How To Handle Productivity Problems Of The Digital Age
to other industries, the self-storage industry’s reliance on technology and the
internet is intensifying. Self-storage facilities across the country are
adopting cloud-based property management software, online reservation/payment
options on advanced websites, wireless door alarms, mobile entry systems,
electronic leases/signatures, and more, in an effort to remain competitive and
offer the conveniences tenants desire.
there are upfront costs associated with implementing these high-tech features,
they can help storage operators save both time and money in the long run. For
example, the internet has enabled self-storage businesses to reach more clients
without having to break the bank on costly advertisements. Through social
media, email, custom websites, and the like, self-storage facilities have been
able to reduce their marketing expenses and increase the effectiveness of their
efforts with messages tailored to their intended audiences. In addition, thanks
to informative websites that list street rates, specials, and amenities,
oftentimes managers can shop the local competition without having to make a
phone call or leave their office.
Despite the numerous benefits,
which includes streamlining operations by creating efficiencies, technology can
actually put a dent in productivity. As a matter of fact, according to Staff
Monitoring Solutions, American businesses lose up to 40 percent productivity
due to internet usage unrelated to work.
What’s more, a survey from
staffing firm OfficeTeam found the average office employee spends 56
minutes per day using their cell phone at work for non-work activity. That
number jumps up to 70 minutes when focusing only on employees ages 18 to 34.
According to a Harris Poll that was conducted in 2016 on behalf of
CareerBuilder, 83 percent of the employees surveyed reported having a
smartphone, and 82 percent of those with smartphones stated that they kept them
within eye contact at work.
Although that may not seem like a problematic statistic, 66
percent of the survey respondents said that they used their smartphones at
least several times a day while working. Of the 66 percent using their
smartphones during work, 65 percent were attending to personal messaging, 51
percent were checking the weather, 44 percent were reading the news, 24 percent
were playing games, 24 percent were shopping, 12 were checking traffic
conditions, seven percent were visiting gossip sites, six percent were on sales
sites, four percent were on adult sites, and three percent were on dating
Establishing Policies In an effort to prevent employees from using company equipment for personal use and/or misusing company time on personal devices, many companies utilize internet and technology policies.
have written internet and technology policies in our employee handbook,” says Ann
Parham, president of Bulverde, Texas-based Joshua Management. “It is very
detailed and is several paragraphs long. The main idea is that all internet,
computer, phone, or any other equipment is owned by the company and is only for
Management also has new hires sign the company’s computer usage policy acknowledgement form
to document that they have received and understand the policy.
The company’s policy states: “I
acknowledge that all electronic communications systems and all information
received from, transmitted by, or stored in these systems are and will remain
Joshua Management’s property. I also acknowledge that these systems are to be
used only for job-related purposes, not for personal purposes. I have no
personal privacy right or any expectation of privacy in connection with my use
of this equipment or with the receipt, transmission, or storage of information
in Joshua Management’s equipment. I agree not to access a file, use a code, or
retrieve any stored communication unless I am authorized to do so. Further, I
agree to disclose messages or information from electronic communications
systems only to authorized individuals. I acknowledge and consent to Joshua
Management’s monitoring my use of this equipment at its discretion at any time.
Joshua Management’s monitoring may include printing out and reading all
electronic mail leaving, entering, or stored in these systems. I further agree
to abide by Joshua Management’s policy prohibiting the use of the internet and
electronic communication systems to transmit anything offensive, lewd, racist,
or sexist. I have been clearly informed that violation of this policy can lead
to disciplinary action up to and including immediate termination.”
addition to a clearly outlined computer/internet policy like the one above, some
companies contain lists of approved websites within their usage policies.
Approved websites may include the competitions’ websites, social media sites
utilized by the facility, vendor websites, and other sites necessary for
completing assigned duties. Conversely, you could also block access to specific
sites that you do not want employees accessing. However, this could become an
extremely time-consuming task.
that tackle the usage of personal devices can be helpful as well. These
policies typically either prohibit or limit employees from using their mobile
devices during work hours. Some policies require employees to put their ringers
on mute or vibrate to minimize distraction. Others prohibit employees from
using camera and recording features for privacy protection. On the
other hand, some companies, like FedEx, have completely banned cell phones from
the workplace to eliminate potential issues altogether.
policies are beneficial to keep up productivity, there is no point in having a
policy if you don’t impose disciplinary actions for violations of the policy. Employees
should be made aware of the predetermined consequences for violating the policies, and infractions as well as any resulting
disciplinary action taken should be properly documented.
Joshua Management has penalties in
place for improper computer usage, with discipline ranging from a reprimand to
dismissal, but Parham notes that she’s never had an issue that couldn’t be
resolved with a verbal warning. “Most
of the time it is a family member causing the problems with phone calls,”
she says. “It usually doesn’t last very long.”
Parham adds, “I explain to all my employees that stealing
time is like stealing anything else. They always seem to understand.”
Monitoring Usage Indeed, policies and disciplinary actions are constructive ways to combat misuse of company time. But how do you ensure that employees are adhering to the policies you have in place? That’s were monitoring comes into play.
states that Joshua Management monitors the browsing histories and call logs of
its employees to ensure that they are using the company’s equipment and
internet for work-related tasks as intended. Employees should be aware that
they are being monitored and, as stated in Joshua Management’s policy, that
they “have no personal privacy right or any expectation of privacy”.
There are several programs that track and log
Internet usage on computers, such as Spytech, WebWatcher, and SniperSpy. If you
decided to install one of these programs onto your computers, make sure to
notify your employees that the programs are in use. The fact that you are
tracking their internet usage will likely act as a deterrent.
these methods cannot be applied to employees’ personal mobile devices.
Therefore, if you suspect that an employee is spending company time on his/her
smartphone, you must catch him/her in the act. There are two easy ways to do
this: make unexpected visits to the property or review footage from the
facility’s security cameras. Then, approach the employee with a plan to correct
the issue based on your company’s policy.
Maintaining Focus For
employees who seem inclined to sit and surf, Parham suggests finding ways to
get them away from their desks. “Make
them a list of something else to do,” she says. “Get them out on the property
cleaning units, etc.”
are two other ways to keep your staff focused on their duties:
Schedule Breaks – Work with your employees to establish reasonable
breaks during which time they can use their mobile devices or computers for
personal use. For example, an employee who works an eight-hour shift could have
a 15-minute break in the morning, a half-hour lunch break, and a 15-minute
break in the afternoon. Obviously, the durations and frequencies of breaks will
vary depending upon the employee’s scheduled shift.
Reward Performance – Many self-storage companies have bonus
programs in place for managers to encourage them to reach their sales goals. A
similar concept could be created and implemented to motivate employees to
complete their daily tasks without being distracted by the internet. As
suggestions, employees who finish all their daily duties could leave a half
hour early one day of the week or be treated to a free lunch.
other words, figure out what will motivate your employees to be the most productive
employees they can possibly be—not internet junkies.
Erica Shatzer is the editor of Mini-Storage Messenger, Self-Storage Now!, and Self-Storage Canada.