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6 Proven Strategies to Improve Business Productivity

How productive is your organization? Your answer to this question directly impacts your ability to scale and grow your business.

If business growth is one of your priorities, focusing on increasing the productivity of your workforce is essential.

In today’s post, we’ll be discussing six proven strategies that can help you do this:

1. Hold smarter meetings

How your employees interact with each other — and your clients — has a huge impact on productivity.

This is especially true if you operate across multiple locations. How much time do your employees spend in meetings? How much time do they spend traveling to meetings?

Technology makes it easy to reduce the amount of time spent on meetings. There are now several online meeting platforms that reduce the need to leave the office. 

Of course, your staff may still wish to attend some meetings in person, especially if it’s for a new client. But holding subsequent, smaller meetings via video conferencing can free up a significant amount of time.

You should also ensure employees are properly educated on how to hold effective meetings. 

We’ve all attended hour-long meets that could have been over in 10 minutes. Encourage your staff to use their time appropriately.

2. Outsource tasks to free up resources

There are so many benefits to outsourcing the background tasks required to run your business. Increased productivity is one of them.

How much time does your IT staff spend reacting to issues and fixing problems? This takes them away from focusing on IT tasks that can help your business grow.

Consider outsourcing any ongoing, necessary IT tasks to free up your own staff to work on activities that will help your business grow.

3. Prioritize the health and wellbeing of your staff

Corporate wellbeing is a huge trend when it comes to increasing productivity. And, when you look at the statistics, it’s not hard to see why.

According to a 2018 report by Wricke, 94% of Americans experience stress at their place of work.

As stress is known to directly influence productivity, employers should make this a priority. 

4. Consider remote and/or flexible working

Data suggests remote and flexible working can both improve productivity.

And it turns out your employees probably think so too. A report by HubSpot suggests 65% of people working full-time believe remote working can increase their productivity.

Technology makes it easier for your employees to work from home or another remote location. For example, VoIP telephone systems and cloud computing both make it possible for staff to work efficiently and effectively when not in the office.

5. Keep employees engaged

Employee engagement is another factor that influences productivity.

Research demonstrates this, with disengaged employees reported to cost companies up to $550 billion each year.

Encouraging collaboration in your business is one way to improve engagement. This ensures employees remain involved in the activities that interest them, strengthening relationships across teams to provide an engaged workforce.

Again, technology can help with this — prioritize finding the right tools to enhance collaboration across your business.

6. Minimize business disruptions

Finally, it goes without saying that business disruptions can have a huge impact on productivity.

Thankfully, many of them are easy to avoid — with the right level of care and planning.

Ensure you have an effective disaster management plan and update it regularly. 

Conclusion

There are hundreds of ways to improve productivity within your organization. From educating staff to ensuring you have the right technology in place, it’s a continual process of development. These six strategies are an excellent starting point to help you scale your business. If you’d like to have a conversation about this or other IT related issues, feel free to contact us today.

How to Put Together a Powerful Video Conferencing System For Business

Workplaces are becoming more disparate, and travel is getting more expensive. Companies are looking for alternatives to align objectives, create a sense of community, and generally drive business in the right direction. Video conferencing can replace the traditional meeting by allowing workers from all over the world to connect, share information, and make sure that everyone is pointed in the right direction.

What is video conferencing?

Video conferencing is the next evolution of the conference call. It allows employees and offices to connect without needing to be in the same physical location. Video conferencing adds the benefit of face to face interactions without the need for expensive travel. It also means that remote offices can share information and connect directly.

Why is it important for business?

Video conferencing does more than replace traditional meetings or conference calls. Video conferencing has several significant benefits for modern businesses.

Enables a digital workforce

More companies are using digital workers who are located around the world. This is a great choice for finding the right talent, understanding local cultures during expansion, and creating a global understanding of business. More than 80% of companies allow some level of telework. But connecting workers and creating culture can be difficult when everything is conducted via email. A face-to-face meeting can help workers connect with the people they work with.

Saves money

Companies save money with video conferencing because they don’t need to pay for expensive travel. Traveling around the world is exciting, but it also weighs on the company budget. Some travel may still be necessary, but by connecting remote offices digitally, businesses can minimize what’s needed.

Boosts productivity with remote team members

Culture and companionship at work is a huge productivity booster for team members. When someone is working remotely and feels disconnected from their workforce, they’ll be less focused and get less work done. By creating a sense of team, workers are more likely to keep on top of their work and stay organized, maximizing productivity.

So how do you find an exceptional video conferencing system?

There are several different options you should look for in order to make your conferencing system work well for your business.

  • Have space for enough people. If you expect everyone in your company to attend a video conference, make sure the software you choose has the capability of connecting that many individuals. It’s a good idea to future proof your system; make sure you have the ability to add more channels in the future if you need to.
  • Video quality. Although the user’s device will have a big influence on video quality, the system itself determines how much data it can transmit, and how quickly. Making sure your system is HD video capable will help keep pictures clear and detailed.
  • Group messaging. Sometimes a team member has a question that doesn’t need to be asked of the entire meeting. Being able to have small side conversations while the meeting is occurring can be helpful and reduce interruptions.
  • File sharing. Don’t remember to send a file after the meeting; send it to all screens during the meeting so that details can be discussed as necessary. The ability to share screens can also be beneficial.
  • Multiple connection methods. Expect that employees will be connecting through desktops, laptops, tablets, cell phones, and conference rooms. Ensure that the software can handle all types of devices connecting. Allow for regular calling in options, in case someone can’t use their video connection for some reason.
  • Recording. Minutes are a good way to record some aspects of the meeting, but not all of them. Recording the meeting can be a great way to share it with those who aren’t able to be present, or to use it as the foundations for a later webinar.

If you’re not sure how to construct a solid video conferencing system for your business, reach out to experts who can help you get started.

Must-have features of video conferencing for UC

Quality video conferencing solutions are essential for most modern-day offices. Web conferencing keeps remote team members engaged, enables seamless collaboration, and connects your business on a more personal basis with partners and clients over the internet.

So, if you’re in the market for an online meeting platform, let’s discuss the six top must-have features.

1. Easy document sharing

Whether you’re chatting with a team member or meeting with a potential client, easy, in-built document sharing is a must. You shouldn’t have to resort to emailing an agenda, presentation, or brochure.

It’s also worth looking for flexible document sharing features as there may be times when you want to share a document with a select segment of video conference participants.

2. Flexible chat

All web conferencing software offers some sort of chat, giving attendees the ability to type messages, share links, and collaborate effectively. But some lack the flexibility to enable specific types of chat. For example, you may wish to send private messages to individual attendees, or you may need to moderate chat messages before they are visible to all participants.

3. Practical reporting tools

Practical reporting tools can give you access to the information you need (such as attendance and typed messages) to optimize your web conferencing practices. Even better, you should be able to export this data to your file sharing platform, a Microsoft Excel format or your CRM system.  

4. Desktop sharing

Screen sharing is an essential part of video conferencing, but it’s not as simple as mirroring your desktop. There are three key factors to consider:

  • Speed. Oftentimes, desktop sharing results in a drastic slowdown of your computer’s performance and can impact the quality and reliability of the video conference.
  • Power. Desktop sharing shouldn’t use up too much of your computer’s CPU, as this can also drastically reduce the quality and experience of your presentation.
  • Accessible. Desktop sharing should pass through most firewalls.

5. No software installs required

If you’re looking to work with an individual or group outside of your team, make it easy and convenient for remote collaborators and attendees to connect via video conferencing.

To do this, opt for a video conferencing platform that allows others to connect in minimal steps. For example, many platforms offer a browser-based option, so outside parties don’t need to download any software onto their devices.

6. Reliability

Reliability is perhaps the most important feature of any web conferencing solution. Regardless of tools and capabilities, if the platform you choose is unable to offer near 100% uptime and automatic correction of connectivity issues, it just isn’t worth it. 

Near-enough isn’t good enough when it comes to video conferencing. After all, what would you do if your video dropped out halfway through an important meeting or webinar?

Bonus tips for finding the right video conferencing solution for your business

Now that you know which features to keep an eye out for, here are some additional tips to ensure the video conferencing solution you choose meets your business needs. Your managed IT services provider can help you work through these tips.

1. How many participants will you be hosting?

Consider how many participants you will likely be hosting on a regular basis. Some services offer a cheaper rate for a web conferencing solution with a smaller attendee capacity. Other services specialize in large groups and options vary accordingly. If you don’t consider the number of participants you’ll be hosting, you could end up paying for features you don’t need or missing the ones you don’t have.

2. What types of meetings will you be hosting?

Do you need video conferencing software to connect remote team members to the central office? Or, do you need video conferencing software to host larger-scale webinars, Q&A forums, or sales presentations? If you host a variety of meeting types, look for a conferencing solution that can cater to all of these needs.

3. Is mobile experience important?

If it’s your remote team you are trying to connect, chances are that mobile compatibility is important. What’s more, if host regular webinars, offering your presentation on mobile could increase your attendance rate.

The top 4 video conferencing solutions for small businesses

Technology continues to influence how we communicate and do business on a daily basis. Along with already established tools such as email and messaging apps, video conferencing is having a profound effect in meeting rooms across the world. Video conferencing is far more engaging than phone calls or text chat, with participants benefiting from eye contact, body language, and face-to-face interaction.

According to a Forbes Insights survey of over 300 global executives, 62 percent of participants thought video conferencing significantly improved the quality of communication when compared to other tools.

If you’re looking for a video conferencing solution for your SMB, there are lots of great options available, from simple free tools to commercial applications with cloud support, unified communications systems, and file sharing. Let’s take a look at four of the best solutions for small businesses.

1. Google Hangouts

Google Hangouts is a free and easy application aimed at business users. While it lacks many of the advanced features of other platforms, it integrates seamlessly into Gmail and supports group chat, video chat, and VoIP functionality for multiple participants. Perfect for casual conference calls, Hangouts can be used by up to 100 people for group chats and up to 10 people for video calls.

Google Hangouts is a native web-based solution that is divided into two main products: Hangouts Chat, which focuses on instant messaging with additional features, and Hangouts Meet, which focuses on video conferencing with machine learning for automatic scheduling. Hangouts is free for Google+ users, with a monthly subscription also available as part of the G Suite business package.

2. RingCentral Meetings

RingCentral Meetings is a cloud-based communications tool with a strong focus on video conferencing and team collaboration. Features of this platform include interactive screen sharing, one-click scheduling, and integration with big name products by Google and Microsoft among others. This advanced tool has online conference and screen sharing capabilities for up to 100 participants.

RingCentral Meetings can share files and set up tasks among members, with add-ons available for webinars, large meetings, and RingCentral rooms. You can transition between services with ease, including video, text chat, file sharing, web meetings, and other options. There is a free version of Meetings available for new and agile teams, along with Essentials and Advanced packages for growing businesses and large enterprises respectively.

3. Microsoft Teams

While Microsoft Teams might seem like a new product, it is based on the technology and legacy of the popular Skype for Business service. As one of the originators in this sector, Skype had the time and resources to refine its service for business users. Microsoft transformed this service into Teams, which benefits from the scope and security of the Microsoft banner and integrates seamlessly with existing Microsoft products in the Office 365 cloud-based suite.

Microsoft Teams enables text, audio, video, and web conferences, including large-scale live events. You can communicate and collaborate with anyone inside or outside your organization, and customize your workspace to meet your unique needs. Microsoft Teams is available as a free service, with Office 365 Business Premium and Office 365 Enterprise E3 subscription services also available if you need additional capacity.

4. Adobe Connect

This video conferencing solution is one of the more advanced and expensive options on the market. It’s also one of the most comprehensive, with Adobe Connect offering support for presentations, online training, web conferencing, learning modules, virtual classrooms, and desktop sharing. Unlike most other video conferencing services, Connect allows users to edit recorded videos, which is why it’s become such a useful tool in the education and training sector.

Adobe Connect enables custom layouts for a better user experience, giving you complete control over your content and how it’s delivered. From experience-driven learning through to persistent virtual rooms and custom applications, Connect offers so much more than standard video conferencing. While there is a free trial available for Adobe Connect, a monthly or annual subscription is needed to unlock key features.

According to a study by Transparency Market Research, the global video conferencing market is expected to be worth more than $10,500 million by 2026. There’s never been a better time to adopt these powerful tools for the benefit of your organization.

The compelling benefits of getting on a video conference call

If you work in an office setting, chances are you have been on a conference call at some point. Conference calling was once considered the epitome of productive technology. Allowing people from all across the country to participate in the conversation was revolutionary. And, of course, it is still widely utilized today.

However, in the modern office, there is a better option.

Since its arrival, the web-based video conference call has made a huge impression on businesses and users alike. Sometimes the littlest changes have the biggest impact. Simply by allowing participants to engage visually with one another, rather than relying solely on audio communication, video conference calls have changed the way that we do business.

What follows are the top four benefits of choosing video conference calls over traditional conference calls.

Engage remote employees

Between 20 and 25% of Americans worked from home in 2017, according to the Virtual Vocations Year-End Report. That’s an increase of 115% since 2005.

If you have any employees working remote, it may be difficult for them to feel engaged and connected other team members. Regular video conference calls allow you to establish and maintain a face-to-face connection with remote employees. According to a study done by Forbes, 92% of participants felt that being able to “see” remote employees increased the sense of connection and trust between employees.

To do so without video conferencing would require the employees to regularly commute to the office, adding time and expense on the part of both you and your employee.

Related: Utilizing video conferencing to improve enterprise efficiency

Improve communication

One of the biggest problems with regular conference calls is communication issues. By introducing video components, visual cues are restored to communication.

While this may seem like a minor thing, nonverbal communication makes up a significant portion of the communication between people. In a video conference call, it is incredibly helpful to know whether Harry or Ron is speaking at the moment. It’s also important to be able to see the expression on Ron’s face to help interpret whether his comment about employee overtime is a joke or whether he is being serious.

Improved communication means fewer errors in judgment when it comes to situations like these. Video conferencing reduces confusion because people are able to connect unspoken elements with spoken communication, thereby clarifying confusing situations.

Related: Recognizing the rise of unified communications

Require attention

One of the downsides of the traditional conference call is that you are just sitting there on a phone for an hour. Most of us are guilty of getting side-tracked as we click through emails or scroll through the news of the day.

One benefit of video conferencing is, much like an in-person meeting, people can see you. It is much harder to slack off or distract yourself when the VP can see what you are doing. While she might not be able to tell if you are reading an email, you would certainly never get up to go make a sandwich in the middle of the call.

Video conferencing requires a level of attention and engagement that traditional conference calls just don’t.

Related: Schools improve student engagement, understanding with video conferencing

Add visual aids

While the use of regular conference calls might save time and the expense of travel, it can be very difficult to follow along with an audio conference call.

Video conferencing has the added benefit of being able to utilize visual aids. Visual aids can be anything: from a slideshow or a video to a whiteboard, photographs, or even physical objects. Visual aids add interest to the meeting and also help to increase understanding.

This increases individual concentration and allows participants to absorb and remember more information.

The compelling benefits of getting on a video conference call

 

If you work in an office setting, chances are you have been on a conference call at some point. Conference calling was once considered the epitome of productive technology. Allowing people from all across the country to participate in the conversation was revolutionary. And, of course, it is still widely utilized today.

However, in the modern office, there is a better option.

Since its arrival, the web-based video conference call has made a huge impression on businesses and users alike. Sometimes the littlest changes have the biggest impact. Simply by allowing participants to engage visually with one another, rather than relying solely on audio communication, video conference calls have changed the way that we do business.

What follows are the top four benefits of choosing video conference calls over traditional conference calls.

Engage remote employees

Between 20 and 25% of Americans worked from home in 2017, according to the Virtual Vocations Year-End Report. That’s an increase of 115% since 2005.

If you have any employees working remote, it may be difficult for them to feel engaged and connected other team members. Regular video conference calls allow you to establish and maintain a face-to-face connection with remote employees. According to a study done by Forbes, 92% of participants felt that being able to “see” remote employees increased the sense of connection and trust between employees.

To do so without video conferencing would require the employees to regularly commute to the office, adding time and expense on the part of both you and your employee.

Related: Utilizing video conferencing to improve enterprise efficiency

Improve communication

One of the biggest problems with regular conference calls is communication issues. By introducing video components, visual cues are restored to communication.

While this may seem like a minor thing, nonverbal communication makes up a significant portion of the communication between people. In a video conference call, it is incredibly helpful to know whether Harry or Ron is speaking at the moment. It’s also important to be able to see the expression on Ron’s face to help interpret whether his comment about employee overtime is a joke or whether he is being serious.

Improved communication means fewer errors in judgment when it comes to situations like these. Video conferencing reduces confusion because people are able to connect unspoken elements with spoken communication, thereby clarifying confusing situations.

Related: Recognizing the rise of unified communications

Require attention

One of the downsides of the traditional conference call is that you are just sitting there on a phone for an hour. Most of us are guilty of getting side-tracked as we click through emails or scroll through the news of the day.

One benefit of video conferencing is, much like an in-person meeting, people can see you. It is much harder to slack off or distract yourself when the VP can see what you are doing. While she might not be able to tell if you are reading an email, you would certainly never get up to go make a sandwich in the middle of the call.

Video conferencing requires a level of attention and engagement that traditional conference calls just don’t.

Related: Schools improve student engagement, understanding with video conferencing

Add visual aids

While the use of regular conference calls might save time and the expense of travel, it can be very difficult to follow along with an audio conference call.

Video conferencing has the added benefit of being able to utilize visual aids. Visual aids can be anything: from a slideshow or a video to a whiteboard, photographs, or even physical objects. Visual aids add interest to the meeting and also help to increase understanding.

This increases individual concentration and allows participants to absorb and remember more information.

The post The compelling benefits of getting on a video conference call appeared first on ISG Technologies.

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