Originally published on the Microsoft Blog


No matter how amazing the opportunities, not every small business is ready for a full digital transformation yet. In our newest post for small businesses, we share 5 simple ways that any business can use to boost their productivity. From decluttering your office to “hiring” a new digital PA, we share easy ways to keep in step with change at the office.


Spring Into Action! Five Simple Steps to Pick up Your Productivity

Microsoft   |   May 09, 2019   |   Share this:  

The more digitally advanced the company, the more successful it is. BDC dares to compare digital maturity profiles by industry and we unpack the results!

Ready to spring into action and increase productivity across your organization? Great! This post for small businesses offers five simple steps that can help teams get more work done.

“It’s the small things that will make you successful.” – The Great Khali, Indian actor and wrestler

We encourage small businesses to think big when it comes to technology. So, we explore big ideas like digital transformation, AI, automation, and how they can have positive impacts on business operations. But we also understand that not every company feels ready for all that change. We get it. Instead, in this post, let’s focus on small ways to apply new technology. The following five simple and proven steps enable any business, even a home-based business, to keep pace with all this change.

5 steps to boost productivity

1: Declutter your workspace(s)

2: Dual screens

3: Adopt a team hub

4: Hire a digital personal assistant

5: Tighten up your security

Bonus: Automate bookings

#1 Declutter your workspace(s)

Like homes, small business environments have a way of filling up with clutter. Files, paperwork, magazines, books, old furniture, stale art, and neglected plants—you name it, businesses collect unused stuff. And over time, that clutter looks unprofessional and wastes people’s time. Employees end up searching for misplaced items.

The modern version of SharePoint, Microsoft’s classic file storage and sharing solution, is easy to set up, use, and search with Office 365.

The same applies to digital clutter. Follow these three quick tips to save all kinds of time:

  1. Get all those files off your computer and into the Microsoft Cloud, where you can access them securely from anywhere, anytime.
  2. Clean up folders! Order your projects with a consistent file and folder naming system. This approach ensures less searching for you and your team.
  3. Empty your email inbox. You can archive your email by project, person, or location—just as long as you get it under control.

#2 Dual screens

If you use desks as workstations, consider adding a second computer monitor. While once strictly the domain of programmers and graphic designers, the benefits of an adjacent screen will surprise you. Connecting a second screen to your workstation can provide you with a very cost-effective way to get more done in your day.

How? That depends on you, of course. Professionals can use the added desktop space for all kinds of things: Excel spreadsheets, chat windows for hubs like Microsoft Teams, their Outlook email inbox, palettes, social networks, news, music apps, and so on. Ultimately, the second screen means more info at your fingertips! That’s a time-saver.

Windows 10 makes it easy to extend your screen or duplicate it. This Microsoft support web page explains how to set up dual monitors.

#3 Adopt a team hub

Solutions like Microsoft Teams have come a long way in recent years. This teamwork hub provides a single destination for employees to collaborate and communicate. With Teams, you give your people access to each other through chat, voice, video, and other means. It can help you break down the silos, reduce the volume of internal email, and cut down on big meetings.

If you run a “virtual” business (meaning with no physical shared office space), a team collaboration hub provides a brilliant solution to stay in touch. If you still use Skype and/or Skype for Business, thank you. We recommend you migrate to Microsoft Teams for a smoother, better collaboration experience purpose-built for business.

Did you know that you can get Microsoft Teams for free? That’s right, free! Work together with features like chat, file sharing, and video calling.

#4 Hire a personal digital assistant

Take advantage of the new wave of AI assistants. Microsoft’s AI personal assistant, Cortana, comes built into Windows 10. With a microphone, you can use Cortana to get things done and stay on top of your tasks. Cortana provides answers and completes basic tasks, plus she can run more than 1,000 partner apps and services.

Like any good assistant, Cortana really shines when it comes to reminders. Cortana reminds you based on time, places, or even people. For example, Cortana can remind you to pick up milk the next time you go to the grocery store on the way home from work. And you can even add photos to your reminders to provide quick visual cues.

Already run Windows 10? Excellent! Now, say hello to Cortana by typing Cortana into your Windows search and following the instructions on screen. You can also try launching it on your PC by clicking here.

#5 Tighten up your security

In 2018, StatsCan released their national cybersecurity report findings. Their research showed that one of five Canadian small businesses (21 percent) reported being impacted by a security incident in 2017. Over half of those business(58 percent) experienced an average total downtime of 23 hours. That’s a massive loss of productivity!

Big or small, your business can tighten up its security to avoid disruption, downtime, and disaster. In fact, a small business can easily afford modern security with Microsoft 365. Not to be confused with Office 365, Microsoft 365 is an integrated solution purpose-built for businesses. This complete, intelligent solution includes Office 365, Windows 10, and Enterprise Mobility + Security to empower everyone to work together securely.

Do you practice business self-defense? Knowledge is power! Learn how to better defend your organization from the rising tide of cyberattacks.

Bonus: Automate bookings

Here’s a bonus step: If you run a service business, like a dentist office, yoga studio, hair salon, or auto garage, you probably spend a lot of time managing bookings. Meaning, someone at your business must answer the phone and email to take and coordinate customer appointment requests, changes, and, of course, cancellations.

Technology can help! Microsoft Bookings, which is part of Office 365 for Business Premium, makes it easier for your customers to schedule and change appointments with you. Bookings includes a customizable web page for customers to book services, a dedicated calendar for managing bookings, a mobile app, a customer contact list, and automated reminders to keep everyone on track. In short, everything you need to make this function a lot easier.

Ready to add a layer of professionalism to your practice? You can buy Microsoft Bookings with Office 365 for Business Premium or try it for one month free.

Learn more

Modern threats to small business

Identify the cyberthreats your business faces, why they threaten the survival of your business, and how you can better protect your organization from crime. Download your copy of “Modern Threats to Small Business: Why you should practice “Business Self-Defense” now! Link here.


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