2018 is the year of distraction – honestly, we might have said that in 2017, and we may say it again next year, because each year seems to bring a little more information overload and add a little more to the to-do list.
But at the very least, that means we want to get a handle on the distractions now, to dominate them in the coming year! As we are wrapping up the year, here are 7 things we’re seeing the most productive and successful businesses do that others aren’t.
Part of the work culture in 2018 is that we are all running in different directions, but working on the same project. Business owners or project managers should be identifying clearly who works on what and when it is due, and requesting frequent updates. Staff should have constant access to one another via messaging systems, email, and telephone. Mobile offices are more and more common – more than three-quarters of workers use social media and mobile systems to communicate – so face-to-face interaction may be rare, but if coworkers stay in communication via voice and messaging, there won’t be any issues.
Good systems to use for communication include Slack and Facebook Workplace. It’s recommended to stay out of platforms that employees may use for personal use. Although, Facebook Workplace is a separate platform from personal Facebook pages, and Slack can be signed up for with a separate email account. Stay out of texts or Facebook Messenger if you can, because you’ll find that your staff ends up in personal messages and wastes precious time without even intending to do so!
This is important for clients too – keep up with them, don’t be afraid to ask questions and let them know if there are problems. It’s not just the professional conversations either – make note of any personal information you learn of them and wish them happy birthday, ask about their children and their vacation, send condolences; keep searches automated on their business name so you can congratulate them on any business successes that hit the press.
Automate every process you can – but this especially comes down to accounts payable. Your bills stay somewhat the same from month to month, so try payment automation services that can process your automatic payments as well as purchase orders and invoices.
The same goes for purchase order processes. If your business begins using e-procurement software – you can begin managing your orders from your cell phone. This is an easy way to keep track of purchases, and makes keeping track of documents easier.
Technology changes all the time! Your business needs to be connected, using technology heavily, and always keeping an eye on new developments, new updates, trends and ideas. This is where the business world has changed most in the past couple of decades, and now it’s moving at a faster pace than ever. Experts in the field won’t stay that way for long if they don’t keep up.
Right along with keeping up with technology, your employees need to be properly trained. You should keep on top of any trainings offered in your area or online that are relevant to their work as well; the better trained your employees are, the stronger your company is. But it’s also a great show of appreciation for your staff; let’s be realistic, they won’t stay with your company forever, and training helps your business but also prepares them for the future in their next endeavors.
Speaking of staff and their future endeavors, naturally you want to keep them with you as long as you can! Strong employees are the backbone of an organization, and a good employee needs to feel appreciated. Find little ways – and big ones – to show them you care. Offer good benefits and flexible vacation options, the best pay you can afford, and other incentives. Creative positive reinforcements within the office and appreciation events like birthday lunches, bonuses, and so on.
Show client appreciation too – offer bulk or frequency discounts, hold customer appreciation sales, and remember their special events – birthdays, work anniversaries, their anniversary with your company, and so on.
This relates back to technology and automation as well – create back-ups of everything. You can program your systems to backup every night or you can backup individual files as you go. Using a cloud system, this serves two functions – you can work from anywhere, and you never lose your valuable work.
We’ve talked about this a bit already – in business today it’s so easy to get distracted. It’s just about impossible to keep staff off of occasional personal calls, but you’ll need to set limits to them. Try to keep them off of social media unless it’s for work purposes throughout the day. Consider limiting how many emails you send every day, and suggesting staff only checks email once an hour – don’t want questions to go unanswered for too long, but too many emails will keep them in their inbox.
Choose a messaging platform to keep in touch with all staff but don’t use it all the time. A task management system in addition to a messaging system will be more appropriate to reduce messaging distractions
Make 2018 Your Year
Bettering your business is a process – but you and your team will find a way to get there. It may take some time, but eventually you will be in a good place. Don’t worry if things don’t go according to plan. Just take what you’ve learned and move forward.