Resources » Cloud Computing » Business Software for Working At Home
Home based businesses are on the rise thanks to cloud computing and low startup costs, so it is now more important than ever that small and large businesses alike, think about the best way to allow this in terms of the business software they use.
You may also be aware of the change in the UK law recently that now allows employees the right to ask for flexitime after having worked in a company for 6 months or more.
This, whilst good for employees, does present a certain number of problems for business owners, especially small business owners who need to manage funds and resources very efficiently.
However, with the right small business software, hosted in the cloud, and with some forethought and planning for expansion, it does not have to be as painful as you might think and can in fact boost your business productivity and expansion in the long term.
The revelation of this new law gave rise to another interesting statistic: the Office for National Statistics (ONS) estimate that approximately 4.2 million people work from home.
And a recent survey from Freelancer.co.uk to more than 2000 home workers revealed that there is an increase of 34% in business being setup from home in the last 12 months.
Why is this the case? Put simply, significant advances in cloud based computing and ease of working online, plus the attractive lure of great cost savings on such expenses like office space and transport/commuting costs.
Bill Little, director of Freelancer.co.uk, said: "Technological advances have made home working more efficient and effective. The rise of the internet, connecting thousands of home workers, is a key reason, as well as the rise of websites allowing homeworkers to find work and promote their business further afield than their local area.
"Yet with the rise of the micro business being run by one person has also come the need for these businesses to hire people remotely to help them with key tasks, which has further fuelled the rise of the home worker," he added.
Source: Business Wales
With the advance of cloud computing, many workers as well as entrepreneurs and business owners, need not necessarily adhere to ‘traditional’ ways of working - ie. that of an office that people come to at 9am every day. Staff can now work, collaborate and be productive, online.
One of the main issues of flexitime working or remote working in our experience is that if trust between the member of staff and the employer.
Many employers may feel reluctant to allow this method of working as they cannot physically ‘see’ the employee. They do not know what they are really doing. Or, they cannot have face to face meetings with them and communicate as effectively as they can if they were in the office.
Importantly though, recent advances in cloud software and internet technologies allow employers and staff to manage customers, collaborate and share information, track tasks, access and share documents, support clients, meet via video from multiple locations and even monitor staff attendance, all online.
A perfect example of how one might use cloud business software in these kinds of scenarios are as follows:
Zoho CRM - an award winning small business Customer Relationship Management solution, provide the platform for your staff to manage your customers more effectively, any time, anywhere..
Zoho Wiki - an online organisational wiki solution, share and access company information from any location - policies, processes, guidelines and rules, all centalised in your company wiki.
Zoho Projects - online project management for teams and customers - track team project tasks/internal tasks, even how much time they spend on them, discuss project issues in a centralised location, from any location and even from your mobile device.
Zoho Docs - an online small business document management solution - share company documentation with employees in any location, collaborate on documents, track updates made and more.
Zoho Support - cloud based helpdesk software with integrated mobile app for full agent mobility - allow agents to be more productive by giving them the tools to support clients from any location, at any time of the day or night.
HR Information Systems
Zoho People - a small business HR information system with Leave Tracking, Trip and Expense Management and Attendance Tracking modules.
Skype / Goto Meeting
Video meetings and screen sharing made easy. Either of these solutions allow you to meet with staff at the same time or individually, via audio or video. GotoMeeting is a great solution for screen sharing too, making online presentations and demos a a cost effective way of meeting with people in multiple locations. Skype can even be associated with regional phone numbers so you can in fact give remote staff a local number and have them answer incoming calls without being in the office!
With the above in mind and the fact that these types of business software solutions are in the cloud and therefore very affordable for small business as they have no need for servers or IT teams to maintain them, it is our prediction that this 4.3 million home workers and home businesses will continue to grow exponentially in the near future.
Be prepared. Think ahead. Think cloud.
For more information on any of the above online business software solutions or how best to implement them to better provide for flexitime or remote workers in your business, please contact us here.