Looking after the pennies…

For many firms, it’s all about streamlining these days – and why not? Gone are the days when a business trip automatically meant guilt-free first class train travel and a no-questions-asked attitude when it comes to company credit card spending.

The economic downturn has resulted in caution being the keyword when it comes to spending on luxuries which aren’t entirely necessary – as they saying goes, look after the pennies and the pounds will look after themselves.

So with an emphasis on frugality, how far can this be reasonably applied and how much can actually be saved by cutting out those non-essential items from your working day?

Travelling expenses

While first-class rail fares should be an obvious no-no, why not go a step further and cut out long-distance travelling to meetings altogether?

It would cost upwards of £100 to buy a return train ticket to get you from Manchester to London before 10:00 BST on a weekday and that’s before factoring in extra tube costs, meal expenses and any other associated costs – so the opportunity to save money here is clear.

More companies are now taking advantage of free conference calls as part of this strategy to save money and it does make sense. Not only is money saved but time is too – using the Manchester to London example, you’re looking at at least four hours where either yourself or an employee are stuck on a train, effectively taking you out of action when it comes to getting on with office work.

The benefits of cloud computing can also be used in tandem with conferencing facilities to make sure that the differences between using them and taking part in face-to-face meetings is now so minimal you can really consider substituting it for the real thing – if not all the time then certainly for an increasing proportion of the long-distance meetings you would have to go to.

Mobile working

Those free conference calls can also come in handy when it comes to encouraging staff (not that they’ll probably need it) to work from home.

This practice can be extremely to the business from a financial point of view. According to a joint study published earlier this year by the Royal Society for the Arts and Vodafone, businesses across the UK could save a collective £8.1 billion every year simply by optimising their approach to flexible working.

As well as saving on energy costs, firms would also likely experience greater levels of productivity, with employees spending fewer hours of their working day on the daily commute, for example.

Other little touches

Going back to the looking after the pennies analogy, there are always savings to be made on the little things. If approached sensitively, things like no longer providing tea or coffee for employees could all make a difference to the bottom line.

Obviously the potential impact on staff morale needs to be considered here, however, it could actually result in an increased feeling of responsibility for employees if, say, a rota is devised where they take it in turns to supply such amenities themselves.

The costs associated with printing are another which can be driven down quite effectively, with payments for both ink, paper and maintenance all being potentially lowered if a policy is implemented where only essential, work-related printing takes place.

Ultimately, these smaller touches can be tailored entirely on what systems already exist within your business but the point is to get that process of thinking where can the money be saved underway.