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Nostalgia for 80s and 90s culture is all over the internet, especially social media. However, one place this mindset doesn't belong is in your practical processes for your small business or startup.
Certain technologies and ways of communicating may see completely natural to your organization. You may favor Microsoft Word for document creation, PowerPoint for information decks and slides, Microsoft Excel for spreadsheets and analytics presentation, paper memos for important announcements, rolodexes for customer/client information, phone calls for internal office communication and email or flash drives (hopefully not floppy disks) for large file distribution. Below we'll help you bring these processes into the 2010s.
- Documents: Most workers these days have used Microsoft Word as a basis of their office applications, usually learning how to type and compose documents in the software. While this approach may seem logical for one-off information deliveries, you may consider using something like Google Docs as a way to easily distribute the documents and allow for input and changes whenever necessary, especially when the document needs to be checked by multiple people.
- Announcements: On a similar note, physical memos distributed for office announcements wastes paper and clutters desks and trashcans. Email is a more cost-effective alternative for alerting your staff of any upcoming events or policy changes. You can even use a tool like Boomerang to help schedule your emails if you have multiple announcements to make throughout the week or month.
- Client information: You may have a rolodex or even an email address book to keep up with prospects and leads, but oftentimes, that's far from enough to help organize all of your data. Using a customer relationship management (CRM) system allows you to create various accounts and categories for all of the people and clients you meet. You can even track the sales process from initial meeting to closed deal.
- File distribution: Though you can deliver files up to 25 MB in certain email providers, documents and other type of files larger than 25MB would have to be broken up into multiple emails or transferred via a flash drive or external hard drive. By paying a small monthly or annual fee depending on your needs, you can create a Dropbox account. You can decide who has access to your files or just send a link with the ability to download but not edit.
- Presentations, data and analytics: Though PowerPoint and Excel can be crucial business tools, the flexibility that online applications provide should not be ignored. Google's Slides and Sheets can make delivery of these presentations and analytics incredibly easy. As mentioned in many of the above sections, collaborative teams and offices benefit from the ability to review and edit in real-time. You can also access PowerPoint and Excel on the internet via Office365.
- Office communication: Although email seems like big step away from phone calls towards tech-savvy office management, you can go even further by using messaging systems such as Google Hangouts and Slack, which allow you to monitor who is available on your team to talk at any given time. You can also send files and images for immediate download.
For more tips like this, be sure to contact us at email@example.com!
Though we know some of you are pounding the digital pavement from your home offices, a lot of you in the small business world work from a traditional office or co-working space. Though you may delegate a few tasks to virtual assistants, your physical location is the destination for your full-time and/or part-time staff.
The buzzword "company culture" may elicit some eye rolls; however, making sure your company evokes both happiness and productivity is not an entrepreneurial or corporate pipe dream. Below we list some of the ways for creating the ideal workplace environment
1. Minimize meetings - This advice seems much easier said than done as we often feel our meetings can produce monumental innovation and crucial client acquisition. If we are being honest, these "wins" happen less than we think. Out of a out-hour meeting, sometimes only 25% (or less) of the time yields anything productive or pertinent to your company's growth. If you need currently all of your weekly meetings to occur and cannot streamline communication through email or other digital applications, you can at least cut down on the time spent at the conference table. For the next few months, limiting your typical 60-minute weekly meeting to half an hour. You most likely won't even miss that other 30 minutes and will still accomplish what you need to get done.
2. Establish clear guidelines for communication - At this time, several generations exist inside a company whether the employees are Baby Boomers, Gen Xers or Millennials. And of course, each generation prefers a specific communication tool. However, instead of trying to analyze everyone's habits, you can try establishing an order of communication lines. For example, if a task or question needs attention but can wait a day or more, email the team or employee. If you need something completed within a few hours, try a companywide, instant message platform such as Slack or Google Hangouts. And if you have a completely unavoidable situation that must be resolved immediately, go for the telephone or face-to-face communication/surprise visit approach. You can implement these rules however you see fit, but be willing to give this strategy a shot and document which guidelines for communication work best.
3. Allow for moments of levity throughout the work day - You may read that suggestion and automatically think of Google-esque work environments with scooters, rock walls, dance parties and anything and everything seems completely unrelated to the task at hand. No one is asking for employers to go to that extreme, but implementing a few ways for team members to enjoy their work day is not a detriment to productivity. Some employers may let the workers dress casually, some may allow music to be played at low volumes or in headphones or some may offer free healthy snacks and coffee. You have to analyze the best tactics for YOUR company. Feel free to experiment subtly and see what happens.
If you would like some more information on creating a happy and productive office, feel free to email us at firstname.lastname@example.org!