Tapping Technology to Realign Work-Life Balance
Entrepreneur's New Year’s Guide
Running a small business is constant work. Even at the end of a full day, there always seems to be more to do, meaning that small business owners are often bringing work home, running back to the shop after hours, or fretting about taking personal or vacation time.
Unfortunately, the stress of being a small business owner has only been amplified by the COVID-19 crisis, as economic uncertainty and business disruption are a daily challenge. In a recent survey conducted by Comcast Business, 68% of small business owners said they were losing sleep due to the impact of the pandemic and 65% say they are stressed. Yet despite the unprecedented situation, many business owners are optimistic about the future and many report that they have implemented new technology during the recovery phase.
There are actually quite a few ways technology can serve as a tool for small business owners to step away from the grind, recalibrate work-life balance, and boost productivity. Here are some ideas for using technology to de-stress and add more time to your day.
Use virtual collaboration
Collaboration, either between employees or among clients, can get bogged down with constant back-and-forth and endless email chains that suck up time and increase the likelihood of errors. Collaboration apps like Microsoft Office 365 and G Suite put employees and managers in constant contact, reduce process cycles, and enhance collaboration. Working in real-time allows you to get more done during the day and take less work home with you.
Automate, automate, automate
The administrative tasks handled by many small business owners add up to the equivalent of a full-time employee’s workload. Business process automation, or using technology to automate manual parts of day-to-day work, is a growing practice with more and more tools cropping up to reduce the minute tasks that can bog a business down. Here are just a few examples of ways business process automation can be used to streamline tasks and improve customer experience:
- Automate email responses to the “contact us” button on your website, even if it’s just to let customers know that someone will be in touch shortly
- Send automatic appointment reminders to customers
- Deliver lead inquiries directly to sales when they come in
- Deliver satisfaction surveys to customers after a purchase
Stay in constant contact
Small business owners are on the move—running to suppliers, checking on accounts, visiting job sites, and hopefully taking some hard-earned time off. But they need to remain available and connected no matter where they are. Missing calls from customers or employees can put business at risk. Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) services and one-touch conferencing allow you to bring calls anywhere on any device, making it easier to get away from the office when you need to. Remote video monitoring solutions also allow small business owners to check in on their property from anywhere, anytime.
Tap into fast, reliable infrastructure
In order to stay connected from anywhere, you need a network that can handle anything you throw at it. Additional technology means additional bandwidth requirements, and you can’t afford data bottlenecks. Speed, reliability, and security are the keys to a network that lays the foundation for productivity and a healthy work-life balance. To alleviate worries about downtime, find a provider that has always-on customer support, as well as cellular back-ups that kick in when the power drops, to keep you up and running.
Internet support and remote troubleshooting
The fastest Internet speeds won’t matter if you run into a problem and don’t have the support to fix it. Do some research and read reviews to see what level of customer support your provider offers. Make sure you have the support you need, when you need it—around the clock.
Of course, you won’t know you need support if you don’t know there’s an issue. You should be able to check your connection status from anywhere. Even better, some providers are able to provide real-time updates on outages at your location via text message notifications or allow you to troubleshoot your internet remotely through a mobile app.
Stay secure (without an entire security team)
Hackers don’t just target large businesses—small businesses are increasingly on the receiving end of phishing, malware, ransomware, and other types of cyberattacks. The widespread shift to remote work has also opened new doors for would-be hackers, and breaches have been on the uptick since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Worries around cybersecurity can keep small business owners up at night, but it’s becoming easier to implement security strategies that give comprehensive protection, without having to add IT personnel. A combination of a threat-detection and scanning tool, along with security programs like Norton AntiVirus or F-Secure keep small businesses protected from all angles.
Meanwhile, video monitoring systems can enable you to keep an eye on your business and employees from anywhere and on any device.
Have a backup system
Small business owners can also rest easier if they know their business can keep running even if they’re impacted by a natural disaster or power outage. A few hours without access to a point-of-sales system or other critical business applications can mean lost revenue. An effective backup strategy should include technologies such as business internet with 4G wireless backup, which can keep the network up and running for hours during a power or network outage, and cloud storage so employees and customers can stay connected and productivity isn’t affected.
No matter the type of small business, technology is a vital part of making it successful. For more on finding the right mix of Internet, phone, security, cloud, and other services to keep productivity high and work-life balance in check, visit Comcast Business.