Maybe you’ve always been a proponent of remote work. Or maybe your small business recently made the switch?
Either way, when working from home, you’re in a situation where your team is split up in different locations, connected only by the Internet.
You might have questions. Will it affect the team’s productivity? And will it impact my small business negatively? Don’t worry, we’ll first start by easing your peace of mind before pointing you toward the best tools for the job.
Can I run a successful business working from home?
That’s an easy one because all the signs point towards a resounding yes! In fact, a number of studies have recently highlighted how remote work could actually improve productivity, as shown in the report produced by FlexJobs.com:
- 85% of businesses say that flexible work has improved productivity.
- 90% of employees say allowing for more flexible work arrangements and schedules would increase employee morale.
- 77% say allowing employees to work remotely may lead to lower operating costs.
- 65% of respondents are more productive in their home office than in a traditional workplace.
The latter point is explained by having fewer distractions and interruptions, less commuting and office politics stress, and access to a personalized, quiet environment.
It’s also worth noting at this stage that companies who wish to attract the best talent should absolutely consider flexible and remote working as an option. 80% of candidates on the US job market said that they would turn down a job if it didn’t offer it, making “work from home” a strong competitive advantage.
The right tools for the job
Of course, remote work is only as good as the people who do it, and the tools they use. Without going into extraneous details, you’ll need to ensure all your remote workers (and yourself) have access to all of the following:
- Fast Internet
- Good devices (microphone webcam for video conferencing)
- Adequate communications software
- Industry-specific cloud-based software
In fact, the benefits of using cloud-based software are so numerous in general, that it’s worth examining them further.
Advantage of cloud-based apps
Business continuity with remote work
The first and obvious benefit is that cloud-based apps enable remote work. By sharing storage, workflows, and online tools, staff members working remotely can maintain a good level of productivity from the comfort of their homes via smartphone, tablet, or laptop.
Better peace of mind
Cloud computing apps are designed for business continuity and disaster recovery. While businesses of all sizes should have appropriate backup solutions in case of data loss, this often proved to be an expensive mission for IT departments.
With cloud technology, even the smallest businesses can enjoy a future-proof backup solution that saves time and reduces large upfront expenditures.
Traditional IT also requires constant upgrades of hardware and software. This “rip and replace” mentality means prohibitive costs, and an overwhelmed IT department every three to five years when systems need an upgrade.
But since services are hosted entirely by third-party companies like Amazon Web Services or Microsoft Azure, they take care of all the maintenance, bug fixes, and other annoyances. All you need to do is click on update, restart your computer, and reap the benefits: you’ll have the very latest technology available at your fingertips in seconds, whether you’re doing it from home or the office.
Web apps are often designed to work nicely with each other. One great example is the seamless integration between Act! and your Microsoft Office Outlook inbox. This is what could allow your business to capture marketing data directly from email exchanges with customers, clients, and leads, instead of going through a third-party program like Excel.
Save on IT expenditure
Last but not least, cloud-based apps are more cost-effective than traditional setups. In fact, a study of 1300 organizations in the UK and US found that 54% of them increased profits through cloud services. This, thanks to cheaper updates, reduced investment in data centers purchase, and fewer expenses for equipment or facilities.
One shared CRM, multiple uses
If you still need convincing about the power of cloud-based apps, do consider the following: you could drastically reduce the number of tools you currently use.
When you learn that businesses with fewer than 1,000 employees run an average of 22 custom applications, you can quickly see how beneficial it can be to centralize your operations within none dashboard.
Here are a number of use cases you could experience with Act!:
- Seamless coordination between multiple sales teams: leads and prospects data is synchronized in real-time. This reduces errors, data silos, and removes annoying duplicates from your system.
- Faster marketing campaigns: Marketers can create personalized campaigns and track social media activity in real-time. This lets them share results with team members immediately, so the campaigns can be tweaked and adjusted to improve targeting.
- Increased customer satisfaction: your customer service team always has access to fresh data about customers, which means better support and more relevant answers to their queries.
- Better cross-department cooperation: marketers have a notorious hands-off approach to CRM tools, which tend to be leveraged by sales teams only. But by sharing the same dashboard, teams from multiple departments can create better workflows, improve communications, and even deliver insights that might have otherwise been locked in data silos.
Businesses that have yet to implement a flexible working policy may find the prospect daunting. This is especially true of SMBs, where close collaboration between employees and executives is primordial.
But the fact is, those who resist enabling work from home or remote work policies can put themselves at a competitive disadvantage. This mode of working is increasingly seen as morale-boosting, efficient, and attractive to top talent.
Moreover, all the right tools exist to run a successful business from home. In fact, with Act!, you will get a powerful solution that covers CRM for sales, scalable marketing automation, and customer service – all while helping you improve efficiency, reduce costs, and scale your operations with complete peace of mind. Try it now free for 14 days.