The success of your company can be directly impacted based on how well you manage your variable expenses such as the phone bill, electricity, heat and other utilities. One method for reducing those variables is to streamline your office communications. When you do this, you pare down to just what you need and use. Thus, making better use of your resources and limiting waste which is especially important when you’re just starting out.
Consider these 8 tricks for making your communications lean...and occasionally green.
1. Ditch Your Equipment
Modern offices no longer need a land line phone, fax, teletype or physical extensions to function in today’s business world. Thanks to the newest smart phones (and their apps), tablets, Internet services and virtual phone systems (like us!) your computer and phone can do all this and more for you, for much less and without the bulky equipment.
2. Review Your Bills
Avoid 'service bloat' by reviewing your bills at least once a quarter. You're likely to find a service you don't use or need any more. Is this service in a bundle with other services that you do need and use? Why not try to negotiate with your vendor and have it removed? It’s at least worth a try!
3. Schedule Time for Email
Don't treat email as a constant stream of communication. Instead, encourage your whole team to check email at most every two to three hours. Constant email back-and-forth wastes time and energy, while checking in at intervals helps keep your team on track and makes sure most communication is necessary.
4. Use Virtual Fax
Virtual fax programs allow you to send and receive faxes without the extra machine (or a separate phone number), and without printing the document. These services give you a virtual phone number that turns an incoming fax into an email, and a .pdf file into an outgoing fax.
5. Use Apps
New office communication apps hit the market every day. Two of the most popular right now are Campfire and GoToMeeting. This field changes every day, but the options all trend towards facilitating meetings, tracking tasks and making you as efficient as possible so take advantage of them wherever you can.
6. Send 'Ping' Emails
When you finish a face-to-face meeting, shoot a quick note to everybody involved summarizing the content and any action items. This turns those chats into work flow, and helps everybody agree on what they were just talking about.
7. Use Voicemail
Everybody has voicemail, but not everybody uses it to their best advantage. One trick here is to let your voicemail answer your phone when it rings while you're busy. Studies indicate you'll lose 20 to 40 minutes of productivity just getting back on task after taking a call. Can your business afford that?
Another trick is to use brief voicemails as reminder notes to yourself. You could even set up an extension for employees to call into for a status update. That way they can check when it’s convenient for them and you’re not disrupting them when you send it.
8. Embrace the Text Message
It may feel like some new thing all the kids are doing, but text messages are perfect for communicating information succinctly. A quick reminder by phone requires a minute of small talk, two bad jokes, the information, and an awkward goodbye. Via text, it's twenty seconds of typing -- and the recipient views it when he's ready, not when you send it.
Do you have a story about moving to 21st-century communications in your office? Or a question about how to do it best? Leave a comment below and join the conversation!