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Easy IT Improvements to Increase Your Business' Productivity

Easy IT Improvements to Increase Your Business' Productivity

Small businesses are continually looking for ways to improve their IT efficiency. But before making investments in high end hardware, have a quick read of our low cost (or free) improvements to boost IT performance and employee productivity.

Dual Monitors

A dual monitor setup is exactly what it says on the tin, two screens operating from a single computer. Using two monitors can bring a number of improvements to your business and employees.

  • Increased productivity

The biggest advantage of moving to a dual monitor setup is the increased productivity for employees; a study by Jon Peddie Research showed the increase to be an average of 42%. Likewise, a test carried out by manufacturer NEC found a 20% reduction in errors and a ROI of over 600%.

  • Easier collaboration and communication

When using remote assistance or video conference software such as Skype or TeamViewer, the use of dual monitors allows one to have the video of the person they are chatting to on one screen while referencing or screen sharing a file, program or website on the other.

  • Use multiple programs simultaneously

Dual monitors allow a person to run two applications simultaneously. For instance, you could have your emails pulled up on one screen, while browsing the internet on the other screen.
This is a great resource for individuals who work with multiple programs at the same time e.g. marketers who need social media channels open or data analysts who regularly use spreadsheets

  • Reference and share critical information

Dual monitors allow an individual to reference information on one screen while utilising the second for work. For example, one screen could display information from your companies CRM system while generating reports in Excel or Word on the other. Likewise, dual monitors can be used to compare data across both screens.

Speed Up Your PC

Most of us can relate to the frustration of waiting for an old computer to boot up first thing in a morning. For a small business, slow and unreliable PCs can hurt profits, especially when you factor in the cost of IT support.

Often age is cited as the main cause of slow PCs, but many users have no idea that their computer could be bogged down with unneeded programs, virus and background processes. These issues can hinder the performance and decrease productivity, but there are a few things you can do to help.

  • Reduce start up programs

Around 15% of the programs that start automatically on boot up are optional. This not only slows down boot time, but also interferes with ongoing performance as they continue running in the background. Windows has handy tool can help you identify these startup programs (simply type ‘msconfig’ into the search bar on the start menu) and decide which ones are unnecessary. Removing these startup programs has been shown to decrease boot time by up to 41%.

  • Regular malware, virus and spyware scanning

Schedule your anti-virus software to run regular scans for malware, spyware and viruses. Just make sure you do so when you won’t be using the computer. Also, having more than one antivirus on your computer is largely redundant and will slow it down.

  • Defrag your drive

On traditional hard-drives (non SSD) when you save and delete files, the data gets placed in ‘sectors’. This causes 'fragmentation' and can increase the time it takes for the computer to find the specific item it is looking for; defragging the hard-drive will allow your computer to find what it needs a lot quicker – just search for the defragging tool in the windows control panel. The process can take quite a while, so it is recommended you schedule it over night.

  • Stay on top of updates

Software developers continually release updates for the software you have purchased. These updates include new and enhanced features and patches against security vulnerabilities. Microsoft, Adobe, Sage and others release regular bug fix and security updates to improve performance. Make sure you are staying on top of these, as using out-of-date software is one of the most common ways that malware infects a system.

Give your Internet a speed boost

The UK isn’t quite up to speed when it comes to quality broadband connection; in fact 5.7 million people don't receive Ofcom's minimum stipulated download speeds. While the technical wizards attempt to the fix the problem at their end, we have supplied a few tips that can help you speed things up at your end.

  • Location, location, location

First thing to do is to make sure your Wi-Fi router is in its proper place in your office, as close to the centre of the room and as high up as possible, free from walls and obstructions with the antennae straight upwards. If your office is over multiple floors, place your router on the top floor for maximum coverage.

  • Switch channels

To reduce interference from neighbouring Wi-Fi and boost your signal, you can switch the channels on yours – in the UK the best channels are 1, 6 and 11 (the instructions to do so should be available with your router or have a read through these instructions from PC advisor).

  • Buy Wi-Fi extender

Wi-Fi extenders broadcast your signal throughout your office to improve range and speed. They are also great if there is a particular part of the office that struggles to get a quality signal. These extenders are not too pricey either; a decent pair can be purchased for £20.

  • Use 5 GHz band

If your router is a fairly recent model there is a good chance it featured dual-band operation, which lets it broadcast on both 2.4 and 5 GHz (the label on the router should tell you if it is dual-band or not).
While not every computer or laptop will support 5GHx, new smartphone and tablets invariably do. Using 5GHz not only provides improved performance to the devices that are using it, due to higher throughput than 2.4, but also improves the performance of those still on 2.4 by freeing up capacity.

  • Replace router

This isn’t the necessarily the cheapest solution on this list, but it can arguably be the most effective if your current router has got some miles on the clock. Naturally new devices deliver better range and signal through improved technologies and will support dual-band operation by default.

Top 6 small business IT mistakes (and how to avoid them)

Dr James Huntington Managing Director

James is the Founder and Managing Director at IT Farm. His background in Computer Science help lay the foundation for IT Farm to become one of the UK's first Cloud Computing Companies.

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