2020 has been an interesting year and has given many solopreneurs the opportunity (a.k.a. forced them) to take their business online. Maybe you used to mentor clients offline, worked in a co-working space, or organized offline events, and now find yourself working from home, having video calls with clients, and creating online programs.
Or maybe you´re like me: you already had an online mentorship program and love working from home. Few things have changed for us, except that maybe your kids and partner are at home as well now since, just like us solopreneurs, employees from big companies were forced to start working from home too. The plus side of this is that it has been an accelerator for new world-changing technologies.
Carina van Vlerken is International Communications Manager at Lenovo: a US$50 billion Fortune Global 500 company, with 63,000 employees and operating in 180 markets around the world. She shares how Lenovo dealt with the challenges of working remotely (including some smart tech solutions), and what solopreneurs can learn from this.
1. Boost your productivity and efficiency
Working from home wasn´t actually a new thing for many of Lenovo´s employees. It has been a possibility for most of them for years and there are even a lot of virtual positions in the company.
A recent study has even shown that 63% of the interviewed feel more productive when they work from home. Unfortunately, not everyone is as productive at home as they are at the office. One of the downsides of working from home is that some people don´t have the discipline or feel the responsibility when working from home. Therefore managers have to make sure they stay in touch with their employees to check how they are doing and keep them motivated and engaged.
´I think many companies can learn a lot from solopreneurs as they already have the experience in staying motivated on their own and keeping an eye on their work-life balance.´
Working from home can save a lot of time (e.g. you don´t have to travel to the office) but, because of the now blurry lines between work and life, you may actually end up working more hours than before. Using the right technology and automating and simplifying tasks can help keep a healthy work-life balance.
´Think about the rapid growth of business communication platforms such as Microsoft Teams and Zoom. You can´t just see and talk to each other but you can also share your screen and documents in the cloud, as well as using whiteboards to collaborate.´
2. Use the best devices
Another factor in how productive you can be while working from home, besides using handy software to help you automate things, are the devices you use.
´An advantage of working in a corporate environment (especially an IT-company) is that employees have the best devices to work remotely – from powerful notebooks and a second monitor to smart displays to use for online Teams-meetings.´
Some of the newest technologies are:
´The rise of the foldable screen comes from the need to fulfill multiple functions with 1 device while leaving the smallest footprint possible. Because the components of a PC determine the size of a laptop this is a revolution with many possibilities. And we are just at the beginning.´
After the foldable phone, like the Motorola razr, we now have the world´s first foldable PC on the market: the ThinkPad x1 Fold. Because of its foldable screen, it can take on many different forms, adapting to any work environment or usage scenario. You can draw on the screen, fold it like a book and read, and run different programs simultaneously in one screen.
Because our data usage keeps growing there is an increased need for fast internet and therefore: 5G. This is a lot faster than 4G, enabling you to work more efficiently. It also gives us the possibility of real-time data processing which can be used for augmented reality, virtual reality, and bigger things such as online payment transactions, autonomous cars, Wi-Fi in public spaces with many users, and all new developments that rely on data networks, eliminating buffering – which we all hate! Am I right?
Smart devices arise from the desire to integrate everything, using AI-technology, otherwise known as IoT. From smart speakers to smart screens, such as Alexa, Siri, and Google Assistant. Voice control plays a big role in this.
´I use my Lenovo Smart Clock and Smart Display daily. The Smart Clock wakes me up with slowly increasing light and when I say `Good Morning´ I receive the current time, the weather forecast, and the calendar for the day. Followed by my favorite radio channel to wake up happy. The Smart Display is my digital picture frame which I also use to turn on music, control the heating system, and switch lights on and off.´
3. Secure your business
´What solopreneurs can learn from a corporate environment is the need for digital security. Especially during these times. Think for example about the risks of logging in on an open network and consider using a VPN. But also using strong passwords and regularly changing them.´
4. Stay connected in this digital world
Digital corporate culture is an area that is developing rapidly and we can expect a lot of innovations here.
´A clearly changing employment market forms a challenge for the ability of our clients to run their business the way they´re used to. These are companies where physical unity was one of the driving forces behind their growth. Current challenges force our clients to define how they want to run a modern digitalized company.´
Companies need a strategy explaining how they want to work, how their unique culture will survive in a digital world, and who the internal ambassadors are who will stimulate the digital transformation. They need to create social digital networks to stimulate the culture, which is essential for success in every transformation. Having a clear vision and facilitating the resources to provide hybrid and external employees with modern technology are also important.
´This is also important for solopreneurs. Since you may not go to many places anymore it is even more important to think about how you want to run your business, which smart technologies are important for you to use? And how do you make sure your company survives in a digital world? And maybe the most important one of all: how do you create a social digital network and a clear vision for a future that may be different than what we anticipated?´
A D V E R T O R I AL – this article was written in cooperation with Lenovo.