As a workplace manager, you enter the office each day prepared to put out fires and ensure every moving part within the business is given the knowledge and care necessary to facilitate long-term success. It is critical that you stay poised, attuned to your team, and are ready for the next challenge at a moment’s notice. And, like most organizations, you’re likely doing this on a limited budget, making the most of the business tools you’ve assembled in your arsenal.
With so many moving parts to tend to day in and day out, there’s little time left to focus on identifying the latest in technological trends. Unfortunately, this means some critical tools, tools that could drastically affect your business, could slide by without getting the attention they need. Fortunately, there’s a whole host of free online tools to assist you on tasks ranging from process automation to project management, as well as everything in between.
So, in recognition of how busy you are, we’ve done the research and compiled a list of some of the best, most effective business tools, designed to make life easier, from the moment you wake up, until the time you leave the office.
1) Morning Ritual
I don’t know about you, but mornings aren’t always easy in my house. I set the alarm in 15-minute intervals, giving my brain a chance to slowly wake up and get used to the idea of starting my day. But, like many of us, I do some of my best work in the morning, and find that when I begin my day productively, it sets the tone for the rest of the day.
According to behavioral psychologist BJ Fogg, there are three effective ways to change behavior long-term: have an epiphany, changing your environment, or by taking baby steps. Morning Ritual is a mobile app that caters to Fogg’s third suggestion, making it easier for users to create and schedule daily tasks.
With the Morning Ritual app, you can set each activity with corresponding time limits. Simply hit the "Start" button to begin a timer for your first task. The app will notify you when it’s time to move on to your next task. At the end of your daily routine, MR pulls together a graph to show you how you allocated your time, and offers the capability to track your progress from last week or last month. You’d be amazed at how these baby steps guide you down a path to creating better habits, both personally and professionally, ultimately making you a better workplace leader.
This app is currently available for iOS users only ($1.99), but Android users can find similar functions through the mobile application Routinely.
The best way to reduce chaos from your daily routine is through preparation. If you don’t like the idea of using an application that times you from one task to the next, but have found you’re more productive with lists, we’ve got the app for you! Wunderlist is a free task management app that allows you to put together a to-do list, map out presentations, and complete numerous other tasks.
Its clean, intuitive design is meant to be shared, so you can sync up with colleagues to collaborate and contribute. Wunderlist syncs between your phone, tablet, and computer, so you can create your list on any device and browse it from your phone or tablet on the train ride to work each morning.
Speaking of arming yourself with the latest information. How many times have you sat down to finally read that article you spotted earlier in the day only to see you don’t have enough service to open it? Frustrating, isn’t it? Well, thanks to the Pocket app, you can eliminate that issue entirely.
Pocket lets you save articles, videos, and images from your browser (or from a library of over 1,500 apps) to be viewed at a later time. Whenever you find an article you’d like to read later, just place it in your Pocket app for future offline reading.
Gone are the days of bogging down your inbox with hundreds of daily emails. Thousands of companies, including Business Insider, are now using Slack to enhance internal communications. The app lets you share files with colleagues, create project-specific “teams” based on tasks, chat privately with one or more coworkers and have larger group discussions. And, since it syncs up between your desktop and mobile devices, you never have to miss another important message. It’s the perfect collaborative messaging tool for busy professionals.
5) Read, Read, Read
There’s something to be said for starting out your day feeding your brain a little knowledge. Whether you’ve got some downtime on your daily commute, or you spend a few moments when you first get to the office, new information really kickstarts your day, offering a fresh perspective and some daily inspiration.
Visit online blogs like FacilityDude or grab the latest issue of Facilities Manager Magazine to learn the latest in workplace management technology, trends, practical advice, and common challenges. It’s comforting to know that others are faced with the same challenges. Oftentimes, the best, most innovative solutions arise from collaborative input.
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While your title leads everyone to believe your primary role is ensuring the facility (and its business tools) runs smoothly, your job is really about so much more than that. It’s a people profession; one in which you’re required to interact with the workforce and your colleagues consistently. It’s about understanding and engaging your workforce, and keeping up with the latest trends. Your best strategy, then, involves those very people. Become active with various workplace management associations, such as International Facility Management Association (IFMA) and Facilities Net. Join LinkedIn groups such as Critical Facility Management and Facilities Management Association, and attend conferences such as IFMA’s annual World Workplace Conference & Expo. The people of your profession stand to be your most valuable tool, as you share ideas, commiserate over similar challenges, and make lasting connections.
7) Integrated Workplace Management System (IWMS)
There is no better way to keep your workforce connected, collect and analyze business data, and manage the facility’s space and assets, than with an Integrated Workplace Management System. We’ve taken a modular approach to our software design, affording you the ability to invest in as much, or as little, as is needed to help meet the organization’s needs and business goals. Processes are automated and streamlined, giving your workforce access to real-time data as needed, without having to hunt and peck across disparate software platforms.
8) A Complete Team
It’s been said before (but can’t be emphasized enough) how important it is to trust and rely on your team. They are your support system and a direct reflection of your abilities as a leader. They are invaluable for assembling feedback on what is and isn’t working and will supply honest assessments of your organization’s strengths and weaknesses. Keep in mind, you’re only as good as the level of quality you surround yourself with, so choose your team well and make sure the bar for success is at a high, yet obtainable level. The key to proper teamwork is continued communication, so show that your door is always open and encourage positive or constructive conversation amongst the team. Additionally, the tools listed above will help maintain a healthy level of communication and collaboration amongst you and your squad.
If you’re truly willing to listen, feedback from your workforce, those deep in the trenches day in and day out, can serve as one of your most valuable tools. Software applications such as Free Suggestion Box and Survey Monkey offer neutral ground, in which employees can offer feedback and suggestions regarding everything from the temperature setting in the break room to improving the procedures behind your next office move. Aside from gathering mission critical information regarding the inner workings of the business, you also signal to your team that you value an open and honest workplace culture.
A great leader understands how to encourage and motivate their people through positive conversations and trusts their team to produce proper results. They are also humble enough to understand that they don’t always have all the answers but will turn to the right tools to get those answers. They are always seeking self improvement and realize they can’t expect anything out of their team that they won’t do themselves. Are you this kind of leader? Do you want to be? Start transforming and preparing now.