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Home-grown solutions 

The winter season can throw a wrench into the works for small and medium sized businesses (SMBs), especially for employees who commute to work. Snowstorms and ice result in dangerous road conditions, sometimes forcing staff to work from home. In the past, working remotely often made communication difficult, but the evolution of mobile technology has allowed SMBs to function remotely without missing a beat.

With this in mind Sage, a developer of SMB-focused solutions, is helping small businesses to remain productive during periods where the staff is forced to work remotely. Nancy Harris, senior vice president and general manager of Sage North America’s Canadian division, shares some insight on how going mobile is a help rather than a hindrance, and how Sage can help remote workers stay productive.

IT in Canada: Why is it important for SMBs to have a proper mobile work strategy in place?
Harris: It’s important for SMBs to have this kind of strategy in place simply to address and be able to maintain business continuity and time flow during emergencies or weather impact (situations). Also, (it helps) to ensure that when you would not be able to be connected via a desktop type of environment, you maintain your productivity and keep your business up and running from a virtual standpoint.

ITIC: Many people believe that working remotely can decrease productivity. Why is this?
NH: They may believe that working from home can decrease productivity because people could get distracted from their tasks at hand vis-à-vis their priorities at work. That being said, in today’s day and age, there are many technologies that enable people to be extremely productive when working from home or any location that’s remote from their office. It’s a matter of giving people the right tools and technologies to do their jobs while they are working remotely that can help ensure productivity even when they are not in the office.

ITIC: What can SMBs do to maintain collaboration while working remotely?
NH: There are a number of technologies out on the market today that enable people to be highly productive. Those of us who have had to work from a remote location need to collaborate with our colleagues. There are a number of collaboration platforms that include the likes of Skype, GoToMeeting, Google Hangouts where companies and their colleagues can virtual meetings online via chat and voice (capabilities). People spread out in an abundance of locations can have virtual meetings and share documents and ideas, all connected via cloud technology. This helps you to make great progress on your priorities.

ITIC: What kinds of solutions does Sage offer for remote business management?
NH: At Sage, we have a number of pure-play cloud-based products, such as Sage One. If you are responsible for the back office, you can log into Sage One via any Web browser, create invoices and send them to your customers. You can also manage your expenses and keep your books, and all of this can be done via the cloud.

We also have what we call cloud-connected services. You might have an on premise accounting product, but by using a cloud-connected service, such as Sage Mobile Sales, you can be out in the field and create invoices and get paid. All of your transactions will then flow back into the on premise accounting product.

ITIC: What does the future hold for mobile work strategies?
NH: When you look at the trend of mobile device adoption, when you include smartphones, they far surpass laptops as hardware today, and it’s growing at an extremely rapid rate. It will be imperative that small businesses be able to arm their workers with the right tools and technology to be productive when they’re remote.

Vendors like Sage and others in the technology field will constantly be innovating, like we’re doing with providing pure-play cloud-based applications and providing ways for workers to be productive with on premise products while remote or out in the field. It will be imperative that they do so in order to survive and keep up with the trend.

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