It might be that you, the business owner, possess many technical skills, Perhaps you pride yourself on your ability to fix any machine, whether it's Mac, Windows, or Linux. Maybe you have the latest gadgets, including the most up-to-date Android smartphone and iPad tablet. Understand, though, that your employees might not be so technically inclined.
For all the benefits it can provide, technology in the workspace can be a divisive force. Those who are more adept will think themselves superior, while those less adept might be unnecessarily unproductive. Thankfully, there are steps any business owner can take in order to even the playing field and give everyone the advantage of technology.
The three following ideas are simple, even rudimentary. But they will go a long way in making people more comfortable with the technology in the office. After all, what good is technology if people aren't using it to its fullest capabilities?
Unless you work with hyper-sensitive information, or employ more than 50 people in a single office, traditional computer networking isn't necessary. If anyone suggests that it is, they are likely approaching the issue from an unnecessarily old-school stance. The truth is that with the evolution of the internet and available software, modern small businesses needn't network their computers as they did in the past.
Everyone can link up to the same internet connection via WiFi. You'll have to get a very powerful router, and you might even need two or three depending on how many people you employ. But there is no reason that you can't simply run your internet connection through a modem and routers, allowing all computers on premises to connect. As a bonus, employees can also connect their smartphones and tablets. It's not much of a business benefit, but it will make them just a little bit happier (especially if they don't get reception in the building).
You can still network computers if you like that approach, of course, but then you need additional employees to manage the system -- or will have to allocate time for a current employee to spend on system administration tasks. Since those tasks can consume considerable time, it might not be cost efficient for small businesses. The cheaper and still effective option of WiFi connections is a close enough facsimile that the company can maintain production with little noticeable negative effect.
Given expansive budgets, chances are many small business owners would outfit their offices with Mac computers. And why not? More and more people are switching to Mac, so more employees will be familiar with the platform. But at some point cost efficiency has to come into play, and PCs win that battle in a landslide. There are some performance drop-offs, but they're nothing when compared to the cost savings over Mac.
There are little things you can do to make PC life easier for your employees. For starters, few of them will have experience with Windows 8, yet many new computers are shipped with that new operating system. Truthfully, there are few, if any, advantages for businesses running Windows 8. It's more of a consumer product than anything (and it says a lot that consumers aren't particularly enamored with it). If you downgrade to Windows 7, you will make life easier for the employees who run that OS at home.
Another option is to allow employees to choose their operating system. Since you're not networked, you needn't have uniform operating systems. So those who are familiar with Windows 7 can downgrade. Those who prefer Windows 8 can stay the same. For the more technically inclined, Linux builds become possible. While the average user won't find it useful, many hardcore computer users believe that Ubuntu, the most popular version of Linux, is vastly superior to any version of Windows.
The benefits of not using a traditional network can extend even further. If you don't need a platform standard, why be a tyrant about what machine an employee needs to use? For all you know an employee might do significantly better work if allowed to use his or her own machine. While it might be unrealistic to lug a desktop computer into work, employees can bring and take their laptop computers on a daily basis.
The ability to use one's own computer expands on point No. 2 above. Since they're familiar with it, they might be more productive using it than they would be using an unfamiliar interface. This is a particular point for Mac users, who tend to flail when trying to use a PC at work. (Trust me, I know from experience.) They bring the computer, they take the computer, and they might even get more work done. As a bonus, it would seem, intuitively, that they are more likely to do work at home if they are using their own machine.
A bonus to this: if you budget for one PC per user, and a few employees use laptops, that gives you a few spare computers. That comes in handy if one of them breaks -- and longtime PC users know that they break frequently. It can also give you a common computer for conferences, presentations, and other tasks that all employees need from time to time.