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Could you work smarter, not harder?

Technology is key to working smarter, not harder.

Someone has a video call on a laptop with two other participants

What do we mean by working smarter?

Smart working refers to the way technology has helped transform teams to work more efficiently. These changes could be as all-encompassing as moving your office to a centralised online workspace. Or they can be more indirect, like the adoption of Agile as a new work style due to the proficiencies that technology has given to teams.

Smart working aims to remove all those issues that plagued the offices of old – inflexibility, work silos and closed-box thinking. Instead, it champions the factors that truly matter to any business: people and their ideas. Businesses that do not adopt smart working are at danger of falling behind, especially at a time when finding new ways of working is a necessity for everyone. Many employers and their employees are now deciding how their organisations should work moving forward – at Dropbox, we’re already committing to having a virtual-first workplace.

In this environment, many features of smarter working are being considered so essential that employers and employees alike may take them for granted. That means if you still aren’t offering modern initiatives like telecommuting or flexible work hours, you may have a tougher time attracting top talent.

How does smart working increase workplace efficiency?

You only need to look at your smartphone to see how technology can boost efficiency ten-fold. Tasks that a few decades ago might have required half a dozen devices can now be done with just your phone. Similarly, work processes that even one decade ago might have needed multiple, expensive desktop programs can now be done with single online solutions. Consider the following ways technology can affect your teams, and you’ll also see how it has a far-reaching impact on your overall business:

Freeing your office

smart workspace isn’t limited to four walls or a single postcode. It can exist anywhere you have an internet connection (and can keep up with you even if you don’t). Smart working means you can work wherever you are. That eliminates the old issues of ‘I left x in the office’, ‘I forgot x at home’ or ‘I can’t access x from home, so I’ll have to come in on the weekend’, all of which ruin motivation and morale. Plus, it empowers you as a business to attract talent from all over the world, not just those closest to you. With a network of remote workers, you have a whole team who can work without being restricted by office hours or even time zones.

Collaboration and teamwork

We’ve all been there, working on the same document with five other people – download attachment, edit, rename, upload attachment, send, repeat – only for the wrong version of the file to be sent off in the end. Smart working spells the end of these desktop-only limitations. Online collaboration lets multiple people work on the one document, which then updates in real time. So you can hit new levels of productivity as all those finicky steps in between each edit disappear.

Streamlined working

The pitch document is with sales, the scope of work is with finance and the initial brief is somewhere on the design team’s desk. Time for meeting after meeting after meeting as everyone tries to align what they know to find context. A smart workplace puts everything you need in one place, not scattered around the office. Not only do you have your own team’s talents to draw on; they can now be supported by machine intelligence. Dropbox uses OCR to bring the files you need to the forefront. It can even recognise images, so you don’t need to remember the file name or folder you left it in. You can just search for what is captured in the image, from a mock-up of your latest product to what you ordered at the last team lunch.

Getting into the zone

Bouncing between programs or going back and forth to a colleague’s desk is inviting procrastination. You could be pulled in by the lure of social media and non-essential apps, or just a chat with everyone you meet as you make your way across the office. Smart working opens communication channels that don’t have to take you completely out of your workflow. Need to talk to a team member who is a 10-minute trek away on the next floor? Leave an annotation, avoid procrastinating your way across the office and push on with more important work. Smart working makes multi-tasking more effortless than ever.


Imagine your boss urgently requests work from you and your team, but the files you need to complete that work are in the sales team’s inbox. And the sales team is having an off-site. Cue a day of panicked phone calls, high-tension, almost certain damage to team spirit and severe strains on mental health. Shared folders immediately remedy this issue, giving everyone peace of mind and empowering teams with the tools they need. In the long term, this can mean fewer wasted hours and less begrudging overtime into the night. The result is a better work-life balance that lets your team enjoy getting things done, as well as getting enough sleep.

Choose smarter working, not harder working

There are endless ways technology can change your workplace for the better. Let Dropbox help you with everything from your team’s communication skills to their time management, so your hard work will always mean your best work.

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