Tips and How-Tos
August 26th, 2013
These days it goes without saying that many businesses, small and large, embrace telecommuting for a variety of reasons. Some companies offer the ability to work from home as a perk to help lure top talent. Others like promoting a green workplace by encouraging staff to drive fewer trips between home and office. Some like the cost savings they realize by reducing the amount of square footage required to accommodate their headcount. Many companies believe certain employees become more productive when they remove themselves from the office environment.
Whatever the rationale, it’s clear that workplace flexibility, and telecommuting in particular, is here to stay and will become even more prevalent.
But telecommuting is just one component of workplace mobility, a trend that’s becoming increasingly common not only with small, medium and large businesses, but with enterprises as well.
Today, when enterprise-level IT decision-makers discuss mobility, they typically do so within the framework of the broader BYOD (bring your own device) conversation.
And for enterprises in the early stages of considering how to implement their own BYOD policies, the volume of information and best-practice advice can be overwhelming.
Which is why I found the Business 2 Community article, “Enterprise Mobility: It Isn’t Easy, But It’s Worth It,” such a great roadmap for decision-makers who need guidance during their initial BYOD planning.
From the piece:
“Instead of diving head first into transforming into a mobile workplace, there are a few things to consider straight away. There are basic preliminary steps that can foster a systematic approach and deployment that will lead to a more successful initiative that will protect employees, the enterprise, and the security of all information involved.
“While it won’t be easy, to do this successfully, consider four main steps that could make the process a little more organized and mitigate some of the potential risks and pitfalls. The steps include: choosing a partner, building a strategy, creating use-case scenarios, and building a roadmap for deployment.”
There’s much more to learn from reading the entire article, and I encourage anyone interested in learning more about BYOD to do so.
July 18th, 2013
As a follow-up to the recently published Business of Work article, “A New Paradigm: Consumerization of IT Driving Bottom-Up Disruption,” I found a Wired.com piece that provides timely insight into how CIOs in the enterprise can best position their companies to accommodate the rapidly increasing number of anywhere, anytime, any-device workers.
The article, “The New Mobile Enterprise: Less is More,” explores the concept of Unified Communications through what’s called Fixed Mobile Convergence.
If those terms are new to you, they were to me as well. But the Wired piece does a good job of explaining the concepts, as well as outlining the ways in which Fixed Mobile Convergence (FMC) is key to enabling the new mobile enterprise.
In summary, FMC allows enterprises to:
- Reduce telecommunications costs
- Reduce management complexity
- Accelerate adoption of mobile Unified Communications
It all comes down to an enterprise finding the path of least resistance when transforming into a business that embraces and benefits from what’s sure to become an almost ubiquitous mobile workforce.
From the article:
“The New Mobile Enterprise is about enabling enterprises to support the ‘anytime, anywhere, any device’ needs of the increasingly mobile workforce. The path to this objective involves more devices and options for end-users, but will also come down to communicating and collaborating with ‘less’ complexity and costs.”
June 27th, 2013
Following up my earlier post regarding some of the ways in which companies should focus their employee-retention efforts, this InfoWorld article discusses what employers should do when staff leaves with personal mobile devices tied into the employers’ network infrastructure.
Whether because of a layoff, termination or resignation, companies could be at risk if sensitive data walks out the door with a departing employee.
From the piece: “As more workplaces embrace BYOD practices, they’ll increasingly confront the question of how to balance the benefits of a self-provisioned workforce against the risks of company assets walking out the door when workers are let go. What can IT departments currently do to minimize risk when BYOD-practicing employees are laid off? What practices and policies can they put in place to make future departures as smooth as possible?”
It’s an interesting situation, for sure—and one that’s only going to become more prevalent as the BYOD trend continues its upward trajectory.
May 30th, 2013
Because of that experience, plus the fact that I work for a printer technology company, I know color management is critical to those who rely on accurate prints as part of their professional lives.
And I also know how challenging it can be to print truly accurate color, i.e., the colors one sees on the screen of their workstation.
Xerox has for years been a top choice for graphic arts professionals, and the introduction of our Phaser 7800 Color Printer has bolstered our reputation in that regard.
But still, even the pros from time to time can use a little help. To that end, I found this article, courtesy of Adobe, to be quite informative.
It’s a thorough tutorial on color management best practices for those who use Photoshop Elements, which I believe covers most professional graphic designers.
I hope you find it useful.
December 26th, 2012
By Breanna Banford, Social Marketing Specialist, Xerox Enterprise Business Group
We all know that 2013 will be here before we know it. Are you prepared for what’s ahead? As a send off, we’re counting down the final days of 2012 with our bloggers’ top tips for you and your company.
- Get the lowdown on the importance of a security policy and the steps to build one for your company: Why Your Business Needs a Security Policy (and how to create one)
- Budgets are tight and projects are piling up. Tapping into the virtual workforce can keep you moving forward, but it not always rosy. Be a pro e-manager: Building a Team of Virtual Workers: 4 Issues to Avoid
- Social media will continue to be a relevant asset to grow and nurture your customer base. For the business professionals out there, LinkedIn is vital: LinkedIn for Business Professionals – Connect to Your Future
- We all want to get the most out of our work day, but sometimes there are mysterious setbacks that leave you feeling drained. Learn more: Four Hidden Productivity Killers (and How to Fix Them)
- Your team is comprised of the best and the brightest. As flex schedules and virtual teams increase, be sure to use technology to stay in tune with each other: How To Choose an Online Platform for Collaborating with Your Coworkers
5, 4, 3, 2, 1 … Happy New Year!
What business advice will you take with you into 2013?
December 20th, 2012
“I’ll just do it myself.” Or so you thought. After an hour of fruitless effort, you’re no closer to completing the task than when you started. As time passes into the second hour, your mind races with all the other things you should be doing. What a waste. It’s too bad you didn’t delegate this, right?
For many business owners and managers, this is a common frustration. Knowing when to delegate a task can certainly be challenging. This is especially true for smaller companies with limited budgets and human resources. The good news is that the booming virtual workforce allows businesses (both small and large) to efficiently delegate tasks. In this article, we’ll consider some criteria for matching business needs to delegation feasibility in the virtual age.
Snapshot of the Virtual Workforce
In case you haven’t noticed, the United States has transitioned into an economy heavily reliant on services. In fact, according to the Office of the United States Trade Representative, service industries account for 68% of U.S. GDP and four out of five U.S. jobs. The virtual workforce (i.e. the sum of all “online” workers, including virtual freelancers, work-from-home consultants, offshore sourcing centers, etc.) continues to be an expanding part of the global services industry. Millions of business owners have already benefited by building “blended teams” of in-house and online workers. However, the question still remains: when do I delegate?
Do vs. Delegate
Much like the “make or buy” decision we all studied in Economics 101, today’s business owner is faced with a similar decision point: do versus delegate. As we’ve established, it can be quite beneficial to delegate work to your virtual team. However, when is it best to do so? Below are a few questions I tend to ask myself when making this very decision.
- Do I have the budget? All things start and end with the bottom line. If there is no budget, it might be better to consider in-house resources.
- Could this be a repeat delegation? Repetition lends itself nicely to delegation. Delegate it once and then reap the benefits going forward.
- Could I do this myself in less than 15 minutes? Delegation, although efficient, does require some administrative follow up (training, project management, payment processing, evaluation). In my experience, such follow up will take at least 15 minutes of your time per project.
- Is this time-sensitive? If a fire’s burning, you can’t let the building burn down. Unless you have contractors perpetually on-call to assist you, the task may require your immediate attention.
- Will this take me away from a more value-added activity? Try to frame the decision through the lens of activity-based costing principles. If you do it yourself, technically it’s not “free.”
- Is this strategic (or not)? Sometimes strategic tasks should remain in-house. Intellectual property, corporate strategy, and risk are all factors that should be considered.
- Do I already know a contractor who can do this? Having a “go to” online worker is an important step. The recruiting process can be tricky in the virtual world. I find it beneficial to be continuously recruiting prospective team members.
- If I decide to delegate, who will be the in-house accountability liaison? Are you going to personally follow up with the online worker to ensure quality and timeliness? If not, who within your blended team will?
- Should this be an hourly or fixed-price delegation? Some projects lend themselves better to a “fixed price”, one-time payment structure. Others are more suited to an ongoing hourly arrangement.
Eventually You Just Know
It would be nice to have a simple decision tree that always tells you the correct answer. However, in my experience, delegation has many variables that need to be examined on a case-by-case basis. Considerations such as budget, staffing, and timelines all factor into the equation. If you haven’t already tapped into the virtual workforce, I’d recommend you delegate a few projects to get your feet wet. After a while, you begin to get a feel for the delegation rhythm.
The content shared in this blog post is the author’s opinion and does not necessarily reflect the views of Xerox. Matt Keener is President of Keener Marketing Solutions, LLC and is also the author of the book Executive in Sweatpants. Visit his blog for helpful tips and tools for launching and growing a successful online consulting business.
December 7th, 2012
More often today companies are accepting the new flex schedule for their employees. This goes beyond the “working mom” status of the past, where employees today have the freedom to choose the schedule that fits their needs. If you work in an environment where you need to be creative or focused, that doesn’t just happen at 3 p.m. when that days’ meetings end; it happens when it happens. While this isn’t perfect for every industry, it does suit some people and the goal is to provide the option for those employees that will thrive in a flexible company culture, which in turn benefits the employer.
As Nichole Kelly, president of SME Digital, stated in a recent article, “This isn’t so much about the desire to work from ‘home’ as it is to work from ANYWHERE.” That means, having access to your pertinent business files anywhere, even outside your company firewall, all the while knowing it’s secure. We’re a mobile world today and want to have the ability to use the mobile technology provided to us by all those innovative companies out there!
Beyond access to virtual work documents, it’s important to remain a team, even if people are always on the go. There are ways to set up team meetings in a productive way, outside of the office with virtual workspaces and video conferencing tools. These tools behoove you to work efficiently, to make use of the time available to you as a group and avoid unnecessary conference room meetings where half the people are multitasking anyway. One thing I’ve noticed is that if you’re on a video conference call everyone can see what you’re doing, so subconsciously you’re more likely to participate and pay attention. Somehow that’s not the same for in-person group meetings. The list can go on about why flex schedules work well for employees and their employers. Here’s my takeaway:
The Benefits of Flex Schedules
- Productivity blends with creativity – You’re most efficient when you have to freedom to do your tasks when you know you can complete them, sometimes outside the 9-5 schedule, which can be limiting.
- Work/life balance – Family and friends are important in life so enjoy them while you can. It’s important to turn off your phone or step away from your computer, a difficult thing to do in the always-on world we live in.
- The employer benefits too – Employee morale improves and they’re engaged in their projects.
- Global, contract workforce – You can source talent from all over the world, it doesn’t have to reside within the circumference of your city.
- Encourage social networking – This is an instant form of idea generation and inspiration (within reason… employee guidelines for engagement are valuable). Social and online collaboration are great ways to connect people to great ideas.
- Economy- booster & energy-saver – Employees who work from home drive less, which results in lower green house gas emissions, building cost savings for companies, less traffic on the highways and more money in your pocket after saving hundreds buying less gasoline. Here’s one way to calculate the savings.
As we enter 2013, future workplace trends will impact how we work. There are pros and cons to both sides of the flex schedule story. So, what do you like most about it? Do you wish you had that option at your office or not?