Best productivity tips, technology trends and latest tools for small businesses
Many small businesses use different tools to accomplish various business activities. These tools are often not connected and given the level of information being generated on a daily basis, this results in information and communication silos. Small businesses need an efficient system to store all the information in one place based on context so that information can be easily retrieved and acted upon when needed.
Organizing and finding data should be much easier and less complicated than it is when using multiple apps. By simplifying the ability to store and retrieve any information when needed, small businesses can speed up the decision-making process and business productivity. Given this scenario, let’s see what small businesses can do to improve their productivity by leveraging the latest technology and tools.
Best productivity tips
1. Use an affordable business communication tool
Small businesses may find it very difficult to afford business communication and productivity tools like Slack and Microsoft Teams commonly used in large enterprises. In addition to the licensing cost, there are investments needed to pay for all the extra integrations that are needed. If everybody in the team is not tech-savvy, they will also need dedicated resources to help with all the integrations. In addition, employees will also have to go through training to make use of all the features.
2. Work in the Cloud
Stop wasting time with on-premises tools. If you have all the data your team needs in the cloud, they can access it at any time with an internet connection. Save immense amounts of time not having to get back to the office to send out that important email.
3. Keep your meetings focused
It sounds simple, right? The thing about team meetings is they can get out of hand quickly, and then you end up spending more time than you planned for. If you approach them more like a team huddle, you’ll find more success. Keep them brief, to the point, and finish it quickly. Be sure every meeting has a specific goal, and everyone knows it beforehand. If your meeting doesn’t have an agenda, remove it from your calendar.
4. Create context-based tasks
While there are many free to-do apps in the market like Google Tasks and Todoist, among others, in each instance when a to-do is triggered, you may have to rely on memory to recollect all the information related to that alert. It is more efficient to use a tool that allows you to create to-dos from your emails, chats and documents. Later, when the to-do is triggered, you will know the context.
5. Improve team messaging
There are lot of team messaging tools available in the market like Microsoft Teams, Flock, RocketChat, Google Chat… the list is endless. Most of these messaging apps are focused on chats or video conferencing. But work is not just limited to chats and videos. It also includes emails, shared documents phone calls and to dos. So, it is better to look for a unified communication system that can handle all your communication from one place.
6. Stop micromanaging
Constantly supervising your employees with excessive interference will decrease their productivity. Micromanaging is doubting your employees’ ability to complete tasks independently. When you micromanage, you risk losing your employees’ unique insights, skills, and talents.
7. Analyze trends
Both large and small businesses are getting drowned in data. The amount of data that businesses are producing is growing exponentially and it is projected to double every two years. Bain & Company reports that only 4% of companies make good use of data analytics with the intent to drive improvements. So, it is time for small businesses to have a big data plan or strategy in place.
8. Empower your team
Empowered employees are loyal, committed and potentially more productive. When employees are given the tools and resources they need to successfully manage or lead their own projects, the benefits are endless. When employees are empowered, they tend to go the extra mile, provide better customer service, have a positive attitude, and become more productive and better at work.
9. Keep your tasks grouped together
Group all the tasks that are similar for each project together to save time. Using multiple apps to get your things done is always cumbersome and you will never be able to see the big picture.
10. Keep information flowing freely for your team
Don’t make your entire team have to scour your company’s server to find the information you know they need. Keep it all organized and communication lines open at all times. Using a good app that will ensure that your team has all the information they need at their fingertips.
How technology can help small businesses
During this pandemic, when many of us worked from home, the only way we could connect with coworkers and employers was through communication software and apps. This not only maximized time efficiency and work effectiveness, but it also helped small businesses survive in a year when going digital was almost mandatory for many industries.
For a small business, technology is an important tool that contributes to establishing the business, creating good organizational practices, reaching goals, and growing further. Here are some of the advantages that technology can bring to small businesses.
1. Improves real-time communication
Exchanging information and communicating rapidly and with no delay is one of the biggest advancements in technology that has made it possible for employees to communicate with each other, management, and with clients in real-time. This has facilitated communication processes that would earlier take a significantly longer time and back and forth emailing or written communication.
2. Enables remote working
Many businesses had to transition from the office environment to working from home during this pandemic. Many employers and employees may choose to work remotely, even after the pandemic. During these unprecedented times, online communication platforms came to the rescue to connect with people working remotely.
3. Improves collaboration
Small businesses have fewer employees and they are heavily dependent on collaboration between them. Thanks to collaborative software and apps, working together and having all necessary communication channels grouped into one place has significantly eased the challenges of communication within a business.
4. Helps to create virtual offices
As the traditional business models are starting to gradually transition into hybrid or remote-only work, there is consequently less need for physical office spaces. Instead, leveraging technology intended to improve communication, small businesses can benefit from creating virtual offices.
5. Improves communication security
Most of the tools now offer end-to-end encryption. With the increasing amount of data that is shared within businesses, regardless of whether they are big or small, it is important that data protection is taken seriously, a process that is continuously being improved by technology.
6. Improves customer relations
Small businesses that are customer-oriented can benefit immensely from communication technology. Through various communication platforms and forums online, small businesses can ensure that their customers are happy by addressing their questions, concerns, requests promptly, and thanking them for choosing their business.
7. Sharing ideas becomes easy
Through chat rooms and messaging tools, collaboration and sharing ideas take less time, they are feedback-friendly and others can access them at their own time.
8. Helps to communicate with potential clients
Networking, referrals, and online promotion are three of the many ways technology can be employed to communicate with new potential clients. By expanding communication channels, a now-globalized industry allows for connecting with clients from all over the world. This advancement of technology helps to tap into a wide network of potential clients, which could further help to grow your business.
9. Maximizes employee engagement
Internal communication is an integral part of engagement and productivity, as it helps to create a safe space for employees and establishes a workforce network. By creating an effective communication strategy through various technological platforms and tools, small businesses employers can build a better team by giving them better channels to address any concerns, problems, or questions they might have. These platforms allow employees to also build better relationships with their colleagues, which will contribute to creating a motivating and productive work environment.
Communication is the key ingredient to improve business productivity and facilitate an agile organization. When communication is open, transparent and in one centralized location, it’s possible for businesses to make faster decisions, lower the risk of miscommunication issues and keep employees on-task. These apps that are listed below can help small businesses break through the communication barrier.
Small businesses may find it very difficult to afford team communication tools like Slack and Microsoft Teams because they are expensive to own. In addition, the small businesses have to pay for all the integrations needed to extend these platforms for various types of related work. Besides, if everybody in the team is not tech savvy, they will need dedicated resources to implement all the required integrations. In addition, their employees will also have to go through training to make use of all the features. Clariti on the other hand is free and easy to use and it doesn’t require any training. Small businesses may find it extremely convenient to own and use Clariti instead of Slack and Teams. Clariti combines all your communication including emails, chats, calls, cloud documents, and to-dos in one app and links all related information in a TopicFolder. For every context, a new thread is created and all the relevant information is linked and stored automatically. TopicFolder not only makes communication faster, it also eliminates the need to search for any information and the stress that comes with it.
Clariti is ideal for small and medium businesses to boost team collaboration and drive productivity. It is securely hosted on Amazon Web Services, providing total reliability, 100% uptime and trusted security of all your workday data. Clariti can be accessed with any web-browser from anywhere, as long as you have an internet connection.
Workplace — marketed as Workplace from Facebook and formerly Workplace by Facebook — is an online collaborative software tool developed by Facebook, Inc. It facilitates online groupwork, instant messaging, video conferencing, and news sharing.
Pronto is a communication hub created for the everyday user. It connects people via chat and video, so they can learn faster, work smarter, and communicate seamlessly.
Slack aims to be a better way to communicate. The app is known for bringing organization to otherwise messy communication channels. When using Slack, users are able to create conversations that are easy to follow and broken down into channels.
Asana helps teams orchestrate their work, from daily tasks to strategic initiatives. With Asana, teams are more confident, move faster, and accomplish more with less, no matter where they are located.
Twist is an app that makes sense of chaotic teamwork. Collaborative conversations are at the core of the platform, with threads that keep discussions easy to access and well-organized.
Microsoft Teams offers desktop and mobile apps that connect local and international teams using a robust set of features.
Basecamp allows teams to work remotely using an all-in-one toolkit. Basecamp offers communication tools, but the heart of the platform is project management.
Zoho offers a little of everything, but Cliq is the company’s communication platform. Cliq has tools that help teams by offering collaboration, chat bots, task management, video collaboration and more.
Brosix is an instant messaging platform that reduces overhead while making all employees — even remote teams — feel like they’re in the office. The Brosix app offers real-time communication and collaboration into one, user-friendly application.
Now, small businesses can take advantage of the benefits that digital communication offers, from cost-effectiveness, to various platforms and tools for task management and productivity tracking, easy collaboration, networking opportunities, and much more.
These are a few of the best tips to grow your small business’s productivity. Try implementing these tips and seeing how things improve with your small business. Improving productivity at work is a continuous process. It may seem overwhelming but following and implementing simple tips and tools discussed above can make your team more efficient.