How to make business productivity blossom this spring

Published 7:00 pm Monday, April 2, 2012

(ARA) – Every year, we tackle spring cleaning at home. Why not do the same at work?

Most of us grapple with overflowing email inboxes, PC desktops stuffed with random files and servers brimming with old data.

Digital clutter can be particularly challenging in small and midsize businesses because people are often juggling different roles. If you are the CEO, marketing director and customer service representative, it’s difficult to find time.

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A cloud service can help get everything in order with online tools to manage email, documents, contacts and multiple calendars – all with almost unlimited storage. Several cloud services also have productivity apps, websites and collaboration tools to improve employee and customer communications.

The cloud can also help people work better as a virtual team. Jennifer Cattaui, owner of the children’s clothing and furniture store Babesta, recently moved her small company to the cloud to give it the flexibility needed to expand roles and responsibilities for employees as the business continues to grow.

“We chose the Microsoft Office 365 cloud service because we want professional productivity tools at a reasonable price, and we need to keep using the applications our employees trust and are familiar with, including Microsoft Word, Microsoft Excel and Microsoft SharePoint,” says Cattaui. “It is sophisticated business productivity software that you’d expect to see in a large corporate setting, but made available for small businesses like mine as a subscription service.”

Babesta retail associates can now access files and projects practically anywhere, anytime and on virtually any device. While some employees manage the company’s online store and work from home, other employees such as the retail designers move between stores during the day. The cloud helps everyone accomplish more and stay in touch.

“We use a security-enhanced, password-protected portal to share large files inside and outside Babesta, which is great because that means we have a single location where people can work together on important documents,” Cattaui says. “That’s a big benefit, because there’s no more clutter and time wasted trying to figure out who has the latest reports on outstanding orders, store events and customer deliveries, and where all that stuff is stored.”

Office 365 also gives Babesta employees a virtual living room to visit when they log on to the company’s Microsoft SharePoint Online workspace. The space is filled with product and industry information, delivery calendars, staff calendars, staff kudos, and links to important blogs, Facebook and Twitter feeds.

“I no longer have to worry about the burden of maintaining my server and business systems,” Cattaui says. “Our employees work better together, business is growing and we’re able to spend more time with our customers – all the result of taking our business to the cloud.”