Alex Tebbs, co-founder of unified communications specialist VIA.
It’s no secret that flexible working in 2018 is now a norm for businesses and entrepreneurs alike. ‘Digital era’ employees are working more flexibly than ever before which has proven to increase productivity levels, whether staff are inside or outside of an office.
It is critical that businesses make sure their technology is up-to-date to facilitate this environment, to ensure that they are embracing flexibility in the most efficient way possible. Similarly, those starting businesses from home, working freelance or beginner entrepreneurs, need to make sure that they’re investing in the latest technologies so that they’re prepared for this changing landscape.
Why update business technologies?
Flexible working solutions shouldn’t be dependant on the size of the business. From entrepreneurs to well established global organisations, using flexible technology and systems can benefit everyone.
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The advantages of being flexible today are widely agreed upon. Generally, it enables a practical work/life balance which increases the well-being of employees, strengthening collaboration and sense of community amongst colleagues. This has also been proven to increase staff retention and a more empowered and motivated workforce.
Flexible technology options
Technology enables business operations to be a lot more flexible, as it provides the ability for colleagues to instantly communicate and collaborate with each other via different systems. For example, screen sharing capabilities allow meetings to go ahead remotely as if the entire team is present around one computer. Many screen-sharing applications are now readily available online including Google Chrome remote desktop, Join.me and Skype.
Video conference calling often allows more efficiency than actual meetings because it does not require a large amount of office preparation, in fact travel expenses with clients can be saved by clearing up any issues through video calls. There are multiple systems available with different benefits and costs depending on your requirements, such as Skype, ezTalks and Google Hangouts.
Many companies offer innovative unified packages that make business management processes almost effortless. Cloud-based solutions, such as Via, offer a consolidated managed portal to ease business communications in today’s multi-channel, multi-device world.
Online document sharing
Cloud-based drive systems allow employees to effectively collaborate with colleagues to increase productivity within teams, large and small. By using online document sharing, such as Google Drive, employees have transparency between clients and staff, with the ability to restrict access to certain files if needed. In turn, having business documents available within the cloud adds a sense of security that is hard to ensure with physical copies.
Project management systems
Project management systems are able to plan, schedule, organise and allocate resources across teams. These also often include instant messaging communication tools for use amongst both employees and clients. With many systems to choose from such as Basecamp, Teamwork Projects or Scoro, many freelancers and smaller entrepreneurs today are opting for the one that suits their needs – and their budget – best.
Instant messaging and communication tools
In addition to project management systems, the industry has seen a rise of instant messaging platforms. This allows both flexible and office workers to provide fast updates on projects across the organisation. This builds the community within an organisation, and allows remote freelancers to feel more included.
In order to keep up with the fast paced flexible working environment, entrepreneurs and small businesses alike will have to begin investing in these technologies. It’s important to keep in mind that despite the advancements of technology, face to face interaction is still an important factor of relationship building and business. Successful entrepreneurs will integrate a mix of both advanced cloud-based systems and traditional communication into their workflow.