“Manage Your Business” series sponsored by Microsoft
As your small business grows, one of the biggest challenges you face is managing your growing workforce. Today, of course, your workforce may include many people who aren’t in the same workspace. You may have remote employees, virtual employees, freelancers or independent contractors.
In addition, your traditional, full-time employees probably work from home or from the road at least part of the time. This complexity has added a whole new element to managing your workforce: the need to effectively guide collaboration among groups of people who may be working in many different ways—not to mention time zones–on any given day.
Small businesses simply can’t afford to ignore the importance of enabling collaboration—especially since collaboration is more essential to business success than ever before.
How can you ensure your workers can truly work together even when they’re far apart? Here are 7 ideas.
- Look for technology that’s easy for your team to learn and use. Instituting an entire new system or cobbling together collaboration tools from a myriad of different apps and solutions is time-consuming and confusing. Worse, when you take this approach, chances are your team will resist using the tools you’ve taken so long to select. (Who has time to learn a whole new set of applications?) Instead, tap into familiar solutions such as Office 365, which features the new Office 2016
- Make sure it’s mobile-friendly. Your employees don’t just work from a desktop computer anymore — they’re using tablets, smartphones and laptops to get stuff done both in and out of the office. Look for collaboration tools that work just as easily on mobile devices as they do on the desktop. They should also work with a variety of platforms, so your contractors, freelancers and virtual employees can stay in the loop no matter what mobile devices they use.
- Share and share alike. Use cloud storage solutions such as Microsoft OneDrive to ensure your team can always access the documents and files they need, while still maintaining the security of your important business data. Office 365 automatically syncs your data across all devices whenever changes are made, so you can rest assured your team is always on the same page.
- Keep it simple. If you’re like most small business owners, you and your team are always trying to do more with less. Save everybody time and stress by looking for streamlined ways to get things done. For example, Office 2016’s Office Delve feature lets you quickly and easily search for files in the cloud, without worrying about filenames or folders. Or try the instant sharing feature — just click from within any document to instantly share it with other team members. You can also share calendars, so planning meetings and calls is always easy.
- Get together (virtually). Far-flung teams can still be close using online video conferencing. Office 365 offers in-app integration with Skype for Business so you and your staff can share screens, IM each other or video chat from right within the documents you’re working on. Get even more from Office 365 by creating an internal social network on Yammer. Create Yammer groups for teams, projects or clients to share and collaborate on files, discuss projects and get quick answers to questions.
- Manage projects online. You can use Microsoft Groups to create public or private teams, each with a shared inbox, calendar to plan and schedule meetings, cloud storage for the group’s documents, and a shared OneNote notebook to keep ideas and notes. Group members can have conversation within teams and launch voice or video calls over Skype for Business. Plus, Groups lets you maintain all email relating to the group, so you’ve got everything in one place.
- Get expert help. You’ve got enough to handle managing your employees; why not let the tech experts manage technology? When you subscribe to Office 365, you get automatic updates and improvements to all the applications your business uses, across all of your team’s devices. That means one less thing to manage—and more time to manage your business.
Be sure to read the other articles in this series:
8 Ways to Enhance Your Customer Relationships
Is Outdated Technology Slowing Your Business Down?
8 Ways Technology Can Help You Go Global
8 Smart Ways to Manage Your Marketing
About the Author
Rieva Lesonsky is CEO of GrowBiz Media, a media and custom content company focusing on small business and entrepreneurship. Email Rieva at firstname.lastname@example.org, follow her on Google+ and Twitter.com/Rieva, and visit her website, SmallBizDaily.com, to get the scoop on business trends and sign up for Rieva’s free TrendCast reports.