Limited resources, growing workloads and the need to do more with less practically defines small business, so it’s understandable that lacklustre productivity is a big problem for the everyday business owner. The reality is, few small business owners are actually aware that productivity is waning, or at least it’s not what it could be.
It’s often because few have the insight necessary to keep apprised of productivity levels, while others simply have no way of benchmarking theirs. That’s bad enough, now imagine that your competitors aren’t suffering from the same challenges, guaranteeing them a leg up on you. In order to put you back in the race, we’ve pointed out five areas where your business could improve on productivity.
A distracted workforce
It’s no secret that distracted employees simply don’t get much work done – how could they? From noisy environments and office gossip to co-workers dropping in too often, distractions can be frequent and highly disruptive. By enabling employees doing important work, potentially working towards a tight deadline, to work from home, a coffee shop or even a park, their work gets done quicker. There’s nothing stopping them from creating, editing or sharing files over the Internet as efficiently as they do on the office intranet.
That can only be achieved through mobility-enabling tools, and crucially, those same tools – social networking, IM and web conferencing, for example – will allow multiple employees away from their desks to continue to work together. It also means effectively and efficiently catching up with work from home, in the case where an employee has been inundated with meetings all day.
Load shedding or office downtime
Those same tools that allow your employees to work anywhere also ensure uptime during load shedding, Internet downtime or water loss at the office. These are factors that affect South Africans more than most, and small businesses tend to ignore it, simply passing it off as a part of our environment. But what is it doing for your profitability and ability to compete when competitors don’t stop working during load shedding or Internet downtime?
Business tools to empower your employees to continue working despite local disasters are available. Should disruptions to the workflow be excused when they’re so easily addressed?
Happy employees are more productive
There’s a reason the next generation workforce is so attracted to the fast-paced, highly competitive environment small businesses often find themselves in. It’s a dynamic space where individuals are not only pushed to grow, but have the opportunity to pursue different roles and a variety of upskilling initiatives, for their own benefit, and to the benefit of the business as well. However, it also means employees are under constant pressure to perform optimally on a growing workload, forcing them to work longer hours – often completing work either at night or over the weekend.
Many would argue that it’s a worthwhile trade-off, but studies have demonstrated time and time again that it’s burning your employees out. And we don’t need to tell you that a burnt out employee is an ineffective one. Mobility and office flexibility is the solution. By allowing employees to work from home – in a space they’re far more comfortable in, or during hours they find themselves most productive – employees are happier and better able to cope with the increasing demand on them.
Email whenever, wherever
This is a simple one, but it’s no less of a crux to a thriving business. Email is vitally important to most, if not all, small businesses. Not being able to keep up with email because it’s stored on an office server or computer, and you or an employee forgot to take the laptop home or you’re on the move, isn’t an acceptable excuse any longer. Practically any device can connect to email at any time and from anywhere with the right tools.
Staying connected to customers and clients
HD audio and video meetings are easier than ever. What does that mean for your business? It means that you need never waste time in traffic to and from clients or customers, either far away or located near a congested area. It also means you don’t need to fly yourself or employees around the country for non-business critical meetings, which is both expensive and quite impractical.
In case you haven’t considered it yet, digital tools that keep you connected to clients and customers will allow you to expand your business boundaries to the entire South Africa, and beyond. Those tools also include shared presentation screens, white-boarding, Q&A and polling online.
Chances are, if you’re a small business, you’ve probably identified a few pain points, or areas for improvement. What’s key to enabling flexibility and mobility is an inherent trust from your employees that what needs to be done will get done, in the time frame required, even if not done in the office or during the traditional 9 to 5. Once that’s been established, you merely need the business tools to empower your small business for a more productive future.