In today’s globalized, hyper-connected world, the face of the modern office is changing at a lightning pace. We’re no longer strapped to our desks, working 9-5 jobs. Instead, we’re working from home, on the train and all over the world at hours that suit us or our global clients.
To stay competitive, businesses have to be flexible. Here are some ways technology can help you, whether you’re a small start-up or a growing international business.
Cloud computing and flexible working
Forget dusty filing cabinets or servers which can only be accessed while you’re in the office: your employees need to be able to save and access data wherever they are, whenever they need it.
By securely storing your data in the cloud, you’ll be freed from the shackles of your desk to travel where the work is and attract and retain talent by offering flexible working arrangements.
Yahoo’s Marissa Mayer might not be a fan of remote working, but she’s resisting one of the biggest shifts in the way we work. According to the 2013 Regus Global Economic Indicator, 45% of Singaporeans now work remotely for at least half their working week.
And that figure is set to keep rising as more employers acknowledge that they have to offer flexible working if they want to keep up with the times, or stay up and running when something out of their hands (like the recent smog issues) keep people from travelling into the office.
The benefits to a business, like having a happier workforce and reducing running costs, are clear.
But it’s important you have the right processes in place from the outset to make sure you keep in constant communication with your staff and that everyone’s delivering the work that’s required of them.
If you and your team are constantly on the go, you’ll still need somebody to answer the phones and sort through your mail. But with sky-high business rates in the most desirable postcodes, savvy business owners are instead choosing to have a virtual office instead.
A virtual office like the Suntec virtual office in the CBD (central business district) has given people the prestige of having an office in the centre of Singapore’s thriving business hub, but without the price tag to match.
Trained receptionists and personal assistants are on hand to answer your phone calls or process your paperwork to keep operations sunning smoothly. Business professionals who have got important meetings scheduled make use of the modern office in the CBD when they need to be in front of a client.
If you’re just dipping your toes in the water to see if your business will take off in Singapore, a virtual office is a great place to start without the commitment of a year-long lease.
The BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) trend is empowering employees to use their own device — whether it’s their smartphone, tablet or home computer — to work while they’re travelling, at home or at a meeting abroad.
Speaking at the IBM InterConnect 2013 event in Singapore, IBM’s MobileFirst vice president Kristen Lauria shared her views on the trend:
“98 percent were addressing security concerns head on, and they were two times more likely to embrace a BYOD strategy for their employees to get the most out of their interactions.”
To compete with multinational corporations and industry leaders, your workforce has to have access to the latest software and technology. But constantly investing in new technology isn’t financially feasible for small or new businesses.
By helping your staff work from their personal devices, you reduce your running costs while allowing them to use a model they’re comfortable with.
A word of caution, though: make sure that you put the right security measures in place before embracing BYOD, or you could lose data or sensitive information which could out your business at risk.
Unreliable phone lines have made many businesses rule out teleconferencing in the past, but the technology’s improved so much now that it’s become a real alternative to a face-to-face meeting.
While some business deals require the human touch and a personal connection, many organisations are needlessly spending money flying staff around the world to conduct routine business that could easily be done remotely. Next time you go to book your plane ticket, consider whether a video conference call may suffice.