In a previous post, I pointed to ways to improve your personal productivity as you lead your small business. Some of my suggestions included taking advantage of cloud tools at home, upgrading your email system, and using a tablet.
Now that you’re running at peak efficiency, the next logical question is: how can you help make your employees more productive, too? The answer again involves the Internet. By capitalizing on its connective power, you can really boost your staff’s productivity—whether they’re in the office, at an offsite location, or on the road. Try these three approaches:
1. Store documents on the cloud.
With the emergence of the Web, employees began collaborating by swapping files via email. This marked a huge step forward, but it also created some difficulties. How many times have you started to work on a document and discovered it’s not the latest version? Or, how many times have you found a file on your server after hours when there is no one to check with and been unsure if it is the right one?
This problem disappears when you store documents on the cloud. Employees who call up these documents always see the last version and view previous ones if they wish. They can access the files from any location, at any time, using a tablet, smartphone, or just about any other Web-connected device.
2. Collaborate through virtual meetings.
Technology has also made it easier for your employees to meet and collaborate personally. Most small businesses now use teleconferencing—who’s not accustomed to sitting around a table and engaging with that little box! Now, video has been added to the mix, allowing people to work as if they were sitting together. Videoconferencing not only helps increase productivity but can significantly reduce your company’s travel costs.
3. Access the latest versions of favorite applications.
The cloud also gives you access to advanced business productivity software. No longer do you need to buy packages for PCs or a server and then buy new versions when your current ones go out of date. A good cloud provider will offer access to best-of-breed accounting, customer relationship management, and other business productivity packages, then update them automatically whenever new versions appear.
Also look for opportunities to give business productivity apps to your employees. Software apps are now available for a range of common business functions, including monitoring sales force activities, capturing data and submitting forms, launching marketing campaigns, and tracking company vehicles. The more you automate these processes, the more productive your employees are likely to be.
Look to the cloud for backup and security
Your employees can only be productive if your network remains stable and secure. No one can work well on a platform that constantly crashes or is plagued by viruses and other malware.
The cloud can come in handy here as well. In a good cloud system, everything your employees work on will be backed up over the Internet whenever they hit “Enter,” and they can restore lost data quickly. Your cloud provider should also offer cutting-edge encryption and other security features, along with an online tech support service that can remove malware from your network if it becomes infected.
By the way, if you plan to upgrade your technology to boost productivity this year, you’re in good company: 46 percent of small business owners expect to do the same, according to the recent AT&T Accelerate Your Business Broadband Poll.