The next few days (weeks for some people) are times when you want to be away with your family (it’s called taking time off). On the other hand, unless your business is set up with a large “back office” to support your role while you are away, it is very hard to get away.
However, there are a few things you can do to “get away” and still remain in touch if needed.
Your telephone system is probably one of the most important communication tools you have. So configuring your phone system properly and getting it “holiday ready” is one of the best things you can do.
For example, having enhanced voicemail, goes beyond standard voicemail services by including features such as voicemail to email and SMS voicemail notifications, ensuring that you know when you have a voicemail even while away from the office . I got this tip from my1voice. Other virtual phone systems include RingCentral, OneBox, VirtualPBX and GrassHopper.
Email is absolutely critical for business communication. Put an auto reply in your email so everyone emailing you knows you are on vacation. You can do a few things a) still read email and reply to the important ones (let your auto reply indicate this) b) transfer email to a colleague who can answer it for you c) provide an informative FAQ web site for common questions customers might have.
Remote access to company files is important. Ensure that if you are using a traditional file server you can access files stored on it. Alternatively using services such as Box.net and Egnyte provide a way to store files online.
Faxes are still very important in some industries and sometimes you need to receive or send a fax. Use a virtual fax service such as eFax to ensure you can send and receive faxes from any Internet connection.
While you’re away from the office you might still want to SEE what’s going on every once in a while. You can install video cameras in your office and monitor the activity remotely, via the Internet. Dozens of companies make video cameras for remote surveillance. Just do a Google search.
When you take your laptop with you, make sure you have all the accessories you might need for a comfortable experience – external mouse (much easier on the hands), maybe even an external keyboard.
Online customer service is a 24/7 operation. Using a service such as Email Center Pro you can ensure that when emails come in, you, or a limited number of employees are not the only persons who can answer it. You should be able to easily assign anyone in your team to receive and respond to emails.
At times you might need to have meetings, demo something or at least “see” someone. There are a number of services that enable you to economically keep in touch with others, collaborate, have virtual meetings, conduct webinars and even do video conferences. Some popular tools include WebEx, GoToMeeting, Skype, ooVoo and other tools.
What are some other things you can do to be away but still manage your business?
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