Guest article by Joanne Roffman
Small businesses have proven their adaptability and resilience during the turbulent times of the pandemic. But now that the crisis is easing off, CNBC reports that small business owners are instead faced with a new economic challenge. Record-high inflation rates are increasing business costs while also cutting into profits, prompting businesses to fine-tune their practices and invest in productivity.
When a workplace is productive, more goods and services can be produced within a shorter period of time, and at lower costs. Small business owners can raise their workers’ and their own productivity by following these tips.
Utilize communication and collaboration tools
The pandemic catalyzed digital transformation across businesses and organizations, making technology imperative to almost any operation or function. And even though employees are returning to the office, it still helps to streamline and centralize all workplace communication through a chosen platform for emails, messages, and meetings. You can also choose to synchronize these with a work calendar so that team members are aware of each other’s schedules and availability.
Meanwhile, file-sharing services like Google Drive can optimize the access and storage of minutes, databases, timesheets, and brainstorming documentation. Keep in mind, however, that using too many tools or programs can at times be counterproductive since employees can be overwhelmed and waste time switching between different technologies.
Automate tasks when possible
When it is not possible to eliminate a task completely, the next best thing you can do is use automation solutions so that employees can dedicate their time to more complex tasks and processes. Small businesses can look into digital payment systems to automate administrative tasks related to payment processing and accounting. An Entrepreneur article notes that digital payments increase productivity since small businesses no longer have to manually enter data, process invoices, and track performance and profit margins. It also largely benefits sales, since customers have an easier and more efficient payment option.
Break down projects into tasks
Small businesses can sometimes struggle with completing major projects due to constraints in time, finances, and human resources. But breaking down the big project into smaller tasks can make it more efficient, manageable, and methodical to approach.
In Dr. Katie Linder’s You Got This podcast, it's recommended that you overestimate the amount of time you need and then underestimate the amount of time you have to work on the tasks. This rough estimation allows you to address future errors or disruptions without derailing your entire timeline. When you make a list of tasks and deliverables, you should also consider task dependencies—which task must be completed first before moving on to the next, or which tasks can be accomplished independently of each other.
Enhance the working environment
One way to better engage and motivate employees is to enhance the working space and environment. A Harvard Business Review article discussing workspaces found that certain design trends, like open floor plans and flexible seating, can stimulate creativity and collaboration. Rather than refurbishing entire floors or buildings, businesses can also start small by investing in ergonomic desks and chairs that contribute to comfort and efficiency in the workplace.
However, since traditional offices come with significant costs, coworking spaces can also be a viable option for small businesses and startups. It nurtures a sense of belonging and professional identity, while also opening up opportunities for support and networking. As explained in our post ‘Networking: 4 Tips to Build Your Networking Skills’, organizations and employees who meet in coworking spaces can build meaningful relationships and learn from each other.
Small businesses can gain a lot from enhancing their technologies, processes, and environments. The onus remains on entrepreneurs and small business owners to learn how to boost productivity and performance without compromising the health and well-being of everyone in the workplace.
Article written by Joanne Roffman exclusively for The Back Office Studio