting your filing cabinets, scrap them and use an MFP, like Samsung’s CLX-6260F, to quickly convert unsorted paper files into digital documents with the machine’s automatic document feeder and scanner.

You can then store them in the cloud using applications like Google Drive or Dropbox. It makes accessing them much easier, even on the move, and prevents multiple versions of one document being created.

7) They don’t have meetings. But when they do, they get it right.

Meetings are notoriously unproductive. They break up the day and stop actual work getting done.

But if you can’t avoid them, take some advice from the likes of advice from the likes of 37Signals and Google:

• Stick to one topic/issue, which every attendee should know about beforehand.
• Keep it brief (no more than half an hour).
• Invite as few people as possible.
• Everyone should walk away with concrete next steps.

Good displays can make all the difference to meetings. Samsung’s interactive white boards (IWBs) and large format displays (LFDs) can replace difficult-to-reach and fiddly ceiling-mounted projectors, providing easier installation, better image quality and, ultimately, more effective collaboration. Paired with the Samsung WiFi Allshare Case Wireless Hub, you can easily wirelessly stream content from compatible smartphones and tablets direct to your display.

Alternatively, with the increase in mobile and remote working, why not switch to business social and videoconferencing applications like Skype, Yammer and Google Hangouts to save your colleagues the journey and make everyone feel part of the team.

8) They put their technology to work.

IT investments return more to the bottom line than both advertising and research and development, according to a study reported in the MIT Sloan Management Review. The study found that a $1 increase in IT expenditures per employee was associated with a $12.22 increase in sales per employee.

But it’s not just about the technology. The most productive companies buy best fit, not best in class, and make the most of their investments.

It’s not what technology you have that counts, says Gartner, but whether you can extract tangible business value from it.

McCarran International Airport, for instance, has created the world’s largest video wall with Samsung large format displays (LFDs), which it’s using to generate an additional $500,000 to $1 million in gross advertising revenue each year.

9) They’re focussed.

Highly productive companies are brilliant at a few things, not everything. They’re eager to experiment, but they ruthlessly cut down inefficient ideas to pool resources into their core strengths.

When Larry Page replaced Eric Schmidt as Google CEO, for example, the company killed off its Buzz, Code Search and Desktop products so it could focus on the things it does best.

Similarly, LEGO in 2004 sold off most of its non-core businesses, like clothing and television, and focussed on LEGO blocks. The result of these cut backs was growth in sales by 22 percent in 2009, 37 percent in 2010 and 17 percent in 2011.

The focussed company invests to identify and strengthen core capabilities, rather than investing to win in every element of its business, as Bain & Company notes.

But focus is also vital at the level of the individual.

Workers who multi-task tend to be 20 to 40 percent less efficient than those who focus on just one project at a time, according to a study by the University of Michigan. So managers should encourage single-tasking, rather than multi-tasking.

10) They nurture innovation.

The most productive companies have innovation at the top of the agenda.

Ninety seven percent of the 246 CEOs surveyed by PwC see innovation as a top priority for their business and believe that the top ingredients for an innovative company are: strong visionary business leadership, having the right culture to foster and support innovation, the willingness to challenge organisational norms and take risks and the ability to capture ideas throughout the organisation.

So it’s not just a case of turning on the innovation tap; it’s a long-term project that requires the right company culture first and foremost. Although you can’t force the right culture, you can encourage it.

Using SaaS collaboration and networking applications opens lines of communication between employees and managers and encourages the cross-departmental sharing of information and ideas, avoiding stagnant business silos. This not only helps you to capture good ideas, it allows you to enact them faster.

Senior managers should also try to support some risk and failure from employees to promote innovative ideas.

You could also follow the example of Geico, a leading supplier of automated paint systems for the automotive industry, which is fostering innovation through regular internal training sessions, complemented by Samsung IWBs and LFDs.

However you do it, Samsung has the technology to help you transform how you work and, having spent $9 billion on research and development in 2012, knows a thing or two about innovation. Put innovation at the top of your to-do list with Samsung.