Working within the outsourced IT support world grants me access to an array of industries, and whilst most use the same core systems such as email, print and web based tools, the way in which they are used can vary greatly.
It has always fascinated me to watch how users go about their day to day work lives using a computer, and the differing levels of effectiveness demonstrated. It goes without saying that experience with a computer helps, but often, the time spent gaining such knowledge can counteract your efficiency and lead to bad habits.
Keyboard shortcuts. A very simple example that has always tickled me is when people use the caps lock key to enter a capital letter. Whilst there’s nothing wrong with that per se, if that’s what the individual is used to, as you’re no doubt aware (as with most things in computing) there is a better way of doing it. A quick press of the shift key (↑) at the same time as the letter you wish to capitalise performs the same task, but in theory is 50% more efficient. Now you may be thinking that time saving is ridiculous, but is it? How many times might a team member or colleague do this in 30 minutes, an hour, a morning, a day, or even a week? You get the picture. Rectifying a minor, yet time consuming inefficiency like this, together with similar shortcuts and tools will absolutely make people more efficient in using their computer.
OK, so the previous example was perhaps small fry in terms of overall efficiency gains and is resolved by training – but that’s the point, any efficiency is worth having!
Dual screens. On top of user efficiency, subtle improvements can also be made to the systems used, for example by adding a second screen. Microsoft claim this makes a user 38% per more efficient, and having been a dual-screen user for more than 10 years I can tell you that trying to work without one is a real pain and does slow me down. Business owners often tell me that this wouldn’t help their staff, but I disagree. If you regularly use a PC, laptop or Mac, then having a second screen will undoubtedly make you more efficient. And with screens being so cost effective now, it seems crazy not to roll them out to your staff, or at least put it to the test.*
Poor computer performance. One of the biggest gains in efficiency is computer performance. Working in IT and using a relatively powerful laptop (Thinkpad with Intel i5, 8Gb RAM and a solid-state drive) it’s often very easy to forget how slow some ‘modern’ computers can be. Waiting for them to perform what I consider to be an everyday task, one that an average user might perform several times a day, is both frustrating and unnecessary. Its simple maths. If a user has to wait for their PC an extra 10 seconds every minute, that’s 80 minutes a day, over 5 hours a week, and potentially 2-3 days a month! This is a conservative example, but you see my point. A lot of people tell me they can’t justify replacing old PC’s, but the truth is, in some circumstances you can’t afford not to. As well as being inefficient, old and slow computers can also sap user morale and make for an unhappy workforce.
Solid-State Drives (SSD). A key issue then, is that PC’s still ship with mechanical hard drives, which are old, noisy, hot, and like anything mechanical – they break down. Over the last 18 months a new technology known as SSD has become more affordable, with a 240GB SSD now coming in at under £100. SSD‘s use computer chips as opposed to mechanical parts, so the performance gains earned are huge, and this applies to all computer users, not just us IT geeks or power users. Don’t believe me? Why not try upgrading one of your older PCs to an SSD for a user who may be a frequent sufferer (or complainer) and let the results speak for themselves. What have you got to lose?
In my future blogs I will recommend shortcuts and tips that we regularly use here at Priority One, helping you and your staff to unlock a world of superior efficiency.
*Not all PCs are capable of running dual screens. Email Tom at [email protected] if you require more detail.
Priority One – London IT Support