Long gone are the days when office fax machines, a business line, and a lone email account were the only tools necessary to effectively run your business. Take some time to examine which projects and clients you spend the biggest chunk of your day working on as well as where you think your valuable time is being wasted. You might find that updating the technological tools you use can increase your productivity and save your business money.
The Obvious Tech Update: Computer Upgrades
Remember when computers used to take half the morning just to boot? Thankfully, computer technology has advanced so you're up and running before you return from filling your coffee cup. However, if you're not taking advantage of faster, more efficient computers, you and your employees are sacrificing vital efficiency. Look at the math: If your employees waste just 5 minutes a day waiting on slow computers, which equates to about 3.5 days of lost productivity each year.
Serve Customers Using Better Communication Tools
At one time, a fax machine, a reliable post office and a direct phone line were all the tools needed to successfully communicate with your business clients and suppliers. However, now fax machines are all but defunct, nobody has time to talk on the phone anymore, and snail mail is just too slow. Technological advances have sped up communication, which means if your business isn't on-board, you'll be left in the dust - especially if your business operates across borders. There are a myriad of tools available to improve your customer relationships. Here are some industry favorites:
- Skype: this video conferencing tool allows you to hold meetings without being in the same building — or even the same country.
- Smartphone apps: If you travel often for business, Smartphone apps can help you stay connected through more than just email. With these tools, you can scan and fax documents, receive payments on orders, and login to your office computer … all from your mobile phone.
- Instant messaging services: You no longer have to depend on simple AOL Instant Messenger for internal and client contact. A plethora of services like AIM Pro, Eyejot and KonoLive are available to aid in business communication.
- File sharing: Forget clogging your clients' email inboxes with necessary files. Instead use tools like Senduit, Streamfile and Wikisend.
Use Technology to Create a Flexible Workspace
By outfitting your employees and your workspace with the technology that makes working from home possible, you may come out ahead financially. According to a Telework Research Network study, providing your employees with resources to telecommute half of the time can save your company up to $10,000 annually. For many businesses, telecommuting equates to savings based on:
- Increased employee productivity
- Lower workplace maintenance bills
- Fewer missed workdays due to employee absences and sick time
- Lower employee turnover rates
Employees also see the savings when they no longer have to pay for their commute, parking, food or work attire.
A Word of Warning
Business-related technology updates can save your bottom line in the long run, but some applications can actually waste time. To make sure gadgets aren't distracting you or your employees:
- Disable all non-essential visual updates that pop up on your screen.
- Manage alerts on your mobile phone so it doesn't continually buzz at your desk with non-work related updates.
- Resist the urge to use technology as a multi-tasking tool. Working on multiple projects at once actually slows your productivity.
The most important thing to remember is that your business needs technology upgrades that are tailored to your specific needs. What works well for one company may hinder the efforts of another. Do you research to make sure you're investing in technology wisely.
Additional Information can be found here:
Green Business News, Technology for Small Businesses, Entrepreneur.com, Hongkiat.com