The Challenges SMEs Face When Transitioning To Remote Working

Remote Working

By David Davies

David is the Founder and MD of Sovereign Beverage Company www.sovbev.com, a global supplier of premium British beverages. After a successful transition to remote working during COVID, David has recently relinquished the company offices in favour of permanent home working for his team. Here, he shares advice on what other founders need to consider before they implement remote working permanently. 

It’s hard to believe that two-and-a-half years ago, much of Europe’s workforce found itself working from home overnight. The enforced lockdowns created an historic shift for many businesses, and while home working used to be seen as a perk, it has now become the norm. Surveys show that almost half of the professional workforce are interested in remote working becoming a permanent fixture, with respondents giving reasons such as saving time, saving money, and increased flexibility. 

Forward-thinking companies are taking note and offering remote working, with a survey from the Institute of Directors finding that 79% of leaders intend to implement remote working in the long term. Remote working has been found to reduce rates of burnout, and increase employee well-being, productivity, engagement, and feelings of inclusion.

So how can SMEs successfully make the transition to remote working, and what are some of the challenges when managing a remote team?

One major challenge is around working policies and ensuring that the team is fully aware of expectations and working guidelines. Ensuring clear guidelines will help to reduce confusion – running a virtual session with the team can help to share this knowledge.

Recruiting and onboarding new staff can also be a difficult process. Although video conferencing can be hugely helpful, time must also be carved out to hold in-person interviews and new start meetings, to help develop a relationship. One way we’ve overcome this at Sovereign Beverage Company is to adopt a buddy system, pairing a new starter with a more experienced team member for the induction period.

Another important thing to remember is to be flexible about the team’s working environment. Although we expect our team to have a dedicated workspace, we all need to remember that they are working from home, where there may be unexpected noises or interruptions! I’m sure we all remember the BBC interview with two small children joining in! 

Reviewing how technology is used is also important. Having several communication methods available is an important factor – for example, video conferencing and instant messaging. Look at how information is shared and consider if you need to amalgamate where documents are stored, for example.

Finally, although we’ve embraced home-working to the fullest, we still recognise the importance of in-person meetings and events. For example, we plan monthly team meetings to bring everyone together as well as some social events to maintain employee connection and morale. For instance, our team reviews are all conducted in person, and we’ll go out for dinner afterwards.

About the Author

David DaviesDavid Davies is the Founder of Sovereign Beverage Company www.sovbev.com, the UK’s leading premium beverage export agency. Sovereign Beverage Company helps to streamline the export operations of UK breweries, reducing their costs, increasing efficiency, and introducing them to new markets, using their unique in-house technology.

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