There are lots of ways staff can drive efficiencies and save your business money. Here are some top tips for encouraging frugal thinking
Lead by example
Staff won’t think even simple measures such as turning off the lights in a meeting room are important if the boss doesn’t do it too.
“If you want your staff to recycle, switch lights off or not turn up the heating, then show them that it matters to you,” says Toby Robins, sustainable development director at green consultancy Wiles Greenworld. “It will then become the company culture.”
Simple things do matter. For example, Level39, a technology accelerator space in Canary Wharf, uses a motion-activated lighting system to reduce unnecessary power use and save money.
Within every tight, bright SME team there are likely to be scores of money-saving ideas waiting to be teased out. So get teasing.
“One such method is to consider a carefully deployed bonus system,” says Mike Herd, executive director of business incubator Sussex Innovation Centre. “Instead of cutting bonuses altogether, creating a system where a one-off bonus is awarded when an employee has helped the company save money will encourage them and their colleagues to keep looking for further efficiencies.”
An even simpler method, says Nicky Milligan, managing director at communications company mcm creative group, is, “a monthly lucky dip prize for the person who has shown the best initiative when it comes to saving the business money.”
Instil a “my money” attitude
Make employees aware of how much of the company’s money they are spending, and encourage them to treat it as they would their own.
“Train your employees to negotiate the best costs by not accepting the first price and always asking for a better offer from a supplier.
“At mcm, we always get three quotes on any supplier spend over £2,000 and never accept the first price submitted,” says Ms Milligan.
Be paper efficient
The oft-mentioned paperless office is like an oasis in the desert – always just over the next dune – but the paper-efficient office is readily achievable.
“Our key information is saved on Google Docs, which allows people to share information more easily and quickly [than printing],” says Gustė Sadaunykaitė, communications manager of money transfer start-up TransferGo. “We even use digital signatures.”
In fact, good printer practice is an easy money-saver to instigate, says Ms Milligan. “Just simple steps such as setting everyone’s computer to automatically print black and white and two-sided unless otherwise specified.”
When staff do need to print documents, it’s worth knowing that all printers are not the same. HP PageWide technology, available as standard in the HP OfficeJet X series, prints for up to half the cost-per-page of colour lasers and uses up to 50pc less energy.
Encourage remote working
Giving staff the option to work remotely can improve efficiency and employee satisfaction as well as saving money on power, paper and hardware use. And technology is making remote working even easier for SMEs.
“For many SMEs remote and flexible working has become a way of reducing the costs associated with office space,” says Marco Landi, president for Europe, the Middle East and Africa of video conferencing provider Polycom. “Our RealPresence video collaboration app can be run over as little as 2G from a mobile device – couple this with a BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) programme and you’ve got a significant cost reduction in terms of hardware provision.”
In fact, asks Adam Blaskey, founder of central London co-working space The Clubhouse, if your staff are happy working remotely do you need a traditional office at all? “Thanks to the growing trend of remote working, most of the day-to-day running of a business can now be done more efficiently online and by using alternatives such as dedicated business clubs and co-working spaces,” he says.