Remote work is in demand, and employers who require workers to be on-site are losing out to organizations whose workstyle supports remote jobs. But not all jobs can be done remotely. Construction workers, healthcare providers, food service workers, warehouse and manufacturing crews – these are just some of the many jobs that are site-dependent. As routinely reported in the news, employers in these sectors are having difficulty hiring and retaining qualified staff, because remote work is so desirable.
One of the biggest attractions of remote work is flexibility. To compete with remote-work employers, on-site employers are taking a hard look at the temporal and locational boundaries of various job classifications and adding flexibility wherever possible.
In healthcare, for example, the big trend is flexible shifts. Workers can choose to work 90 hours over 8 days, or 40 hours over three days, with many variations. With flexible temporal boundaries, workers can easily balance on-site responsibilities with home and personal responsibilities.
Other organizations are deconstructing jobs into on-site tasks and tasks that can be easily done off-site. Librarians, for instance, have to be on-site to manage books and lending activities, but their administrative tasks like scheduling or catalog management can be done remotely.
This sounds a lot like hybrid work, doesn’t it? It might be termed Next-Gen Hybrid – reshaping seemingly rigid on-site jobs into more flexible work formats. To make Next-Gen Hybrid jobs function well, however, the right technology needs to be in place for smooth transitions between on-site and remote.
Asset management technology for physical assets and informational assets is vital. It’s all too easy to lose e-devices and paper documents in transit between an on-site workplace and a remote workplace, but these two asset management systems reduce the risk dramatically:
- RFID – Many organizations are already using RFID for inventory management. It’s simple to extend RFID’s tracking capability to e-devices leaving and returning to the workplace. And with employees coming and going on irregular schedules, RFID-enabled smart lockers give workers a place to keep their on-site stuff. Bonus: Administrators can manage locker access and usage remotely – another off-site task.
- Document digitization – Just because some tasks are moving off-site, while other tasks remain on-site, doesn’t mean that off-site tasks don’t need access to information. If that needed information exists only on paper, remote tasks are locked out. Document digitization – moving paper-based information into a digital database – makes information accessible on-site and off-site.
It’s going to take creativity to re-imagine how traditional on-site work can be made more flexible, and therefore more attractive to prospective employees. But with the right technology in the workplace, organizations can add a healthy dose of flexibility into their workflow, and level the recruitment playing field.
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Data is one of the most valuable assets of any organization. Enriched data, like enriched cereal, is even more valuable. Data enrichment takes a single data point – a unique product ID, for instance – and attaches additional information to that one data point. The single enriched data point can then provide better business insights for your entire organization.
One of the most advanced ways to enrich data is through combining different information sources. By having access to data from multiple sources, organizations can have a more comprehensive view of their customers, products, and operations.
When RFID data and data from digitized documents are combined, the resulting insights will have a positive impact on any business. The data stored in these databases is structured, meaning it is organized in a consistent format that makes it easier to access and analyze.
Enriched data from RFID and document databases is valuable throughout the organization. A few examples:
- Marketing – Product aging data from the RFID inventory intersects with digitized product brochures to create a quick end-of-season sale, reducing the cost of expired inventory.
- Quality Control – The digital document database matches suppliers’ warranties to an RFID-generated list of defective manufacturing supplies, providing fast data-supported refund requests to your vendors.
- Facilities Management – A digitized maintenance schedule is linked to specific items tracked in an RFID database, saving time in locating maintenance-due assets, and saving the cost of replacing improperly-maintained assets.
Enriched data provides organizations with improved operational efficiency. By having access to more accurate and complete data, businesses can make better decisions, prioritize tasks, and improve their operational efficiency. This improved efficiency can lead to cost savings, productivity gains, and smoother operations.
Perhaps your business is already using RFID for inventory management. Maybe you have already converted your paper documents into a digital database. If so, take a look at the benefits of cross-referencing the two databases. Organizations that invest in combining these data sources and leveraging the enriched data for decision-making can gain a competitive advantage and secure a strong future for their business.
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Experience informs all stakeholders about the outcome of their decisions. In the case of storage technology, those stakeholders include design consultants, manufacturers, and end users in fields from manufacturing and mining, to museums and medicine.
When prospective users are considering upleveling their storage technology, theories are all well and good, but the proof of the pudding is in the real world. Nothing beats a case study to demonstrate real-world experience. With that in mind, here is a selection of storage tech case studies that decision-makers can relate to:
- Government Agency Document Storage – Lack of storage space made organization and timely retrieval of documents an extreme challenge, deflecting the agency from its primary mission. A better storage system offered an answer.
- Electrical Utility Asset Management – Keeping adequate quantities of operational tools and supplies on hand was difficult, and left the utility unprepared for standard maintenance or emergencies. An inventory technology solution proved to be the management key.
- Museum Archives Storage – A continuing stream of artifacts and archival materials was straining this museum’s storage capacity. The solution took its storage in a new direction, doubling the museum’s warehouse capacity without expanding its footprint.
- Professional Association Document Archiving and Preservation – With many of its research documents in a fragile condition, this association had difficulty giving document access to its members. Twenty-first century technology created access for all, without endangering these one-of-a-kind books.
These are just a few of the many case studies of various storage technology solutions collected on the NOS site. If you’re considering a change in your storage systems, we encourage you to take a look at the possibilities and envision your organization’s future.
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By now every successful business has learned the most important branding lesson: Relationships matter. A well-managed brand practices relationship selling. Its people support the brand when they provide customer service, when they work hard for customer success, when they communicate personally and add the human touch to organizations large and small.
It’s easier said than done, however, when everything from supply chain failures to personal difficulties seems to sabotage those all-important customer relationships. If you’re feeling that your business relationships are on shaky ground, start checking your 5:1 numbers.
The 5:1 ratio – 5 positive interactions to 1 negative interaction – was developed by researcher and interpersonal expert John Gottman, known for his ability to predict divorces with 90% accuracy. Decades of observation supported his theory that a healthy relationship could survive some conflicts as long as the positive behaviors outweighed the negative by a ratio of 5:1.
Gottman’s recommendations for positive interactions apply just as much in business as they do in marriages. His suggestions include:
- Be interested – Listen to your customers.
- Demonstrate they matter – Look for ways to show your customers they are valued.
- Intentional appreciation – When your customer does something noteworthy, compliment them.
- Empathize and apologize – Walk a mile in your customers’ shoes. If they’re uncomfortable, apologize and make it right.
None of this is new, but you have to do enough of it – 5 times over – to make up for a negative experience.
And it’s always easier to keep up the number of positive interactions if you have taken steps to make those positive behaviors easy for everyone. For example, if you have added RFID to your inventory system, you can quickly and accurately assure a customer that their purchase is ready for pick-up. If you have digitized your paper documents, you can give a patient instant access to their medical records or other secure private documents.
Keep track of your 5:1 interactions, and use the technology that makes it easy to maintain the golden relationship ratio. Your business relationships (and your personal ones) will thrive.
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Document digitization is often valued for its back-office benefits. Digitization – also called imaging – provides security for confidential data that paper documents cannot offer. It provides simultaneous access to in-house and remote workers. It saves an exceptional amount of storage space, creating long term cost savings (scan it once, reduce storage space for years).
But the benefits aren’t confined to internal operations. Customer-facing activities can benefit too, particularly if your business’s brand is oriented toward customer success. Like other brand-supportive activities, customer success is proactive. It builds relationships with customers rather than merely reacting to customers’ questions or problems. Planning for customer success includes setting up ways to deliver quick responses to customers’ information requests.
Response time is important to customers. Slow service is a common reason for customers to leave a poor review or abandon a vendor relationship. In a highly-competitive environment, the organization that provides speedy responses is likely to win the business.
One example: A recent McKinsey study showed that insurance companies that provided best-in-class customer service enjoyed new-business growth two to four times greater than their peers. Fast service is part of the positive customer experience.
A database of digitized documents delivers customer service with electronic speed.
Let’s say a customer needs a copy of a damage appraisal from their insurance company. How much time does it takes for a staffer to leave their desk, find the right filing cabinet, locate the customer’s records, make a copy of the original document, and deliver the copy to the customer? Compare that to the speed of an online customer portal locating a digitized version of the document and delivering it immediately, as a digital document. The latter is a winner every time. And that’s just one example of the many ways document conversion improves the customer experience.
Without a doubt, digitization allows an organization’s internal teams to operate more productively, and use space more efficiently, with a resulting financial benefit. Even more, digitization helps businesses serve their customers better, and that too is worth money. Convert your documents, convert more customers, and watch profits grow.
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Congratulations! Your business has embarked on the digitization journey, making your paper documents shareable and secure. Your off-site employees have remote access to the digital versions of your paper documents, and your risk management team can stop worrying about the security risks of confidential information in multiple paper copies. These benefits translate into productivity improvements and reduced costs – a great result from a smart business decision.
But there is another financial benefit still on the table, requiring two more steps.
The first step of any digitization project is an assessment of the types of paper documents your business has in file cabinets and archived storage, and setting priorities for document scanning. Once the documents go through the digitization process – scanning, QC, and exporting to a digital document database – you may wonder what’s next for the original paper documents.
- Reassessment – You already defined the types of documents to digitize, based on document accessibility needs and security concerns. After digitizing, the paper documents go through a second assessment. Working with your digitization service provider, this reassessment helps you identify documents that you can dispose of, based on age, compliance needs, or other criteria.
- Secure disposal – Shred the accumulated boxes and stacks and files of scanned paper documents. With a new quality-assured managed database of imaged documents, you can let it go, just like Elsa in “Frozen.” A service provider who has taken you through the digitization process will be able to assist you with a secure shredding process, safeguarding sensitive information from accidentally falling into the wrong hands, and ensuring any compliance regulations that may apply.
And the result of these extra steps? More space. For every 10 filing cabinets of paper you digitize and shred, you gain almost 100 square feet at no extra cost. That space can be put to more productive uses – R&D, sales, manufacturing, customer interactions, and so on. And your remaining documents can be stored in space-efficient mobile filing cabinets, yielding even more space.
An extra bonus: Document disposal up-levels your sustainability rating. Shredded documents are securely transported to a paper recycling center where the ink is stripped off and the shredded paper is pulped. The pulp is then recycled into new paper.
In sum, digitized documents are shareable, secure, space-saving, and sustainable. Take steps to speak to a knowledgeable digitization professional and get all the benefits your business deserves.
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