Zoe Hominick, head of business marketing at O2, offers tips on how to get back into the swing of things with a review of your kit.

Kids up and down the country have returned to school from the summer break. Their heads are no doubt filled with a mixture of feelings, from preparedness with that newly-stuffed pencil case to a curiosity about the challenges they'll face in the upcoming school year.

Of course, the new school year has little impact on most businesses, but it’s a good idea to occasionally review what’s in your ‘digital pencil case’, and how prepared you might be for the coming months. With that in mind, here are a few things worth thinking about what you need for a term time refresh:

The right device for the job

It’s difficult these days for anyone to imagine what it’d be like to not have a mobile phone – they’ve become a part of who we are and, crucially, what we do.

Draw up a shortlist of phone features that would help you to be more productive. Does it need to be waterproof and dustproof? Should it have VPN capability? How about the ability to call over wifi? Think of everything you need in a phone, and then you can work out which ones are best for you and your business.

Moving on to tablets: Should it have a keyboard? How much storage should it have? What's more important – a large screen or a compact form factor? Will it run any particular software you might need to use? As with your phones, make a list, and there's sure to be a tablet that'll fit the bill.

Software to make your life easier

Equally as important as your phones and tablets are the software they'll run. There are over 2.8 million apps available for Android devices and 2.2 million for iOS, so the chances are, the apps you need are available. Consider any features that'll help your business be more productive and secure, then go hunting for an app to help.

Invigorate your team

Putting all that digital stuff to one side, perhaps the most important aspect of a business is maintaining best practice. Take a step back and make sure you're doing the best you can do for you, your people and your customers:

  • Set out your goals for the rest of the year. Make them achievable but impactful. An excellent evaluation method to use when setting objectives is the SMART model
  • Reconnect with your customers. Drop them an email or, even better, give them a call. See how they're doing and ask if there's anything your business can do to help them more
  • That business lead you keep meaning to follow up? Do it. Set aside a morning, afternoon, hour, whatever, but take some time to focus on what could potentially be an exciting new development for you
  • Get back into a routine. As daunting as that may sound, it's achievable and it works. Having structure will increase your effectiveness and productivity, which will always have a positive impact on your business and its people
  • Renew your energy. We're not talking about drinks that give you wings here; we're talking about energising yourself and your workforce. It could be something fun like a group activity day or afternoon, small incentives like gift cards for those who stand out in their performance. It could even be something as simple as setting out your vision, your North Star, to make sure your people know exactly where the business is heading.

Just like going back to school after the summer, being prepared will ensure your business makes the grade. Time to shine up those shoes and pack that pencil case.

Looking for software to make your life easier? A good place to start is something like Microsoft Office 365 that offers productivity tools like Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint plus email, file sharing cloud space and online meeting via Skype for Business.

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