Remote Working Is Here To Stay: How Will Your Small Business Adapt?
In this guest article, US-based business financing experts Fundbox share the best ways to adapt to a new way of working.
After the coronavirus pandemic hit, millions of office workers made the shift to remote work. In the process, many learned that it has quite a few perks. Employees are often happier and more productive. Meanwhile, companies have wider talent pools and lower overhead costs.
So what will the future look like? A FlexJobs survey found that 96% of employees want some form of remote work post-pandemic. Further, a Gartner survey found that 80% of company leaders plan to allow employees to work from home, at least part-time.
Is your business prepared for long-term remote operations? Do you have the tools and processes in place to drive productivity, foster community, and retain employees while running your business remotely? If you’re not 100% confident yet, read on for tips in 5 key areas.
1. Drive productivity
While you may worry that your team will be less productive when working from home, the opposite trend has emerged. Many are actually more productive once they get into the routine of working from home. But how can you help to ensure your employees are as productive as possible?
First, it’s important to identify your goals and how you will measure productivity. Is it going to be the number of sales calls made per day? The number of articles posted? Something else? Identify what you need to track and how you will track it.
Second, identify the tools your team needs to do their job as effectively as possible. Do you need a project management software solution like Asana? A communication app like Slack? Or a cash flow forecasting tool like Float? Ask your team, perform research, and brainstorm to ensure your tech stack enables efficiency.
Third, build a routine for regularly checking in with your employees. Ensure they know their targets for the month, week, and day. It can help to check-in as part of your regular routine. For example, you can have stand-up meetings every Monday where you talk about the goals for the week. Then, you can have weekly review meetings every Friday where everyone shares what they accomplished, their wins, and their opportunities.
Additionally, monthly one-on-one meetings can help you gain insight into how each employee is doing and what they need to be at their best.
2. Foster community
When you have a team that works in a shared office space, a social fabric naturally forms. People often spend more of their waking hours at work than at home so they know their colleagues well.
Being so, many who transition to remote work feel isolated at first. They are used to having quick chats while taking breaks, bouncing ideas off one another, and keeping up with each other’s lives. So how do you create that social connection when you transition into remote work?
Here are some ideas:
- Over-communicate: Communication needs to be so much more purposeful and intentional. You don’t have any of the natural small talk that happens in a shared office space. Further, you can’t use body language or tone to help communicate your meaning (when not on video). Being so, put extra effort into ensuring your messages are clear, thorough, and come with context.
- Hold video meetings: By having your team connect regularly with video, they can get to know each other better and feel more connected.
- Weekly shout-outs: Encourage team members to give each other props for the things they’ve done or problems they solved that week.
- Annual in-person event: Once per year, bring the team together in-person for an event and do fun, team-building activities like escape rooms, rock climbing, etc.
- Celebrate milestones: Be sure to share milestones with the team from promotions and work anniversaries to birthdays, marriages, and births.
- Have some fun: Bring some fun into work to help everyone get to know each other. For example, start weekly threads on different personal topics like favorite memes, pet pictures, or favorite vacations.
Remote workers aren’t robots, they still want to feel connected to their work and team. You can help to foster a community with intentional efforts like these ideas.
3. Maintain team culture
When you think of team culture, an office space with a ping pong table and bean bag chair may come to mind but it goes far beyond that. The culture of your business should clearly communicate your mission, values, worldview, and how people treat each other. The more clearly it is defined, the more people will understand and feel like they belong to it.
How do you do that?
First, it’s important to define your mission, vision, core values, company policies, and company processes. The next step is clearly communicating these on a regular basis through both words and actions. The leadership team is responsible for setting the bar on the culture front. If it’s clear and consistent, employees will understand and follow suit. You can also help to reinforce it by sending your team swag like hoodies, stickers, hats, etc.
4. Prevent cyberattacks
Security is also an ever-growing concern. How do you ensure your business data is protected when employees are working from a home office — or wherever they choose? It’s important to have policies in place.
Here are a few best practices to share with employees who are working remotely:
- Remind employees to protect their physical equipment, never leaving it unattended in public places (even for a second). Also, remind them to ensure no one can see their screen over their shoulder.
- Personal computers need to have antivirus and antimalware software.
- Employees need to be aware of phishing techniques so they don’t open unknown links or suspicious attachments.
- Employees should only use company-approved software.
- It’s important to have strong individual passwords for each of an employee’s accounts.
- Password manager software should be company-approved.
- Employees should use VPNs when connecting to the internet.
5. Hire a remote work support specialist
Lastly, remote work provides a whole new set of challenges. Employees may need support in a variety of ways from technical issues to mental health concerns. Many businesses will need to bring on a dedicated remote work support specialist or will need their HR teams to evolve to meet these new needs.
Looking forward to a future of working remotely
Most of the world was thrown headfirst into working from home in 2020. It caused a great deal of stress initially. However, a silver lining has emerged as many enjoy and benefit from working remotely. Hopefully, these tips can help you adapt to and embrace a long-term remote work strategy that drives your small business forward.