Rebooting your working environment: New equipment can uplift your staff in more ways than one

Productivity. Motivation. Happiness at work. Team spirit. Pride in the workplace. Interpersonal harmony. These are things every place of business wants and strives for. But one of the biggest villains in this regard is right in front of our nose — literally. Old equipment, especially IT hardware, costs businesses a great deal, often in ways that can’t be counted. But it needn’t cost an arm and a leg to do something about it.

What could your staff do with an extra 48 minutes a day each? It’s time that you could reclaim — and not by asking them to come in early or work through lunch. Rather it’s time that’s unnecessarily lost to slow IT equipment. In fact, according to one survey, 48 minutes is the average time sacrificed to slow computers each work day, with other studies pointing to even higher estimates.

Direct productivity and revenue losses aren’t the whole problem. The damage can be far more pervasive, from staff attitudes and team dynamics to the appearance and credibility of your company.

Think about your day, as you go through your tasks one by one. Where are people slowed down, frustrated, angered or demoralised? Sometimes it might be a tricky customer or a particularly thorny problem — but that’s all a part of the job.

What shouldn’t be is time spent staring at an unmoving screen. Time and work can be lost when something crashes, is slow to open, struggles to load or has to be rebooted. Meanwhile, a longer line at the photocopier or multiple attempts to print something begin to add up and sour the atmosphere. Frustrations mar working relationships as they are transferred from one person to the next, carried through the office like a cold. And like a contagion, the net loss of productivity is often hard to trace and harder to quantify.

In addition to impairing working conditions — both materially and psychologically — for existing staff, the impact of a poor IT setup can reach beyond the office. Clearly aged equipment can be off-putting to potential new employees, impacting your attractiveness as an employer. Meanwhile sub-par results in terms of printed documents, malfunctioning projectors, or slow laptops can give a bad impression when presenting to clients.

Taking your time

So why do we put up with these issues for so long? Most people can think of recent examples when equipment briefly interfered with their main job, and, however brief, these examples add up. But they are something of a blind spot in many offices. We become so accustomed to the status quo, that we often don’t acknowledge one of the major drains on our time, motivation, and/or office environment.

In this regard, complacency and familiarity are the biggest hurdles to improving the situation. People simply don’t think about the tools they use every day, except for the moments in which those tools give rise to irritation. Daily use means we may not notice the gradual weakening or slowing of equipment until it fails us all together. But once you stand back and look with fresh eyes, you might be surprised at the proliferation of issues from the same cause.

Envision your workplace at its happiest, most harmonious and efficient. What’s changed? Probably one thing is that all your tools are modern, up-to-date, and running smoothly and reliably. That saves people time, cuts down on workflow snags and allows people to multitask effectively.

Invisible enemy

The problem is that many of these costs — and the correlative benefits of replacing old equipment — are hard to prove, hard to quantify, and therefore hard to justify fixing due to technology’s short shelf life. Businesses often look at replacing functioning IT systems purely as a cost. But when you look at the impact holistically, the truth is you can’t afford not to upgrade. The time lost to slow computers is estimated to cost US companies as much as US$7.5 billion a year, for example.

Of course, eventually you will be forced to, when equipment fails. But waiting too long also comes at a risk — working on equipment till it reaches its natural end can mean work lost, as well as further productivity as you scramble to fix a bigger issue last minute.

And yet, not only is it difficult to identify the scale of the need and find the necessary capital, but almost as soon as you upgrade, it will be out of date again. The pace of technological change, its rapid value-loss and durability mean that you’ll quickly be right back where you started. In fact, far from retaining any value, it may cost you money to responsibly dispose of unwanted tech. Often these obsolete machines sit abandoned in offices, taking up storage space and gathering dust.

A helping hand

If you recognise a need to upgrade, but feel blocked by these issues, there are other routes to consider. Instead of trying to build a business case for buying new machines, consider another model: renting what you need from a specialist. By as quickly as the end of the week, you could provide your staff with up-to-date equipment and bypass the initial capital outlay hurdle. This way you can keep your workspace modernised, and reap the ongoing benefits — while also getting a better return on old machinery and help with its disposal.

Businesses can benefit from doing due diligence on their current conditions, and considering what the various impacts of upgrading would be. Renting your business equipment is a fast, sustainable way to improve your staff’s working conditions and their output, bringing benefits all around.