Working online has enormous advantages: your information is safely accessible to you from many different types of devices. And it doesn’t matter anymore where you are: you can always move forward. In addition, you can easily share your data. With colleagues, customers and – for example – your suppliers.

But how do you ensure that you can work online in a way that is optimal to ou? What should you pay attention to? After reading this article you can take yourself and your company to the cloud. You also have read a number of tips that let you lead the way with efficient online work.

So: poor in a warm cup of coffee and start reading!

Index

What is this article about? Well, in short: I help you to become familiar with the advantages of working online. In addition, I help you make the right decisions. So that you can work really efficiently online.
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Tip 1: What exactly do you do?

What are the best solutions for you? To answer that question you first need to know what you are looking for. Are you looking for a clear overview of your activities? Are you in need of a solution for your projects? Or do you want to be able to keep track of your time registration as easy as possible?

Tip: keep track of your own work for one week. Don’t try to do this in 5 minutes. You do much more than you can think of now.

Example: besides my regular activities i also do the shopping for the office. I do this every Monday morning and usually the same things happen: get bread at the bakery and some spreads at the supermarket. But when the butter runs out, like last week, I forget to get it. If I had just written that down, I would never have forgotten.

I help business professionals improve every single day. And although it sounds crazy, the office shopping are also part of my work. And so I also have to have a solution for that. That is the same for you: think beyond your standard work of e-mails and projects.

Take your complete week: from Monday morning to Sunday evening. Yes, I am sure that you are the person who is still busy at the weekend. You will be amazed at how many things you still remember during an evening. The better your inventory of your week, the better your solution will be.

No results found.

You may already know some of these apps. But are they also the most suitable solutions for you? Read on and you will find out the answer.

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Tip 2: Make your computer work

Chances are that you work daily with a smartphone and a laptop or computer. Do these things work optimally for you? Or is there room for improvement?

Example: I write, copy and paste a lot of things every hour. By default you can – with Windows – only paste the last item you copied. So if you want to copy and paste 2 or things regularly, you’ll find yourself to copy the original again and again, switch to your other screen or application and then paste again.

For example with PhraseExpander by Nagarsoft. PhraseExpander will remember what you have copied. Do you need something that you copied half an hour ago? No problem: PhraseExpander will give you a list of your pasteboard with the press of a button.

This way you can easily choose something that you have previously copied and then paste it again. Even though you have copied other things since then. Ideal for when you regularly have to copy and paste different things.

Have the computer write for you

Why write every single sentence yourself, every time? PhraseExpander will also help you with texts that you need to write regularly. So if you regularly have to write the same words, sentences or paragraphs, do yourself a favor and take a look at this program.

With this software program you can make your own combinations: you give a sentence that you regularly write and invent an abbreviation for yourself. Then save it and you’re ready. The program will watch what you type. Once you type a known abbreviation, PhraseExpander will replace it for the sentence you specified.

A few examples:

I write “Done” and i get

“Ready for testing and can then be marked as Completed.”
Standard sense when we inform customers.

I write “d44” and i get

“Dragonder 44, Valkenswaard”
Our business address. How often do you think I wrote that per year?

I write “Lorem” and i get

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit … ex ea commodo consequat.
We always use this text when making a design.

I write “Slotmail” and i get

I then get the choice:
“Have a nice day and happy to see you again next time”
“Good day.”
“Happy to help and we’ll meet again.”
This way every e-mail gets its own closing.

We live in a period where we work a lot with computers. We operate them by pressing letters. You still do this a lot, even with this solution. But why should you enter ALL letters every single time? You’re not crazy are you? Once you are used to this, you will never want to go back.

Bonus tip

You will start to recognize more and more ‘blocks’ in your working day. Things that you do over and over again. By standardizing them more and more you can handle them more easily, they are also clearer for customers, etc. In short: this will bring you more benefits than you might think.

You can use this software in all programs on your computer. And it’s easy when you work a lot with tricky terms. As in the medical or legal sector.

For the sake of clarity: I have no connection with this software or the company. I am an enthusiastic user. And I would like you to have the those advantages as well. I have included a link to this program in the footnote of the article.

In addition to this software, a huge industry has emerged that has brought comparable software to the market that can help you work more efficiently online. So look through those computer magazines at the bookstore or online. Or go to YouTube. These are all places where enthusiasts like me want to draw your attention to useful tools. You may find your perfect tool there!

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Tip 3: Collaborate online

In the field of online collaboration, a lot has changed in recent years. Previously we were all forced to find our way with notes, Word, and Excel. All local solutions and limited solution. Nowadays you can do many things online.

Many apps have a web and app version. That means that you can use them from your smartphone or tablet and from your laptop and computer, regardless of the operating system. Regardless of how you go online, you can always work with the version you prefer.

One of the biggest advantages of working online is that the data is no longer on your local device or office. This also creates the possibility to make that data available to others. Depending on the app, you can share the data with colleagues, suppliers, customers and other stakeholders.

Examples of how to work online

For example, you may have already worked with WeTransfer. This service lets you ‘send’ documents to others. In fact, you send a link and the recipient – after clicking that link – goes to WeTransfer. There the recipient can download the documents.

An even better example of working in the cloud is Google Drive. If you are not familiar with it, I advise you to try it immediately. Google Drive is basically a hard drive in the cloud. But the best job is to work together on documents at the same time. You can work on the same document with several people – at the same time!

And the funny thing is that you can also see the other users perfectly. You won’t even need training. That’s how well it’s made. Google Drive is a wonderful example of how powerful working in the cloud can be. It saves so many emails and phone calls in coordination and forwarding of files in different versions. Try it and I guarantee you’ll never want to send or receive files via e-mail.

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Tip 4: Start at your core

If you do everything by heart, you can go in all directions. You have complete freedom and determine your own order, characteristics, etc. The condition is that your brain can handle it all.

When you start working online, you start working with a program. In fact, that program monitors a process for you. Processes are very good for you: they give clarity and structure. But they also have limitations.

Imagine that you work with an app that ensures that you have everything ready on time. In that app you can give the work a name and a deadline. The app will remind you. But you might want to attach a photo to certain tasks and that is not possible with that app.

The perfect standard solution does not exist

Then you can do two things: throw the app out of the window. Or not. You can also accept that you can not upload a photo in this app. If you can not find a better suitable app, then this app might still be a very good option for you.

Working online is nothing more than a modern way of automize things. If you opt for an existing solution, that solution will rarely do exactly what you want. Focus on the key question: what do you want to improve on? And what is ‘nice to have’?

You will almost never rule something as ‘nice to have’, until you look at the absolute core: it was about keeping the deadlines. That is the most important. Linking to a photo is separate from that and is the ‘nice to have’ in this example.

Ask yourself this question

So: look closely at the things that you absolutely need. You can also ask yourself the following question: “What information do I need to meet my business goals?”. If you have a production company, you’ll want to know to what extent everything is planned to capacity. Your machines are already there. So the only difference between 90% and 95% planned to capacity is: more profits.

Of course it is also important that your processes are optimized. The chances are enormous that you will not find an app that can accomodate all of the items that matter to you. Choose the app that can process the most important ones. For the other items we still have the last tip.

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Tip 5: Make your ideal mix

Every entrepreneur is different. Just like every company. In the area where I work – Brainport Eindhoven – you can find many metal processing companies. They look similar: they make metal components for their clients. But one has a specialty in welding certain metals. Or working with an extreme accuracy. The same region, the same industry, perhaps the same company size and age.

Yet there are specific differences. For example, one company may have customers that rely on a extremely short delivery time. As a result, planning could be the most important part of the internal organization. At the other company, the extreme accuracy comes first. This means that processes can become most important, rather than planning.

Because of these differences, the mix of ideal apps for both companies will be different. One company may opt for an ERP-like solution so that the planning is properly monitored. The other company will possibly opt for a solution that forces every employee to stick to every step in the process.

What is your ideal mix of apps? As soon as you know what you are looking for, you can look for apps that best suit them. In the previous tip I advised you to start at the core. You have zero chance that you’ll an app that can satisfy all your online needs. So: start at the core and once that works you can continue with the peripheral issues.

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Tip 6: Safety and GDPR

Working in the cloud has huge advantages. But it also comes with responsibilities. To yourself: what do you upload to the cloud? Who can access that data? And what are the consequences if this data becomes public? Nowadays the law even requires you to go beyond a critical forward thinking.

Patriot act: who sees your data?

Most people who work online do not know the law, but they are subjected to it. In my words, it’s like this: if you use a service from an American company, your data will be subjected to American law. The American government has set up the Patriot act to be able to investigate online data easily in the context of counter terrorism.

Basically, all American companies are subject to that law. And all the devices that they use. Including the servers of the apps you use. Even though those servers are in Europe, America wants to be able to see that data. So your data. Your supplier must therefore also provide access to many different US government services.

What do they do with that data? No idea. Nobody knows that. You also do not know whether you are part of an automatic analysis or a targeted action by employees of flesh and blood. In any case, you’ll have to take into account that the data you store in the cloud may be seen by others. Note: most data is not actually viewed personally by analysts. If you work with data that you want to keep hidden from competitors, I would personally be cautious about it.

What are the consequences, for example, if that supplier is hacked and your most sensitive data becomes publically available? Think about that for a second.

“The starting point of the GDPR is that personal data can not simply be processed and managed by companies.”

Bron

GDPR

From May 25, 2018 you’ll have to go even further than just to think about it. You’ll even have to take measures to prevent customer data from being available to others. So: choose and anticipate now. This chapter is a subject that can have far-reaching consequences. In short, you must ensure that you do not store or keep data that you might not really need. Example: do you have a webshop? Make sure that you do not store credit card numbers unless you really need them.

If your shop is hacked, that information can be copied and made available to others. Previously, that was especially annoying for the owner of the credit card. From May 25th it is largely your problem. I can’t give you a lot of tips on this subject, it is too big for that. Google on “GDPR roadmap” you will find handy guides that will help you on your way.

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Tip 7: Improve daily

Fast forward a few days or weeks from today: you have found and used your most suitable app. You can also see the first improvements: you have more grip on your day to day activities. Your head is less chaotic and you have less stress. Maybe you sleep better or are you more creative.

Now it’s time for the next step: continuous improvement. By that I do not mean that you, as an idiot, have to look for improvements and that you have to expect to improve every day, for years.

Make your online workplace work

Don’t lean back now. Keep a focus on improvements: which features in this app do you not use yet? Call your supplier. Search for tips on YouTube. Or take a look at the documentation. Chances are you haven’t used a feature that can bring you one step closer to your goals.

The best entrepreneurs I’ve worked with in the past few years were entrepreneurs who focused on processes that did not go well. And they did that every single day. They are irritated every week that certain things take so long. Or that something goes wrong regularly.

‘Functional’ is not the same as ‘perfect’

It works best when you really do that. I realize that it is a small minority. But I also learned that you can copy that behavior. I mean: continually look critically at everything in your business. Eliminate the elements that don’t contribute to your goals. And optimize what can be improved.

Acceptable Functional Leader Perfect

Most entrepreneurs have processes that can be judged as “Acceptable”. But i think a process must be 100% watertight. And reliable. And easy to execute. On a monday morning. By a new employee.

This is not easy to do. You’ll have to tinker with the process. And have your eyes open as well: what can be improved? How can we do that? Then implement and execute again. The nice thing about this is that you’ll get better at it. And that you will also notice improvements more and more often.

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Work online efficiently: final words

Working in the cloud is fantastic, efficient and absolutely “here to stay”. With this article you now know the steps you’ll have to take to be able to work safely online. And to organize it optimally. Now it’s time for the best part: time for action!

I want you to have a great time in putting this article into practice. In addition to this article, there are many overviews of hugely useful apps that are less known. But that may just be the perfect apps for you. In other words: have fun with this quest. The better you do this, the easier you will achieve your business goals!

Foot note:
PhraseExpander: phraseexpander.com
Trello: trello.com
Google Drive: drive.google.com
todoist: todoist.com
Basecamp: basecamp.com

About Bas Kierkels
Bas has a passion to help entrepreneurs grow. During his daily work he does that with beGuru: a cloud solution that helps you to work online in an organized way.

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