Transition from reactive to future-ready working

Relying too heavily on reactive thinking may cause you to fall behind while you’re constantly playing catch up – so how should this be avoided?

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When you’re in a small business, it’s common to fall into the rut of always working reactively. However, relying too heavily on reactive thinking may cause you to fall behind, meaning you’re constantly playing catch up. So how can this be avoided?

Reactive thinking is when you respond to issues as they arise. The opposite end of the spectrum is proactive thinking, where you aim to anticipate problems in advance. Being proactive can help you to prepare for unexpected events – or potentially stop them from happening in the first place.

In the last couple of years, we’ve seen a real shift in the way we work. The pandemic catapulted us into a new age of flexible working, and the cost of living crisis has made many small businesses behave and act more cautiously.

This has led to more proactive attitudes which can help to mitigate risks, boost productivity and make workplaces future ready. Taking the time to plan ahead can also alleviate a lot of stress from your job, because you’re better prepared for sudden issues.

Six ways to future-ready your workplace

Ready to adopt a more proactive approach? Here are six ways you can change the way you work to build a future-ready workplace.

1. Ensure you’re utilising the right digital tools

Making the right digital investments can help you boost productivity, automate time-consuming tasks, plan ahead and aid business growth – saving you time, money and effort.

Some ways you can use digital tools include:

  • Utilising online collaboration tools to help employees work productively when remote

  • Analysing data using AI, helping you identify trends, opportunities and threats

  • Saving time by providing onboarding and training exercises using digital platforms You could even utilise VR to provide hyper-realistic simulations which can help staff retain information better

  • Implementing an online chatbot tool such as Zendesk on your website to answer customer queries, improving your customer service and saving time

2. Learn to delegate

We’ve all been there: you have the best intentions to focus on business development, but your attention keeps on being pulled elsewhere. This can be frustrating and ultimately cause your productivity to take a hit.

This is where delegation comes into play. If you want to spend your time focusing on getting your business future ready, you’ll need to clear some work off your plate first.

Whether it’s delegating to other colleagues or outsourcing to freelancers, look at which tasks are taking up a lot of your time, and consider what could be done by someone else. Then you’ll have some free time in your schedule to focus on keeping your eye on the ball.

3. Don’t be afraid to ask for advice

No matter how hard you try, you can’t be an expert in everything. So, if you’re not sure about something, don’t be afraid to ask for advice. This could be someone from your team or an external mentor or adviser.

If you’d like to get impartial advice on a particular area of your business, the Vodafone team can help. Just book in a call with one of our expert V-Hub advisers for free business support and guidance.

4. Create a crisis management plan

As defined by Hubspot, a business crisis is an event that has the potential to threaten the success and health of a company by tarnishing its reputation, damaging its business operations, negatively impacting its finances or harming its employees.

A business crisis can come out of the blue and can be detrimental if you’re not prepared. It’s important to take the time to come up with a crisis management plan if you haven’t done so already.

Sit down and think of the types of crises your business is at risk of – for example, if a fire halts your bakery operation or a key supplier goes bust. Then, come up with a suitable course of action you could take if each problem were to occur.

By planning these details ahead of time, you can deal with any of these crises in a much more calm and collected manner, rather than panicking and responding in the incorrect way.

You should also take appropriate steps to ensure your business is digitally resilient. For example, what steps have you taken to protect your business against cyber attacks? What are the repercussions if you were to fall victim to a cyber attack, and how would you overcome them?

5. Research current and predicted future trends

Keeping an eye on relevant trends can give you a big competitive edge when it comes to developing new products or services and capitalising on opportunities.

Doing this research can help you understand:

  • Potential audiences: Are there people outside of your target demographic that could become customers?

  • Wider business and consumer trends: For example, more and more consumers are prioritising sustainability

  • Any new or emerging technologies: We saw an explosion of popularity surrounding AI this year, for instance

6. Put your employees first

Employees are increasingly expecting greater flexibility from their employers, and it’s quickly becoming one of the most important elements that job seekers look for. So, adopting a more flexible working model can help to improve staff satisfaction, in turn helping to improve retention and make them more productive.

However, when allowing greater flexibility – such as a remote or hybrid working model – it’s important that you give employees the right tools to help them. This includes:

  • Implementing a cloud-based storage solution, such as Google Drive, so that your entire team can access the right files at the right time

  • Having the tools to enable remote meetings, so collaboration is as intimate as when they’re face-to-face

  • Adding extra protection to employees’ devices (including laptops and phones) so that they can simultaneously work remotely and keep your business at harm. You can find out more on how to do this in our article here

But flexible working isn’t the only thing employees want. Company culture is also crucial for workers, especially for those who still prefer to work in the office. If you want to create a great company culture but are unsure how to do it with a flexible workforce, read our article here.

Overall, the idea is to put your employees first. Take any feedback they offer into consideration and try to create a fair and inclusive environment for everyone. This will help you build a strong, dedicated team that wants to stay with you for the long run.

Not sure what digital investments to make to help your business grow? We're here to help. Sign up for free one-to-one business support with a V-Hub adviser today to gain expert advice on a range of digital topics.

For more support on other areas of your business, you can also find advice, events, tools and more on our Vodafone V-Hub, designed to help your business thrive in the digital world.

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