It’s hard to be a high-productivity business in a lo-tech environment. To get the most out of your workforce, you need to invest in gadgets and technology that can assist your employees in their day-to-day work, both online and offline.
With devices getting more powerful for less cost each year, internet and mobile technology is one area where businesses can significantly improve workflow and productivity without needing to invest too much money.
Some companies prefer to buy all the equipment used by employees while others opt to utilise available technology already owned and operated by employees. In fact, evidence suggests that employees are increasingly using their own devices at work, with or without employer approval. According to a study last year by research firm Ovum, nearly 7 out of 10 employees who own a smartphone or tablet use it to access company data and 1 in 5 of these do so in spite of an anti-BYOD – “bring your own device” – policy at work. In response, companies are changing their own policies: a survey of 2,000 organisations by research firm Gartner last year found that BYOD programmes are expected to rise from 6% of UK companies to 45% by 2020.
Allowing employees to use their own devices and services can save money and training time but there are increased security risks when personal devices are used for corporate purposes. Whichever way you choose to arm up on technology for your business, here are 7 gadgets and services that can boost your business productivity.
According to Forrester Research, the number of adults owning a tablet or tablet hybrid device is set to jump from 1 in 7 in 2012 to more than half by 2017. In Western Europe alone, tablet consumption is expected to rise from 33 million in 2012 to over 147 million by 2017. Smaller and more mobile than a laptop but easier to read and work on than a smartphone, tablets are an ideal hybrid size to allow employees to work on the go. With their handy screen size, they are also great tools for presentations and trade shows.
Like tablets, smartphones are transforming people’s work habits, creating a mobile-focused “work anywhere, anytime” culture. A study by Pixmania showed that owners of mobile devices worked an extra 460 hours per year, spending 1-2 hours extra each day checking work emails and making work-related phone calls on their smartphones. That may be bad news for employees but it’s good news for companies aiming to maximise productivity.
These portable pcs are still the go-to for employees who need to work both in and out of the office. Like most technology, laptops have come down a lot in price recently, making them a cost-effective tool for every conceivable computer-based job. While tablets and smartphones are good for certain tasks on the move, your employees will need a bigger screen, more power and more versatility to work effectively for longer periods.
4. Cloud-based Services.
We’re a multi-tasking workforce these days, with employees increasingly working across a range of devices and platforms at any one time. A recent survey of worldwide information workers by Forrester Research showed that the average employee used 2.3 devices for work purposes, with half of those surveyed using three or more devices. Working across multiple platforms means employees need a way to synch devices and share data smoothly. Thankfully we now have online ‘cloud-based’ services that allow this to be done easily. Having data in the cloud means it can be accessed by employees wherever they’re located, and without the security risk of storing sensitive files on a USB drive. Some of the more popular cloud services include Dropbox, Google Docs, Apple iCloud and Windows Live.
5. Mobile App Contact Managers.
With information increasingly digitized, it makes less sense for business professionals to hand out printed business cards. They’re prone to get lost and you only have to digitize the information later, anyway. Mobile apps such as Bump, CardMunch and Evernote Hello allow employees to speed up the data entry process so that important contact details can be quickly stored and easily accessible. Once you’ve stored all the contact details, you can recycle that business card!
6. Bluetooth Headsets.
Rather than have a smartphone stuck to their ear all day, many business professionals prefer to use a Bluetooth headset. With wireless connectivity, you can switch between multiple devices simultaneously, allowing you to take calls or stream any audio content from a phone, tablet or laptop. Hands-free headsets are ideal for multi-tasking and handling conference calls.
7. Wireless Fax/Printer/Scanner/Photocopiers.
Even in the digital age, sometimes you need hard copies of documents, reports, brochures and more. Instead of cluttering up the office with a large printer, scanner, fax machine or photocopier, invest in a single device that will serve all these functions and more. Wireless capability means you can also print from a smartphone or tablet. A couple of hundred pounds is all you need to spend to get an all-in-one device like this.
By tooling up your team with the latest technology, you’ll reduce time wasted on out-of-date devices and boost your business productivity immeasurably. Smart technology is a sound investment for smart businesses.