Businesses of all sizes and types have faced unprecedented labor-related challenges over the last two years. The pandemic that threw the entire U.S. workforce into sudden crisis by creating an immediate and urgent need for a shift toward remote work still seems to linger. While the relative, temporary easing of the pandemic at the start of summer enabled a lot of U.S. workers to return to in-person employment, many companies still struggled to fill positions, and whole industries spent months grappling with a large-scale labor shortage. With the ongoing rise and fall of virus cases, and the ever-changing public health guidelines, many people remain reluctant to return to in-person work for a wide variety of reasons, including lingering fears of illness, wage dissatisfaction, unstable childcare options, and a new-found freedom from the office environment.
As we head into 2022, many businesses are wary of announcing an office return date when employees can resume full-time, in-person work because so little can be predicted accurately; so many forecasts have already fallen flat. American labor has rarely faced so many fluctuations in such a short span of time; businesses have rarely had to regroup and reorganize so often and so quickly.
If you are trying to keep your business afloat during these fraught times of staffing shortages and historic inflation, some labor- and cost-reducing tips may be key. Small and medium sized businesses all over the country have found success saving time and money by incorporating technology into all aspects of their business operations. Some labor-saving, cost-cutting tips to consider:
Automating your business operations is a huge time- and money-saver. Yes, it requires an initial, upfront investment. But investing in automated business services is an investment that pays for itself over and over, in both labor-reducing costs and in freeing up hours every day that can now be dedicated toward other aspects of growing and running the business. Fortunately, if you have managed to keep your business successful over the last two years, there is a good chance you have already made significant digital investment upon which to expand.
Take the time to investigate the wide array of software and online subscription services available for purchase or use that can automate many repetitive administrative and accounting tasks, including: scheduling, invoicing, managing payroll, and mailing checks. Automation can be extremely helpful with customer engagement as well, and can be used for following up on leads, responding to emails, surveying, marketing, and completing other important communication tasks that would consume too much time if done manually.
If you have not already done so, now is a good time to make an investment in the most efficient tools for your business. Computers with good storage, a reliable network that can accommodate your employees from their various locations, an up-to-date website optimized for mobile, and quality office equipment (if you have an office), like printers, scanners, and shredders make your business run most efficiently. Look for reputable software programs that can automate multiple administrative tasks or that can communicate with the programs that you are already using. This helps streamline processes and leads to fewer miscommunications and errors.
Now is the time to focus on which products and services are truly needed. Customer feedback can help you determine whether your business offers “extras” that consumers find expendable. Focus your money and energy on the high-demand services and products, particularly those that people can acquire online and consume at home. No one can be sure when our economic interactions will fully return to “normal,” or if, maybe, this is it. Surveys remain an important way customers can communicate their preference for products and overall satisfaction with their buying experience.