Seven outdated home office duds you need to ditch
By Oliver Milman
When starting a business from home, it’s tempting to blow the dust off your computer, set it up in your spare bedroom and get on with it.
However, it’s worth bearing in mind that you are setting your office up for the business challenges it will have to face in the next four or five years, not just your immediate needs.
Therefore, you should be deploying a zero tolerance approach to technology, equipment and other business tools that are outdated and will prove a drag on your productivity.
Worse still, these monoliths will make you look like some sort of lightweight to customers and business partners.
New research by LinkedIn has picked out an ‘office endangered species’ list that Australian professionals believe won’t be around in 2017.
Conversely, the survey also threw up a few novel suggestions for dream office tools – including a clone to handle mundane tasks, a heat-generating chair and a room with a number of punch bags.
Previously, we’ve looked at the five things that every home-based business needs. Now it’s time to get with the times and ditch the duds.
LinkedIn surveyed 400 office professionals to pick an outmoded technology. Here are the most common responses:
1. Tape recorders – 86%
If you use a tape recorder, there’s a good chance that its natural replacement sits alongside it on your desk.
Voice recognition software and digital recording devices are no longer expensive, futuristic pieces of tech – they are found in most modern smartphones, including the new iPhone 5.
If you don’t want to spend the money on a dedicated digital recorder, then switch to your smartphone. It’ll save you plenty of time and won’t look quite so archaic when you put it on the table during important meetings.
2. Fax machines – 79%
The humble fax’s inclusion on the list is a surprise only for the fact that people think that it will take the next five years to die out.
Seriously, what kind of savvy, forward-thinking start-up still has a fax machine? Sure, you may have a rather old-fashioned client who insists that invoices are sent via fax, but this is no excuse to be wedded to such ancient technology.
Document scanners are now affordable for most businesses. Better still, you can even copy and send complex drawings and other documents via apps on your smartphone or tablet, such as DocSanner.
3. The Rolodex – 79%
Ah, the Rolodex. The faithful, well-thumbed index of the names and numbers you reach for when you need a lawyer, a new marketing campaign or to drum up some sales.
The one main disadvantage of the Rolodex is that it finds itself a place on your desk and tends to never move. Not great if you, like most entrepreneurs, are often on the move and need contact information quickly.
There are a range of modern-day options that are killing off the Rolodex, including cloud-based tools such as Evernote, Google Apps, Dropbox and Basecamp. At a basic level, you can just store them in your smartphone.
Worried about security or other drawbacks of placing your prized information in the cloud? Online entrepreneur Fred Schebesta has some top advice that should ease your mind.
4. Standard working hours – 66%
Okay, so this isn’t a piece of technology as such, but it is something that needs to be buried in the past.
After all, there is a good chance that your home-based business is something you run outside a regular job, going by recent figures that show a significant rise in part-time businesses in Australia.
It helps to have a regular routine when operating an enterprise from home, but be flexible. Don’t feel you have to be nailed into a standard nine to five working day, especially if it doesn’t fit in with your clients.
Use some of the tools listed above to be a bit more nimble and flexible, as well as improve your work/life balance. Just make sure you don’t get swamped, as some entrepreneurs have.
5. Desktop computers – 28%
Interestingly, LinkedIn’s research included predictions of the office tools that will become ubiquitous in the years to come.
Tablets were identified by 66% of respondents, followed by cloud storage at 63% and smartphones at 56%.
Importantly, two of these top three devices are hardware. Fixed point desktop PCs are being replaced by lightweight, portable tools that allow you to escape the office and work in a different environment, such as a café or a co-working space.
6. Desk phones – 27%
Similar to computers, phones need to be liberated from the desk. Indeed, they may well be the same device.
With the portability and functionality of modern smartphones, the installation of a desk-based phone seems like a needless expense. If you want a professional call centre with a dedicated number, outsource.
7. Formal business attire – 24%
It’s not ideal to spend your days lounging around in your tracksuit or pyjamas when you should be working. It’s not great for the mindset.
However, there is an undeniable shift away from highly formal corporate dress to a more relaxed look.
Try to strike the right balance for what works best for you. Better still, as Taskmaster pointed out recently, try to cut down on routine decisions such as what to wear in order to spend more time on your business.
One other thing
Ideally, your home office should have all of the modern tools to help you do your job, but also be a comfortable, safe place to spend your day.
This infographic highlights 10 things you need to do to create a healthier workplace:
Click to enlarge.