Collaborative Spaces & Cutting-Edge Tech: Opportunities in the Modern Workplace

According to the Staples 2019 Canadian Workplace Survey, 43% of all office workers say that new technology and equipment is at the top of their workplace wish list. Technology makes it easier to stay informed, work while travelling and access needed information instantly. It also makes it easier for co-workers to share information and finish work tasks faster. Consider the following ways technology improves connectivity for both employees and management.

On-Demand Video Conferencing

Video conferencing makes it easy to connect with coworkers in different service locations, customers in remote locations and telecommuting employees. On-demand conferencing software like Skype, Zoom, HighFive and Slack make meetings effortless. They eliminate travel time and expenses and help boost productivity and save time. Some of the apps, such as Skype and Slack, are free for basic meetings, which is ideal for smaller companies and those on a strict budget. For larger organizations, HighFive and paid versions of Skype, Slack and Zoom are available with additional options such as custom domains, usage analytics and unlimited international dial-ins.

Time Tracking

Employees who work online or while travelling can keep track of time spent working to ensure payroll accuracy with collaboration platforms and time-tracking applications such as Slack and Yammer. This is also useful for project management tasks that require employees to keep track of goals and progress accurately.

Focusing Tools

According to Entrepreneur Magazine, the average worker gets interrupted every 11 minutes while on task, and it takes approximately 25 minutes to get back on task. Focusing tools help reduce workplace distractions and make it easier to avoid websites and other diversions that take workers away from their jobs. Website blockers such as SelfControl keep users from casually checking social media and other time-consumers. Pomodoro and FocusBooster timers also make it easier to manage time throughout the day.

SaaS-Based Project Management Software

Cloud-based SaaS project management gives every employee on a project ownership over their own goals and contributions. Everything about a project is stored online in the cloud for easy access and flexibility. Top apps such as Apprenda and Microsoft Project make it easy to communicate goals effectively and efficiently.

Advancements in the workplace help employees do their jobs. As a business owner, implementing technology changes can increase employee satisfaction, productivity and retention.

5 Ways a Mobile Workspace Adds Value

MagazineCanada reports that the revolution toward flexible workspaces benefits companies and their employees. These advantages amount to greater productivity and growth for many organizations, and Wayne Berger of the International Working Group Canada and Latin America notes that the mobile workforce trend is changing the game for employers and employees. Discover five reasons mobile workplaces are where your company should be heading.

1. Attracting Talent

More employees are looking for flexible ways to manage professional and personal time requirements. Workers of all generations want a work lifestyle that combines meaningful employment with the freedom and ability to connect to the workplace whenever and wherever they choose. Mobile workplaces are becoming necessary to attract strong talent for entry- and senior-level positions.

2. Portability

The global economy is operating around the clock in many locations. Mobile workspaces let your employees be wherever your customers are, so work gets done more quickly. Technology, such as instant messaging and video calls, can speed up gathering information from co-workers and customers. Mobility also gives your workers freedom to do their jobs in ways that are most feasible for them, colleagues and clients.

3. Efficiency

Digital communication and cloud-based apps help employees and freelancers do work with greater efficiency and speed than in traditional office settings. Travelling to business meetings is no longer as necessary because workers can easily connect virtually. Mobile workspaces do away with much of the waste of time and resources common in offices.

4. Productivity

Mobile workspaces let employees have more freedom to work at their pace, including non-traditional working hours. Many individuals find it easier to focus more on their work without office distractions. According to a 2019 IWG survey, over half of Canadian workers feel that virtual meetings are more efficient, and increased productivity from mobile workplaces translates to greater revenues.

5. Savings

Research shows that employing a mobile workforce saves companies money. Lower overhead costs diminish significantly with lower paper, utility and office space expenses. The IWG survey noted that 83% of Canadian employers cite reduced real estate management costs as a benefit of mobile workspaces. This is another boon for the bottom line.

4 Tech Tips for Supercharging Your Marketing Game

If you’re in search of software for marketing your small business, this is the right place to be. Below, we look at four leading marketing solutions that are widely used, have an intuitive interface, and are easy to use.

1. Marketing Automation Platforms

A marketing automation platform integrates all your marketing efforts, facilitates the growth of your traffic, and boosts conversions. Some of these platforms feature a drag-and-drop functionality that lets you build visually pleasing sites that are responsive no matter what device your visitors use.

As a result, you can build personalized, enticing landing pages for your marketing campaigns, and distribute both HTML and static messages to trigger the reactions you want. To capture all the relevant data, a marketing automation platform helps you integrate information from other platforms and format content for publishing without programming knowledge.

2. SEO Software

SEO platforms help you track your business’s online presence, keep an eye on your competitors, monitor your brand online, and boost your company’s search engine rankings.

You can use these tools to check your ranking on major search engines. They typically include an analytics feature that lets you gather and analyze all the data you need to take your website to the next level. Other common features include a site auditor, top analyzer, link manager, competitors inspector, and keyword finder.

3. Email Marketing Software

These tools help you acquire, engage, and retain customers via email. Standard features include an automated marketing feature that you can use to find out what each contact wants. With this information, you can deliver powerful messages that convert visitors to customers to your brand advocates.

Improve your decisions by using email marketing tools to unearth customer insights. Your deals move forward thanks to the software’s automated sales and consolidation of communication. Email marketing platforms from established providers can integrate more than 150 services and apps such as CMS, accounting, and support.

4. CRM Software

The most successful marketers use customer relationship marketing (CRM) for their business to enhance marketing strategies, optimize customer relations, and improve their efforts in upselling.

In addition to that, having these tools lets these businesses use their customer data to adjust their operations to fit customer needs and streamline marketing and sales tasks. Most CRM platforms are hosted in the cloud, and they’re easy to access and maintain even for solo entrepreneurs and small business owners.

The Best Tech Solutions for Work Flexibility

If you run a business that lets employees have a flexible schedule or work remotely, you need the right software and equipment to make it work. Let’s take a look at some of the useful tech solutions for small businesses that have remote workers.

1. Collaboration Software

With the right collaboration software, sharing information and managing projects is simple even if your employees work remotely. According to the Staples 2019 Canadian Workplace Survey, collaboration software is among the tools remote workers rely on most.

This technology speeds up your workload. It’s a superior solution to using different tools scattered across your employees’ personal computers, the company network, and the internet. The best collaboration software solutions integrate many widely used productivity apps into the workflow of your small business.

2. Virtual Private Network (VPN)

If you have remote workers, they probably have remote access to your company network. Since the system holds highly sensitive data about your small business, you want to be sure that no one other than authorized staff can access the connection.

Using a VPN is an effective way of securing the connection. Besides letting your remote employees securely access your network, a good VPN ensure you have a fast, reliable connection so that remote employees, business partners, and customers can always reach you.

3. Network-Attached Storage (NAS)

Network-attached storage can speed up your business in many ways. Remote access is the main benefit of a NAS. Even consumer-grade models can give easy to file via the internet.

However, as a business, you should invest in a top-tier NAS box that features dedicated graphical web interfaces that give your remote employees seamless access and management of files. NAS boxes can also serve videos, images, and music to digital media adapters and PCs. Some vendors offer additional perks such as camera surveillance and website serving.

4. Video Conferencing

Video conferencing helps your remote employees feel like they’re part of the team even if you’re not at the office. The technology optimizes collaboration. Most workers today communicate through instant messaging, email, and phone. However, visual cues still make up a large portion of communication.

Next to face-to-face meetings, video conferencing offers the best quality interactions. It lets information flow efficiently and minimizes misunderstanding because colleagues can read each other’s body language and other non-verbal cues.

Even better, video conferencing can be used to train employees online affordably. This is especially useful for small businesses with a tight budget.

How the Internet of Things Can Raise Your Company’s Game

Our devices track an increasingly part of our daily activities. IoT devices record and transmit data about these activities to your company to help it make better decisions about customers. Here’s how IoT can transform your business for the better.

1. Better Business Insights

Connected devices create analytics potential from data streams. Analyzing the data improves your business’s insights into its operations and the way your customers use products. This knowledge helps your business improve customer experience.

The future of business lies in more profound connections with the customer and becoming even more accessible. For example, leading retailers have begun to adopt scan, pay, and go technology that interacts with shoppers’ smartphones and helps them avoid long checkout queues.

2. Improved Productivity and Efficiency

Linking all the essential processes in your small business lets you find ways to enhance productivity, efficiency, and — ultimately — your revenue. For example, if you run a gym, you can use wearable technology to monitor your clients’ movements and track their progress as they exercise. You can then use the data from the devices to adjust exercise routines and tailor workouts to individual client needs.

3. Cutting Down Costs and Downtime

IoT technology can help reduce your business’s operational downtime and costs. For example, a digital model that mirrors your operations in real time can alert you of potential system bottlenecks in advance, giving you time to take pre-emptive measures. Such an IoT solution can reduce your downtime and operational costs.

Additionally, IoT can take over scheduling tasks that would take a human being hours to work. The result is increased reliability, fewer last-minute problems, lower maintenance costs, and better use of resources.

4. Tracking Assets and Reducing Waste

IoT tracking can help reduce waste and supply chain inefficiencies. If your business operations involve making deliveries to customers, you can use an IoT solution that tracks the items being delivered, periodically updating the location.

This system can identify the occasional stray package that gets lost along the way. Often, the more components your business has, the more value it can get from implementing IoT.

How a Better Office Layout Can Supercharge Productivity

Office designs and layouts are always evolving. As a business owner or manager, you should take every opportunity to implement new layout ideas that are better suited to the way people work today. Here are a few modern office design trends you should consider for your office to meet the needs of the modern office worker.

Activity-Based Working

Activity-based working lets your employees decide where, when and how they work. Your business lets staff members choose their work setting based on the type of task. Options include individual workstations, concentration zones and collaboration areas.

This workplace layout needs a variety of tools and resources to support different activities and tasks. Among the necessary tools for ABW are video-conferencing, collaborative software, Wi-Fi and network-attached storage solutions.

Brand Personality

This concept is based on the idea that office spaces should tell your business’s story through elements such as colour schemes and choice of furniture. The construction and layout of your office interior should help you share the story of your business to inspire your staff members and your community.

When your workspace reflects your corporate personality, your office layout gives your employees, customers and partners a strong sense of shared identity. It can also motivate your staff and make recruits feel like part of the family.

Supporting Good Overall Well-Being

As a small business owner, one of your top priorities is the health and happiness of your employees. Your focus on their well-being should be evident in the way you lay out your offices. The happier your people are, the more productive they’ll be.

The benefits of a workspace that supports employees’ well-being go far beyond productivity. People with a higher sense of well-being are more resistant to illness, recover more quickly, have higher pain tolerance, have a longer life expectancy and are better at solving problems.

Adaptable Office Layouts

Some of the best office layouts today incorporate agile and dynamic spaces. With these designs, your employees work in an environment free of ergonomic and physical constraints. Consider rearranging your space to suit the nature of your teams’ work and their preferences.

Implementing an adaptive office layout improves productivity because your workspace becomes more organic and comfortable. Having a flexible workspace makes it easy for your employees to switch between open, semi-open and closed spaces with minimal restrictions. According to the Staples 2019 Canadian Workplace Survey, each of these layouts has a place in the modern office.

Small Business Essentials: Building Your Best Team

When most people think of a successful or powerful business, a cutthroat environment is often what comes to mind. But fear shouldn’t be the fuel that your small business runs on. Your company grows steadily when your people share a team mentality, with everyone having a clear role and goal to guide them.

Here are three ways to build and maintain strong teams in your small business.

1. Make Roles Your Top Priority

The best teams are incredibly selective about who gets to join them. No matter how long it takes, invest time in developing a thorough recruitment process. Having a clear, compelling reason for bringing someone on your team ensures its success.

Adopting this attitude toward new hires helps you avoid high turnover because prospective employees will be in it for the long haul. They’ll be more interested in learning everything they can because they know you’ll keep them around as long as they’re the right fit. Moreover, this long-term strategy ends up costing you less over time.

2. Value Each Member’s Role

With each member of your team having a specialized role, the next step is to treat each member as essential. You want everyone to have the sense that their job matters. No member should ever question why they’re there. It’s a well-known fact that a strong sense of purpose fuels excellent performance.

Employees draw a sense of security from knowing that their role in your small business is not only necessary but also valued. Such employees are more likely to completely buy into your company mission and feel like they have a personal stake in the success of the business.

3. Set Up Effective Communication Systems

The only way for your team members to know that you value their role is if you effectively communicate your appreciation. It’s easy to feel like part of the team when you’re always kept in the know about important team information.

Similarly, your team runs smoothly when each member fills in the rest of the team on the progress in their individual role. Maintaining transparency is essential even if the information doesn’t directly concern each team member. Take time to identify collaboration software and office layouts that let your employees share and create value at peak productivity.

Make sure each team member has a voice during periodic check-in meetings. Bring your people closer to projects and keep them engaged by asking them their opinions.