Archive for June 2011
Today’s Guest Blog is courtesy of Powwownow CEO Andrew Peace and his blog andrewjpearce.com:
Gamification is not a new concept, but it seems to be one of the buzz words at the moment. With presentations, reports and analysis making the claim thousands more business’s will be ‘gamified’ within the next few years, Powwownow thought we’d look beyond the hype and try to discover the real benefits for business and consumers alike. Read the rest of this entry »
Crowdsourcing for those of you who don’t know is the act of outsourcing tasks, traditionally performed by an employee or contractor, to an undefined, large group of people or community (a “crowd”), through an open call.
It got us thinking could we, as a business, use crowdsourcing? Read the rest of this entry »
Powwownow were honoured last week to host a teleconference with one of the richest and well known entrepreneurs in the world, Bill Gates. Organised by Save the Children and chaired by Natasha Kaplinsky ahead of the Global Vaccine Conference in London, the Powwow was designed to raise awareness of various vaccine related issues, as well as acting as an open forum for the general public to ask questions on the topic via Twitter. Read the rest of this entry »
As the London 2012 Olympics approach, people are being advised to work from home yet again, but why isn’t teleworking already the norm?
A recent article posted by BBC news reminded people it still makes sense. The piece questioned why people still travel every day, to a central location, when they could simply roll out of bed and start working from their kitchen tables.
Included in the article were the findings of a recent survey from the Confederation of British Industry, which showed that the number of firms offering at least some teleworking rose from 14% in 2006 to 46% in 2008. Figures released later this month are expected to show the trend continuing.
British Telecom was one of the pioneers. It began a telework scheme in 1986, and now has 15,000 homeworkers out of 92,000 employees. The company argues that homeworkers save it an average of £6,000 a year each, are 20% more productive and take fewer sick days.
At HSBC 15,000 out of the bank’s 35,000 staff in the UK have the ability to work from home. However, that is still less than half the workforce and figures deal only with the means to work from home, they do not indicate full-time home working.
But why aren’t even more people working from home?
Successive governments have pressed employers to bring in more flexible working, which can involve home working. Workers who are carers or parents already have the right to ask their employer for flexible working, although employers are not required to agree to it. That said, during the governments current term, they plan to extend this right to all employees across the board, regardless of circumstance.
This week UK Transport Secretary Philip Hammond called for employees in London to work from home during the Olympics next year. The move – intended to ease transport congestion will surely be welcomed by many in the Capital, at least judging from the figures below.
Another reason for Business travellers to work from home could be the huge increases in travel costs. The average rail fare rose 6.2% this January, well above inflation. When the folks over at ‘Love/Hate travel?’ asked a cross-section of business bloggers, entrepreneurs and commuters how businesses are coping, the results proved particularly interesting.
Travel blogger, Martin Gray, who is looking to change his job as a direct result of the fare rises said,
“My train fares went up by 8% this year, but my annual wage didn’t rise. I tried to work remotely but my employer was against it, even though it’s a progressive dot com. As a result I’m now looking for a job closer to home.”
When Telework Association and Wisework Ltd. surveyed 350 people asking how confident they were about their productivity when working from home, more than half were definitely sure they were more productive (table 1).
Participants were also asked whether they agreed with statements on a list of possible reasons for increased productivity; almost all agreed that the elimination of commuting was a contributor (table 2).
So, with travel costs increasing and the opportunity to be more productive (not to mention less stressed) working from home – why are people still opposed to this idea?
Do you work from home? If so, how do you find it? What are the pros and cons?
Would you like to work from home? If so, why don’t you? Is the company you work for opposed to it?
We’d love to hear from you. Don’t be shy.
Here at Powwownow we’re all about saving you time and money – and if we can put a smile on your face whilst we’re at it, then all the better for it. When times get tough, we tighten our belts and think that cracking down on unnecessary expenditure can be the difference between failure and survival. However true this may be, it often results in company’s cutting corners. And so, it’s with that in mind, we have decided to list our top ten ways make your business more efficient without sacrificing a single inch quality. They work for us, so be sure to let us know whether they work for you!
Do it online - Do all of your sales calls need to be in person? Internet-based technologies like Web conferencing and tools like Yuuguu let you make online presentations to customers. You can use it for online meetings, screen sharing, product demonstrations allowing you to quickly (and easily) show a potential customer what you mean.
Free form it - Don’t waste time and resources finding writers to produce forms for your business. Search online for free forms you can download and print. Entrepreneur.com specifically has ones for small businesses.
Switch to open-source software - An open-source solution isn’t the scary, “You’re on your own!” proposition that larger software providers lead you to believe. Open-source software costs a fraction of the price as commercial products while still offering all, if not more, of the features.
As Mark Webster, our resident I.T guru explains: Open source software is used extensively throughout our IT & operational infrastructure, with very few exceptions. Our websites, email accounts, data backup systems, monitoring systems, and even most of our mission critical voice & telephony services are provided by tried and trusted open source software and programming libraries.
There are many significant advantages to using freely available software, and these are some of the most important to us:
-People with skills and experience are easier to find
-The user and developer communities are transparent and approachable
- We work together to fix bugs and add features with almost immediate turn-around in most cases
-We routinely customise software to suit our very specific needs
Run a virtual server- A few years ago, if you wanted complete control over your server, or performance was critical, a dedicated server was the only choice. Now, if control is the key issue (for example, if you need to configure PHP), and unless you’re creating a very high-traffic web application, virtual servers are a viable alternative. A virtual server uses only a fraction of the resources of a powerful web server, and can be upgraded and downgraded almost instantly. While reasonably specified dedicated servers start at around £100 per month, you’ll need to add to this the cost of regular backups, a management interface and hardware firewall. This brings up the cost to around £200 per month. Compare this with an equivalent virtual server at around £50 per month and you’d save £1,800 per year in this example.
Don’t lose your best people -It should go without saying really but it’s easy to forget recruitment is an expensive business; if you’ve got good people try to keep them. Offer perks such as days off, cinema tickets, loan of business vehicles. Powwownow spent our last day out at the track.
Word-of-mouth marketing works. Use your associates to get referrals. If you can incentivise and encourage your existing customers, Twitter is a great place for them to advocate your brand. Mark Shaw has begun using the hash tag #rfr on Twitter and has tapped into an online collective that have recommendations for just about everything, from cheap eateries to the best local graphic design firms. Now, how did those famous lyrics go…‘Money for nothing and tips for free’?
Crowdsourcing is the act of outsourcing tasks, traditionally performed by an employee or contractor, to an undefined, large group of people or community (a “crowd”), through an open call. The clever folks over at Mashable wrote a fantastic article entitled 5 Creative Uses for Crowdsourcing – well worth a read if you ask us.
Hire specialist consultants – Employing specialist consultants on a “no win, no fee” basis can help you to cut costs in particular areas. For example, they might be acquainted with up-to-date benchmarks for your industry and current market conditions for utilities and other suppliers.
A consultant can make decisions without being influenced by vested interests and historical preferences within your business. If you decide to use a consultant, select one that is a member of an appropriate professional body and negotiate a clear written contract.
Flexible working – Letting your employees work from home cuts heating, cooling and lighting bills at work and you don’t need to rent as much office space. Adding desktop virtualisation to the mix means you’ll also reduce remote-user maintenance and support costs. Staff also benefit by eliminating travel time and expense. When structured in the right way, with clear achievable targets agreed with management, Andrew Pearce, Powwownow CEO believes flexible working becomes a “win-win situation”. “Flexible working empowers the employee and employer to deliver greatly improved results,” he says. “It makes employees more motivated and provides a greater return on results for employers. If you enable a workforce to interact with company systems from a more diverse set of locations, they become measurably more productive in a very short period of time.”
E- Newsletters – The thought of sending printed newsletters to your customers may still make some people laugh out loud. That said, it is still extremely common, especially within the public sector. It’s easy to save time, money and effort though with services such as Dotmailer’s. We use the service ourselves and can personally advocate the services ease of use, as well as reasonable pricing structure. The added tracking benefits of knowing who opened your mail, forwarded it or read a particular piece are also extremely valuable for any business. Have a look here and let us know your thoughts.
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