Family-Friendly Workplace Pays Off

Date posted: November 20, 2013

By Jane Applegate

Who wouldn’t want to work for a company that has a mandatory five-week vacation policy? How about no meetings on Wednesdays and flexible work schedules? “We want our employees to recalibrate their lives and their souls,” says Pamela O’Hara, CEO and founder of Batchbook.com, a cloud-based software platform for small business owners.

Batchbook is a “social customer relationship management (CRM)” platform that helps business owners keep track of customers, orders, vendors and everyone else they deal with—all in one place. It also has a social media aspect and is available by subscription, starting at $20 a month.

O’Hara says workplace flexibility is critical because she’s a busy mother of three kids trying to achieve a balance between work and family. “The more I have on my plate, the more I can handle,” she says. “But, of course, some days the whole thing blows up.”

Plus, she believes requiring staffers to take one week of vacation every quarter and then a floating fifth week whenever they choose, creates an energized and enthusiastic workforce. She also pairs employees with partners to share knowledge and skills, which benefits everyone, especially when people are out of the office.

Before founding Batchbook, O’Hara had developed other software applications and was interested in helping small business owners succeed. O’Hara, who also trained as a graphic designer, says she related to the many challenges faced by small business owners because when she was growing up, she worked in her uncle’s pizza shop in Rome, Georgia.

While launching another software company, she started looking for a high-powered contact management system and couldn’t find one she liked. “I wanted to create an electronic Rolodex® to keep track of everyone all in one spot,” says O’Hara, who explains how Batchbook works in a video posted on the company’s website. That electronic Rolodex concept was the inspiration for Batchbook, now a privately-held company with 22 employees. The company is based in a tech incubator in downtown Providence, Rhode Island.

Big on collaboration, O’Hara has teamed up with other software companies, including Mail Chimp and Fresh Books, which both provide cloud-based services to small business owners. “Mail Chimp was the first to open up and give other people access to their data,” says O’Hara. “Once we integrated our platforms, we saw a huge uptick in our customer base.”

She says the same customers who use Mail Chimp newsletters to build their customer bases are receptive to purchasing another service like Batchbook to help them manage their overall business operations.

Jane Applegate is the national correspondent for SmallBizDaily.com, author of four books on small business success and co-founder of the FabulousFemaleNetwork.com. The Applegate Group is a multimedia production company.

 

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