Tools of the Trade
In days gone by, office work used to be fairly straightforward. The key skills needed to be successful were a good grasp of the English language, including spelling and grammar, an ability to be able to type fast and accurately and being exceptionally well organised. Some of us were taught Pitman shorthand and touch-typing, audio typing, reception and telephone skills, customer awareness and how to file.
So what's changed?
There's no doubt in my mind that in some ways, nothing much has changed. What has changed are the tools and technology that help us to carry out the tasks. At a recent networking meeting, when hearing that I support small businesses with their admin tasks by working, in the main, remotely from my own office, the man I was talking to said he was surprised that there was still a call for 'people to file stuff in dusty filing cabinets'. I explained that I rarely get asked to do that, but it made me think about how we still work in and run offices in much the same ways as we did before, but just in a different way. So take filing - no dusty filing cabinets but now we do it electronically. We still need to know the basic skills of filing systems in order to produce an electronic filing system that works efficiently and effectively. Typing - no bashing away on an old typewriter as now we can produce documents by dictating them, using speech to text software, using predictive text and word processors.
To help me support businesses, I have to make sure that I keep well informed of new software, apps and tools that become popular - in the past we learnt a set of skills that could be built on, but now we need to learn something new almost monthly in order to stay on top of the game.
These are some of the tools that I currently use:
1. Microsoft 365 - Outlook, PowerPoint, Excel and Word - the workhorse of the office
2. Publisher - good for designing stuff
3. Toggl - timekeeping app to ensure that clients are only charged for hours worked
4. Brightbook - online accounting package that is ultra easy to use
5. Trello - keeping me and others organised
6. Canva - helping me design just about anything (along with Publisher)
7. Mailchimp - newsletters sorted in an instant
8. Olympus digital transcription software - makes it easy to transcribe digital audio files
9. Skype - allows me to talk to clients without the need for them or me to leave the office
10. Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn - keeps me in touch on social media
11. Google my Business - ensures I appear on the Google Maps
12. Wix - as I built my own website, I can update it myself
13. One Drive - keeps my documents secure and available wherever I go
14. Dropbox - I can share files easily and securely with others
There are more of course but this shows we've moved on a long way from the typewriter and carbon copy paper, the dusty old filing cabinet, the fax machine and the pile of files perched precariously with a cassette tape on the top...…….circa 1988. But, same tasks, different technology.