With a little bit of planning, getting your staff online is a simple and easy process.
In this section:
Planning to go online
Like with any aspect of your business, it’s best not to rush into anything without careful planning. Your plan for involving staff in the process of going digital, and training them with the new technology, is just as important and your action plan for rolling out that technology.
Three simple steps can assist in the planning process:
- Create documents and logins – if you’re expecting your staff to use a new system, what will their requirements be? Outline these clearly before you introduce your staff to the new technology, so that they have easy access to logins, software or hardware that they can use.
- Training – training can help alleviate any of the concerns your staff might be having about a new procedure or technology. It’s also a great way to get another point of view – your staff might see things differently and highlight a problem (or better yet, a solution) that you didn’t see yourself.
- Touch base with your staff, regularly – it can help to set up regular reminders to talk to your staff about the new policy, procedure or technology you have put in place. Even a simple email can do the trick.
It may also help to develop a transition management plan. This document can be used by management to keep on track with staff touch points when rolling out new technology or procedures. Set yourself up with a simple calendar, and mark down times you will require sit down meetings with the entire team, or individual catch ups. Then, distribute this to staff. The important part about this process is that every team member has a chance for providing input or asking questions, and they know when that chance will come around.
Software and hardware
Traditionally, software packs for computer programs such like job and inventory management systems, accounting systems, and office systems were provided to subscribers in a hard copy. More often than not, you would subscribe to something like Microsoft Office, and receive the required files on a CD or floppy disk, and upload it to your computer. Packs would often contain an entire suite of software, so you could easily be purchasing something you didn’t actually need. This made using this sort of subscription based software quite expensive, as you had to purchase multiple packs to subscribe various members of your team, and end up with copies of software you would never need to use.
With the introduction of the internet – and the rise in cloud based technology – software creators have been able to deliver more cost effective subscriptions to this kind of software. Now, you can download individual licenses straight from the internet. More flexible providers are also now giving their customers the ability to simply download the part of the software suite they need, rather than an entire package. This is making subscriptions much more cost effective, especially for small business.
Bring your own device
It could be a great benefit to your business to provide your staff with a mobile device such as a phone or tablet, which they can then use on site with clients. Rather than rushing out to purchase new hardware for each staff member, it might be beneficial to ask staff if they already have their own device that they’re happy to bring to work with them. All you need to do is install the relevant software on their device, saving you lots of money on hardware.
What happens when staff members moves on from your employment, taking the software with them? Thankfully, it is quite easy to cancel subscription services, or move them on to a new device. If you’re worried about keeping your company data safe, you can put in place a Staff Internet Usage Policy, which outlines what content staff are allowed to take with them when they leave. See below for more.
The other element of bring your own device policies is allowing your staff to telework. Giving your staff the flexibility to work from a home office, or check in to your office whilst on the job site, can help improve productivity, as you no longer lose time in the day from sending staff to site and then back to the office to pick up another job. See our topic on Telework for more information and how-to guides that can assist your business.
Tips for the Electrical Industry
Conduct training, and make it regular
Using a new digital platform or enforcing new systems can be a bit of a culture shock and during this time, there’s nothing worse than making your staff feel unloved. Involving them in user testing of new software, or letting them choose their own device is a great step forward in helping them learn your new system, but regular training is where they will really shine. A lot of software providers can give you access to a day of training with someone from their organisation, and this is a great first step. You can also ask them for training documents they may have previously put together. Keep up regular, ongoing training with staff around your systems, and give them opportunities to provide feedback.
Give your staff members a voice
There is a growing trend toward advocacy in big business. Getting someone to spread the word about your business simply because the love your service is a great way to build brand recognition, and a lot of the time it won’t cost you a cent. One of the most untapped sources of advocacy isn’t your customers, it’s your staff.
Your employees can offer a great insight into your business, and most likely know more about your business than your customers, so why not use them as brand ambassadors on your social media channels? This can be through recommending your business page to their friends (to increase likes), sharing your posts (to increase reach), or by writing a guest post for your accounts (to increase engagement). Or why not make a regular post where you introduce a staff member on the job site, or have a ‘behind the scenes’ candid shot from the next office celebration. These sorts of posts add a human element to your channels, and are great for building your brand personality with customers and potential customers.
Getting management on board
One of the places you may find resistance in getting your business online is in gaining approval to undertake digital activities. This can be in implementing new software or using digital advertising tools. If you’re struggling to get management on board with a change, attack the problem in the same way you’d attack any other business problem – hit them with hard data. It’s hard to argue with the facts, so if you can prove greater efficiencies – and greater profit margins – will occur by using a digital tool, outline your business case and make your managers understand.
Start with an Online Business Plan. This document outlines to management the exact steps you would take when going online, including your rationale, a competitor analysis, benefits and challenges and your strategy. You can use our free templates to get started.
Policies and documentation
One of the best ways to get your staff online is through the introduction of new policies. This creates a level of transparency with staff, and lets them know how they can act online when at work, or when representing your company.
A general Internet Usage policy can cover staff use of information and communications technologies such as email, mobile phones, and software. This document should outline how your staff can use these services both at work, and outside of work. See our template to get started.
You may also like to consider a separate policy specific to Social Media. A Social Media Staff Use Policy informs your staff of their rights and responsibilities on their personal social media accounts when discussing your business. This document can be implemented as part of your induction process, and outlines for your staff your expectations with regards to social media. You can download a template staff policy here.