Imagine that you had all the tools you needed to work wherever you are–whether it’s in the office, at home, on the way to a meeting, or at a client site. And it’s not just that way for you, but for all the employees of your small business. No matter where each of you were, you’d be able to work together as productively as if everyone were right there with you in the same room.
Thanks to advancing technology, the mobile office is becoming a reality for an increasing number of small businesses across the planet. According to one study, 71 percent of small businesses have become more mobile in the past year.
For small businesses, in particular, a mobile workforce can increase one’s competitiveness. It can reduce overhead costs, broaden the pool of qualified workers, and create a more flexible company by providing the ability to quickly tap into additional workers whenever they’re required for a particular job.
The trick is having technology that’s easy to use yet sophisticated enough to make your mobile office just as productive as your brick-and-mortar office.
Creating a Highly Productive Mobile Workforce
Microsoft Office 365 creates a more productive mobile workforce by providing employees access to email, documents, contacts, and calendars–using a variety of devices from virtually any location.
Workers can use Lync Online to see who’s available, send instant messages, hold online video conferences and collaborate on projects with other employees whether they’re in the office, on the road, or in their homes. They can also use SharePoint Online to store the latest version of client documents, project schedules, resource files, and contracts, so everyone has access to the information they need wherever they are.
And unlike Google Apps, which offers limited offline productivity, workers can be just as productive when they don’t have an Internet connection. With Office Client on the desktop, Office 365 users can keep working on documents, spreadsheets and presentations—anytime, anywhere.
Unifying a Dispersed Workforce with Office 365
Among the small businesses that use Office 365 to unify a dispersed workforce is Be Learning, a creative learning consultancy based in Australia. With 75 percent of its employees working from the road as sales people and, the company needed a way to increase the productivity of its mobile workforce.
The company evaluated Google Docs but decided against it because its employees weren’t familiar with Gmail. By choosing Office 365, the company has been able to provide employees with the ability to check email and calendars from their mobile phones, and use Lync Online to help get answers to questions, determine a colleague’s availability, and conduct online meetings – all important tasks for the company’s staff.
“Office 365 is very user friendly, and it’s great for the majority of people on the team who are not very technically minded,” says Alisha Waterman, Strategic Projects Manager for Be Learning.
Working as if They’re in the Same Room
Likewise, the real estate brokerage findwell uses Office 365 to increase employee productivity and improve customer service. The firm utilizes SharePoint Online to manage documents such as home-listing checklists, flyer templates, and its employee manual. And it uses Lync Online web conferencing to share complex information such as contracts, market valuations, and home details with its customers.
“Clients expect us to be reachable and have the answers that they need at all times,” says Kevin Lisota, chief executive officer of findwell. “Office 365 supports that effort, whether our agents are in the office, at a home, or in a coffee shop “Thanks to Office 365, our agents can access the information that they need with the tools that they are already familiar with. That is a great advantage.”
Seattle-based textbook publisher David M. Kroenke also adopted Office 365 to unify a small staff of editors and designers located all over the United States. With SharePoint Online, for example, his company can easily keep track of documents and project calendars. And using the audio and video conferencing capabilities of Lync Online, employees seamlessly collaborate with other team members from all over the country.
“Talking on the telephone is okay for editing written words, but what if you want to talk about a diagram or a picture or something visual?,” says Kroenke. “Using Lync in Office 365, with one click, I can be in a video conference with my co-worker, we can bring up documents that we’re working on and talk about them, we can bring up the outline or a whiteboard, just as if we’re sitting in the same room. And we’re not.”
Taking Your Office with You Wherever You Go
By 2015, well over a third of the world’s workforce will be mobile, according to the market intelligence firm International Data Corporation (IDC). While this trend offers great opportunities for small businesses, it also requires the right technology.
Office 365 provides just that. By using Office 365, small businesses can achieve a high level of productivity no matter how dispersed their workforce. In short, they now have the ability to take their office wherever they go.
To learn more about the benefits of Office 365 for small businesses, please see your white paper, “Top 10 Reasons for SMBs to Choose Office 365.”