New ways of working and modern work might sometimes be seen as something that just the big companies do, introducing large scale and lengthy transformations, big new solutions, processes or business models.
Small and medium sized business (SMBs) might think, ‘change will take us years’, ‘we don’t have the money for that’, ‘why change it if it’s working ok’ or ‘that’s just for billion-dollar businesses’.
But it’s exactly these thoughts that could be holding SMBs back from bigger and better things. Work keeps changing and the tools, methods, and systems we have available to do the work are changing too.
Overwhelmed and underserved
The thought of changing business systems and processes or changing how one works to a more modern way can be an overwhelming one. From my own experience, SMBs have been notoriously overwhelmed by the thought of changing technology, and equally underserved.
Yes! Perhaps the big enterprise solutions have catered for the big names, big retailers, big banks, big brands, big manufacturers or big consulting firms.
The topic of overwhelm is a familiar one when associated with change. When so many businesses have had to make dramatic changes in recent years in response to the pandemic, the thought of more changes to technology, systems, processes or workflow could make you break out in a sweat… not a smile.
But there is much for SMBs to wake up and take notice of in how work is evolving to more modern ways -- of communicating, servicing customers and growing the business.
The work GoTo has been doing with SMBs revealed these 3 practical moves from older ways … to newer ways of thinking and working.
3 practical ways to move toward more modern work
- More responsive to customers: Being able to respond swiftly and effectively to a customer’s needs, challenges or questions is good for business on the one hand but also creates complexity on the other. Businesses must solve how they serve customers effectively and efficiently across multiple platforms – phone, online, social, messaging etc. - while ensuring the customer experience remains seamless. In addition, the need for businesses to implement IT management and support solutions that can quickly resolve customer issues cannot be underestimated. New and agile ways of working combined with consolidated applications that streamline all customer contact ensure customers remain at the centre of operations. This will help SMBs achieve great service and value. Whatever it is their customer values, there’s an opportunity right there to meet and deliver on that. It’s ‘how do customers like to contact you’, not ‘how do you like to contact your customers’. Take digital engagement, we allow a small business to think about how they can be super responsive as a brand to their customer base by engaging via multiple channels. This is focusing on the customer at the centre, and agile and new ways of working are designed around this kind of focus.
- Flex work: SMBs may think they don’t have the systems to support flexible work for their people. This is a big one directly connected to recruitment and retention of staff. Flexible working is something job seekers are including in their job search criteria so it’s incumbent on SMBs to address this upfront and make it clear how they are embracing more flexible working. From my own experience at GoTo and in managing a small business with my life partner, my observation is that where changes have been made to accommodate where, when and how employees work, the employees are invariably more engaged and interested, more productive, and more on board with the newer efficient and intuitive systems. At GoTo, we have employees who have relocated to different locations and dispersed across Australia, which shows that our talent pool isn’t restricted to a certain geographical area, which is fantastic. Our own research with Frost & Sullivan shows staff turnover is significantly lower in a hybrid model (22%) than in completely remote work models (43%) and work from office models (44%). So flexible hybrid working is well worth the investment for SMBs in order to win the war on talent. Employees want more flexible work and where work may have previously happened in only two locations, site or offices, now it could be 22 locations … or more. It’s another way that SMBs can play in the modern world of work too and not get left behind in old ways of working. Flex is absolutely a recruitment and retention green light.
- Consolidating and rationalizing: A number of organizations and CIO’s that I’ve spoken with in recent times are juggling multiple systems and multiple tools to do the same tasks. They’ve got one department using one system and another system for another location or region. Consolidation and rationalization are needed to prevent delays, rework, errors, and things falling through the cracks. Employee frustration can be high with archaic systems that don’t work well or old legacy and manual processes that could be automated. And when they are automated, it’s a breath of fresh air in an SMB! They can bring productivity gains, accelerate response times and quality of service. If you’re a business owner, you’re trying to focus on the business of running your business, but there are huge cost savings available here. Not enough companies look at this part of enhancing their business and it’s such a great place to start.
There’s a big consideration here too about your employees and giving your people the right tools to do their job. A business that wants to help its people work well is the focus; hanging on to old legacy processes, thinking and systems isn’t the answer.
These three practical topics can help SMBs think beyond the immediate rush of a typical day and get into a more modern way of thinking about work.
As businesses of all sizes adopt newer ways of working and introduce more modern work practices, technology and processes to their business, the benefits can be felt from personal and team productivity, through to employee engagement, to increased customer satisfaction and problem resolution, through to overall team wellbeing as well as brand awareness and reputation.
Evolving to more modern ways need not be a drag, dread or drain! It’s incredibly rewarding seeing businesses shift from the doubting approach of thinking it’s not possible or ‘will take ages’ to these kinds of initiatives that are easier to set up and install rather than dealing with major projects and multiple consultants over multiple years. It’s a weeks and months thing these days, not a years and years thing.
While we might think we are ‘doing the best with what we have’, making changes to ways of working give us the opportunity to do even better with new tools, resources, approaches and techniques. And that is so good to see in a business, and can make it an even better place for people to work.