With a growing emphasis on working from home at the moment, there’s an obvious concern that many just simply can’t do that. As an example, if you work in a supermarket, a coffee shop or a pub; working from home just isn’t really possible.
For big IT firms, working from home has already been setup. You’ll usually have a laptop, a VPN, perhaps a phone and a range of other communication tools such as Skype for Business, Teams or Sharepoint. If you’re lucky enough to be in that position, it’s easy to work collaboratively and to conduct virtual meetings.
However, for those businesses caught in the middle, there’s a bit of a struggle. You might run a book store but you don’t have a website to sell your stock. You might repair bikes but you don’t have a way to accept payment if you deliver bikes to your customers. You might also run another type of small business and like the idea of working from home but you really don’t know where to start with the whole technology aspect.
To give you some pointers, I’d definitely recommend G Suite or Office 365. Secure, online business tools like these feature auto-saving productivity apps, collaboration and the ability to work anywhere and on a range of devices. You don’t necessarily need a big IT team either – just pay per user and you get shared calendars, cloud storage for your files, slideshows, spreadsheets, Word documents and more. You can also, of course – message other people in your company via Hangouts Chat (on G Suite) or Skype (on Office 365) and there’s video calling too with Skype or Hangouts Meet.
We’re moving past traditional “VoIP” calls now, and apps like Skype can now trunk “real phone numbers” to our phone or headset. You don’t need to worry about a desk phone any longer – just login with your smartphone and you can receive calls or make them. People receiving or making the calls won’t know any difference – provided that you’ve got a fairly speedy internet connection – you could be absolutely everything.
Perhaps the biggest and best benefit is how portable and available everything is. No USB sticks, no need to be on a “certain computer” – it’s all there because you’re connected to an ultra-fast internet connection.
If you want to go further and have your customers getting in touch with you, you can perhaps build your own messaging app to stay connected. If you want the more personal touch, why not use the powerful smartphones that people have in their pockets – develop a video chat app to help take customer service enquiries or to better show your goods or explain your services.
Heck, if all else fails, stick your WhatsApp details out there and keep in touch with your customers, but definitely investigate the opportunities and services that are available out there. It’s quick and easier than you may have thought, especially when there’s also developers out there that can create an online store or an on-demand customer services site to help you push sales and keep your customers close – no matter what happens in the world or on the high-street.