Using Calendars to Grow a Small Business
In bygone days, paper calendars hung in kitchens next to landline telephones. Annual calendars the size of post-it notes were sometimes adhered to the dashboards of old farm trucks.
Small town cafes had handwritten work schedules on notebook paper that listed shifts and which employees were scheduled to work. These simple calendars were often taped to the wall by the telephone or back door.
In white-collar industries, professionals carried thick day planners everywhere they went. Enormous desk calendars covered their workspaces. Sometimes a community calendar hung on the wall in break rooms or near the office entrance, where employees coming and going could see where their fellow workers were assigned.
Compared to today’s sleek or hidden electronic options, keeping up with family and work in those days was clunky and cluttered. Now professionals can keep up with their teams using digital shared calendar tools.
Using Digital Calendars in Small Businesses
The Need for Shared Calendars in Business Situations
The need for small businesses to use calendars to organize their time has increased over the years. A quick exchange of facts means more work can get done on a daily basis, but it also means there are more files, more projects, more of everything to manage.
Consider a fledgling company in a small town. If it’s new, most likely the owners will stretch themselves to staff the store, order products, and put together marketing campaigns. They’ll organize and schedule marketing notifications for social media programs like Instagram and LinkedIn.
A slightly larger organization also has to juggle work shifts, payroll and tax paperwork, training of employees and licensing requirements like continuing education.
No matter what the size of the organization is, there will be appointments to set, events to attend and people who need to know what meetings to attend. Keeping all the data in one place and sharing it with others who need it is just good business management.
There are two really great ways to use digital calendars to help grow small businesses:
- Calendar sharing, in which one person electronically shares his or her plans with another worker, is a simple, fast way to trade schedules. Software programs like Microsoft Outlook are good tools for creating shared calendars for work, although it’s trickier to create group calendars in Outlook.
- Group calendars, in which everyone in the group adds their scheduled events to one view, can be helpful in situations such as managing a small workgroup. However, too many details shared with too many partners can make the schedule look chaotic and confusing. Google Calendar is one option for managers who want to create group calendars.
Benefits of Using Shared Calendars for Work
While a boss in a small organization most likely knows who is working where and when, having a shared calendar app or group scheduling applications for work can help employees stay in the loop, get up to speed and feel motivated to do their own work. It increases efficiency because it decreases confusion.
For example, a small company that uses a program like Outlook/Coorganiz/Google Calendar gives the manager an easy way to distribute work schedules. With a click of a button, a calendar can be shared with everyone who needs to see it.
This kind of programs also allows folks in management positions to view shared calendars side by side. This means they can check the progress of specific employees or projects over time without being overwhelmed by all the data that can be displayed on a group system. Click here to read more about some of the basic benefits of using shared calendars for a group.
Pros and Cons of Using Digital Calendars in Small Companies
- Using shared calendars can help a company grow by freeing up time spent on filling work shifts or comparing date books. This means more time can be spent organizing and administering advertising campaigns to grow the company’s bottom line.
- Most calendaring systems are intuitive, and after using them once or twice, creating and sharing calendars seems easy.
- Shared calendars are a quick way to keep on top of projects and help employees stay on task.
- New generation workers are tech savvy. Using shared or group calendars can help them engage with their work in ways that are meaningful and fun, which results in better productivity for the entire company.
- There’s no cost for many of the best programs on the market, so there’s virtually no risk for an app that a small company can leverage.
- Learning how to use new software can be time-consuming. This might be a deterrent for company leaders who are already overwhelmed with other management matters.
- Many mom and pop companies were started generations ago. Occasionally the leaders of these types of companies are satisfied with the way things have worked in the past, don’t trust the stability of electronics, or simply don’t have the inclination to learn something new. In some cases, a new generation of leaders may be needed to make the switch to new scheduling systems.
- Some jobs in areas like natural resources or construction can make it difficult for employees working out of the office to get internet. A manager might prefer a quick paper itinerary that can be distributed by hand days, weeks or months in advance. Even so, a simple app on an iPhone, Pad, or similar device might still be easier.
- Sometimes the number of choices for scheduling apps can be overwhelming, too. It takes time for company leaders to research which apps will create the best-shared calendarsfor the organization.
Features That Matter Most to a Small Business
For small companies just making the switch to digital calendars or for businesses looking to upgrade their software, here are some questions to consider:
- Is the interface pleasant and easy to use?
- Will a shared calendar or a group calendar best meet the needs of the company? Does the app you’re considering offer both options or only one of them?
- How easy will it be for employees to access the shared or group calendars?
- What is the cost of the application? Will you need to purchase other software or devices that employees will use to access the calendars?
Overall, any effective system will make things better for your company. Options like shared or group calendars might be the perfect solution to managing multiple employees and projects.
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