By Joel and Rachael Rydbeck
The holidays are here, and while it's fun to buy gifts for friends and family, we decided to focus on 12 gifts that might brighten the days of your employees, colleagues and managers in the workplace.
Scrooge probably wouldn't have sprung for these trinkets. But, they are far less expensive than purchasing the items needed to complete the list in the holiday classic, "The Twelve Days of Christmas." According to PNC Wealth Management's Christmas Price Index, inflation has brought the total to $78,100, up 4% from last year.
The Nerf Maverick is perfect for releasing stress or tension in the office. It can also be used in a battle between sales teams at the end of the month. These Nerf guns come locked and loaded with six foam darts that have amazing accuracy. You'll find them at www.thinkgeek.com/geektoys/warfare/943c.
Free portable applications download onto your PDA devise and allow you to take your programs with you, wherever your travels may lead. With the applications, you can manage everything from e-mail to office documents. Look for them at portableapps.com.
A smartphone or PDA (prices vary) is a great thing to have for easy accessibility to e-mail. While on the road, or away from the office, you can still check in with clients on your phone and not worry about slowing the work flow.
If you have customers that call for support while in front of a computer, why not equip service reps with a Web cam so customers can see their smiling faces? The Web cam is also is a great tool for employees who telecommute. Not only is this product great for the office, but managers who have children away at college might like it for home use.
Studies have shown that productivity can be increased anywhere from 9% to 50% with dual monitors. A second monitor can come in handy for employees who work at a desk and use several applications at one time.
If an employee spends most of work copying and pasting documents from one place to another, you should consider some snazzy new monitors. The more you can see on a screen, the faster you will have answers for customers.
When your sales reps look good, you look good. And some of them are living on the road or out of their cars. An electric shaver ($25 to $250) that recharges in their car is an excellent gift when presentation matters. A car adapter might not be included with the shaver, so make sure you pick one up.
A week after you come back from a business trip, you search for a contact's business card, only to find out you've misplaced it. How many times has that happened to you? A card scanner is a great way to quickly turn business cards you receive into an electronic format.
Many applications such as CRM solutions and e-mail clients can import the cards you receive into your database so you don't lose them.
So many of us have memory cards that only fit into one size slot on the computer. A universal memory card reader will sit on your desk and receive inputs from many different kinds of cards. For busy reps on the road with camera chips and documents on a USB card, a universal reader is a must.
There's nothing like a speeding ticket on your way home from one appointment to another to dampen holiday spirits. But with a radar/laser detector in tow, you can always be on the good list, as the detector reminds you to slow and enjoy the houses lit up with holiday cheer. Some detectors are even equipped with up-to-date traffic and weather conditions to better guide you to your destination. Be aware if you are traveling in Virginia, Washington, D.C., or Canadian provinces: The radar/laser detector is illegal to use in those areas.
Wires - the fewer the better. Wireless mouse or keyboard can help provide a clean, crisp look to someone's desk. It's ideal for left-handed people who want to use the mouse on the other side of the keyboard, or those who practically need an extension cord to get the keyboard in the most ergonomic place. Although this is a nifty idea, it unfortunately won't help them cover up that week-old coffee mug stain on the desk. But that's what mouse pads are for.
Some people in the office can't stand silence, and it's too crowded to have the radio on. Why not give an iPod shuffle? It's the least expensive of the iPod family and comes in five fabulous colors. The headphone jack doubles as a charger and connects to any Mac or PC equipped with iTunes (and if your computer doesn't have iTunes, you can always download it from www.mac.com).
This tiny model clips easily to a tie, blazer or belt loop. The shuffle is 1GB and can hold roughly 240 songs. Want to switch it up? Upload podcasts from universities and other education institutions across the nation. On track Two words: Lost, late. The GPS navigator is one of our favorites as it has saved the more directionally challenged in our office countless of hours behind the wheel. We recently purchased a Garmin (www.garmin.com) and found the set up to be extremely intuitive.
Still can't find what you're looking for on our list? Two of our favorite e-commerce electronics merchants are Buy.com and Newegg.com. Maybe they will help you find the perfect gift to give.
Some companies will even give you a great deal if you purchase in bulk, so be sure to ask, especially if you're getting everyone in the office the same gift. Whatever your holiday budget, we wish you the best as you find the right gift to say happy holidays to your colleagues.
Joel Rydbeck, Chief Technology Officer of Nubrek Inc., brings his strong background in e-commerce and business process automation to the merchant services industry. Rachael Rydbeck, President of the company, has a background in product management and technical writing. Nubrek offers eISO, a Web application for ISOs that tracks leads and provides automated residual and commission reports. For more information on eISO or to view a free demo, visit www.nubrek.com/eiso.html. E-mail Joel at or Rachael at firstname.lastname@example.org. You have nothing to lose but your next sale.
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