Taking Control of the Future: How to Embrace the Digital Workplace

Business Management

In a world where technology is increasingly accessible yet changes in a blink of an eye, it’s easy to be caught with a false sense of security. Just when you think you’re up to speed with the latest tech tools, along comes a new solution or gadget to get your head around. As a decision maker in a small business, it is important to understand the opportunity and embrace the benefits these new technologies bring -- from cloud computing to mobile software applications and the use of tablets -- to ensure you are giving your workplace the best opportunity to reap rewards down the track.

New research from Telstra’s Business SMB Barometer has revealed five in six businesses confidently label themselves as ‘tech-savvy, tech-aware or early adopters’, yet more than half don’t have plans in place to future-proof their workplace. Are you one of these?

What plans does your business have in place to embrace the digital workplace? Have you thought about how you can use technology to encourage a flexible working environment?

Perhaps you’re part of the 49% of SMBs that believe they’re ready to embrace the digital workplace and recognise the opportunities it brings. Regardless of where you sit, it is critical for SMBs to ‘walk the talk’ and put aside the time to future-proof their practices from a technology perspective.

Now is the time to consider how you can use technology and create the right physical environment to empower a flexible workforce.

When we’re busy, it’s hard enough juggling the costs of running a business, maintaining customer relationships and managing the fine details, let alone finding the time to plan ahead. The reality however, is we must find a way to think about the future and plan accordingly -- as this is just as important as managing the day-to-day. In order to embrace the digital workplace, here are three key tips your business can implement to take control of your future:

1. Embrace a flexible working culture

The world is much more ‘24/7’ than ‘9 to 5’ and we need to adapt to survive this. Offering flexible working options and giving employees tools such as smartphones and tablets, to enable them to work on-the-go as flexibly as possible, drives productivity and encourages staff to ‘go the extra mile’. Whether this be working from an offsite location with portable devices, or using  smartphones to maintain open communication between your employees and customers. Flexibility leaves room for you to do your own thing inside and outside the business.

2. Utilise mobile software applications

Research reveals that only 27% of small business owners are using apps for their business, suggesting many aren’t aware of how mobile apps can help SMBs achieve better work life balance. Mobile software applications are key to keeping your business moving while on the road, or juggling family and work commitments.

All you need is a smartphone or connected tablet and the right business apps whether it be accounting apps or those that can help you keep track of workflow and improve productivity. Once these business functions are better managed, you will likely see a significant reduction in overheads and other costs.

Mobile software applications such as Shoeboxed and Deputy are great examples of such apps as they allow your business to keep track of receipts, make your own/share rosters, substitute staff who are absent ASAP and monitor/update time sheets -- allowing you to effectively manage your staff.

3. Think ahead to be ahead

Never get comfortable. Whether it’s customer preferences, competitor offers, new products or ways of working, change is part of business. By being tech-aware and integrating existing technology such as video conferencing or cloud computing into your business processes, you will be well on your way to staying three steps ahead of your competitors and reaping the subsequent rewards.

Will Irving


Will Irving was appointed to the role of Group Managing Director of Telstra Business, effective 12 August 2011. Telstra Business is dedicated to meeting the telecommunications needs of nearly 1 million small and medium businesses across Australia. In 2006 he was named Australian Corporate Lawyer of the Year and the Communications Law Committee of the International Bar Association gave him its Outstanding Achievement Award in 2008. More recently, the Telstra legal team was the ALB Australian Law.