By Warren Pryer, Equinox
School mostly finish on 20th December, Christmas and New Year’s Day are Wednesdays this year, so it makes things a little complicated for the festive season. For example, will you expect people back at work on Friday, after Boxing Day?
With a little planning and use of technology, you can maximise the time off for staff and keep customers happy. Let’s look at your option and how technology can help.
Do you need to work?
If your customers never work over the festive period, you don’t need to either.
Review the last couple of years and see what level of business happened. If your staff had little, or no, engagement with customers, the same thing will probably happen this year.
If you’re closing completely, remember to tell your customers! It is probably unlikely that they will be in touch but the last thing you want are unhappy customers who expected you to be there. Remember to update your Google Local listing and adjust opening hours on your website or social media.
Call answering services, such as Answer or Moneypenny, often provide PAYG services so you can have them cover your phones for a few days. With services like this costing around £1 a call, they can be a very cost-effective way to delivering a level of service to your customers and prospects, without disturbing your team’s Christmas break.
Internet connectivity, VoIP phone solutions and laptops/mobile devices make it easy for some, or all, of your staff to work from home. With at least one train companies facing strike action in December, plus maintenance work that will be happening, remote working may be welcomed.
Productivity and collaboration tools, such as Slack, Basecamp and Microsoft Teams, mean your teams can be just as productive (if not more) working from wherever they want to work. Many of these also allow customer access, so service delivery can continue too.
Remote working, including re-routing telephone calls, means your customers will know no different. They will get the service they expect, your staff will be happy they’re not in the office and you won’t lose any business – a winning combination.
Check your email
There aren’t many business owners who can resist the keeping an eye on emails. A simple email response to an inbound sales enquiry will show you’re interested, and your response can manage expectations. Even if you have told all your customers you are closed, there is bound to be someone who still insists on emailing you. A quick read will help you decide whether a reply is necessary.
If your staff need to work, but don’t need to interact with customers throughout the day, a flexible working approach, for the holiday period, can help them enjoy more time with family and friends, and deliver the productivity you need. Assuming it works, you may even want to roll it out through the rest of the year!
We would be remiss if we didn’t remind you about ensuring your IT Security is right. Working over the holidays may mean some staff have a slightly more relaxed approach and you cannot afford for that to mean malware, viruses or phishing emails hit their targets. Multi-factor authentication, anti-virus/malware software and endpoint protection products are vital to ensure your network or data aren’t compromised.
Making all this work over Christmas and New Year needs one more vital ingredient: you need to trust your staff to do the job you want from them. If you are used to everyone working in the office, this may be a big step, but all the research shows that flexible and remote working deliver will deliver for your business.
The other benefit you get from setting up the business so your staff can have a great Christmas break is that you have developed a business continuity plan. If it works when you want it to, it will work when you need it to – if your office becomes unavailable to you for some reason e.g. in particularly bad weather during the winter.
For some businesses it’s essential for staff to work during Christmas and New Year. But for most some or all of the above can mean your staff are able to spend more time enjoying the break, whether they’re doing some work or not.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Warren Pryer is from independent telecoms brokerage Equinox. Equinox works with companies, charities and other organisations to help them choose the right telecoms packages for their needs and thereby reduce their costs. Equinox is particularly knowledgeable on the integration of IT and telecoms in business. www.equinoxcomms.co.uk