How much work do you undertake at home? Do you take service bookings? Do you keep track of your accounts in the evening? If you run a used car operation alongside your service and repair business, how do you source your cars? Do you use online auctions and if so, do you place your bids late at night?
With increasing numbers of auctioneers moving their business online or at least offering the opportunity to bid on vehicles on the internet, opting for virtual auctions as a way to secure stock saves you time out of your business.
Meanwhile, we are always receiving anecdotal evidence of business owners who continue to work in the evening. Many of our CarVue clients make service bookings, check the next day’s diary, catch up on their accounts or simply use the reporting functions to analyse business performance when at home.
Take Jon Fry, one of our favourite customers. He’s currently on holiday in the Canary Islands with his fiancé Debbie.
— Jonathan Fry (@jonfry) October 8, 2015
When we released a new CarVue version last week, our support team were surprised (well, sort of) to hear from him.
But it turns out that while he may be relaxing on holiday and enjoying the sun, he’s also checking out new features we’ve released and organising his business online.
@CarVue If only you hadn't given your users world-wide access into their dashboard! It's nice to keep the business running when I'm abroad
— Jonathan Fry (@jonfry) October 8, 2015
One online vehicle auction company Cars Direct has just released their figures, which reflects the trend of working throughout the evening. Some traders are logging on late at night and in the early hours of the morning to make their bid and a staggering 40% of initial bids on vehicles are made after 5pm and before 8am the following morning. This heightened ‘out-of-hours’ activity reveals how traders are now running their businesses long after they have shut up shop or way before opening up, depending on your perspective.
Cars Direct believe their figures also reflect the rise of unpaid overtime among employees as employees answer emails and even undertake operational processes such as bidding for vehicles online in the evening.
However, for the garage owner, the opportunity to undertake work outside the business can free up their time during opening hours.
According to Ofcom, more than 90% of adults in the UK own a mobile-phone, with the average smart phone user checking their emails by 7.30am; many do so before they even get out of bed. It makes working away from the office, garage or industrial unit extremely easy, but also, such ease of access can make it just as difficult to switch off. Likewise, CarVue is accessible on smart phones which means garage owners can log onto the system anywhere including on their smart phones at home in the evening. And just like Cars Direct, our stats show increasing numbers of users access our system out-of-hours.
The question is whether it is good or bad for our well-being.
Are you working out of hours? Have your say here!
Our view, not surprisingly, is one of balance. Being able to access your garage’s operational software out-of-hours or on your smartphone as well as being able to undertake other elements of the business such as bidding for new stock via the online auctions can make your life easier.
It’s the same for us, our website designer will often make tweaks to a client’s new website when at home and our directors write, rewrite and rework some of their software programmes at home. Our copywriter, for example, researched this article whilst watching Sunday evening television with her son.
Arguably, it is less stressful because you don’t have the same pressures that a working day brings, there are no customers queuing at your reception desk, no telephone ringing with customers wanting to make a service booking or check the progress of work on their vehicle, no members of staff wanting to ask you questions or sign off a piece of work and no suppliers calling you up to tell you about their latest bit of kit which your business simply cannot do without.
Technology definitely has the ability to make our lives easier, but being able to access your working life 24/7 has as many advantages as disadvantages. We are interested in receiving your views. Do you work at home in the evenings and if so, what elements of your business do you undertake out-of-hours? Does it enhance your lifestyle or has technological advances meant your work is trespassing too much into your home and family life? Should we follow the example of the French, who also adopted a 35-hour working week in 1998, and introduce legislation to stop the intrusion of work emails in our personal lives? Do you find it helpful or intrusive that operational software such as CarVue is available anytime, anywhere as long as you have an internet connection?
Not only has the internet created the always on consumer, but it has given rise to the always on manager and business owner. Technology can be a great liberator; we just have to be careful we don’t allow ourselves to become chained to the keyboard. But what do you think?