The Basic Tools Home-Based and At-Home Workers Need for Their Business IT
The United Kingdom owes a huge chunk of its economy to small businesses. According to a report by the House of Commons under the Economic Policy and Statistics Section, of the almost 5 million businesses in the UK, 99% of them are considered as small and medium enterprises, and all together, they provide more than 14 million jobs in the country.
The Office for National Statistics, meanwhile, cited that between January and March 2014, the number of home workers increased to 13.9%, the highest it’s ever been since 1998.
Running a home-based enterprise is not easy. Only half of the start-ups today survive up to the fifth year, and by the 10th year, only a quarter remain. While you need diligence, commitment, business and marketing knowledge, and capital to run your business properly, you also need an IT infrastructure that can get you up and running online, increase your productivity, make you more efficient, and run teams even remotely.
Here are some to help you get started:
One of the first things that you need to have is a speedy and a reliable Internet connection. Two of the most popular means of connecting online is satellite and cable.
If you want an Internet connection, then you have to contact a provider, and depending on the area, you can have a couple of choices. When selecting, always consider:
- Reliability, promptness, and efficiency of both technical and customer support
- Internet plan that fits your budget and needs
- Length of contract
- Fees to be paid, especially if you wish to pre-terminate the plan
- Requirements needed
- Reliability of the Internet connection
A router is a device that allows you to share your Internet to many different devices or computers wirelessly. Not all types of home-based setups will require this particularly if you’re not sharing your connection to anybody else in the first place. However, if you’re operating a small office, then you must consider having one. In choosing a router, consider:
- Length of coverage
- Strength of the signal
- Number of devices and/or computers it can connect
- Controls (password authentication, guest access, etc.)
- Amount of bandwidth it can handle (if your job or service relies heavily on a lot of bandwidth, you need a more powerful router)
Many laptops and mobile devices these days are already equipped with a web camera, and you can also buy one yourself and connect it to your computer. A web camera is an optional external device, but it is helpful when you want to set up virtual meetings with your team or client, present demos online, or conduct interviews. More than 75% of established companies now rely on virtual meetings to help save travel time and costs.
These days, home-based businesses are using storage in the cloud such as Google Drive, One Drive, and Dropbox to store, sort, and share media files and documents, thereby reducing the dependency on printers. However, printers are still essential as some forms should be on hard copies.
Software to Increase Productivity
Working or running a business home-based does have many challenges, but when it comes to productivity, those who telecommute are more likely to be more productive and efficient than their regular office counterparts.
You can further boost their productivity levels when you complement the hardware we discussed above with the right software enterprise tools:
Communication apps are no longer limited to e-mail messaging systems. There is a growing number of workers and business owners who are also using instant messaging tools, such as Skype. For those who want to use mobile, FaceTime may be used as a great alternative to standard video conferencing especially if the meeting is just short. One of the best things about these tools is that they are usually for free as long as the communication is performed from app to app, allowing businesses to save money in this regard.
Collaboration tools allow small business owners to keep track of their employee progress and project milestones usually in real time. These apps are usually designed for intimate teams and are scalable so you can still use them as the team grows. These include Asana, ManagOnWeb, and Twoodo.
With the growth of the Internet and the intense competition of small businesses in both the domestic and international markets, IT should be treated as part of your enterprise. Make sure that you can set aside a budget for its setup and maintenance.