Hopefully you’re able to get off the grid for at least a day or two this holiday season. But, understandably, unplugging completely can sometimes be out of the question when you own a small business. Luckily, there are software tools that can lessen the need to be physically present at your storefront all the time (or glued to your computer).
And integrating these types of software is not only a sanity-saver this time of year but could also be crucial to your team’s success year-round. As the ability to work remotely becomes increasingly important for employee satisfaction (and retention), businesses are adjusting policies and onboarding software that facilitates this arrangement.
A report from Microsoft found that 74 percent of small- to medium-size businesses now offer flexible workforce policies for all or some of their employees. And more than half the employees say that as a result, they’re more productive.
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So how can you enable more flexible working policies as a business owner? There are software tools that you can integrate into your business to make working remotely much easier. Not only are these types of software a sanity-saver during the holidays, but they could also be crucial to your team’s success year-round.
Here are some essential remote-working tools for small business owners and employees.
1. Square Dashboard app
To keep a pulse on how business is going when you’re working remotely, use the Square Dashboard app. With it, you can track your weekly, daily, hourly, and even real-time sales numbers across all your locations. That data can help you make quick, strategic decisions about everything from holiday staffing to inventory.
2. Employee management software
If you have hourly employees, you need a streamlined tool for on-the-go schedule management. There are a number of excellent options in Square App Marketplace (which you can sync up to your Square account) that fit the bill. These apps help with scheduling, time tracking (employees can punch the clock wherever they are), and overall staff communication.
3. Inventory management software
When you’re not properly stocked, you lose sales (a huge bummer year-round, but especially during the holidays). To keep tabs on your inventory levels while working remotely, integrate inventory management software with your POS.
Look for software that allows you to set up stock alerts so you can better manage your supply and efficiently track inventory.
Square POS and Square for Retail both have integrated inventory management. The Square App Marketplace also has a great selection of solutions that can help you track stock quantities across your brick-and-mortar business and online store in real time, so you can quickly spot any potential issues and resolve them.
There’s a reason 77 percent of Fortune 100 companies are now using Slack. It’s a great (and less-cluttered-than-email) way to communicate with your team. You can even set up Slack channels for various parts of your business. If you own a restaurant, for example, you may want to create a front-of-house channel to communicate things like menu changes or whether any VIP diners are coming in that evening. Your kitchen Slack channel could be the place for any recipe changes or new cleanup protocols.
DropBox is a fantastic, tried-and-true solution for file sharing. Just create an account for your business, then set up folders for different projects or content types. It’s great for things like large image files and presentation decks.
Instead of sitting around wondering whether something’s been done, use IDoneThis. The software gives you insight into what your team is working on so you can stay in sync (you can also use it to track your own progress). Every day, you get a summary of what’s been done, what’s getting done, and what can’t be completed (and why).
To stay organized, you can use Trello to make notes on what needs to get done and who on your team is responsible for the implementation. It’s a great way to help you track any projects — big or small — and is a great way to promote visibility within your team.
8. Video conferencing
Sometimes you need to talk with your team face to face. Google Hangouts and Skype are probably the simplest solutions here, but there are a multitude of more robust options as well. PC Magazine has a great roundup of the best video conferencing software to fit everyone’s needs.