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25 Simple Workplace Automation Ideas for Teams Under 25 Employees

Running a small business is tough. From budget constraints to multitasking, small teams have to be resourceful and innovative to survive. 

There are no doubts that the rewards can be high, but so are the risks. Out of all new businesses starting up (4.41 million in the US in 2020), only half survive their first year

Clearly, small teams need all the help they can get. And this is what makes workplace automation an important factor in their success. But what is workplace automation in the first place?

In its simplest acceptance, workplace automation is the process of leveraging technology to complete tasks without human involvement. 

In other words, workplace automation is using software to fulfill repetitive tasks that:

  • Take too much time
  • Drive up costs
  • Don’t really require human input to be completed

These tasks can range from generic (such as sending form data into a spreadsheet) to custom processes involving many apps and steps. 

Before we go into workplace automation examples, let’s take a quick look at the benefits it can bring to teams under 25. 

7 instant benefits of workplace automation

Smaller teams are typically low on resources, but they have an advantage: flexibility. This allows them to automate the workplace faster than larger businesses. 

Now, let’s take a look into the benefits workplace automation brings to SMBs.  

1. Edge over competitors

Saying that competition is fierce might sound cliché, but it isn’t. Data shows that applications for launching a business have nearly doubled over the last decade

With more businesses hitting the market, automation can provide the necessary edge to beat competitors. 

Automated processes empower small teams to turn their ambitions into reality, regardless of:

  • Budget
  • Head count 
  • Traditional entry barriers to entry 

A great example of this can be seen in the case of finn.auto, the German car subscription company. 

By implementing automation early on, finn.auto managed to build a successful business to compete in equal footing with industry giants like Cadillac, Porsche, and Volvo.

2. Reduced labor costs 

For most businesses, the biggest cost is labor. 

It can account for as much as 70% of total business costs, once you factor in employee wages, benefits, and payroll. 

In many sectors - such as technology - labor costs make it even harder to compete:


technology-vs-national-payscale-index-graph-altImage credit: Payscale


With rising labor costs, small businesses have to make sure they’re spending appropriately. 

By reducing the amount of human input needed, automation can help keep those costs in check. 

3. Easy to adopt 

According to a McKinsey study, 31% of businesses have automated at least one process.

It goes without saying that some companies automate because they need to, but also because it’s fairly accessible to do so. 

Thanks to no-code tools like Integromat, automation no longer requires extensive technical skills. 

As a result, it only takes a curious mind to build and implement automated workflows.  

4. Happier employees

Happy employees are good for business.

On the other hand, overworked and unhappy employees are not. It has been reported that burned-out workers are:

  • 60% more likely to take a sick day
  • 2 ½ times more likely to be seeking for a new job
  • Less likely to discuss performance goals with managers due to lower confidence

That is not counting the financial impact of burnout, which costs the economy between $125-$190 billion a year.

By helping workers streamline the repetitive, automation can help reduce these issues before it’s too late.

5. Remote-friendly  

Remote work has become the new normal for millions due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

While this has brought new challenges, it also served as an opportunity to shape the future of work.

Chris Herd, Founder & CEO of Firstbase, has listed automation as one of the main factors that will help establish remote work as the norm in the upcoming years.

chris-herd-screenshot-tweet-alt


And it’s true. Automation makes remote work easier by:

  • Facilitating communications across different time zones
  • Tracking activity and feedback across teams
  • Decreasing redundancy and eliminating task blockers

6. Transparency

Workplace automation can help track most business metrics, allowing for better management. 

This heightened awareness can result in educated strategy decisions, instead of “winging it”.

7. Increased productivity and efficiency

Automation has historically been linked to productivity. 

Data-backed research shows that automation has a positive impact on that front.

servicenow-automated-companies-outperform-peers-altImage credit: ServiceNow


As far as Integromat is concerned, the proof is in the pudding. By connecting 3 apps together this German consulting firm observed a 17% efficiency increase. 

Results, not excuses.

Workplace automation sounds like a charm, but that’s certainly not enough to get started. Figuring out what to automate can be tricky and intimidating. 

Fret not. We’ve put together a list of 25 workplace automation ideas to get you inspired. 

Sometimes, that’s all it takes to start automating!

25 workplace automation ideas

Our list of workplace automation ideas encompasses five categories:

  • Communication and project management
  • Human resources and operations
  • Customer support
  • Sales
  • Marketing

In addition, you will find that the ideas fall within three different types of solutions, including:

  • Native automation product features that are available in business software
  • Dedicated tools serving a specific automation purpose
  • Comprehensive automation platforms like Integromat

Each option has their pros and cons, and we invite you to evaluate what fits your business best.

Operations and human resources

1. Using forms to streamline your recruiting process

Hiring is critical for smaller teams. When the headcount is low, new hires can make a significant impact in how a company operates.

However, hiring is hard, and demands many tasks to be completed, such as:

  • Drafting the job posting
  • Posting on job boards and social networks
  • Going through applications
  • Shortlisting applicants 
  • Conducting interview rounds
  • Sending contracts and other onboarding documents

While human involvement is necessary, many of these steps can be automated. 

For example, online forms can help you automate sorting through applications in an easy, no-frills manner. 

Solutions like Cognito Forms allow you to setup an application form to sort through the applicants based on their answers:

cognito-forms-employment-application-altImage credit: Microsoft

This makes a world of difference when you’re going through dozens or even hundreds of applications. 

2. Improving employee onboarding

A great onboarding experience can improve employee retention by 82%, and productivity by over 70%

On the other hand, the cost of turnover per employee typically ranges from 100–300% of the individual’s salary.


zenefits-turnover-costs-of-employee-altImage credit: Zenefits

Automated onboarding workflows can help you accelerate the process without losing resources. 

Onboarding tasks you can automate include:

  • Ahead of the first day: Sending the contract, directions to the office, other informational resources
  • On the first day: Sharing a handbook and documents about the company and role
  • On the first week: Adding the new hire to Slack channels, providing an email address, auto-scheduling meetings with the team or with an onboarding buddy

3. Collaborative scheduling

Shifts and scheduling are better without messy spreadsheets and time-consuming back and forths. 

To avoid confusion, teams can use dedicated scheduling tools such as findmyshift. This platform features automatic notifications for shift changes. Plus, it provides every staff member with a shared interface to keep track of the schedule. 

You can also create your own custom system. Setting up a collaborative schedule on Airtable is relatively easy with existing templates. In addition, you can set up automated notifications with Integromat.


how-can-you-schedule-employees-with-airtable-altImage credit: Airtable

4. Automated reporting

Reports are key to visualize operations and performance. However, not many SMBs can spare the time to create them. 

This is a typical task that can be automated with Integromat. Simply pull the data generated by other tools, and push it to a spreadsheet or KPI board. 

You’ll get all the metrics, without any of the data-gathering hassle.


google-sheets-analytics-dashboard-altImage credit: Reddit

5. Accounting automation

Without proper accounting, managing small business finances can quickly become a nightmare for owners. As a matter of fact, it has been reported that nearly a third of companies fail because they run out of cash

While we acknowledge that accounting is a very diverse field, some areas can benefit from automation. This is especially true for small businesses that might have one person to manage finances.

Collaboration & Project Management

However small your business or team, communication and collaboration is key. 

In this line, project management and internal communications are areas that can be improved with automation. Let’s see how.

6. Avoiding communication silos by leveraging notifications

Silos are a threat to teams, in disregard of size. 

Without visibility, critical data might stay stuck in an inbox or a Slack DM, away from key stakeholders.

Tools like MailClark or Front help create a shared inbox for your team. These allow stakeholders to have more visibility on conversations.

Another option is to leverage bots. Slack bots, for example, can automatically run tasks and report on shared channels or via direct messages. 

There are many Slack bots you can easily implement, as well as their equivalent on the Microsoft Teams platform.


screenshot-of-slackbot-altImage credit: Niklas Heidloff

7. Auto-forwarding emails to relevant stakeholders

We spend 17 hours every week on reading, replying to and writing emails

If this sounds like a lot, that’s because it is. A lot of internal email communication is time-consuming and should be automated. 

A simple way to do this is by setting up auto-forwarding rules in your email client. By doing this, you can make sure that relevant stakeholders get the information they need, when they need it.  

If you want to try this out, you can use this scenario. 

It helps you forward emails containing a specific word to whoever needs to know about it. 

8. Reducing manual input in project management

A smaller team does not translate into easy project management.

PMs at small companies tend to take on more responsibilities, making their role even more challenging.

Project management tools are designed to help teams organize tasks and improve collaboration. It has been observed that companies with project management practices save 28 times more money than those that do not

There are plenty of platforms to choose from:

  • Trello: Visual, kanban style list-making app 
  • Asana: Collaboration tool focused on simplicity
  • ClickUp: Productivity platform packed with features
  • Basecamp: All-in-one toolkit for working remotely

Integrating these tools within your software stack will allow you to automate your project management processes. Some ideas you can consider include:

  • Sending automated tasks reminders
  • Adding tasks automatically from other tools (CRM for example) 
  • Notifying stakeholders of progress made 
  • Moving tasks between stages of completion automatically
  • Initiate an associated workflow when a task is created  

9. Promoting daily interactions using a Slackbot

Standup meetings are widely used by teams running on deadlines. Their goal is to keep every member accountable and to make sure no one is left behind. 

If you want to guarantee participation in standup meetings, automation is your friend (even if your team is fully remote). 

For example, you can invite your team to answer 3 questions, automatically and on a daily basis:

  • What did you complete yesterday?
  • What are you working on today?
  • Is anything standing in your way?

A simple Slackbot will automatically post the questions and collect answers. 

To do this, you can choose paid options like Geekbot or Standup Bot, or build your own. 

This can be done directly from your Slack workspace settings or using Integromat as well.


standup-slackbot-dialogue-altImage credit: Standup Bot

10. Supercharging your internal knowledge base 

Documenting is not always a priority in smaller businesses. This often results in risk, with employees potentially becoming a single point of failure

This is why companies decide to implement an internal knowledge base.

Having a database of resources has been proven to reduce employee research time by as much as 35%. This can have an impact on several areas of operations, from productivity to the ability to answer customer queries in time.

However, as internal knowledge bases grow, it can be difficult to keep it organized.

To solve this, you can add an automation layer. Tools like Spoke allow users to fetch information from the base by asking a bot in Slack or Microsoft Teams. 

Customer support 

For small teams with limited hands on deck, automation is a lifeline. 

Here are some examples of customer support automation ideas that can make a real difference.

11. Automatic replies to inquiries 

Sending an automatic email after receiving an inquiry can make a big difference for your customers. 

Studies have shown that waiting just 10 minutes to respond to a message drops the likelihood of qualifying a lead by 4.

Whether you’re receiving requests by forms, email or chat, a simple templated answer can buy your customer service reps some time:

“Hello {first_name}, thank you for reaching out! We will get back to you shortly, in the meantime feel free to give us more details about your inquiry.”

Customer support software solutions like Zendesk offer similar features. You can detect if your customer support team is idle, or send a predetermined message during off hours.

12. Automating user feedback with forms

Customer service reps are the frontline workers of your business, and are a great source of information. This information is precious, but can also get lost along other tasks and priorities. 

The solution is to automate user feedback using forms. 

How? Simply send out forms to clients following their purchase, once their trial is over or after interacting with your team. 

You can then use Integromat to route their answers directly to your customer service platform, turning them into tickets that you can address in time.

Use this template to automatically create Zendesk tickets from new Google Forms responses.

13. Leveraging your knowledge base to weed out support request

Customer-facing help centers are another way to assist customers. 

90% of customers want an immediate answer to their customer service question. Unless you’re planning to expand your team, providing a self-serve solution is the way to go.

Tools like Document360, HelpCrunch or HelpSite can help you implement such a solution. Automation can then jump in to:

  • Automatically direct customers to the knowledge base via a chatbot
  • Cross-post content between your internal and external knowledge base
  • Auto-publish new knowledge base articles in your blog, or on social media

14. Helping customers in online communities

Interacting with users in a community has several benefits:

  • Build an engaged user base
  • Promote transparent, public customer support
  • Receive organic feedback and suggestions

Most platforms feature notifications that will alert you when a message has been posted. 

However, you might not want to spend your day monitoring and jumping in conversations.

Using Integromat, you can set up filters to notify when a message has been left unanswered for over an hour, for example. 

Another idea would be to automatically send a private message to users posting threads featuring certain words (“disappointed”, “cancel”, “unsubscribe”, etc). 

15. Automating ticket routing

First reply time (FRT) is a reference metric for customer support effectiveness. Effective FRT varies depending on the channel, but the usual hallmarks are: 

  • For emails: 1 hour or less
  • On social media: 15 minutes or less 
  • On live chat: 1 minute or less

Of course, automated responses do not count towards FRT. 

In order to optimize ticket handling, automated ticket routing can help a lot. 

This can be achieved by labelling requests, and then matching them with the best agent for the job. 

Automated ticket routing can be achieved by using a ticketing platform offering the feature, or by using Integromat to create the workflow.


zendesk-multiple-workflows-altImage credit: Zendesk

Sales

Sales is one of the most automation-friendly areas of business. To understand why, consider some of the tasks a salesperson conducts on a daily basis:

  • Sending email reminders
  • Filling out information in the company CRM
  • Finding leads through different channels
  • Enriching leads by finding information online
  • Drafting proposals

You might have noticed that none of these are directly related to selling, which of course hurts sales.

intercom-graph-of-selling-non-selling-altImage credit: Intercom


Workplace automation can help you automate some of these tasks, so salespeople can spend more time selling. Here are some ideas:

16. Handling meetings automatically

Meetings are at the heart of a sales, and can quickly become a nightmare. Much like the rest of a salesperson’s activities, they come with a lot more tasks than the meeting itself:

  • Back and forth to decide on a time
  • Adding the meeting in the calendar
  • Handling cancellations and rain checks
  • Sending reminders before the scheduled time
  • Following up after the meeting

Appointment scheduling tools like Calendly are helpful here. You can share a link displaying availability, receive and send reminders, and give the option to reschedule meetings. 

Automation comes next, as native integrations or an automation platform can come in and facilitate the extra tasks mentioned above. 

17. Qualifying leads with forms and adding them to your CRM 

As a salesperson, having a fully-booked day of demos and meetings is usually a great feeling. However, low-quality leads can make that feeling go away real quick. 

To make sure there’s a fit, most companies usually have a system in place. A sales development representative (SDR) might have an intro call to establish whether the basic requirements are met on both sides before moving forward. 

As a small team, you might not have that luxury.

Forms are a great way to automate that process. You can ask these questions and qualify leads beforehand, without dedicating your sales team’s precious time and energy.  

18. Enriching leads by putting research on autopilot 

Sales involves a lot of copying and pasting. 

While this is accepted as part of the job, it’s ineffective and inaccurate.


“30-50% of CRM and ERP data is inaccurate.”

- Henry Schuck, Founder, and CEO of ZoomInfo.


One of the benefits of workplace automation is accuracy. Even the best and most dedicated sales rep makes mistakes. Automation rarely does.  

Lead enrichment tools like Clearbit or InsideView help cut down on a lot of the research. Alternatively, Integromat allows for quick research by pulling key data from LinkedIn. 

Use this template to automatically pull LinkedIn contact info to a new HubSpot CRM company.

19. Following up on leads with an email

The meeting is only just the beginning. Studies have shown that 80% of sales require 5 follow-up calls, but 44% of salespeople give up after one

Most CRM platforms - including Pipedrive, HubSpot or Salesforce - feature the option of email follow-ups. 

If your CRM doesn’t, Integromat can take over by connecting it to your preferred email outreach tool.

how-pipedrive-follow-up-email-altImage credit: Pipedrive

20. Creating sales documents automatically

Sales teams spend a lot of time dealing with documents. It has been reported that 59% of sales managers think agreement preparation takes too much time

What’s worse, salespeople are also involved in crafting the materials, including:

  • Legally-binding contracts
  • Personalized proposals 
  • Leaflets and sales collaterals
  • Presentations

This is a typical automation use case. 

A platform like Integromat can help pull data from a CRM and automate document creation. For example, whenever a lead reaches a certain stage in the pipeline, a custom doc is created.

Marketing

Digital marketing has become a staple for modern consumers, who now expect personalized, tailored experiences. 

As a result, global spend on marketing automation is predicted to reach $25B by 2023

Yet, for a lot of small businesses, marketing is still not a priority. There are a few reasons for that:

  • Cost: Tools and hires can be expensive
  • Confusing: Too many options to choose from
  • Hard to track: ROI can be hard to measure

Platforms like Pardot or HubSpot offer advanced options to cater to customers, deliver campaigns and track your marketing efforts accurately. But costs can quickly add up. 

Let’s look at some affordable automation ideas you can implement today without breaking the bank. 

21. Automated social media posting

Social media is the preferred advertising platform for SMBs, with 64% of small businesses using it in their marketing strategy

Buffer and Hootsuite can be used to automate the publishing of content. 

22. Monitoring online mentions

Tracking social conversations where your company hasn’t been tagged can help you:

  • Gather feedback
  • Identify potential issues
  • Create genuine moments
  • Find opportunities

Tools like Mention or Mediatoolkit help you monitor mentions of your brand online. If you prefer to monitor specific keywords, you can always automate brand mention tracking using Integromat.

screenshot-of-mention-altImage credit: Mention

23. Sending automated drip campaigns and transactional emails

Email marketing has the highest return on investment for small businesses, with a reported $42 for ever $1 spent.

From reminding customers of their abandoned cart to sending birthday messages or promotions, the possibilities are endless. 

Using email marketing platforms like Campaign Monitor or Mailchimp will help you craft beautiful emails with smart fields, and take care of their delivery for you. 

These platforms allow you to integrate with some of your tech stack and configure triggers. This way, customers can be enrolled in an email campaign based on their actions or their profile.

Integromat can then be employed to add another layer of automation. 

24. Verifying emails to stay out of the spam folder

There’s a basic email marketing rule many overlook: you have to make it into the inbox before anything else.

Getting stuck in the spam folder is no fun. It will also impact your email open rates, click rates, and conversions.

Tools like Clearout or ZeroBounce help you make sure your list is good to go. Using Integromat, you can integrate these tools to run automatic checks for new subscribers, for example.

clearout-my-list-overview-analytics-altImage credit: G2

25. Staying on top of your analytics with daily reports

Tools like Google Analytics or Kissmetrics provide valuable information that has to be checked on a daily basis:

  • Website performance
  • Results from acquisition campaigns
  • Best performing channels
  • Audience insights and behaviors 

Automation is a great way to stay on top of it. 

Using Integromat, you can easily configure a daily report to be sent directly to your preferred communication platform.

Use this template to receive a daily Google Analytics report of the previous day on Slack.

Conclusion

Workplace automation is a fascinating field with nearly endless possibilities. 

We are convinced that it can help teams stand out in a very competitive global economy.

Before you go, remember that automation isn’t a magic trick nor the be-all and end-all of business. 

Some things cannot (and should not) be automated. Be mindful when deciding what to automate, keeping in mind these basic principles as you start experimenting:

  • Start small: A day-to-day task such as setting up a notification for yourself is a great place to start
  • Pick repetitive tasks: The more this task can run, the better you’ll feel about automating it
  • Begin with low stakes: Maybe don’t start with an automated email to your 15,000 subscribers list 

We hope that you’ve been inspired to try and explore automation in your business.

Happy automating!

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