By Grace Lau
Working remotely has both pros and cons and is a fast-growing trend. On the one hand, it’s an opportunity to avoid the daily commute and spend more time with loved ones. On the other, it can mean less socializing and missing out on office banter.
For large corporations with big teams, the move to working remotely can be a simple process with support in all areas. For small to medium businesses with reduced teams and less capital, the move may take a little more thought and effort. That isn’t to say it’s a dream worth giving up; to make it work, all it needs is an extra push.
Whether you sell project management software or are a zero-waste startup, here is a guide on working remotely as an SMB.
Communication Is Key
When you’re in the office, it’s easy to talk to your fellow workers about ideas and potential changes. When working remotely, that luxury no longer exists. So, you have to make sure the whole team is keeping each other involved with what’s going on.
For a business with smaller departments, this is especially important as people tend to take on more than one role. Keeping each other up to date as much as possible is a great way for a business to grow through team collaboration, as everyone feels involved and respected and wants to make a positive difference.
A great way to keep up is to use collaboration and communication tools such as Dialpad, Zoom, Skype and other RingCentral alternatives. By investing in this, it doesn’t matter where people are based – they can freely talk to each other and no one is left out of the loop. Alternatively, there are plenty of cross-platform apps available to support written interaction instead.
The type of company you run will make a difference to the communication methods you use, so have a chat with your team and see which way they prefer to talk to each other. As an SMB, it should be easier to figure out people’s preferred method of interaction and what works for the whole team.
Keep Things Clear
When working from home, the whole dynamic changes, so it’s important to keep things clear and make sure everyone is accommodated and understands how things work. This might involve anything from flexible timings to work deadlines.
Timing is massively important. Now you’re no longer in the office full-time, consider if you stick to a Monday-Friday schedule or if you want to make things more flexible. If you’re a company that enjoys team meetings or uses a PBX phone system to talk to a lot of clients, it’s probably best to keep your usual working hours. However, if everyone in your team works autonomously, you might decide to be flexible with hours as long as they get the work done.
You may choose to do a mixture of the two and use time management tools to figure out crossover times for meetings. If you decide to work outside regular office hours, set boundaries. For example, making sure to only send work-related messages to a work email at an appropriate time. No one appreciates a WhatsApp message about work being sent at 11 pm!
Make it clear if there is still the same level of urgency expected with work. Or if, because of things like flexible working hours, you’re willing to be a bit more relaxed with deadlines. Being clear-cut with rules from the start means there aren’t any miscommunications along the way.
While for many, working remotely is a dream, for others, it can be a struggle to adapt. Without a formal work environment, some find it hard to focus. They may also have responsibilities that don’t exist in the office, like childcare. Understanding that remote working may be distracting reduces needless stress.
It’s important to check on people and see how they’re coping, especially if this is the first time your team has worked remotely. If they’re telling you they’re facing burnout; being open and sympathetic will make them feel at ease coming to you with problems. This helps deal with issues swiftly and simply.
As an SMB, you may want to think about having a weekly chat with your team as a whole and as individuals, to make sure everyone is doing okay and adjusting to any changes. Even implementing automation for small businesses may be a solution to making remote work that bit easier.
By conducting regular meetings, you can come up with solutions to commonly encountered challenges. Like, it can be a challenge for some to take calls from a laptop or a tablet. A good solution for this is the use of call flip, which allows calls to be moved from laptop or any other device without interrupting the call. Overall, this can help improve work and productivity of remote workers.
Use the Right Tech
With more and more firms going remote, the type of tech businesses use with each other and their clients keeps on developing. So, to make sure your company adjusts properly to remote work, make sure the right tech is in place.
Take a moment to think about the equipment you usually use in the office. Then make sure you are providing sufficient items, tools, and software so people can easily do their jobs at home. It could be your designer is used to using Photoshop, or that your customer support team needs a phone system to answer inbound phone calls and address customer concerns.
Whatever is needed, getting the right tech for your teams will make the transition to remote work much easier, and doing this can only reflect well on your firm. Fortunately, there is an abundance of modern technology that people can easily use on their laptops or computers.
There are plenty of tools available for small to medium businesses to make sure teams are keeping on top of things. Management tools make it easier, while specific business tools have been designed to track the progress of tasks.
Some tools make it easier to share work through the cloud when working from home. Implementing the technology you need will keep your business growing and moving forward.
As a side note for tech and remote work, if you work with customers, you may need to update your cybersecurity. This is because as more people work from home, more of us are buying online. This is resulting in more cyberattacks, so try to use the right security software to make sure your customers have a safe online shopping experience.
Another, when transitioning to remote work, you might have thought of changing contact information or address for your business. But, for phone numbers it is best to keep existing ones. If changing providers, you can consider number porting so that you can still use your old business number.
While checking on staff has already been discussed, it’s important to keep up morale among your remote workers. Try to keep spirits up whether at home or in the office. When working remotely, the social side of the job can slow down, so it’s important to do what you’re able to to help people through the week.
It could be that you decide to do a weekly video-based quiz or have a bit of an online get-together. Even a small gathering on birthdays or special days will make a difference. To add to this, think about giving people online vouchers on specific occasions to let them know they’re a valued part of the team.
Remember, the happiness of workers is reflected in their output. Making sure everyone is content in their role is also an excellent way to internally build your brand.
You can reward people when they do things like meet goals or produce a great piece of work. Say, for example, you do the marketing for B2B eCommerce platforms and have a client that’s really happy with your efforts. Why not have a video team get together to celebrate your success? Again, this is about showing appreciation to your workers.
Another way to boost morale is to focus on your team’s interests. Consider getting people together to talk about their favorite films or music. Spend 20 minutes showing each other your cute pets or have an online drawing competition. All these are ways to break up the mundane and get people away from the same spot.
Working remotely might be a temporary move for your firm or it could be the start of something that works. Following this guide as a small to medium business will help with getting it right, enabling your team to adapt to any changes, and making sure your company continues to be the best it can.
About the Author
Grace Lau is the Director of Growth Content at Dialpad, an AI-powered cloud communication platform for better team collaboration for outbound and inbound call centers . She has over 10 years of experience in content writing and strategy. Currently, she is responsible for leading branded and editorial content strategies, partnering with SEO and Ops teams to build and nurture content. Here is her LinkedIn.