‘Get yourself connected,’ or so the saying goes amongst the millennials. But what does that mean? Digital can be a minefield of trial and error; mix a bit of science with a bit of witchcraft say some, and you’ve got yourself the recipe for appearing on page one of Google.

So rather than delve into algorithms and black magic, I thought I’d look at how digital can help a business save money. Hold off on whether you should be hiring a digital specialist, and instead look to the money saving strategies a company can employ.

Here’s a scenario: You’re a small start-up, with a tiny office, and you’re based a little too far from a city. You just can’t justify the rent in a highly populated area. How do you go about getting the best staff that your money can buy?

You advertise on many digital platforms including LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook. Then you trust your staff to work remotely. This is a ‘biggie.’

As a home-based freelancer I can’t afford to not work hard every hour of my working day. I get paid for getting a job done, and the buck stops with me. This means I might be working at 11pm at night, or 4am in the morning. It also means I can go for a two hour hike in the middle of the day. It’s not always perfect, but it works.

But I’m not just a freelancer; I’m also an office-based employee for half the week. I commute 40 miles each way and arrive at my desk tired, having already consumed more than the daily-recommended allowance of caffeine. I turn on my computer at 8am, so that I am able to leave at 4pm and miss the Exeter traffic jams. I rarely work overtime as two hours of my day is spent travelling to and from the office, and keeping up my level of productivity on an office-based workday takes much more effort than those days when working from home.

Productivity isn’t the only problem though. There are social ramifications to not allowing employees to work remotely.

Part of the reason I helped set up Digital Exeter was to allow those working in the digital arena within Exeter and Devon to mingle and share knowledge more readily, and help grow Exeter as a digital centre. Exeter is incredibly lucky in that it has wonderful companies moving into the area, their CEOs and founders wanting to live in a location that seems as many parts village as it does city. However, in those locations further west, where holiday homes and second homes outnumber those lived in by locals, the communities are falling apart, and with no work available, the workforce has left.

For every person rushing to London for the biggest salary at the most well known company, there’s someone like me. Someone who loves what Devon has to offer, and fully embraces that whilst it’s wonderful to love your work, you should and do work to live. You work so that you can spend your evenings and weekends heading down the coast on a paddleboard, or cycling across Dartmoor. So that you can leave the office at a reasonable hour knowing you have the most stunning countryside as your playground, or so you can actually take your children to the playground, feed them dinner, and put them to bed.

Let them get to the ‘office’ without nightmare commutes in ever growing traffic jams. You have your daily meetings over Skype, Whatsapp and FaceTime and share important documents and files over Dropbox or Google Docs. The cloud has made working remotely a doddle, so why aren’t more companies getting on board?

Rather than assuming your staff will be trying to pull the wool over your eyes, working as little as possible, you might just have a network of staff around the UK, all promoting your wonderful, forward thinking company.

Then you can use the money you saved on office space, storage and equipment to set up a digital marketing budget. But I’ll save that topic for another time!

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