It is always difficult, as the owner of an SME, to know what technology you require in order to facilitate the most efficient running of your business. Things are moving quickly and what seems like a necessary technological investment, may turn out to be a waste of money in the long-term.
What seems essential one day, may turn out to be obsolete in a few months’ time; just look at landline networks, desktop computers, filing cabinets, hole punches, Tipp-Ex and staplers. Some of these errors are more costly than others.
So, what is the necessary equipment that your SME should have at your employee’s disposal?
First up: Fairly obvious, but often overlooked, you need fast internet/wi-fi servers.
Lee Penson, CEO of Penson, the architectural firm behind Google’s inflatable office, says: “Technology can make you fly. It will unlock potential and give you freedom, but you have to be committed to it.”
“If you’re pressing the reset button you should make a significant outlay on technology, and lose the landline phones, under-desk computer boxes, and anything else that ties you down to life sat alongside an 80x160cm slab of a desk.”
Good, reliable wi-fi coverage for employees and clients and visitors alike, is an absolute must. Nowadays, it’s almost as basic a necessity as a fax machine was in the 1990s. Not that you tended to lend that out for free.
Almost every piece of paper is now digitised and stored, so it must be easy to do. Paper shredders may still be used in some offices, but in today’s security-conscious digital environment, that spaghetti waste will soon be a thing of the past.
Having a recycling bin sends a message to your staff and guests that you really care about the environment and want to do your bit for the planet.
Importantly, it focuses you on one aspect of waste and gets you thinking about how much you create. This is often a great way to see how your business could improve, and encourages that mindset.
Interactive whiteboards (ie. whiteboards you can rub clean)
Sometimes it is best to leave the tech to one side, if you want to play at being creative, so why not install a cheap interactive whiteboard and buy some non-permanent marker pens? In this case, interactive means you can wipe rubbish off and start again.
Fresh air and fruit juice
If you work in a city, chances are your employees are slowly dying from air pollution, so the least you can do is ensure your office is clean and healthy, with fresh air, a bowl of fruit, plenty of fresh drinking water and fruit juices. Health makes everything possible and there is no logic to work being bad for your long-term health.
In a similar vein, Penson suggests that a “large window, which floods the office with natural light, is vital”, and adds: “You need a space that will inspire you – not a room with a horrible suspended ceiling. You want warmth, the feeling of space.”
Online business consultant Gemma Went says: “These days you don’t need a lot in the office, because most of our ‘stuff’ can be online – all of my team are virtual. But what is essential is a good chair.
“We are sitting for long periods of time, and that’s not good for the body at all. So take the time to research, or even ask someone who knows about ergonomics in the workplace, to make sure you are set up as healthily as possible.” Just go to Ikea and get your newly under-used IT department to sort it out, before sacking them.
Live streaming and video conferences are increasingly popular, so SMEs are becoming more mindful of showing their office in the best light, so you should think about lighting, pictures, and decorative items to show your brand up well.
Putting that to one side, you need a top-of-the-range microphone. It makes the world of difference. After all, you may have a good-looking office but that will not count for anything if you can’t hear your clients or staff.
Well, there you go: it shouldn’t be too expensive to get your staff to use their own laptops, spend your IT budget on nice paintings and apple juice and away you go. But it will only work if you’ve rented some great office space.
In our next article we will look at exactly how to do that.