Stretching out the use of your outdated office equipment appears to be a cost-saving strategy. In reality, the costs go way beyond money. Obsolete office technology hinders growth and is frequently a factor in reduced employee morale and productivity. If you want to create an efficient office environment, look closely at your equipment and technology. It is likely old enough to hold you back.
Outdated Office Equipment Impacts
Employee frustration may be the most visible impact of outdated office equipment, but it is not the only one. Many effects are noticeable only after a thorough audit of your expenses and productivity. If you delay updating technology, you likely experience one or more of these impacts.
Higher Maintenance & Repair Costs
While you can repair a car or refrigerator and enjoy the benefits for a while, technology is not the same. If your copier or printer can’t get through a week without repairs, you are throwing away money that can go towards a new device. Repair technician visits add up.
Office equipment and technology age and become obsolete much quicker. There will be a point where constant repairs and maintenance quit making a difference.
Also, tech companies quit offering support for their older devices eventually. When that occurs, repair and maintenance of aging equipment may no longer be an option. It is best to cut your losses once the manufacturer quits supporting your equipment.
If your agents cannot pull up that quote or answer an email, your customers will get frustrated and go elsewhere. Technology created an on-demand culture where delays are intolerable. Customers have high expectations, and if you can’t meet them, they will happily find another agency with updated tech.
Your office must accommodate these expectations. It is impossible to do so unless you use updated modern office equipment.
Reduced Employee Morale
Your employees notice when your technology doesn’t work. ZenBusiness, a start-up support company, surveyed workers regarding their office equipment. Half of those workers reported workplace technology was moderately or completely outdated. Of those workers, 83.1 percent stated their computers were obsolete, followed by old software (70.5 percent.) Three out of ten of these employees considered changing jobs due to their frustration with technology.
There are good reasons for this frustration. Old technology cannot run today’s productivity tools efficiently. Also, workers scramble to work around breakdowns and delays. These delays are not minor; due to outdated technology, employees lose about 39.8 minutes a day.
To make matters worse, 33.4 percent of surveyed employees claimed they asked for updated resources at least once a month. When they do so, their employers leave them feeling like a pest for requesting working equipment. Many employees will stay through technology struggles, but they often leave when the employer’s attitude toward upgrades is dismissive.
It is challenging to remain engaged and productive at work when systems and devices keep breaking down. A small thing like a slow Internet connection can drain productivity if an agent cannot finish research on a client’s request.
Restarting computers and modems takes time and breaks the workflow. Also, employees frequently waste time attempting to repair technology quirks independently. These attempts take concentration away and replace it with irritation. Another agonizing interruption is stopping a printing project to clear out a paper jam or toner leak. If technology or software fails catastrophically, that’s time spent on the telephone with IT or twiddling thumbs while repair crews try to make everything work.
The information security landscape changed significantly even in the last few years. Newer technology is efficient and safer than continuing to use outdated equipment. There are different threats, and they may infiltrate your business through the Internet, your local network, or Wi-Fi.
Cybercriminals exploit old software platforms and their security vulnerabilities. New hardware seals up these loopholes and makes your systems safer. If a threat gains access to your system, new software and hardware is better equipped to combat it. If you run older software and equipment, you cannot stay true to your information security strategy and client privacy protection.
Advantages to Office Technology Upgrades
Updating your office equipment avoids undesirable consequences, but it also offers specific advantages. You will likely find other efficiencies rather than reduced downtown and improved employee morale.
Technology now is more efficient than devices from days past. Think about your air conditioning system back home: You likely upgraded at some point because your older system was more expensive to run. But when you upgraded, you found options with that favorable “Energy Star” label that saved you money.
The same is true with office equipment. Printers and copiers now feature designs that use less electricity and toner. Many manufacturers and office supply stores recycle spent toner cartridges and give credit towards new ones. These “green” measures make great publicity campaigns, but they also save you money.
Also, new technology has better power-saving options. They feature power-down modes when not in use and use less electricity.
If you pay utilities on your office space, you likely see the costs of multiple computers and devices constantly running five days a week. You will see those expenses decrease when you upgrade to more efficient machines.
Faster computers produce more insurance quotes and emails. New printers print more pages per minute and offer brighter colors. Combine this efficiency with less downtime, and you accomplish more. You do not experience the same productivity delays with new equipment as with older computers and printers, which require constant maintenance.
Easier for Employees
We already went over employee morale and how broken equipment affects it. However, there is another angle to the technology and employee picture: training.
Employee turnover is a fact of life for anyone running a business. You hope to keep people for as long as possible, but sometimes life and opportunity present themselves. People retire. When a valued employee leaves, you need to make it easier for their successor to fill in.
That goal becomes difficult if you have computers or software no longer used by other agencies. If the long-term employee who knows every feature on that ancient copier leaves, your new employee is likely going to be frustrated about making it work. But if you upgrade to well-known software and technology, your new employees will have an easier transition. New technology is more intuitive and does not contain the steep learning curve of previous models.
Five Tips for Upgrading Office Equipment
Even if you decide to update your office equipment, you have one more barrier. Budget is the number one reason workplaces fail to upgrade. Employees at large companies reported misallocated budgets as the top reason they used outdated office equipment (55.7 percent.) For small businesses, that figure increases to 62.4 percent.
But when you upgrade, these improvements will pay for themselves in reduced expenses and increased productivity. There are ways to make this manageable and ensure you are never stuck in this situation again.
Here are five tips for successfully upgrading your office:
- Get employee input: Your employees work and struggle with your office technology every day. Do not dismiss their complaints as laziness or troublemaking. Let them explain what is going wrong and find out how to fix it.
- Start incrementally: Some improvements are better than none. Start with the most troublesome areas, and expand from there. For example, if the office computers are nine years old, have no service support, and constantly crash, that is likely where you need to start. But if that old printer still acts reliably, you can upgrade it last.
- Consider leasing: You do not have to buy if you do not have the immediate funds. It is easier to get the latest and greatest if you lease equipment. Hardware as a Service (HaaS) contracts allow you to rent updated equipment and offer upgrades as your leased equipment ages. Many of these companies also provide training and setup to give your agency a seamless transition.
- Hire a consultant: Consult with a productivity expert and have them assess your office technology. You will receive the cold hard truth about your technology and how it holds you back. But you will also receive solutions and recommendations for equipment that will make your work life easier.
- Look into free options: If you do not want to pay a subscription to Microsoft or Basecamp, there are free options. Many small businesses run efficiently on Google G Suite, and online productivity and collaboration tools, like Freedcamp, are available. If you want better communication, Evernote and Slack are also free.
- Invest in quality: The cheapest option may give you problems down the road. Look into technology options that meet or exceed your needs. If you buy more than you need right now, it gives you room to grow. This area is where equipment lease agreements help. Your customer service representative can help you assess your technical needs and explain options and costs.
Insurance agencies need to stay on track with office equipment and technology to remain competitive. Fortunately, at the American Agents Alliance, we help our members with consulting and IT services to help you on that track. Check out our membership benefits and sign up for our services to start moving toward a more modern office.