Always on? 4 things to consider (and 1 not to) …

Smartphones are now the most popular way to get on the internet. More than ever before, we’re constantly connected: to the internet, email, apps, the whole e-caboodle.

So in an ‘always on’ world, here are four things to think about –

1. Consider flexible working

The technology that enables us to be always on means you don’t have to be in the office to be well, ‘on’. Use the technology to set up flexible working: save on office costs, travel expense and time, and keep your employees happy. And if your employees aren’t tied to an office, then you can recruit that person who looked ideal except they lived too far from the office!

2. Get social with your customers

Even businesses without a website have Facebook or Twitter accounts. It’s a great way to reach a wider audience. But here’s the rub, once it’s there your social media is always on. Even if you’re not paying attention to it, your customers and prospects will be. So you – or someone working for you – need to monitor, update, and respond to customers on it regularly.

3. Share the burden of out-of-hours work

For many businesses it’s no longer possible to switch off at 5pm. That’s just so last century. Now, customers expect to be able to contact you when they want, not necessarily when it’s convenient for you. So make sure that dealing with out-of-hours stuff like social media, customer services, emails, and tech support is shared across your team. And if you don’t have the resources to respond to social media once the lights are out, that’s fine: just make sure that you tell people when they can expect a response.

4. Don’t overdo it!

Always on is great for business and customers, but not so hot if you’re the one who’s ‘on’.

As an employer, make sure that your employees know what you expect from them in terms of availability. For example, give them firm guidelines around finishing times; tell them when it’s OK to send emails, and when it’s not OK to respond to them. Just because a colleague sends you an email in the evening doesn’t mean you should respond straightaway, unless you’ve made an exception for a particular project or whatever.

While businesses try to be ‘always on’, individual employees should remember to be ‘sometimes off’!

And here’s one thing NOT to consider -

5. Ignore it, it’s just a fad

Not a good idea. The genie is out of the bottle and, yes, he’s always on. Cloud technology means you can carry your office phone with you wherever you are; with Office 365 on your smartphone or tablet, you can always get hold of documents and work on them with colleagues wherever they happen to be; you can use your phone and email and internet while you’re commuting on the train; I’m writing this sitting in the park …

It’s here. It’s happening. And if you don’t embrace the opportunities, you can be sure that your competitors already are.

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