Long hours at work and the demographics of an aging population mean small businesses in Japan face extra pressures over and above the common pain points of cutting costs, increasing revenue and retaining high quality staff, even though the country is enjoying its longest period of economic growth since the 1990s.
That growth looks set to continue with exports, consumer spending and business confidence all rising - making this a good time to make sure your business is in the best position to handle challenges, and take advantage of new opportunities.
But the on-going Work-Style Reform means you must plan for changes in working hours as well as how and where employees do their jobs. Investing in new PCs for your workforce is a smart way to improve productivity and mobility, and doing so without breaking the bank.
You don’t have to wait until your old computers break down or you hire more staff to get the benefit of the latest hardware. Slow, clunky and dated PCs aren't the image you want your customers to have of your business when they walk through the door. Those old systems could also be slowing down how you work far more than you may realize. If your business hasn’t invested in new PCs in a few years, you’ll be missing out on performance that could improve productivity, on management options that save time, and on thinner and lighter mobile devices with much longer battery life which let staff work where and when they need to.
Yet unfortunately, small businesses often keep using older PCs without thinking about how much that costs in repairs, upgrades and sheer productivity lost. In a 2014 study, Techaisle [i] examined the relative cost of running older PCs and replacing them with newer models, and concluded that their focus on avoiding short-term costs could “lead to situations that cost them more.”
“In light of the issues faced by PCs four years or older, replacing, rather than repairing and upgrading is a much more prudent course of action,” reads the report.
In addition, older systems are more likely to crash, and less likely to be running the latest, fastest, most secure version of the operating system. Even if you don’t lose time to crashes and problems, an older PC is going to be slower and it’s not going to be able to run as many applications simultaneously.
PC Refresh: Why you need new hardware
The real solution to reducing excessive work hours is improving productivity, and new hardware can help here.
The less time you spend waiting for your computer to boot up, the faster you can get on with your work; new PCs with Windows 10 and SSD drives start-up in seconds[ii].Running the latest versions of applications gives you new features as well as better performance. Filling out an application form or loading a large spreadsheet faster means you can deal with more customers and get more work done in the working day.
If you're short on space, or you want to rearrange things so that staff can deal directly with customers, consider replacing desktop PCs with sleek All in One (AIO) PCs that have better performance, bigger screens, fewer cables and look stylish enough to sit up front in the office. They’ll make work more efficient, but also send a message to visitors that the whole business is modern and up-to-date.
An increasing number of small businesses are replacing desktop PCs with notebooks to give employees improved performance and more flexibility, whether that’s for working outside a traditional office or just taking their PC down the hall to collaborate with a co-worker.
Japan leads the world in the number of small businesses that have mobile workers, and with Work-Style Reform focusing attention on telecommuting and remote work, shared offices are springing up in suburbs and residential areas to cater for parents who want to combine work with childcare.
Today’s notebook PCs give those mobile workers the increased performance and battery life they need, in much thinner and lighter form factors that are more convenient to carry around. An old laptop might struggle to manage two or three hours of work but new notebooks run software faster and deliver ten hours of battery life, while the latest Always-On systems combine impressive battery life with instant connectivity thanks to built-in mobile broadband.
Many businesses are looking at moving key software to mobile devices like smartphones and tablets. 2-in-1 PCs simplify that, with screens that give you both touch and pen support, making it easier to fill in a form or sketch out a new idea.
That’s the kind of power and flexibility that appeals to the younger, technology-savvy workers which small businesses are keen to attract. The right hardware will help businesses be more responsive and work in real-time with customers and suppliers, instead of making them wait until a key member of staff is back in the office. And being able to work on the go is another way to avoid overtime and long evenings in the office.
How can you upgrade to new PCs with ‘unmanaged IT’?
Buying new PCs or shifting from desktops to mobile devices can bring challenges – from how to transfer files and data – to how to manage and secure those new systems - but the process is often faster and simpler for smaller businesses who can look for the right devices to suit their needs without going through a long procurement process. New PCs with Windows 10 are ready to be managed straight out of the box; with only a little configuration by your IT admin, staff can be automatically enrolled in management systems while they’re setting up their new device, without them having to follow any extra steps. That can even apply the same management policies you use for mobile devices like tablets and smartphones, to keep things simple and consistent.
For the large numbers of small businesses who don’t have an IT team, business cloud services like Office 365 mean you can still manage new PCs easily, and Windows 10 brings regular improvements that add new features regularly without disruptive operating system upgrades.
Small businesses don’t have the resources of their larger competitors, but the advantage of working on a smaller scale is that you can move more quickly and offer a more personal approach. Turn that into a competitive advantage by investing in new PCs that make employees more productive, keep business information more secure, and make your business look more professional.
Giving your employees the tools they need to get their work done efficiently and get out of the office, so they can refresh their creativity and enthusiasm can even help you improve your company culture for the new style of work.