Business Changes Fast—Make These 6 Office Upgrades to Keep Up

By Elaine Thompson

We’re hardly into the new year and there’s already been plenty of buzz around branding and business. From the Gillette ad that polarized consumers, to the promise of burgeoning connectivity through 5G networks, it’s clear best practices are wildly different than what they used to be. So if you’re still relying on outdated principles and tech from as little as five years ago, now is the time to update.

Not sure where to start? Here’s a quick look at six upgrades your office needs if you want to thrive in 2019.

Technology Upgrades

  1. Analytics Tools

It’s easy to write off Big Data as a small business; maybe you feel your modest consumer base doesn’t warrant segmentation or analysis, or maybe the costs have kept you away. But there’s little denying the fact that data is the future. No matter how big your clientele is, your company will benefit from being able to drill down into the details of what does or doesn’t work for them.

Some major analytics organizations like SAS have begun offering solutions for small businesses, so it’s easier and more affordable to find the tools that fit your needs.

  1. Office Communications

Comms is one area that’s still straddling a gap between old tech and new. Younger consumers expect businesses to have an online presence, but 65% of consumers still prefer contacting companies over the phone. This means your efforts need to be twofold.

Luckily, the prevalence of online tools for almost every element of communications makes it possible to secure the essentials for your business—a working website, a presence on the social sites that matter to your customers, and a reliable phone system—for relatively little cost and maintenance. Most should let you scale up as your business grows, too.

  1. Smart/Automated Tech

The barriers to automation adoption may feel high, but they’re getting lower every year. That, paired with the fact that the scope of smart tech is growing, means automation is now a practical way to boost your company’s efficiency.

The exact application of AI and automation should be tailored to what your business needs. If you run a lot of in-person meetings, a smart scheduling app would probably make more sense than a Facebook chatbot, for example. Smart sensors would suit a production floor, while a smart assistant would work better in a small office. Look at what eats up your time, and then find tech that can cut down on that waste.

Policy and Practice Upgrades

  1. Remote Work Policies

“Remote work” has been a hot topic over the past couple of years, and it’s showing no sign of slowing down. If your existing remote work policy is out of date (or if you don’t have one yet), make that a priority for the coming year. Current employees will appreciate the added flexibility, and you’ll have access to a much larger talent pool if you can support employees outside of your immediate community.

  1. Cybersecurity Protocols

Another hot topic that’s expected to grow in 2019, cybersecurity is every bit as important now as it was last year and the year before, if not more so given the growth of new cyber channels like 5G. If your company has been relying on the hope that a breach won’t happen or that the built-in security features on your existing tools will do the job, change that this year.

Take a proactive look at exactly how you handle consumer data, and then set and enforce protocols to keep it as secure as possible. Communicate the steps you’ve taken to your consumers, and—as much as you might hope you never need to use it—draft a plan for what you’ll do in the event of a breach.

  1. PR Plans

On top of your cybersecurity breach plan, give attention to your company’s overall PR preparedness. Businesses are entering the conversation around social impact like never before, and even if you don’t have any relevant planned initiatives, there’s a real possibility your team will have to respond to an unintended disruption. A small investment of time now will make a big difference during a later event.

The corporate atmosphere shifts quickly, but this year you’ve got the perfect opportunity to invest in agile, scalable tools and policies. The foundation you lay now by upgrading your tech and your mindset will position your organization for success through the rest of 2019—and far beyond.

Elaine Thompson is a digital journalist whose work has been featured in a variety of online publications. Her writing focuses primarily on sustainability and security at home and in the workplace. @EThompOfficial

Office Upgrades stock photo by Sri Rejeki/Shutterstock