Tips to Streamline Your Workspace

The modern office bears little resemblance to the workplace of 50 years ago. Technology has streamlined the number of devices you need for productivity, turning the adding machine—and the calculator—into software and the telephone into a pocket-sized gadget smaller than the keypad on a touchtone phone. To introduce even more cohesion and simplicity into your office workspace, get organized and take advantage of technology's focus on small, fast, portable power and advanced connectivity.

Taming Clutter

Without an organizing strategy that suits your work and personality, you can accrue piles of clutter, extraneous desk accessories, old notes and out-of-date paperwork, all of which make your workspace suggest that your methods suffer from equivalent disorganization. The more you rely on digital technology to track expenses and correspondence, communicate with business colleagues and create projects, the less actual paper you require. Make a commitment to sort out, clear away, file and discard, maintain order and, if necessary, change your habits so you no longer work amid the debris of past commitments.

Schedule your tidying sessions just like client or vendor appointments and give them the same attention. When you make a point of putting things away as soon as you finish using them, you reduce procrastination and its contributions to untidiness. If stopping to file items seems to pose too much of a distraction, perhaps you've chosen the wrong place to put often-used items, which belong within easy reach.

Desktop or Notebook

If your business takes you on the road with a notebook computer, you can simplify your workspace with a single system that serves both your mobile and your in-the-office needs. Today's notebook computers offer the performance and storage you need for all the tasks you entrust to a desktop system. The compact footprint of a notebook helps minimize the number of objects on your desk, contributing to a decluttered look that reflects an organized mind. In an office space with an HDTV, you can connect your laptop to the screen and use it to view documents from across the room.

Online Conferencing

Communicating with clients, prospects and vendors can force you to rely on a combination of expensive travel, smartphone calls, email, voice mail and other technologies that lack the immediacy of face-to-face communication. Online conferencing and collaboration can simplify and improve your connections with distant colleagues, providing voice, visual contact and data sharing.

Bernardo de Albergaria, VP and General Manager of Collaboration at Citrix, notes that "An entrepreneur working from a home office is going to need a foolproof communications system to work with his/her team. Home-based businesses should employ cross collaborating technological tools to ensure they can work with a remote team (including their customers and vendors) from anywhere." You can review and annotate working documents together, and talk through ideas and strategies with a clarity and directness that email lacks. Additionally, you can see nuances of facial expression and tone of voice that disappear in other communication media. These new media streamline the communication process, cut costs, and reduce your reliance on paper and email, each of which can contribute to different forms of clutter and inefficiency.

Cutting the Cord

Working wirelessly provides great freedom, enabling you to combine the capabilities of all your technologies to contribute to the success of your business endeavors. Tablet devices and smartphones can supplement the functionality of computers. Even cameras and camcorders can send images directly to a computer backup or stream video footage as you shoot it. If parts of your work take you into the field, synchronizing your devices keeps your files and resources available wherever you go. As de Albergaria points out, "Cloud-based tools are the perfect solution. They let teams be productive wherever they are, working on the go, from any device. People can be just as effective as if at their desks."

Security Measures

Integrating your personal devices into your workflow can pose security challenges. "The most talked-about challenge—and opportunity—is the use of personal devices for work, or the growing 'BYOD' trend," de Albergaria notes. "Today, people live their lives on these devices and want the flexibility of being able to access what they use at home in a work environment."

Whether you work in a corporate office or do business from a home-based entrepreneurial workspace, the security of your data and your identity poses an increasing challenge in an interconnected world, he says. "The most successful businesses will adopt solutions that play across those devices that people prefer: high-quality, secure solutions that bridge across devices and across organizations (both internally and externally), and that don't require extensive training." If you adopt the proper security provisions, you protect proprietary information and limit the risk of data loss. An added benefit is that practicing BYOD can unclutter your office space by reducing the number of gadgets you carry.

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