Office Trends Small Business Owners Should Know About

Trends are always changing – even in the workplace. While larger companies tend to be on the pulse of what’s hot and what’s not, smaller companies are less likely to be in the know. With fewer employees, small business owners may have less access to information about popular culture, especially when it comes to office trends.

However, in order to stay competitive in the market and attract the right employees, it helps to know how you can further your business as well as what employees tend to like and dislike. Plus, with technology always changing, the next big thing could well be passé before the year ends. Be aware of these office trends.

  1. The rise of financial technology. More and more retailers will be using mobile wallets in order to increase their payment options. Businesses looking for loans will have new options available to them. Instead of banks and other traditional loans, small businesses will be able to use alternative lenders such as Kabbage and On Deck Capital. For those with a new product or service, Crowdfunding will still be...
  2. Attract millennials. Millennials are entering the workforce at record paces. Since they make up the largest percentage of the United States population, many will be looking to take on management roles, especially since several million chiefs will soon retire. Small businesses must go above and beyond in order to attract these millennials, especially since they will be competing with large companies. Millennials have many job opportunities available to them, so they’ll be looking for jobs that offer unique benefits tailored to their needs, such as assistance with student loans.

If a small business is able to attract a millennial, don’t expect them to hang around too long. Job-hopping – once a practice that was highly frowned-upon – is becoming very common, especially in the tech industry.

  1. Focus on cyber security. While corporations are more prone to cyber attacks, small businesses are not fully protected from these dangers. New currencies and payment options, such as Bitcoin and Apple Pay, result in increased attacks. Make sure your company implements safety precautions and that every employee abides by them. Make sure computers have firewalls and anti-virus software in place to protect sensitive information from these threats.

  2. Focus on a niche. While the investors on Shark Tank may advise you to appeal to the widest audience possible, niche companies are finding success. Instead of trying to appeal to a wide audience, focus on a very specific audience segment. Small businesses will want to create marketing messages focused on the needs and wants of their target audience. The marketing should focus on building relationships rather than getting overly aggressive and trying to sell a product or service.

  3. Move toward outsourcing. Instead of paying for salaried employees who demand benefits, small businesses can benefit from freelancers. Freelancers are available to work on an as-needed basis so that small businesses can pay for only the work they need done, whether they need something daily or maybe just once every few weeks. They don’t have to waste much-needed money by keeping someone on the payroll.

  4. Use of video will be important in marketing. Video will be ubiquitous this year. Every company needs to have it if they want to succeed in the marketplace. Look to different marketing tools that incorporate the use of video, such as video series, YouTube, Facebook Live, and Snapchat. The more tools you use, the better.

  5. Increase in virtual and augmented reality. Virtual reality will continue to be big but following close behind will be augmented reality. The difference between the two is that virtual reality swaps a real world for a virtual world, while augmented reality uses a computer to supplement reality. Certain elements are added to allow the user to manipulate his or her real world.

While these forms of reality are often used for entertainment purposes, they can be used in the workplace as learning aids. Employees will be looking to use these tools, so small businesses will need to step up so they don’t disappoint.

  1. Exercise caution when offering benefits. Lawsuits against sponsors of 401(k) plans and IRAs are in the news. Employees – past and present – are bringing up these lawsuits. While it’s a nice gesture for small companies to offer benefits to employees, this can hurt you instead of help your company. Benefit plans can be complicated. It’s important to know the rules so you can avoid conflicts of interest and avoid future lawsuits against you.

  2. Create a digital office. In the past, everything was printed. Documents were then signed, scanned and emailed to the appropriate parties. This process is not only damaging to the environment, but it’s also detrimental to employee morale and productivity.

Resolve to stop printing so much. If you must print on a regular basis, use refurbished ink cartridges and 100% recycled paper. These supplies are made using materials that are better for the environment.

Printing less may seem challenging, but it’s not impossible. A fully digital office is now a reality. Thanks to improved security and an ever-growing number of software options, it’s now easier than ever to store everything online. It’s an efficient and cheap alternative to printing. Many companies have implemented paperless offices for quite some time, and this trend will likely continue in 2017.

New trends mean additional challenges for your company. Making money while staying relevant is not an easy task. Perhaps 2017 will be the year that you grow your small business into something large. New employees – particularly those well-versed in the business world – can help you take your business to the next level.

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