Productivity trends for 2019


The past year has seen more business owners act to boost their employees’ productivity – with new tools and more flexibility.

The cost of poor workplace productivity is difficult to measure. How can business owners fully know the cost of inefficient processes, out-of-date technology, de-motivated employees, wasted time and missed opportunities?

Well, according to a report by software company Sage, the cost of lost productivity in South Africa is a staggering R230 per second and R7,2 billion per year.

Offering a workplace environment that’s more in tune with the way we live, the way we communicate and the nature of the tasks employees are performing is what’s needed to boost businesses’ output in a smart way. And 2019 has been a year of business-owners and CEOs truly recognising the quick wins this can bring. Here are some of the trends we’re noticing.

Unified communications

The way teams communicate and collaborate on projects has completely changed. We need to share large files and documents quickly, chime in with updates, and distribute information across disparate teams.

An endless email chain with massive attachments just doesn’t cut it. And let’s not get started on workplace WhatsApp groups.

2019 has seen a mass adoption of productivity tools that unify employee communications with cloud-based software. Microsoft Teams and Slack are popular choices, and Workplace by Facebook has gained a million new paying users in the past eight months, bringing its global total to three million.

The use of these tools speeds up the pace of communication between teams, creating a ‘chat-like’ environment that mirrors the way we’re used to communicating on social media.

Rather than spending time answering emails to different people, teams can create central ‘chats’ for specific projects that are set up for file-sharing and -planning. Communication becomes more immediate and intuitive, and it’s easier to keep teams fully informed and accountable for tasks.

Investing in tech infrastructure

Digital transformation is no longer an option for most businesses, it’s what’s needed to survive. From data security to migrating operations to the mysterious ‘cloud’, business-owners see digital transformation as crucial for not only safeguarding a company’s online data but also future-proofing by securing assets for the digital workplace.

BMIT estimates that the cloud market in South Africa will have grown to R26,3 billion by 2023, allowing companies to store greater amounts of ‘stuff’ as they grow and also freeing up company hardware.

This is great news for employees who’ve been hampered by slow processing speeds and the spinning wheel of despair – and a win for workplace productivity.

Offering flexible working

Microsoft founder Bill Gates was one of the first to recognise the positive benefits a better work/life balance can have on work productivity.

In a widely distributed quote that many have come to take as gospel, he noted: “The competition to hire the best will increase in the years ahead. Companies that give extra flexibility to their employees will have the edge in this area.

Flexible working encompasses the option to work remotely, a choice of working hours that are more in tune with personal productivity, and access to a co-working environment that’s closer to an employee’s home (so they can cut out the commute).

A recent Zenefits report found that not only did 77% of employees see flexible working as a major preference when job-seeking, but also that 78% felt flexible working made them more productive.

For younger generations in particular, who have grown up with the gig economy and remote working as standard, a flexible employer is the norm – and as such, they demand flexibility in return.

2019 has been a year for flexible working to come to the fore and, according to the 2019 Global Workspace Survey from Regus parent company IWG, 62% of businesses in South Africa now have a formal flexible-working policy in place.

Office providers that offer a range of flexible workspace solutions – from flexible office space to flexible meeting rooms – allow business-owners to creative a more intuitive working culture for their employees and maximise their productivity by giving them the freedom to use their time more efficiently. Boosting a sense of wellbeing with a better work/life balance helps too.

Joanne Bushell | Managing Director | VP Sales in Africa | Regus | IWG plc | mail me |



  1. 3 great trends, the flexible working hours is a point I hope continues in to 2020 and more businesses get on board with this as it’s really beneficial.
    In 2019 we saw an decrease in completely open plan offices, so adding desk dividers and creating desk privacy is on the up, which also supports maximised productivity.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here