Zen and the Refreshing Art of Business Spring Cleaning

iStock_000021234364_DoubleThis week I relocated to a new home. I’d lived in the original house for just seven years but I was amazed by the amount of “stuff” that had built up over that time. At the end of the move, not only had I reduced my clutter,  but even more I felt deeply refreshed in my thoughts, attitudes and my whole approach to life.

 

It got me reflecting how often a clean out in the workplace can be equally re-invigorating on so many levels – physical, strategic, monetary, emotional.

Most of us accumulate quantities of ‘stuff’ that we rarely clean it out. Even if we make a conscious effort at the beginning to plan our processes and what we store or archive, somehow they still become cluttered over time.

The clutter can relate to physical items or systems and processes, or even outworn ideas.

Here are some of the changes we’ve made over recent years to ‘declutter’ and refresh our approaches and processes.

  • Six years ago we moved offices and went paperless (well as much as you can be) – and saved ourselves $36,000 per annum ongoing!

    Without the need to store paper files we could reduce our space requirement by 80sqm. At a cost of $450 per sqm, that represented an ongoing saving of $36,000 per annum. Yes it was a tough process at the time. On the upside though, we’ve reaped the benefits of massive savings and we no longer have the nightmare of reams and piles of paper requiring housing somewhere.

  • We re-located our network servers offsite – and saved more space, capital outlay and technical maintenance.

    For years our emails have run out of Microsoft or Google hosted solutions without an issue. It was time to consider replacing the servers we still had onsite.After the exercise of looking at the costs and potential savings, we started the process. As we were already operating remotely from different sites we had invested heavily in access to high-level internet sped and productivity, so we were confident this would not be a problem. Even so, you have to accept and take in your stride that in any transition there will always be a few potential glitches.The end result has been a service that is smooth and operates just as effectively as when the servers were housed in our own offices. We have no large capital outlay and the ongoing costs are less than if we had stayed “in house”. Once again we reaped benefits in terms of physical space and cost savings – and the headache of monitoring and maintaining technical equipment.

  • We reviewed internal systems and saved our clients and our team time and effort by creating a smoother, faster process.

    We examined one of our internal paperwork processes, which was designed around mailing people a physical form. If you wanted a company for instance, we would post you a form to complete, or partially complete, dependent on needs. By switching across to electronic forms our clients can review and respond much more quickly.

  • We recently implemented a secure portal system – and made significant savings in time for everyone while ensuring security of information.

    Emails that contain sensitive information such as tax file numbers dates of birth and bank account details are vulnerable to cyber attack. We do not normally supply this information by email. This has always meant a lot of paperwork and more time for our clients waiting on documents and posting them back. Now if our clients choose they are able to sign the document electronically at a click of a button with complete security. They can review details on screen and if they agree sign documents. If they have changes or questions, they don’t have to print out documents to post. They can ring or respond online safely. It’s been a significant saving in time – even more since the Australia Post service has reduced in frequency.

How to spring clean your business and business systems

A spring clean leaves you feeling fresh and ready to strive towards the goals you have set. The difference will become obvious on many levels too, personal, team and business.

  • Throw out old information (securely of course);
  • Review business systems.  Examine both who performs a task and how they are carried out. Update if appropriate;
  • Look for simple easy tweaks within everyday processes that may save time, effort or give your clients or customers a better result;
  • If you have a particularly big task ahead of you, consider calling in a qualified outsider who can help you assess useful changes. Being in a position to see the inside of so many businesses, this is one area where we can offer many useful suggestions and improvements.

Be aware that you may hit roadblocks. These could be physical or equally importantly emotional as you and your team members struggle to deal with change. And that too is part of our key contribution in helping you transition or change.

 

 

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