How to become an online tutor: 7 steps to starting your online tutoring career
The world of online tutoring is growing rapidly and therefore is a great option for anyone looking to pursue a full or part-time career in education.
Many students are turning to online tutoring as a way of enhancing their education, learning new skills, and enjoying flexible learning environments. As a tutor, you’ll need to be aware of what your students are looking for and the best ways in which you can deliver your online learning. In addition to being a tutor you will also be running your own business – marketing, finance, customer service, and the rest will also be part of your day to day job.
While there is a lot to consider, with online tutoring continuing to grow as an industry there are plenty of resources and tools available to help you achieve success as an online tutor.
Table of contents
- A growing industry
- Benefits vs. challenges
- How to become an online tutor in 7 steps
- To sum up
A growing industry
Online tutoring as a service is experiencing a surge in demand on the back of the Covid-19 pandemic, something set to continue with the global online tutoring market expected to expand at a compound annual growth rate of nearly 16% in the next seven years.
With a definite demand already, and predicted opportunities for growth, online tutoring is a stable and secure career choice – whether you’re looking to subsidize your current job with part-time tutoring or make the move to a full-time career. In addition many tools are now available to make online tutoring even easier, with software and apps developed specifically to help increase student engagement and help you deliver results.
That’s not to say it doesn’t have its challenges. Growing industries are often saturated and therefore high in competition, but if you’re willing to put in the work then you are sure to reap the rewards as well.
Benefits vs. challenges
Before we get into the nitty gritty of how to become an online tutor, here are some of the benefits and challenges to consider ahead of starting a career in online tutoring.
- Demand – many students are now choosing to learn online as a way of gaining additional qualifications and accessing more learning options.
- Flexibility – be your own boss and control the hours you work.
- Work from anywhere – the ability to tutor remotely saves you travel time and significantly reduces your overheads.
- International students – online learning can be accessed by students around the world via the internet, meaning your potential customer base just got a whole lot bigger!
- Creative freedom – as your own boss you have the freedom to design your own courses, learning content, and lesson plans.
- Efficiency – online tutoring tools enable you to share documents, files, and other information easily and efficiently. Lesson recordings and digital documents give you a range of resources to pull from whenever you need to.
- Competition – as a popular career choice, there can be a lot of competition with other online tutors. It’s important to find your niche and hone your skills to deliver the best service for your subject area and style of tutoring.
- Engagement – learning online is great for some, but other students may find it difficult to engage with the lesson depending on how it is delivered to them. Good student engagement will be the key to your success so be prepared to adapt to your student’s needs.
- Technology – online tutoring depends on you having a good working knowledge of IT and other digital tools, as well as a good internet connection for both you and your student to avoid lesson disruption.
- Self-promotion – as a business owner as well as a tutor you will need to market your services effectively in order to see a return on your investment.
How to become an online tutor in 7 steps
When venturing into a new career it can be daunting and difficult to know where to start. With this in mind, we’ve put together 7 steps to get you started on the road to becoming a successful online tutor.
1. Find your niche
Private tutoring is a lot more accessible as a career choice than traditional classroom teaching as it requires less formal qualifications. However, a deep understanding and knowledge of your subject area is essential and as such, study of your subject to degree level is common within the industry. Knowledge and passion for a particular subject is a great starting point for narrowing down your niche and finding what you want to specialize in.
Although you may specialize in tutoring a particular subject or skill, identifying where your specialist knowledge is within that subject will help you to sell yourself and deliver specific, tailored learning content.
2. Find your audience
As the saying goes, ‘if you sell to everybody, you’ll sell to nobody’. This is why step one is essential, as well as understanding who your audience is. Once you’ve narrowed down your niche you can begin to research and understand who your customer will be based on what you can offer. For example if you specialize in a language, your customers will not be native speakers of that language. This is important to understand as later on it will help you to market yourself to the people who are more likely to engage with your services.
Here’s a few things to think about when defining your ideal audience:
- Who are they? Age, gender, education level
- What do they do?
- Where are they from?
- What are they interested in?
- What do they want to achieve?
Answering these questions will give you a more concrete idea of who your customer is and therefore how you can help them. Remember, engagement is key to online tutoring so a thorough understanding of your audience will help you to meet their needs – a win, win for you and your students.
3. What is your USP?
Your USP (unique selling point/proposition) is what is going to set you apart from the competition. Ask yourself what it is that makes you different, what is it that you can offer that your competitors can’t?
This may sound daunting but it could be as simple as your teaching style, the combination of tools you use, your area of expertise – the possibilities are endless! It is useful to research your competitors as well to find out what they are offering and identify any gaps in the market that your skills, knowledge, or services could fill. You just need to make sure you’re crystal clear on what your USP is so you can communicate it effectively to your target audience.
4. Choose your tools
As an online tutor you will need a selection of tools at your disposal to deliver your lessons successfully. Of course a computer, laptop, tablet, or mobile device is essential as well as a stable internet connection as you will be working online. In addition though, there are a whole host of digital tools at your disposal to help you develop, deliver, and level-up your online tutoring business.
What tools are available?
- Video conferencing e.g. Zoom
- Interactive whiteboards
- Online booking systems e.g. Appointedd
- Video recording
- Learning Management Systems (LMS) e.g. Blackboard
The tools you decide to use will depend on your number of students, preferred teaching style, course materials, budget, and more but with so many accessible and affordable options available you’ll soon find what works for you. To find out more about the kind of tools available for online tutoring, have a read of our blog post of 9 online tutoring tools for successful education services.
5. Creating your content
So you’ve found your niche, audience, USP, and the tools to support how you teach, but what are you going to teach? Creating your courses, lessons, and resources will give you structure and materials to work from and also share with prospective students looking to see if you’re the right tutor for them.
A working knowledge of current curriculums is advantageous to help you understand what level your students are working to, but really you have the freedom to design courses and create content that you are confident in, and enjoy teaching. When creating your lesson plans and content, think about the medium you would like to deliver it in, how engaging the content is, and also the structure of your lessons and courses. Some online tutoring tools (e.g. LMS) are also equipped to help you design course materials with templates and other useful features to get you started.
Why not try…?
- Interactive software
6. Sell your services
With an understanding of who your audience is and your services and content ready to go, now is the time to sell yourself and secure your first students. As an online business, digital marketing is an efficient, affordable, and effective way of reaching prospective students. There are many platforms and channels you could use, here are a few to consider…
Tutoring and job platforms:
- Tutoring platforms like Superprof are great ways to reach a huge audience on a platform designed for students searching for exactly what it is you do. Create a profile and connect with 1000s of potential students across a global network.
- Fiverr and Upwork are similarly useful platforms to advertise your services as a freelancer to students searching online for a tutor to match their needs.
- Social media is an instantaneous and affordable way of getting your tutoring services visible online. Use your platform to share what you do, insights, links to other resources, and booking. Most platforms also now offer business accounts as an option to help you track engagement and promote content.
- As you will be connecting with students online rather than in person, you’ll need a reliable and efficient way of securing bookings and getting paid online. A system like Appointedd gives you a platform to share with prospective students looking to find out more and book your services. It can also take payments, manage your schedule, and integrate with the tools you use.
- Although a website is not essential to get started, it may be something to consider as you establish yourself and grow as an online tutor. A dedicated website will allow you to share in detail exactly what it is you do, outline your courses and rates, and integrate with your other channels such as social media and a booking system.
7. Next steps
Securing your first students is a huge achievement – but what’s next? To be successful as an online tutor it’s important to continually find new students and encourage repeat custom in order to sustain yourself as a business and progress in your career.
As an online tutor, the services you offer don’t necessarily guarantee repeat business – if you do your job well hopefully your students won’t need additional tutelage! But satisfied students can refer friends and family as well as choosing additional services and different courses. Think about offering additional lessons in specialist areas as a way to upsell, as well as expanding the range of courses and content you have to offer as you grow your business.
Other next steps to try:
- Create a referral programme
- Offer loyalty schemes and rewards
- Share successful student stories
- Expand your online presence e.g. website
- Add services/expand your offering
To sum up…
Online tutoring is a great opportunity for anyone with good subject knowledge, great people skills, digital skills, and a drive to achieve results. As a rapidly growing industry there are also plenty of resources available to help you be successful, and hopefully this step-by-step guide has given you some insight into how you can make them work for you.
Christmas retail: 5 ways retailers can use online booking for a very merry Christmas
Retailers often spend the best part of the year preparing for Christmas: designing and sourcing stock, creating promotional campaigns, and hiring temporary staff – all to attract and meet the demands of the hoards of Christmas retail shoppers that will flow through their doors come the festive season.
But following an unprecedented couple of years for the retail industry that saw mass store closures, and limits on capacity and services, retailers will be looking to this year’s Christmas season to increase footfall and clawback revenue more than ever before.
Christmas retail table of contents
- How is Christmas 2021 looking for UK retailers?
- What will be the challenges for Christmas 2021?
- 5 ways to use online booking to boost your Christmas retail revenue
- A very merry Christmas
How is Christmas 2021 looking for UK retailers?
Well, although Covid-19 was a huge catalyst for the shift to E-commerce and an increase in online shopping, UK retailers have in fact been experiencing some positive store results in recent months as restrictions have been eased dramatically. Due to a lot of international travel restrictions still in place, the UK has seen an increase in staycations, which has subsequently driven footfall to UK cities and shops. These cheaper UK-based holidays mean that shoppers are also spending more in bricks and mortar stores.
Although online shopping as a habit is definitely here to stay, “the high street saw continued growth in June , with sales up 10%”.
Despite these statistics providing the industry with a much-welcomed sigh of relief though, this growth will need to maintain significant momentum in order to deliver results throughout the retail Christmas period. For retailers, looking ahead with an adaptable strategy will be the key to securing a successful festive season.
What will be the challenges for Christmas 2021?
While we are beginning to emerge from the other side of Covid-19 in the UK, with the lifting of restrictions in England on July 19th marking some sort of return to normality – there are definitely still challenges ahead.
The knock-on effect of the pandemic, Brexit aftermath, and changing consumer habits will all present new challenges for retailers this year. Here’s what you need to know in order to plan ahead now:
The pandemic isn’t over
While much of the UK has experienced some version of ‘freedom day’ with the majority of relaxations eased or removed, Covid-19 is still prevalent across the globe, causing a domino effect on retailers.
With volumes of stock being produced in India and China, these manufacturing hubs are being hit hard by closures and shutdowns due to continued outbreaks. As a result there are significant delays in the production and shipping of stock, leading to delayed product launches and emptier shelves.
Supply chain pressures
Container shortages and rising prices are leading some toy retailers to delay importing their orders. It is reported that the average cost of securing a container has “risen between 10 and 15 times in the last year.” In addition, the containers themselves appear to be in short supply due to halts in production as a result of the pandemic.
UK driver shortages are also having an impact on keeping the supply chain moving and shelves full. The Road Haulage Association estimates that there is a shortage of over 100,000 UK drivers, and as a result “there are now warnings from companies and hauliers that they can no longer guarantee all pick-ups and deliveries.”
Meeting consumer demand
The domino effect of these manufacturing and supply chain issues means retailers are struggling to secure goods in time for Christmas shopping, with the toy industry warning parents to buy now to avoid the disappointment of empty shelves.
Securing and storing stock now in time for Christmas is giving retailers a logistic headache, as some larger retailers try to hoard stock to counteract supply issues, but warehouse space is also limited.
Creating an omnichannel experience
While online shopping is here to stay and highly favoured by UK shoppers (Shopify predicts that “The elevated level of online shopping is likely to continue post-pandemic across all categories”), the desire for in store browsing will be rebounding as well. A recent study by Shopify revealed that one third of UK shoppers will be dividing their time equally between shopping online and shopping in person.
This hybrid of online and in store shopping means retailers are needing to develop their omnichannel strategies in order to keep up with their consumers and their competition.
5 ways to use online booking to boost your Christmas retail revenue
So with all the monumental challenges currently facing the industry, how can online booking help? An online booking system like Appointedd is an easily incorporated and adaptable omnichannel solution that can be utilized to create and deliver services and experiences to customers, in addition to traditional revenue streams.
Here are 5 ways that retailers can level-up their retail Christmas offering with online booking…
Let’s not lie – Christmas shopping is stressful. Or at least it can be stressful! Offering a personal shopping service is a great way to ensure that your customers are experiencing your brand at its best, at one of the most important times of the year.
Whether your customers are shopping for gifts, or looking for their Christmas party glam, using an online booking solution will enable you to seamlessly offer personal shopping services. Letting your advisors do what they do best, personal shopping will elevate the experience for your customers and increase your chances of conversion.
How it works:
- Customers can book available time slots directly online, 24/7
- Schedule overview enables your teams to distribute staff accordingly
- Customers can provide their details and personal preferences e.g. sizes and colors
- Staff are prepared and informed of the customer’s needs ahead of time
With toy retailers reporting difficulty securing stock for Christmas, adding a service such as a Santa’s grotto to your store experience is a great way to attract customers into the store, as well as adding another revenue stream to help drive profit.
Santa grotto scheduling can be made effortless with online booking as families can book ahead of time, avoiding disappointment and long queues when they arrive in store. This magical experience will be memorable for kids and give your paying customers the chance to suss out which of your products are on their little one’s Christmas wish list.
How it works:
- Customers can select a Santa’s grotto booking online
- Take payment online and secure the booking
- Real-time schedule availability ensures you’re not overbooked
- Customers can provide their details and Christmas wish lists in advance
Christmas retail click and collect
A bookable click and collect option is a great addition to your online services, and creates that omnichannel experience for your customers, giving them the choice of how they want to shop. Your online customers can select and pay for their purchase, and then visit their local store to collect at a time that is convenient for them.
For the festive season why not also add on a gift wrapping service? Your customers can select this option during the click and collect booking process, and can even be charged through your booking system if a cost applies. By booking the whole service in advance, your customers can collect without waiting, and your staff have guaranteed time to prepare and wrap their purchase.
How it works:
- Provide customers with a booking link to complete their click and collect order
- Upsell during the booking process with gift wrapping options
- Take payment at the time of booking if necessary
- Customers and staff receive confirmation of the click and collect slot
Christmas retail events
Similar to a Santa’s grotto experience, seasonal events can create buzz around Christmas shopping, product launches, and special offers. Booked events also give your staff the time to showcase the best of your brand and products, give personal recommendations, and upsell to dedicated customers.
Online booking can be used for both online, virtual, and in store events – simply set your event capacity, date and time, and get your customers interested by sharing details in store and via digital marketing. Customers can then book their slot online and look forward to an exclusive event. Charge customers a small fee that can be redeemed against a purchase, or offer an exclusive discount to encourage spending online or in store.
How it works:
- Share details and booking links in store and via email to subscribers etc.
- Customers can book their event slot directly online
- Capacity Flex ensures booking availability matches the set event capacity
- Take payment during the booking process if required, or share any offer details within the booking confirmation
Rewarding customer loyalty is great for brand awareness and securing repeat custom, something that will put you one step ahead of your competitors come Christmas time. Using an online booking system like Appointedd enables you to integrate your CRM with your booking tools so you can easily reward loyal customers with bookable freebies and exclusive experiences.
Free online consultations, in store gift wrapping, and private shopping events can all be made bookable for your loyal customers who meet set criteria, and will ensure your customers keep coming back for more.
How it works:
- Integrate your CRM with your online booking system
- Set specific criteria that your customers are required to meet in order to qualify for the reward
- Share reward details via marketing comms with qualifying customers
- Provide links to allow your customers to book effortlessly and redeem their reward
Christmas retail: a very merry Christmas
Of course this list is not exhaustive, the possibilities are endless with how you can incorporate online booking into your omnichannel retail offering. What’s clear though is that customers expect a whole lot more from retailers, particularly a seamless journey from online to store.
Online booking is one way to bridge that gap and provide your customers with unique experiences that will pique their interest, drive them to your store, and put money in your tills. The future is not without its challenges for the retail industry, but by adopting future-proof solutions now, you can look forward to a very merry Chrismtas!
9 online tutoring tools: tech stack for successful education services
Online tutoring is a great way to deliver teaching when you need to reach students either remotely and/or digitally. It’s also a great career choice, with Education being the top employer for online trainers and instructors in the UK, and with a reliance on digital set to continue post-Covid, now is the time to level-up your online tutoring tools.
Fortunately, this increased interest and demand for online tutoring means there are now a myriad of effective online tutoring tools available to help tutors deliver their teaching successfully. Online booking systems, video conferencing, and automation are all essential tutoring tools you should be incorporating to save time, improve operations, and engage students.
Online tutoring tools table of contents
- What will work for you?
- Online booking
- Video conferencing
- Video recording
- Learning Management System (LMS)
What will work for you?
With a growing market of tech stacks available for building your own comprehensive online tutoring program, it can be difficult to know what’s going to work best for you. To help you choose, here’s a few things to consider when shopping around:
As a business, price is going to be influential in helping you make a decision. It’s important to remember though that the cheapest price might not always be the best option for your business. Make sure to compare plans and features between tools to see where you can get the most for your money. In addition, sometimes spending that little bit more will give you access to features that save you more time and give you the opportunity to take on more students, therefore giving you a better ROI.
A lot of tools also offer free plans to get you started, which can be scaled up to pro plans if you find you need additional features. Look out for free trials as well so you can try before you buy.
Ease of use
Depending on your skill level with technology and programming, user-friendly tools are a must – for both the tutor and the students. As a tutor it’s important for you to feel confident using your online tools so you can teach at your best, and students will feel more motivated to engage with tools that are easy to navigate and understand.
Seek out solutions that are easily accessible with quick set-ups and that provide assistance in the form of live chat and telephone support.
Finding online tutoring tools that help you to automate regular tasks and actions will save you time in the long run and allow you to focus on creating materials, your students, and generally doing what you want to do – tutoring. There are plenty of tools currently available that will automate meeting links, calendar syncing, and timezone settings to name a few, so you can streamline your daily operations and save valuable time.
Tools such as Zapier have also been created to help industries and businesses automate repetitive daily tasks across thousands of apps.
Good student engagement will be the key to online tutoring success. Retaining students and securing repeat bookings are essential to drive business forward, so ensuring students are engaged with your tutoring, course materials, and course delivery should be a priority when choosing tutoring apps and software.
A recent study notes how a well-designed course can support online student engagement through good time management, a clear learning journey, and immersive experiences. Therefore finding tools that incorporate interactivity, automation, and clear course bookings will be really beneficial for your students and your business.
With these factors in mind, here are 9 online tutoring tools for success…
Online tutoring tools: online booking
An online booking tool gives your students the ability to access your real-time schedule online and book available classes and courses with ease, so you can capture them at the height of their interest. Online booking tools are also extremely beneficial for staying organized and good time management, and will save you hours on those repetitive daily tasks.
Appointedd is a comprehensive online booking system that empowers tutors to run their business online. It’s a great starting point if you’re needing a platform to share with prospective students as your plan comes with a microsite and booking widgets that your students can access online, 24/7 for basic information and easy booking.
With smart features and a range of integrations, Appointedd enables you to take payments, automate notifications, and create custom booking questions. Multi-timezone and multi-language features also give you the opportunity to reach international students completely hassle-free.
Features for you:
Single and group bookings
Video conferencing integrations
Global accessibility – multi-timezone, multi-currency, multi-language
Automated comms and booking notifications
Online tutoring tools: video conferencing
Video conferencing is a fantastic solution for online tutoring as it enables you to deliver your teaching in real-time, so it’s a brilliant tool for interacting and engaging with your students. Here’s a couple to check out:
Zoom enables you to conduct lessons and tutoring via video or audio-only conferencing, enabling you to connect face-to-face with your students no matter where they are. Zoom offers a whole host of free features including meetings for up to 100 participants (some time limits do apply), as well as education plans that can include reporting, LMS integration, and access to webinars.
Features for you:
Video and audio conferencing
Microsoft Teams is a collaborative video conferencing platform that is a great solution for educators, with everything you need in one tool to tutor individuals and group classes. Microsoft Teams has a range of features that are designed to make online teaching easier, including assignment tracking, screen sharing for presentations, and document collaboration.
Features for you:
Video and audio conferencing
Raise hand – allows students to interact without disruption
Online tutoring tools: whiteboard
A brilliant interactivity tool, online whiteboards can be used during online tutoring sessions to empower your students to collaborate with you through notes, diagrams, planning, and brainstorming. An online whiteboard tool will also promote that interaction that your students need to better engage with your course material.
Described as a visual collaboration platform, Miro will help you to create and lead interactive online lessons. With a range of collaborative features, you can design course materials and presentations in Miro, create an interactive visual for outlining lesson plans and course goals, and create with your students in real-time.
Features for you:
Pre-built and create your own templates
Screen sharing and presentations
Embedded communication options e.g. video
Project folders – organize your boards
Widgets, sticky notes, and smart drawing
Liveboard is a user-friendly online collaboration solution, and is available for iOS, Android, and Web platforms – so super accessible for you and your students. Liveboard also enables you to record and export your lessons so you can share them with prospective students, or send them to your class as an additional lesson resource.
Features for you:
Live and audio chat
Organize lessons by group or subject
Record and save lessons to share with new students
File upload before and during lessons
Unlimited boards (monthly cost applies)
Online tutoring tools: video and screen recording
Incorporating video and video recordings into your tutoring program is really beneficial for student engagement, both with the teacher and the subject matter. In fact, the brain can process visuals much faster than text – 60,000 times faster! Our ability to interpret visual information more easily therefore makes video a great medium for students to learn and absorb new information.
Loom enables you to record and share videos of your camera and screen as an effective solution for communicating volumes of information, quickly. Instead of sending a lengthy email or writing up a handout, simply record yourself or your screen to share what you need with your students. Not only will your students receive more engaging, interactive, and personal content, but you’ll save hours of your valuable time.
Features for you:
A range of plans available, including Loom Education
Unlimited videos (Loom Education)
Screen and cam recording
Transcriptions and closed captions (monthly cost applies)
This comprehensive tool can help you to create courses in minutes. Adobe Captivate is a digital learning solution with an extensive list of features that enable you to design, create, and deliver courses, presentations, and other learning materials in a professional and engaging way.
Features for you:
Free trial available
Webcam and screen video recording
Powerpoint to video conversion
Immersive VR learning
Quick Start Projects – course templates
Online tutoring tools: Learning Management System (LMS)
A Learning Management System, or LMS is an all-in-one solution for online learning, giving you a platform to administer, document, and deliver online courses and programs. Also great tutoring assessment tools, LMS applications will enable you to manage courses, content delivery, progress, and assessment and exams from one central system.
Moodle is an online platform for teaching, learning, and collaborating that can be accessed by educators and learners from anywhere, at any time. Moodle software enables you to create your own online learning space where you can build your own courses that can then be shared with, and accessed by your students.
Features for you:
A range of themes and customization options
Mobile friendly app available
Plugins and integrations
Accessible and endorsed by WCAG
Learner progress recognition and rewards
Privacy and policy management tools
Blackboard is an advanced LMS solution that supports learners at every level of their education. Blackboard provides tutors with flexible tools and features to enhance the learning process – from reporting, to collaboration and video conferencing. The intuitive and fully responsive interface of Blackboard Learn also supports multiple devices for a user-friendly solution.
Features for you:
Accessibility – alternative formats for content
Real-time lesson feedback
Insights and analytics
Assessment and accreditation services
Fully responsive design
As an online educator, having a range of smart tutoring tools at your disposal will empower and enable you to deliver learning at its best. Whether you’re looking for a Math tutoring tool, English tutoring tool or Language tutoring tool, any one of our 9 digital tools will enhance the fundamentals of what you do. Time-saving, flexible, and engaging – better tools for better teaching will see your students sky-rocket to success.
Amie is a freelance copywriter with experience creating a variety of content across multiple channels.
Working from where? It’s not all plain sailing and managers need to steer the ship
Mental health has always been a complicated conversation, that’s why it hasn’t always taken place. Managers have used basic emotional intelligence to monitor the mental health of staff for some time. Slight changes in personality, subdued motivation, with less eye contact, could all be signs that something was wrong.
When thrown into lockdown, identifying these signs became near impossible. We have subsequently faced arguably the most challenging year for mental health in living memory, posing many challenges for managers keeping a pulse on their team’s wellbeing, and I hate to break it to you, it’s not getting much easier anytime soon.
Lockdown’s assault on mental health
Considering the extent to which humans are innately social beings, lockdown has undermined several core pillars of human social psychology. After all, there is a reason the worst punishment a prisoner can face is extended periods of isolation.
Take away the desire to surround ourselves with friends and family, and replace it with a fear of transmitting a potentially deadly virus, and we are left with an environment pretty much incompatible with healthy human behaviour.
It’s almost laughable the pace at which arguably the most omnipresent routine in our lives, office working, evaporated in front of our eyes. I didn’t even get the chance to get that banana out of my desk before migrating back home. Not only was this an abrupt upset to our routines, but when we first swapped our desks for our dining room tables it seemed inconceivable that it would last more than a few months, let alone over a year.
Once the excitement of working from home subsided, the more sinister undertones of loneliness began to surface. It is difficult to articulate, but you would not be alone in experiencing a kind of exciting energy when working amongst your colleagues. The absence of which is all too apparent when you press that red ‘end call’ button and you are surrounded by silence. Unsurprisingly, almost half (46%) of UK workers experience loneliness whilst working from home, with 74% of younger workers said to have struggled with social isolation and loneliness.
It’s for these very reasons that managers and colleagues should embrace mental wellbeing as, whilst there is light at the end of the tunnel, there’s still a long way before we truly get back to business as usual.
Fear of the office – what does it mean for managers
With many millions being vaccinated at least once, it would be easy to assume that a return to normality would remedy the previously discussed assault on our mental health. However, FOTO, or ‘Fear Of The Office’ presents a real concern for many employees and a significant challenge for managers. Whilst 64% of staff blame new strains and lack of social distancing for not wanting to return, the vast majority have simply become accustomed to the practical benefits of working from home.
From the obvious savings of reduced childcare and commuting costs to the smaller costs of making your own lunch, the realisation of it all adding up creates a considerable desire to maintain the new status quo. It’s no surprise then that 41% of UK employees would likely resign if they were forced back into the office. This polarisation of work from home experience makes the next 6 months a rather complex conundrum.
Although your team’s productivity and associated competitive edge will be heavily influenced by the decisions managers make over the coming months, it is vital to remember the very important metric, the health of our staff.
Time to learn from eachother
We spend such a considerable portion of our day at work, often a source of incredible highs and lows. As such, it’s no wonder 79% of Britain’s experience significant and frequent stress at work. It’s for this reason, that our continuing embrace of mental health in wider society must be reflected in the workplace. It’s why we need to create an open-source learning environment, to share and learn from one another’s experiences so that together we can achieve a more stable and resilient mental health journey at work, whether it be at home or in the office.
So, we’ll go first… Here’s how Appointedd continuously embraces mental wellbeing:
3 tips to improve mental wellbeing and resilience
1 – Listen, respect and respond to everyone’s concerns
It’s all too easy to disregard an employee’s position. We’re all busy, and there’s always another Zoom call just about to start, right? However, not giving your team the chance to truly deep-dive their feelings, or not considering their lived experience may just ostracise not only them but the entire team.
At Appointedd we work really hard to understand how each of us may have a totally different work from home experience, but we found in order to do so, there needed to be just as many informal channels of communication as there were in the office.
We have regular full team meetings – both formal and informal, we have regular one-to-ones where we set parameters upfront as to how you like to discuss things, how you like to take feedback and how we’ll spot if you’re grumpy.
One of our most valuable tools for keeping a finger on the pulse of the team is Trickle, a communication platform that provides the sharing of both named and anonymous commentary on company matters. Removing barriers to open, honest and unbiased feedback to leaders allows us to make evidence-based interventions and focus efforts where they’re needed most. A tool that will become imperative when keeping staff in the loop regarding any decisions about moving back into the office.
2 – Keep collaboration alive
We, like many others, use Slack as our main form of communication, but some of our best moments come from less official channels. Channels titled ‘yelling’, ‘random’ and ‘quote-bucket’ not only provide a genuine form of release and a good laugh but most importantly maintains the office chemistry when working from home.
Another secret tip is the Slack app called Donut that recreates watercooler moments to automatically connect members of a team that may rarely cross paths and encourage them to catch up. With the greatest support often coming from other employees, facilitating and encouraging more frequent connections greatly improves team morale.
3 – Keep the team in the loop
As we’ve discussed, the decision to keep working from home or to return to the office won’t be an easy one, but radio silence will only stoke anxieties and fuel speculation in anticipation of the decision. Tech is easy to set up, but actively communicating your plans and decisions, opening your plans to questioning and resistance can be very difficult.
In our experience, we have found a mix of structured ‘All Hands’ team meetings on Mondays and flexible discussions on Fridays ‘Peaks, Pits and Pints’ (and a steady stream of standups, huddles and retro meetings in between) strikes the perfect balanced environment to disseminate information whilst providing time for the team to digest and discuss things in a loosely structured environment.
What we have learned from others
That’s probably enough from us, so here are a few examples of other companies with admirable mental health infrastructure that we both can learn from.
Charlotte Tilbury Beauty
Charlotte Tilbury Beauty is known for its award-winning beauty products but what we find most inspirational is the organisation’s dedication to what can’t be seen, their staff’s mental health. There are a range of perks that ease work stress but the most impressive is their prolonged active engagement with staff regarding mental health.
Whether it be sourcing world-renowned mental health ambassadors to discuss stress management, running frequent workshops aimed at promoting a healthy work/life balance, or the creation of dedicated mental health first aiders to support staff in any way. Empowering staff to seek help by booking slots with mental health first aiders using Appointedd’s online booking tools. Charlotte Tilbury’s commitment to creating an active and tangible support network is truly commendable.
It’s safe to say Innocent Drinks has a reputation for being a fun place to work, with not taking themselves too seriously being a central pillar of their brand. However, upon closer inspection, it’s clear that Innocent takes one thing extremely seriously, their staff’s mental wellbeing.
They do so by targeting common work stresses and implementing perks to elevate them, including free breakfast and complimentary gym and yoga memberships to encourage both physical and mental wellbeing. Innocent also understands that mental health needs a more direct approach too, that’s why staff have access to regular mental health training, supplemented by 1-2-1 coaching, external support and mindfulness clubs.
How does your company promote mental wellbeing? Tag us on social media and let’s get the open-source learning environment started!
Feeling inspired and want to provide your staff with bookable mental health appointments? To learn more about our scalable online booking software, click here.
No-shows are a no-go
Whether you take bookings manually, over the phone, from walk-ins or online, whether you are the biggest enterprise in the world or a small one person business, and whether you are in financial services or run an arts and crafts class, I think I speak for us all when we say that the biggest challenge to success is a no show.
After completing stage 1 and 2 of the customer journey where you have successfully navigated a customer to your booking flow and they have successfully made a booking, it is disappointing and quite frankly expensive for them to not show up. This is time better spent.
Whilst I would love to report that there is a secret solution that will reduce your no show rate to zero, the reality is we have to accept a small percentage. I’m sure we have all been guilty of being a no show before too. However there are definitely a couple of tips and tricks that can mediate how big of a challenge this is to your business that you can action in no time.
Proactivity is powerful
Take control of your business and your bookings with customers and do all you can do to make the chances of a no show limited.
Firstly, set up multiple automated reminders. People expect to be reminded these days digitally and don’t have to rely on memory. Keep with the times and do this in a fashion that is useful and not annoying.
Appointedd allows you to set up as many reminders as you feel necessary and these can either be sent as an email or a text message. Society’s reliance on digital personal calendars is also becoming more dominant. You can include a calendar event file within your initial so that your customers have your booking automatically added to their day’s agenda.
I would recommend that you send an email reminder 24 hours before the booking start time, and then another reminder 1 hour before which is a text message.
Secondly, if a customer doesn’t show to a booking within the first 5 minutes, why not try giving them a call on their mobile to check that they are not just running late or struggling to get on Zoom. Even if the customer intentionally didn’t show for the booking, this is a good time to find out why customers are not showing.
The deposit dilemma
Whilst adding a price to your services and taking a deposit at the time of booking will reduce your no show rate, this has be compared with your conversion rate. How many people will choose not to book your service due to the deposit that would have shown up? This is the million dollar question and this really is dependent on the service that you’re offering and the industry that you are in.
For example, if you are offering a very expensive service that customers are totally invested in attending such as a business coaching from an expert, this could totally be the right solution for you. However, if you are offering a beauty consultation call on your website, you may struggle to get customers to pay for this service, and if you know bookings lead to a high conversion to product sale, the price of a high no show rate may be worth it. So it’s all a numbers game and it can be worth experimenting with these different solutions to find what has the highest adoption from your customers.
As an alternative to asking for a deposit, you could gamify your offering and reward customers instead. For example, if a customer shows up to ten of their booked appointments in a row they could receive their next appointment at a discounted price, or be invited to a specialist service that you offer. You can keep track of how many bookings customers have attended in Appointedd using our arrival status and customer profile functionality.
Offer here and now
There are multiple benefits to offering customers booking times which are now and not in the future.
Firstly, no one likes waiting. Patience is a concept of the past as everything is now at our finger tips. If I can order a book from Amazon at 7am in the morning and it be at my flat by 6pm in the evening it makes any delay somewhat frustrating. And in a world of competitors, unsustainable. Secondly, the shorter amount of time between the booking being created and it occurring, the less time and reasons a customer may not show for it.
You can manage multiple bookings at one time within Appointedd by adding multiple resources to your account. You can also encourage customers to book now by having a low notice period for bookings and block your availability into the future. For example if customers can book with you up to 15 minutes before the start time of a booking and can only book one week ahead of time bookings will be made for the present and customers will be more likely to show.
If the best of both worlds sounds good, you can have it all by using Appointedd and integrate with our of our virtual consultation partners. Go-Instore, Redant, Bambuser and ConferWith all give your customers the ability to call you from your website when you have an advisor available. If no one is available right there and then, you can present them an Appointedd booking tool for them to book a time that works.
We’re all human
Understanding that you’re no show rate will never be squeeky clean helps keep it in perspective when you go to all the effort and someone still doesn’t show. You can try speaking to your customers on a level and communicate why no shows are so impactful to your business. For example try explaining the effort that goes into providing this service and emphasising the cost of a no show rather than a cancellation. Most people don’t want to be the cause of burden.
Try to understand why people aren’t showing for their appointment:
- If it is because they have booked a virtual service but don’t understand how to use Zoom then you can include joining details in your confirmation
- If it is because they didn’t know how to cancel or reschedule, then make this super clear in your communications and explain that this is much better than not showing
- If it is because they have contracted covid or are self isolating, then give customers the option of switching their appointment to a virtual service.
The more we can understand about no shows the better equipped we are to reduce them. You can collect this data by setting up a no-show follow up email which asks the customer why they didn’t show and gives them the opportunity to book again. It may have just been a mistake and they will be loyal forever after.
Vouch your value
You know why you do what you do, and the value that it can bring to those who book your services, so make sure everyone else does too. If a customer is excited for their booking or understands what they will get out of it, they will less likely not show as they are invested.
This links back round to stage 1 and 2 proving that the stages within the customer journey cannot be considered in isolation, as stage 1 and 2 is really where you can shout about what you do and start the process of building a loyal customer base.
Top 10 tools for small business
Operating a small business can sometimes mean that as an owner, manager, and even as an employee, you are required to wear many hats, but the introduction of a range of small business tools can help to manage the workload and improve results.
So what are they? Here are our top 10 tools to take your small business to the next level…
Small business tools table of contents
- Marketing & automation
- Customer relationship management (CRM)
- Accounts, finance & payments
Marketing & automation small business tools
Digital marketing is beneficial for all small businesses and a much more affordable way of reaching customers through channels such as email and social media, compared to more traditional marketing methods.
With a range of small business marketing tools available that assist with generating and automating marketing communications as well, connecting and engaging with customers just got a whole lot easier.
Mailchimp is a whole lot more than emails – this platform is a great tool to integrate and automate all marketing for a one-stop-shop approach that improves efficiency and helps businesses make smarter decisions based on real results.
What does Mailchimp do:
- Email marketing
- Websites and online stores
- Content creation
- Marketing automation
- Audience management
- Insights and analytics
In addition to a whole host of platform features, Mailchimp is also a market leader with 12 million businesses currently using the platform, and coming in at no. 18 on G2’s list of 100 Best Global Sellers for 2021. 12 million business users can’t be wrong – Mailchimp is definitely a great tool to add to your small business marketing arsenal.
For a more efficient, effective and connected way of working, Zapier is a brilliant tool to help small businesses unlock the potential to do more with what they already have.
So called because of its ability to improve efficiency through integrating apps, Zapier is all about automation and is therefore a great tool for taking small business marketing to the next level.
What does Zapier do?
Zapier creates workflows to automate marketing tasks, such as:
- Sharing content across social media pages
- Feeding new subscribers into your CRM
- Sending marketing comms to new leads
- Notifying your team about new leads
With over 3000 app integrations, Zapier connects with the systems most small businesses already have in place, such as Mailchimp, Facebook, Instagram and HubSpot.
Customer relationship management (CRM) small business tools
Customer Relationship Management, or a CRM system is a business tool that is used to store customer data and track their interactions. An effective CRM system enables small businesses to manage their customers more effectively, improve customer service, and optimize their strategy.
CRM is a great tool for equipping a business with the insights they need to understand and interact with their customers better, and identify where those opportunities for growth are.
Zoho CRM is a comprehensive system that equips a business with the tools it needs to engage with leads, convert customers, and generate revenue.
Zoho CRM has a huge amount of features to enhance customer relationship management from omnichannel, to analytics, and customer journey.
What does Zoho do?
- Lead management
- Analytics and reports
- Sales forecasting
- Lead nurturing
- Customer segmentation
- + a whole lot more!
For small businesses specifically, Bigin by Zoho CRM is a more user-friendly and manageable solution, but still has all the essential features needed to track interactions, engage leads, manage pipelines, and close more deals.
Described as a marketing, sales, and service software, HubSpot is a CRM tool for small business that comprises a Marketing, Sales, Service, CMS, and Operations Hub.
When used collectively, all these platforms mean HubSpot is a great CRM tool for a more holistic approach to business operations.
What does HubSpot do?
- Lead generation
- Analytics and reports
- Email templates and scheduling
- Contact management
- Marketing automation
This tool also benefits from access to a range of support and online training that can help take your business to the next level. HubSpot Academy is a completely free, online service with access to practical courses and certifications to help you get more out of your HubSpot tools and develop general business skills.
Accounts, finance & payments small business tools
Accounting and finance are areas of a small business that can be really improved with the addition of effective tools to help with efficiency, accuracy, and organization. As opposed to replacing a dedicated finance team, having an accounting tool for your small business instead works to optimize productivity.
Integrating a payment tool with your other financial tools is also a great way to improve business operations and drive revenue through multiple channels. Let’s look at our top two finance tools for small business.
FreeAgent is a great accounting tool for small business as it consolidates all essential financial tasks in one platform. It’s aim is to streamline business admin to free up time for businesses to focus on the important stuff.
With a selection of practical integrations available as well, FreeAgent has the ability to connect with payment providers for a totally connected financial solution.
What does FreeAgent do?
- Sends invoice and payment reminders
- Expense tracking
- Online estimates and templates
- Payroll – automatically calculated PAYE and NI contributions
- Insights and accounting reports
- Self assessment and VAT filing
FreeAgent has also been awarded three awards in 2020 by Accounting Excellence, including Best Small Business Accounting Software of the Year – a testament to their user-friendly, practical features and dedicated UK support team.
Introducing a versatile payment tool to your small business gives you the advantage of reaching your customers in more places, and driving more revenue through those varied channels.
Square enables a business to accept payments anywhere with a range of payment terminals to suit a variety of business needs.
What does Square do?
- Contactless payments and readers
- Payments via phone, links, buy buttons, and QR codes
- Online gift cards
- POS and inventory management
- Analytics and reports
Square is great for ecommerce, restaurant, and retail with dedicated POS software and hardware that will elevate and connect business operations. But with great payment options for sole traders and freelancers too, Square is a great choice for any small business looking for a streamlined payment solution.
Productivity small business tools
With the rise of so many digital business tools and applications, there are more and more ways for small businesses to increase their productivity. We’ve already explored how marketing, CRM, and finance tools can make their respective business processes more efficient, but what about the tools that are made specifically to boost productivity throughout the workplace?
The use of apps in the workplace has actually been shown to make employees more engaged – 86% of businesses using SaaS apps experience relatively higher employee engagement, and when your employees are more likely to be engaged, they’re also more likely to be productive
Google Workspace as a whole is a suite of collaboration and productivity tools that promotes an easier way of working and empowers businesses and teams to get work done, more efficiently and effectively.
Gmail, Google Meet, Google Calendar, Docs, and Sheets are all included with Google Workspace, alongside plenty more practical tools for day to day tasks.
What does Google Workspace do?
- Business email
- Video conferencing
- File creation, collaboration and sharing
- Cloud storage
As a cloud-based software, Google Workplace tools mean team members can access their emails and files on any device, making it so much easier to get down to business from anywhere.
Collaborative files that can be shared and edited with ease also make working together more efficient – no more back and forth trying to remember which version is the most recent! This one’s definitely a productivity boost for any small business.
Productivity in the workplace can really benefit from a small business tool like Notion. It’s essentially a central workspace to store and share ideas, tasks, and data – an-all round project and information management solution.
What does Notion do?
- Consolidate work
- Store notes and documents
- Share and collaborate on tasks
- Kanban boards, tables, lists, and wikis
This tool is great for all small businesses as it’s easily scalable. Use it individually to keep track of personal tasks and projects, share with specific team members, or the whole workspace.
With Notion collaboration is easy and organization a given, so your team can reduce the time they spend chasing stats, documents, and team members and more time creating work that will drive business forward.
Communication small business tools
Effective and open communication is vital for any business, but in the past year and a half maintaining communication has been challenging for many as Covid-19 caused workplaces to close and move totally online. As such, digital communication tools have seen a surge in popularity for the ease with which they keep us all connected, no matter where we are.
But communication tools definitely shouldn’t be overlooked as workplaces begin to open back up. With flexible working set to increase and communication essential to manage the constantly evolving business landscape, any small business can benefit from these popular tools.
Slack provides small businesses with a dedicated workspace to help teams communicate more easily and achieve more. Dedicated channels enable teams to discuss projects in chat format, making collaboration quicker and more organized than traditional communication channels such as email.
Real-time conversations also speed up processes and empower teams to be more active and stay in sync.
What does Slack do?
- Dedicated channels for teams, projects, and ideas
- Direct messaging
- Collaboration across companies with Slack Connect
- File and document sharing
- Integrated video conferencing
With the option to open public channels for your whole organization or invite-only channels for specific teams and projects, Slack is a great solution to make sure that everyone stays up to date with what they need to know, when they need to know it.
Microsoft Teams is another collaborative communication tool, part of the Microsoft 365 family. Teams is utilized in business to enable teams to chat, meet, call, and collaborate on one platform.
Teams is a great choice for small businesses of any size, anywhere giving employees a central place to communicate and bring work together – no matter where they are working from.
What does Microsoft Teams do?
- Instant messaging
- File sharing
- Calls and video calls
- Secure online meetings
- Video conferencing
- Screen sharing
Microsoft Teams can also integrate with a number of popular apps, so you can connect with your other business tools to enhance everyday work and make communicating tasks, documents, and workflows even easier.
Any one of our top 10 tools will be a great addition to a small business, but it’s important to find out what works for you, your organization, and your team. Fortunately there are so many user-friendly small business tools available on the market that are easy to integrate and will help you to digitally transform your business from marketing through to accounting.
If you’re new to digital transformation, now that you’ve checked out our favourite small business tools, take a look at our digital transformation blog post to learn more about why you should be putting them to use right now.
Amie is a freelance copywriter with experience creating a variety of content across multiple channels.
The importance of digital transformation: what’s driving digital and 8 trends for 2021
Digital transformation may have been happening for decades – organizations first transitioned from analog to digital processes over three decades ago, and have gradually scaled up digital operations and strategies ever since – but it looks like digital transformation is just as important now, if not more than ever.
Industries and organizations lacking the foresight to digitally transform, may find themselves left behind in the wake of a pandemic that left so many grappling with digital transformation just to survive. Is this the new digital age?
Let’s take a look at digital transformation, the benefits and challenges for organizations, and the digital trends shaping 2021.
Table of contents
- Defining digital transformation
- Benefits vs. challenges
- Challenges of digital transformation
- What drives digital transformation?
- Success stories
- Digital transformation trends for 2021 and beyond
Defining digital transformation
Digital transformation (sometimes abbreviated to DX) seems straightforward enough on the surface, surely it’s just the transformation of any action or process from a non-digital method to a digital or computerized one? Well it can be, but digital transformation as a term encapsulates a lot more than this. So, what is digital transformation?
The adoption of digital technology by a company to improve business processes, value for customers and innovation.
This digital transformation definition includes the adoption of digital technology, but also the strategy that drives that adoption as what makes up digital transformation. And in the digital world that we live in where every organization already operates with digital technology, the transformation instead is in the innovation and development of that technology and its value.
The path to digital transformation is also often referenced in relation to two other processes: digitization and digitalization.
Digitization refers to the technological conversion that happens when a process is converted from analog to digital, for example scanning a physical photograph into a digital copy.
Digitalization is the process of using digitization to change a business strategy or process in order to find added value and pursue business goals.
Digital transformation is the effect of the digitalization process, encompassing the technological changes themselves as well as the business process that results in the overall transformation.
Digital transformation examples
- Marketing: print advertising to email and social media campaigns are cheaper, more targeted, and trackable.
- Customer service: phone helpdesks to AI chatbots and social media messaging helps customers find the information they need and get a quicker response to their query.
- Collaboration and productivity: manual project management to digital collaboration tools enable colleagues to share project information and updates, and collaborate on documents seamlessly.
Digital transformation: benefits vs. challenges
Digital transformation is a given for most businesses and will be built into their overarching strategy given the benefits to business operations, value and profitability. However with great power comes great responsibility, and with all the good that comes with DX there are some challenges that businesses also need to mitigate in order to achieve success.
Let’s break down some of the benefits and challenges of digital transformation.
Benefits of digital transformation
With consumers engaging with new digital processes more and more, the businesses that look to scale up their digital transformation and add value for their customers will
see increased profitability, a better ROI and more opportunities for growth.
The power of data
Digital data provides valuable insight into all areas of a business (marketing, productivity, transactions, customer service) to enable companies to make more informed business decisions.
Adoption of SaaS (Software as a Service) enables businesses to operate much more flexibly with digital, cloud-based tools and applications that can be accessed from anywhere. This reduces the limitations on their workforce and opens up the ability to source a diverse range of skill sets from all over the world.
Similarly, collaborative SaaS business tools make project management and team collaboration much more seamless and accessible, helping to improve workflow and increase productivity.
Challenges of digital transformation
In the digital age we live in, technological development and processes move at a fast pace that can be difficult to keep up with. In order to stay relevant and ahead of competitors, businesses need to be ready to scale up and adapt.
Similarly to changes in technological processes, consumer behavior is constantly changing based on trends, needs, and societal shifts (for example Covid-19). As all organizations are seeking to provide value for their consumers through their products and services, this is a big challenge that has to be tackled in order to succeed.
With digital transformation implementing many cloud-based processes and tools, the security of a company’s data may not be 100% under their control. Businesses will have to ensure that they are operating in line with data protection standards at each stage of the digital transformation process.
It goes without saying that successful digital transformation requires a specialized skill set. Businesses that don’t invest in the right people to develop, deliver, and drive their digital transformation strategy will struggle to keep up.
What drives digital transformation?
In a competitive world where businesses need to be providing the latest in customer service, product updates, experience, and technology just to stay in the game – digital transformation can often be seen as a need, not a want for a lot of organizations.
So what is it that drives this need for digital transformation?
Growth and longevity
In order to grow a business in the 21st century, the need for a digital transformation roadmap is essential. Businesses are looking to digital transformation to drive their growth and become market leaders, and innovation in digital is the way forward for diversifying processes and adding value to the customer.
A focus on digital innovation and an openness to adapt will benefit a business long-term and give them an opportunity to drive revenue as they meet the digital demands of their customers.
Survival and Covid-19
“Digital transformation is more important than ever.”
As a result of the dramatic shift to a reliance on technology and digital tools during the Covid-19 pandemic, if digital transformation wasn’t the top priority for a business before then it certainly is now. Results from a Harvard Business Review Analytic Services survey shows that for 95% of global leaders, digital transformation has become more important in the last year.
This unprecedented and instantaneous change to global societies and economies is the perfect example of why businesses have to be adaptable today – it’s a matter of survival. It’s the businesses that were able to integrate digital solutions that adapted and continued to grow in a world reliant on digital.
Consumer trends and habits
As digital transformation is defined as the adoption of technology to improve value for customers, it follows that consumer habits and trends will be a big factor in influencing digital transformation.
Businesses are investing more and more in omnichannel experiences in order to increase their engagement with customers. Social media has become a go-to for customer service, while online shopping has been accelerated even more by the pandemic.
A 2021 report by Shopify demonstrates just how much consumer habits can change. Before the pandemic only 12% of consumers shopped mostly online for non-grocery items, however the changing habits over the past year and a half have caused this figure to more than double, with 25% of consumers saying they will mostly shop online after the pandemic. This figure also peaked at a whopping 61% during lockdown. These kinds of statistics are clear evidence of why habits are driving digital transformation – businesses need to go where their customers are.
Technological development is another factor that pushes digital transformation as a means for survival, growth, and longevity. Such rapid developments in new technology force businesses to create an innovative and adaptive digital transformation strategy that keeps them relevant in the digital age.
Of course early digital transformation will have seen organizations integrating email and other purely computerized processes, while now they look more to innovation and developing technologies they already have. Think how email customer support has been superseded by social media and AI, while consultations and tours can now be delivered virtually.
Digital transformation success stories
So what does a successful digital business transformation look like? Let’s review three businesses that developed their digital transformation strategy at the right time, with some really innovative solutions that are producing great results for themselves and their customers.
As an established retail brand, SpaceNK has a successful bricks and mortar presence and global online reach, creating an omnichannel experience that streamlines their customer journey. Adapting early to virtual retail and providing alternative services during Covid-19 has resulted in SpaceNK seeing a 360% increase in makeup related enquiries. Embracing digital and adapting when they needed to has given the business more flexibility and allowed them to maintain meaningful engagement with their customers. How did they do it?
- Online consultations
- Online events
- Virtual masterclasses
- Appointment scheduling for safe in-store services
Mamas & Papas
Similarly to SpaceNK, creating an omnichannel experience for their customers is at the heart of Mamas & Papas’ digital transformation. Focusing on the customer journey and experience, Mamas & Papas created an online booking service for their in-store personal shopping appointments that bridged the gap between online and offline service. This helped to streamline the whole customer journey and maximize conversions with a 43% increase in online bookings. Here’s what they did:
- Online booking for personal shopping appointments
- Evergreen tech infrastructure
- Digital training for the Mamas & Papas team
- Data analysis
As a global recruitment team, efficiency is key for V.Ships and a priority in their digital transformation framework. By adopting new digital processes V.Ships were able to improve business operations and processes, streamlining recruitment for their team and candidates. Not only have they increased bookings by 46% but have also saved 143 days of work on manual scheduling in just three months, as a direct result of implementing a digital recruitment process. What did they do?
- Quicker candidate scheduling process
- Automated communication touchpoints
- Self-scheduling options online
- Mutli-timezone appointments
Digital transformation trends for 2021 and beyond
Looking to the future, how can organizations stay ahead of the digital game? A recent report from MuleSoft outlines the trends shaping digital transformation in 2021. Here are eight trends to drive your digital transformation forward:
1. A drive to meet digital demands
Businesses will be under pressure to digitize services to meet increasing consumer demands, most likely in light of changing habits as a result of Covid-19.
2. Democratization of innovation
As businesses look to develop digital customer experiences as efficiently as possible, IT needs to empower businesses to self-serve in order to deliver solutions quicker.
3. Composable enterprise
A shift to composing digital capabilities from existing applications using APIs as a more agile solution to building from scratch every time.
Automation will be utilized by organizations to drive operational efficiency and improve business processes.
5. API security
Robust API security will be essential as enterprise applications increase in popularity – on average an enterprise has 900 applications!
Microservices (a single application composed of many loosely coupled and independently deployable smaller components, or services) will help organizations to rapidly build new customer experiences.
7. The data divide
Opportunities for growth can be found in data. The organizations that harness the power of their data will separate themselves from their competitors.
8. Data analytics
Investing in data analytics will enable organizations to transform customer experiences.
In a fast-paced, ever-evolving digital world, what’s trending now might not be trending for long. But it is vital to recognize that each new digital trend offers a solution for businesses to create added value for their customers and seize new opportunities for growth.
Trends may come and go, but digital transformation is here to stay – and what’s more, it is essential if you want to ensure your business is future-proofed for the long-term.
Amie is a freelance copywriter with experience creating a variety of content across multiple channels.
SaaS: an exploration of Software as a Service
SaaS has transformed the way organizations, businesses, and individuals access and use a huge range of software on a daily basis. SaaS, or Software as a Service, is a big player in cloud computing, generating hundreds of billions in revenue which increases year on year as demand and popularity grows.
Let’s explore exactly what SaaS is, why it’s so popular, the possible downsides, and how it’s used – from comprehensive business systems, to friendly file sharing.
Table of contents
- Understanding SaaS
- Comparing the cloud computing models
- Uses and applications
- SaaS: the facts
- Pros and cons
SaaS is a computing model that hosts software centrally in the cloud to provide organizations and individuals with solutions to almost anything and everything over the internet.
If you’re wondering ‘what is SaaS?’ – the likelihood is that you’ve come across the SaaS model before, in fact you’ve probably even come across it today – SaaS applications range from email, file sharing, sales management, and even entertainment streaming.
What does SaaS stand for?
SaaS is an acronym used in cloud computing to categorize any software which is centrally hosted online and licensed on a subscription basis. Software as a Service is a cloud computing model that enables businesses to use software applications over the internet, without the need for costly IT infrastructure in-house.
An incredibly popular model, SaaS is utilized by many organizations to deliver accessible and affordable solutions to their customers and end users. Software as a Service can also be referred to as hosted software, or on-demand software – basically, it does what it says on the tin!
A brief history
The development of SaaS into the popular model it is today can be traced all the way back to early modern computing, when centralized hosting of business applications began in the 1960s. Although personal computing began to take off, organizations needed a solution to software hosting, storage, and maintenance.
1960s: The development of time-sharing in the early ‘60s enabled more efficient processes as computing resources could now be shared among multiple users simultaneously.
1970s onwards: As computing became more accessible and affordable in subsequent years, there was a shift towards personal computing and on-premises software, however for larger organizations this soon proved inefficient due to the work involved in maintaining, updating, and securing the software.
1990s: As the World Wide Web gained traction with the development of online shopping and online marketplaces, the online cloud followed with the ability to enable software to be installed on remote servers.
1999: Salesforce is launched – often noted as the first successful application of SaaS.
Today: Software as a Service is widely used by many. From small businesses and individuals to large enterprises, SaaS has developed into a widely used cloud service model.
Comparing the cloud computing models
SaaS is one of the three main models in cloud computing. Cloud computing more generally is used to “describe data centers available to many users over the internet”. In addition to Software as a Service, cloud computing also encompasses Infrastructure as a Service and Platform as a Service.
The three cloud computing models are SaaS, IaaS (Infrastructure as a Service), and PaaS (Platform as a Service). All these models are delivered over the internet with varying levels of management required. While Software as a Service is managed totally by a third-party provider, both IaaS and PaaS require some management by the business or organization.
SaaS vs. IaaS
- SaaS is managed solely by the software provider.
- IaaS requires management of applications, runtime, middleware, data, and O/S.
- SaaS can be accessed almost instantaneously via a web browser, with no installation of software required.
- IaaS requires physical hardware and maintenance.
- SaaS can be scaled to meet business needs through a tier system.
- IaaS is easily scalable, the control over the infrastructure makes it easy to scale up and down as required.
SaaS vs. PaaS
- SaaS is managed solely by the software provider.
- PaaS requires management of data and applications.
- SaaS is used by all levels of users via online access to the software application.
- PaaS is used mainly by developers to build custom applications and software.
- SaaS provides individuals and businesses with ready-made solutions that are quick and simple to set up.
- PaaS enables developers to be more creative and build a custom solution to match their individual requirements.
Uses and applications
So what exactly is SaaS used for?
This flexible and accessible software solution is used for a range of applications worldwide in both a personal and professional capacity. The most common uses for SaaS include:
Many email providers operate the SaaS model, with users logging into their online inboxes from their desktop, mobile phone, and tablet – whenever and wherever they need to.
e.g. Gmail, Yahoo! Mail
SaaS applications help us stay connected with each other – whether we’re catching up with friends and family or checking in with the team remotely.
e.g. Slack, Zoom
Cloud storage applications are an example of SaaS that enable users to create, upload and access files from centrally hosted software. This makes it easy to access files on any device and share instantaneously with other users.
e.g. Dropbox, Google Apps
Customer relationship management
Customer relationship management was arguably the first successful application of Saas (Salesforce). CRM systems do everything from lead management, to sales analytics and campaign management.
e.g. Salesforce, HubSpot
Project management applications have been growing in popularity for a number of years, helping businesses to streamline their processes and communications through a centralized system.
e.g. monday.com, Asana, Notion
Entertainment and content
Some also argue that SaaS has transformed the way we choose to consume our entertainment content on a daily basis. Monthly subscriptions to software applications give us access to a range of entertainment content – from music, to film and tv.
e.g. Netflix, Spotify
SaaS: the facts
The future certainly looks bright for the SaaS model, with opportunities for current software startups to grow, while new SaaS will be able to develop solutions to meet ongoing demands, with more and more of us adopting SaaS systems at home and at work.
Here’s the breakdown in Software as a Service popularity, growth, and revenue…
SaaS is an incredibly popular model for businesses to operate with:
- 73% of businesses planned to make all their systems SaaS by 2020.
– in response to the Covid-19 pandemic it’s perhaps even likely that this number is now higher. Many businesses are adapting to working from home and requiring quick, affordable, and easy solutions to scheduling, virtual meetings, project management, and more.
- 86% of businesses that use SaaS significantly experience relatively higher employee engagement.
- Companies use an average of 34 SaaS apps.
Software as a Service has been growing consistently year on year, and although it’s reportedly beginning to slow, SaaS revenue is still on the up:
- The annual growth rate of the SaaS market as of 2020 was 18%.
- Saas was expected to generate nearly $105 billion USD in 2020.
- It is predicted that SaaS will generate close to $141 billion USD in 2022.
While the industry will continue to experience some positive growth in the years to come – not to mention that colossal revenue – there may still be some challenges for startups seeking investment.
Current SaaS landscape
- Nearly half of the top 100 apps are products from public companies.
- The other half of the top 100 apps are built by private companies.
- Private funding for the top 100 SaaS apps is on average $100+ million USD.
Startups require investment for development, resources, and growth to have the opportunity to reach the highest level of success, however the opportunities also come with some difficulties.
As a fast-growing industry, SaaS companies need to secure investment early on to ensure they can afford to scale business in line with growth. As the company grows, “investment in the form of sales and marketing teams, customer satisfaction managers, and specialised technical departments” will be essential.
The future of SaaS funding?
According to Blissfully’s 2020 SaaS trends report, companies still need capital to get to scale. There is definitely opportunity, but “it still takes significant capital to build a significant, established business.”
For new companies to achieve growth and success amongst other SaaS leaders, “they will need private funding to make the transition.”
Pros and cons
To sum up our exploration of SaaS, let’s review some of the advantages versus some of the disadvantages of choosing Software as a Service.
SaaS is a great solution for smaller businesses and individuals thanks to its affordable and flexible pricing structure. Most SaaS providers offer their software on a monthly or annual plan, with different pricing tiers for varying levels of usage and features. A lot of SaaS applications also come with a free trial period to encourage users to try before they buy.
Often software applications for this model will be available in a range of tiers, with the ability to upgrade or scale up to benefit from additional features and functionality. This gives businesses the flexibility to grow their software solution in line with their needs.
As SaaS applications are delivered over the internet, they can be accessed from anywhere on desktop, mobiles, and tablets – all you need is an internet connection. Definitely a great choice for businesses with remote and mobile workforces.
SaaS doesn’t require any extensive knowledge of software or computer technology to operate. A working knowledge of your device and internet access is usually sufficient to access the application. Software as a Service companies also tend to have dedicated support teams to assist with set up and account help.
Simple and stress-free
The maintenance of software applications under the SaaS model is performed completely by the vendor or provider. This removes any responsibility for updates and hardware maintenance from the user.
With the lack of responsibility over maintenance etc. also comes lack of control. With SaaS each user is automatically upgraded to the newest version so has to accept any changes and updates to the software.
SaaS applications store all information and data relating to your account and activity externally in the cloud, so it’s prudent to check the security credentials of the company to make sure they comply with all the relevant regulations.
While it’s possible for SaaS applications to be customized and scaled up for enterprise with the use of APIs and Webhooks, there are still limitations to features and tools based on what the software provider offers.
The internet is a wonderful thing until it suddenly stops working! As SaaS relies on a stable internet connection, any power outages or connection interference will disrupt your ability to access and use your software, as well as the information and data stored with it.
Does screen time matter? Habits, health, and how to manage it in the digital age.
Living in the digital age we are surrounded by screens constantly, it’s now second nature and habitual to browse Netflix while simultaneously scrolling through Instagram. As a result of the advancement in smartphones and other mobile devices, it’s never been easier to lose yourself in a screen time; entertainment, connectivity, work, and even wellbeing can be accessed through a display at our fingertips.
But with a growing dependency on our devices, is excessive screen time impacting us long-term, and if so how can we avoid or reduce screen time in a healthy and sustainable way?
Table of contents
- Digital dependency
- Screen time habits: the facts
- Should you worry about screen time?
- Are there any benefits?
- Screen time recommendations
- Screen time summed up
First though, what even is screen time?
Often when we hear the phrase ‘screen time’ we think about our smartphones, and the well-intentioned efforts we make to reduce the time we spend on social media so we can switch off, focus, or be more productive. But it’s not necessarily that easy…
What do we mean by screen time?
Screen time can be defined as:
“The amount of time someone spends looking at an electronic device with a screen, such as a computer or television”.
As such most things in our day to day digital lives will involve some form of screen time. For those with access to a TV, smartphone, and computer, many aspects of work, social life, and daily life can and will increase the amount of time spent looking at a screen.
Daily screen time activities:
- Checking and responding to emails
- Computer-based work
- Sourcing information e.g. via search engine, news site, weather sites
- Video chatting with friends and family
- Social media
- Online shopping
- Reading articles and news online
- Watching television and streaming services
- Taking notes/reminders/lists on a mobile device
- Exercising with guided fitness videos
- Using a smart watch/digital watch/wellness tracker
- Reading an ebook
With so many common daily activities revolving around a screen it’s hard to take note of exactly how much exposure we are having to them. In addition a lot of screen time is unavoidable – many of us will spend at least eight hours a day looking at a computer screen just for work. It’s perhaps precisely this way of living though that has led us to develop some interesting, and sometimes unhealthy screen habits.
Screen time habits: the facts
Find out what we use our devices for, which age group has the highest screen time, where we use our devices the most, and more about UK screen time habits…
Statistics from a 2019 UK survey carried out by Code Computerlove based on mobile device usage.
Screen time statistics
- Based on the age range of 16-55+, we all spend at least two hours a day on our phones, with 16-24 year olds spending the most time (3.96 hrs), followed by 35-44 years olds (3.58 hrs).
- The no.1 thing we use our phones for is messaging friends/family. Browsing social media and reading the news come in second and third, respectively. Interestingly a small percentage of people also use their phone for wellbeing, including activities such as sleep improvement and meditation.
- A whopping 64% of people use their phones when watching TV – a popular habit that seriously increases screen time. 55% use their phones in bed and over ⅓ of us even take them to the loo!
- Screen time can make it hard to unwind: 23% of people agree they find it hard to relax with their phone. 25-34 year olds find this particularly hard with 31% agreeing somewhat, while nearly 14% strongly agreed.
- Nearly ⅓ of us have attempted a digital detox, with younger age groups attempting a detox the most, and with positive results – 87% of people said a digital detox made them feel better.
- Will digital technology make us happier? For the majority of people it’s neither here nor there, however 20% think it will make us somewhat less happy and 18% think it will make us more happy.
Impact of Covid-19 on screen time
Our relationship to screens is clearly shaped and impacted by our lifestyle (job, hobbies, etc.), so it’s no surprise that with a global pandemic significantly impacting life as we know it, our screen habits have been affected too.
A recent blog post on Elite Content Marketer refers to a study that found electronic device usage has doubled amongst US children aged 0-17 since the start of the pandemic.
With the pandemic requiring us all to stay at home and stay connected via video chat and social media, screen time has also considerably increased. Another study found the average screen time has increased from 3.5 hours to 5.1 hours for adolescents and young adults.
Should you worry about screen time?
We spend more and more time looking at screens each year, with new devices and apps that become essential parts of our daily routine. While we may find it enjoyable, and sometimes beneficial, to engage in screen-related activities, it’s prudent to be aware that there are also some negative effects of screen time.
As an often sedentary activity, when we spend more time looking at screens we are much less active. Too much of this, whether it be watching TV, playing games, or getting stuck in a scroll hole, can put us at higher risk of obesity and impact heart health. Similarly sitting for too long in front of a screen, or poor posture as a result of looking down at a phone for prolonged periods can lead to back, neck, and shoulder pain.
Exposure to screen time before bed can interfere with the brain’s sleep cycle as a result of the light emitted from the screen. This may result in poor sleep, which can subsequently impact brain function and mood.
Besides the impact that poor physical health can have on our general wellbeing, experts have suggested that there is a link between increased screen time and depression. Similarly it has been found that “Screen-based entertainment increases central nervous system arousal, which can amplify anxiety.”
In addition, over-exposure to social media can lead to feelings of inadequacy and dissatisfaction due to those inevitable comparisons we make – of our individual circumstances, versus a stream of often curated and aspirational social media profiles.
It’s possible that how much time we spend looking at a screen can have real implications for us in the long-term, particularly in relation to children and their development. It is suggested that Millennials are actually more forgetful than older generations due to less of a need to store information as it can be easily sourced online. Furthermore, language and thinking aptitude can be impacted in children, even with just a few hours a day of screen time.
The amount of time we spend attached to our phones might even have implications in human evolution. Studies conducted have highlighted a physical adaptation, particularly amongst young people, as a result of holding a mobile device. This has resulted in a “generational change in the use of the thumb”, and these changes “could influence the future evolution of thumbs and or hands”. We are talking very long-term in this instance though!
Are there any benefits?
Although high levels of screen time definitely have some very real and potentially worrying implications that should be considered, thankfully it’s actually not all bad.
Mobile devices and computers give us the ability to connect on a much more accessible level. Whether it’s social media updates, video calls, messages, or emails, screen time helps us to stay closer to friends and family. Particularly in light of Covid-19, having the ability to stay connected with loved ones has helped many to combat feelings of loneliness and isolation.
Learning and development
Using computers, phones and even TV for learning and development can also be greatly beneficial. Screen-based activities can promote everything from teamwork and creativity, to hand-eye coordination. Engaging educational media can also help children to develop their knowledge and understanding, and has been “shown to help improve behaviour, literacy, and cognitive skills”.
Screen time recommendations
As with most things, screen time is all about moderation. Realistically you’re not going to be able to cut it out altogether and even if you’re trying to reduce it, you’re still looking at a screen right now trying to find out how!
So before we all get square eyes, here are some sustainable ways you can begin to manage your screen time…
Find a healthy screen time balance
It’s all about balance.
Unfortunately, due to the lack of definitive research and data on the topic, and the fact that our screens and digital technologies are evolving so quickly, it’s hard to pin down an exact recommendation for how much time we should be spending looking at our screens. With that said there are few things we can do to help us find a good balance.
For adults it’s important to maintain a balance between an active and healthy lifestyle, and the necessary amount of screen time that is required to complete work and other responsibilities. With no set recommended screen time for adults, there are a few things that are important to remember:
- take regular screen breaks
- stay active to counteract sedentary screen time
- avoid the use of screens before bed
For children up to the age of five there are some recommendations for average screen time – generally restricted or none up to two years, and up to one hour a day for two to five year olds. However the focus in children is definitely more on what they are looking at on screen rather than how much. Recommendations include:
- limiting screen time to educational programming
- introducing parental controls
- supervising screen time activities
- engaging with interactive activities
- avoiding screens at meal times and at bedtime
Managing your time more generally can help you to control those urges to pick up your device as a distraction, and limit screen time to certain tasks and activities.
Dedicating set times throughout the day to refresh social media and emails can give you a structured way of satisfying your screen craving, while limiting the total amount of time you spend on those activities. Knowing your work schedule and planning ahead also enables you to take regular breaks away from your screen – whether that’s to get outside, stretch, or just chill out for five minutes.
Manage your time for:
- Increased focus
- Better work/life balance
- Fewer distractions/easier to manage distractions
- Reduced feelings of stress and anxiety
Have a read of our recent time management blog to learn more and try these 6 tips to help you manage your time every day.
The power of nature
Spending time in nature has been proven to positively impact mental health, and can be a powerful way to combat an overload of screen time.
Taking time out of your day to go outdoors automatically changes your environment and, although it’s not always possible or safe to leave your phone behind, it’s an easy way to shift your focus away from your screen. Mind mental health charity encourages green spaces and natural environments to help with anxiety and depression, as well as disorders such as SAD.
Getting outdoors also automatically gets us moving with activities like walking, gardening, and cycling, all of which are great ways of improving physical health too.
Screen time summed up
In short, we know that too much time spent watching television, scrolling social media, and staring into screen-space is counterintuitive to our wellbeing. However, we live in a world where to be a functioning member of society is to look at a screen.
But with clear indications that there is a definite effect on our mental and physical health, a mindful approach to screen time is definitely a positive step forward. It’s not a question of how to avoid screen time, but learning how to live with it.
What does mindful screen time look like for you?
Time management: finding what works for you, identifying your non-negotiables, and 6 tips to try every day
Heard this before? Perhaps these are just a few of the things you find yourself saying over the course of a working week – or even daily! If you’re like me, and I think like most others too, then you will find it all too familiar. Time always seems to be slipping away, with one thing after the other tagged on to the bottom of an infinite to-do list.
Well, it’s all about time management. But what’s the method behind the myth? How exactly do we go about managing something as fleeting and elusive as our time?
Time management table of contents
- Defining time management
- Identify your non-negotiables
- Is better time management better for you?
- 6 time management techniques you can use every day
Defining time management
Time management has become a bit of a buzzword in relation to success, a good work-life balance, and even general wellbeing. It could be easy to brush it off as another 21st century trend, but you can’t deny it is an integral skill that employers look for, and individuals strive for.
What is it exactly?
The definition of time management is summed up as “the process of planning and exercising conscious control of time spent on specific activities, especially to increase effectiveness, efficiency, and productivity.”
Sounds simple enough – plan your time and you’ll be more productive.
But time management is big business; life coaches, entrepreneurs, public speakers, and study coaches have built careers, courses, and social platforms based on sharing their time management success. If it was that easy wouldn’t we all be doing it?!
The tricky thing with time management as a process or technique is that there is no formulaic, secret recipe for success. Those articles that claim you can be as successful as so-and-so if you ‘do these 5 things every morning’, and take note of the ‘1 thing to never do if you want to be more productive’ can be great sources of inspiration – but ultimately we’re all different. What works for one, might not work for another.
There are a number of factors at play that can impact how effective, efficient, and productive we may be at any given task. The important thing is to identify exactly what it is that is impacting your productivity, and try to negate it with other techniques and practices that will see you moving ‘time management’ straight to the top of your skillset.
Effective time management looks different to everyone and is something that can be influenced by what I’ve decided to call ‘the variables’. The variables are a number of things – from external environment to day-to-day distractions – that can result in both good and bad time management. However, by understanding which variables have the most significant impact on your schedule, focus, and productivity, you can begin to find a process that is most effective for you.
Here are some variables to consider when you’re looking to get the most out of your time…
The environment that you work or study in can influence your mood, focus, comfort, and ultimately productivity. Noise for example can be a huge distraction for some, preferring to work in isolation with no music or background noise. Meanwhile others find themselves preferring white noise, or can fully focus with headphones in and the playlist rolling.
With a huge shift to working from home as well since early 2020, you might find yourself in the home office vs. work office debate. While the work office can provide more structure, with set working hours and the expectation to remain focused and on task, working from home has been producing some positive results on productivity.
Research from Finder suggests that “Two-thirds of employers report increased productivity for remote workers compared to in-office workers.”
As a result, the freedom to have control over the workspace could be significant for employees to practice time management more effectively. By creating your own working environment, you are able to tailor it to your needs and preferences.
Motivation & procrastination
Motivation is a huge driving force behind productivity and managing time successfully. This can be a bit harder to come by though in certain work or study situations. In this case you might find yourself procrastinating or putting off certain tasks – leading to sporadic and stressful bursts of work to reach those inevitable deadlines.
“Never put off till tomorrow what you can do today.”
It can be difficult though to be motivated to work effectively, efficiently, and productively on a task you might not even be that interested in. Previous studies have shown that “Home-life distractions are more likely to prevent productive work when you don’t enjoy the work.”
Big workloads can also curb enthusiasm for getting the job done, and cause procrastination to rear its ugly head. Feelings of being overwhelmed or intimidated by the work ahead can cause you to divert to other tasks, or simply lose interest altogether. Finding motivation might then look like a 5 minute break every hour, or once you’ve completed a particular task, to make workloads more manageable and deadlines more achievable.
Lifestyle is about how other priorities, hobbies, and social life impact and influence your time. For some their family will be a priority, while others spend more time being active and working out, or having a screen time alone. As a result, in order to manage your time well, you need to understand how these things fit into your schedule and life on a day to day basis.
If it’s vital for you to get outdoors at least once a day then your time will need to be managed in a way that takes this into account. Not making time for aspects of your lifestyle that are important to you will inevitably lead to you either feeling less productive at work or study, or missing out on the things you love.
Identify your time management non-negotiables
We all have a limited amount of time per day, and so effective planning and scheduling is required for us to manage our time effectively. But even then it can be difficult to fit everything into a finite block of time.
This is where knowing your non-negotiables is really useful. Start thinking about your goals – this could be for the next year, month, week, or even day. In order to achieve those goals, what are the essential things you need to do with your time? This might be a mixture of work/study related goals as well as personal and health goals.
For example, if you want to achieve a particular health goal within the next year, you might need to ensure your schedule makes time for daily exercise. Once you’ve identified your top non-negotiables, you’ll be able to build out your schedule to accommodate what is most important to you – and become much more effective, efficient, and productive at achieving those goals.
What are your priorities?
Your non-negotiables might also be influenced by your environment, what motivates you, and the lifestyle you have. Here’s a few more things to think about when you’re pinning down your non-negotiables…
- Daily exercise
- Family mealtimes
- Set working hours
- Regular breaks
- Set workplace (home vs. office)
- Flexible working options
- 4 day working week
- Access to the outdoors
Is better time management better for you?
The purpose of good time management is to achieve increased productivity, but is this necessarily a good thing for us as individuals – does better productivity mean a better life?
A recent blog post from the BPS Research Digest suggests that our busier lives have increased the desire for us and our employers to get things done quicker with a “general focus on ‘productivity’” now “highly prized both at work and at home.” But is this constant desire, and sometimes pressure, to get things done better and faster actually beneficial?
Time management and wellbeing
Recent studies have found that time management is indeed an important skill in the workplace, but that by practicing effective time management, we can also see positive effects on our personal wellbeing:
“While time management skills have become more important in evaluations of job performance since the 1990s, their biggest impact lies elsewhere: in personal wellbeing.”
If you’re looking to find that work-life balance then time management is certainly a valuable skill for improving your life satisfaction – by up to 72%. In fact the research shows that “wellbeing is not simply a byproduct of a successfully managed work life but can be a direct result of good time management.”
Benefits of better time management
- Reduced feelings of stress and anxiety
- More focus
- Improved quality of work
- Work-life balance
- Career development/growth
- Fewer distractions/easier to manage distractions
- Achieving goals and deadlines
6 time management techniques you can use every day
So how exactly do we manage our time on a daily basis? We know it’s beneficial to do it, what can influence how good or bad we are at it, and how to set our goals – but how do we implement it in a practical way?
Take a look below at 6 useful techniques you can incorporate into your daily life to help improve time management.
Have a plan
This may seem like a slightly obvious one, but by having a set plan or schedule for your day you can see what needs to be achieved and prioritize tasks by importance. Try writing a single to-do list (too many lists can in fact be counter-intuitive), or have a written or digital timetable with time blocked out for each task.
Consolidate your calendars
Having more than one calendar on the go can lead to overbooking yourself with no clear overview of your work or tasks on any given day. A single calendar for everything gives you a realistic idea of your schedule for that day, and ensures you have time set aside for the things that are important to you.
Saying no to additional work, meetings, and even socializing can be difficult – especially when we feel like we need to be more productive. But more doesn’t always mean more productivity. If it’s not one of your non-negotiables, or isn’t essential for helping you meet your goals – just say no!
Again, by multi-tasking we might feel like we’re achieving more, but remember time management is also about being effective. By focusing on one task at a time you’re more likely to achieve better results. Think of it as quality, not quantity.
Wherever you can, delegate certain tasks to appropriate colleagues, friends, or family to help you improve your efficiency to get that task done – and also effectiveness if there is someone else more suitable for that task. This could be as simple as asking a family member to wash the dishes to give you an extra 15 minutes to focus on other tasks.
Allow time for distractions
Making time to scroll through social media or chat to a friend can actually help to limit the time you spend distracted in the long run. By allowing yourself 10 minutes every 2-3 hours to check social media, or scheduling a half hour catch up call after lunch, you remain in control of your time.
Give these time management techniques a try to find out which ones are most effective for you.
With a background in retail management, her writing also reflects her unique insight into business operations and consumer behaviour.