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Three Classic Office Tools That Are Still Relevant Today

Here are three office must-haves in particular that StartupNation views as critical.

At StartupNation, we see quite a few technology startups with  cute, nonsense names and quirky URLs that offer some sort of digital service to  supplement or replace elements of our physical lives.  Some are really great, like the app to call  and pay for a private car to my location for slightly more than a taxi.  However, after hearing numerous pitches and  trying out many items, I have become convinced that some elements of our lives,  specifically our office lives, do not need replacing.  In fact, some traditional methods actually  increase productivity and perform their functions better than their flashy  digital replacements.  Here are three  office must-haves in particular that StartupNation views as critical.

Sticky Notes

One app that was recently recommended to me was Clear.  Using intuitive swipes and a nifty reactive  user interface, it makes building and checking off to do lists almost fun – if  you open it, that is.  The reason sticky  notes work so well is their versatility; they do not operate within the  confines of operating systems or software hierarchies.  I can stick a note right to my forehead if I  want to, a parody that has become cliché.   However, it is illustrative of their usefulness.  So far, all the sticky note would-be  replacements fit into the digital ecosystem that is by its very nature  organized.  Sticky notes reject that and  block part of my screen or obscure parts of my desk.  I want them out of my way and, therefore, am  more likely to get what is written on them completed.

Office Phones

I have a smart phone, and I love it.  I love it so much that sometimes I worry I  have become its slave.  When it lights up  or makes a noise, I feel so strongly compelled to pick it up that I feel an  anxious guilt if I ignore it.  But my  smartphone has its limits, especially in my office.  I often feel like I have to raise my voice on  my cellphone, which means everyone else in my office has to as well, adding to  the din.  Service is not always optimal,  and I find that Internet-calling services, while great, are not foolproof and  drop calls. On the other hand, a solid office phone system like the Syn248 business phone system  from AT&T makes conference calls super simple and still lets me  walk around my work area or take a call elsewhere in the office.  It also keeps my work separate from my  personal life.  This classic technology,  updated for today’s business environment, is a big win for those who integrate  it into their small businesses and offices.

White Boards

PowerPoints have come to dominate meeting agendas and that is  a scary trend.  Not only do they eat up  valuable time for those who prepare them – endless tinkering with layouts,  fonts and graphics – but they are inherently one-sided.  They do not invite collaboration or ongoing  improvement and updating.  Whoever  prepares the PowerPoint has days of time to reason out his or her arguments on  each slide, which makes them great vehicles for selling an already agreed upon  idea. PowerPoints come up short in a collaborative setting with stakeholders  from whom you want feedback.  A  PowerPoint is a speech, whereas white boards are conversations.  Inside the StartupNation office, nearly every  work space has its own white board.  They  are the proverbial campfire around which employees can gather and visualize  ideas in real time, rather than mocking up a PowerPoint.

Digital services are fantastic in many arenas, no argument  there.  However, the shimmer of something  new can often obscure the utility of tried and tested methods.  I often feel like I am at fault when I cannot  integrate some new digital product into my life and habits, but then I remember  that the best-designed products fit themselves in seamlessly.

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