Productivity enhancement is an important ongoing research activity at Directi. A significant portion of Management attention and individual focus is spent on ways and means to improve employee productivity via processes, tools, software, infrastructure, furniture, lighting, resources, training, gadgets etc. Ideas originate from within the organization and are each converted into a project, with a test audience, ROI calculation, payback period and conclusion.
Here are a few of the many productivity enhancement ideas we have implemented at Directi -
EVERYONE in our company has multiple 19 / 22" LCD monitors. This includes developers, testers, UI designers, accountants, sales and marketing, support etc. The number of monitors each individual has ranges from 2 to 3, and for some of the senior management all the way upto 6 monitors per person.
In an IT company, computer desktop space is the equivalent of a conventional physical desk of a regular non-IT company. Imagine if you will, the difference in productivity for a clerk in a government office using a tiny desk that can keep fit two files vis-a-vis a proper large sized desk which can fit 10 to 20. Drawing on the same parallel, the greater the screen space the easier it is to organize your work. Adequate research exists on the Internet that prove anywhere between a 15-35% productivity boost by adding an extra monitor, in comparison to a single monitor. Adding a 3rd monitor results in another 5-10% increase depending on the activities being performed by the individual.
Note: The above ROI calculation does not even begin to take into account opportunity cost advantages
This has been a topic of perpetual discussion, and a significant amount of time has been spent by many of us at Directi in determining the merits of different office layouts. We have compiled some of our research in our article - Office design for Efficient Software Development.
We have opted to skip cubicles in favor of open office spaces with closed breakout rooms. Each office floor has 10-12 breakout rooms that can occupy 2-3 individuals. People sit in the open war rooms where they can collaborate and dialogue, and information osmosis can take place freely. If they need privacy they simply move to a breakout room and work from there without any disturbance or noise.
We have been slowly moving towards instituting laptops for more and more departments and individuals in the organization. Currently all developers, system administrators, UI designers and all senior staff get laptops.
We have been propagating the concept of self-organizing cross-functional project-bound teams alongwith the creation of war rooms as described above. This means that teams and team locations are not static. People get together to form a team for a project and then disband when the project is complete. For instance a mini-team consisting of 3 developers, 1 Usability guy, a Syatem Admin and a Module lead may sit together next to one another for completion of a release. After a month or so they may move to other desks to join other teams. This results in a significant increase in productivity. Tasks get assigned directly across departments, and issues get resolved with mutual discussion immediately. All the stake holders sit together face-to-face instead of communicating over phones / meetings / IM.
Laptops also enable individuals to take some of their work home, or to telecommute in certain circumstances. They increase efficiency of meetings, interviews, discussions etc.
Incidentally - laptop users continue to get multiple monitors and a keyboard and mouse on their desks. We have purchased hardware that enables laptop users to use multiple LCD screens when they are on their desk.
We have instituted a number of innovations with respect to office design, workstation design, chair design, layouts etc in an effort to create one of the most ergonomic work environments in the country. Some of our innovations are described below -
All our chairs are designed to be fully adjustable, with movable arms, back, seat, lumbar adjustment etc. All movement ranges are specified by our facilities team to accommodate people of all sizes
For our new office, we are likely one of the first and few companies in the country to build out height adjustable desks. Typically most organizations install modular workstations of fixed dimensions. As a part of our Expat Recruitment Program we have begun hiring europeans / americans. As an example, Sebastiaan, our belgian employee who came in from Singapore to work at our Mumbai office (shown in the pic wearing a Vietnamese hat), is a good 6.5 feet tall. This attribute applies to a handful of our employees, and in our effort to design the perfect workstation we realized that the standard workstation dimensions accepted by most companies, are not conducive to taller individuals. On the reverse side we found the same affliction for shorter folks. The net result - a new specification to our workstation vendors - to provide us with desks whose height can be adjusted to suit the occupant
This is another recent research project at Directi, which has culminated in a new adoption. Having provided dual monitors to everyone, we realized that for certain tasks (such as software development / support etc) one can achieve greater productivity by rotating the monitors 90 degrees and using them in a vertical / portrait orientation as opposed to the regular landscape orientation. As a result of this, we have now sourced swivel arms that we will be installing across all workstations which enable rotating, tilting, moving, extending and retracting the LCD screens at any angle and position. This has an added advantage of leaving the desk clear for placing laptops, cellphones and documents, since the monitors are now suspended above the desk by a swivel arm.
As we expand our presence into multiple cities as well as grow in terms of office space, face-to-face interactions become more and more difficult across teams. Clearly there is a need to expand into other locations to be able to tap into talent pools worldwide. At the same time communication and collaboration are key to successful geo-distributed team work.
Infact we would go so far as to say that in a large enough office complex, there is considerable resistance to walking from one office to another (laziness is the mother of all inventions ) reducing the frequency of face to face interactions
*This is under 1% of the monthly salary cost of an individual and therefore payback requires a 1% increase in productivity
Apart from tangible hardware and infrastructure efforts, we continue to investigate and purchase software and tools to enhance individual productivity at various tasks. We extensively use Wikis, Blogs and Mailing lists for internal and external communication, collaboration and knowledge sharing. We use task management and tracking systems to track tasks and schedules. We have bought as well as custom-designed and developed specific software for automating various internal business processes such as HR processes, Task Management, calendaring, library management, collaboration, communication, Project Management etc.