Working from home is the new normal, but building a remote business from scratch isn’t easy. Here are a few tips to get you started:
1. Hire the right people
Forming a remote team opens the possibility to hire the most qualified workers from around the world. However, it is difficult to evaluate a candidate’s skillset when you’re unable to meet in person. A good idea is to look for individuals who have a track record of working remotely, such as freelancers. Freelancers are self-driven and used to working without an office setting. Moreover, they can sustain a healthy work-life balance while working from home, which is important for morale.
2. Effective project management
A big part of successful project management is being organised. There are a host of online tools available to help with planning and organisation. Here are a few well-known ones:
- Asana: Asana is a project management tool popular with companies around the world, thanks to its easy-to-use interface. It features a visual project timeline where you can track the progress of your project and check deadlines. Asana also integrates other applications such as Slack, Google Calendar, Dropbox and Outplanr.
- Trello: Trello is a cross-platform project management tool, favoured by organisations such as Google and Fender. With Trello, you can set up to-do lists, delegate tasks to team members and create customised workflows. What’s good about Trello is you can use it to manage projects through a computer, tablet or smartphone.
- LastPass: If your team uses any shared logins, LastPass is the way to go. LastPass generates secure passwords and then stores them so they are automatically entered when login fields appear.
Once you’ve picked the best software for your specific needs, take time to show your employees how to use it. Investing extra time in training will avoid technical issues in the long run, and ultimately prove more cost-effective for your business.
3. Set up a communication plan
One disadvantage of remote work is missing out on the ability to talk face-to-face with colleagues. This is why it’s important to put an effective communication plan in place.
Again, there are many tools and applications available to facilitate employee communication. Video chat apps are particularly useful for holding virtual conferences, meetings and interviews. For less formal matters, consider downloading apps such as Slack, Google Hangouts or Microsoft Teams. These are instant messaging platforms that allow you to be in constant touch with your team. Of course, emails still have a significant role in business communication. With emails, you can attach documents and send messages to multiple recipients, which is helpful for briefings.
4. Be prepared for IT failure
Sometimes, technology gives up on us when we need it most. Computers not booting, routers not working, power failures — tech malfunctions are unpredictable and represent a massive threat to online work. However, with adequate preparation, IT crashes can be quickly resolved.
A great way to plan for tech failure is by conducting a thorough risk assessment. This way, you can predict any potential pitfalls and come up with a solution beforehand. For instance, if Wi-Fi failure is a concern, you could train your team members how to set up a mobile hotspot. Another challenge of remote work is when colleagues are unable to install the right software on their PCs. Let’s imagine your company uses a program that only works with Windows, but your employee has a Mac. One way to get around this is by setting up a remote desktop — a computer that the user does not have physical access to, but can interact with via an online interface. This way, your colleague has access to the right software, and you won’t have to invest in new devices for employees.
5. Keep your team engaged
According to Gallup, highly engaged teams are 21% more profitable, which is why it’s vital to create an inclusive working environment. However, it can be easy for remote workers to feel disconnected when working from home. So, how do you get around this?
- Hold weekly or monthly department meetings.
- Check in with team members individually.
- Keep in contact through instant messaging apps.
In addition to work-related meetings, you can also provide socialising opportunities in the form of virtual games, quizzes or general chit-chat calls. These types of activities are not only important for nurturing teamwork, but also great for improving confidence and productivity.