There’s been a lot of discussion recently about creating a flexible, mobile workforce, but for many business owners, the idea of staff working remotely can be daunting. How will you know they’re getting anything done? How can you be sure they’re not sitting around watching TV all day? As a business owner, it’s normal to feel hesitant about introducing remote working practices into your business.
But the fact is, many studies show that employees who have the option to work from home are not only happier but they’re more productive. And implementing remote working capabilities is not as hard as you might think; it’s simply a matter of digitising your businesses by moving to the cloud. Once you’ve done this, you’ll not only find your day to day processes are more streamlined, you’ll soon reap the rewards of having a happier, more productive team.
- Implement the right technologies
First and foremost, to give your team the ability to work remotely you’ll need to implement the right technologies. Cloud based services are essential to any business looking to set up remote working capabilities. Your core business documents will need to be migrated to a cloud based server, such as Google Drive or Box, so everyone in the team can access files from wherever they are. You’ll also need a cloud based email service so staff can easily access emails on the go.
From there, it will be a matter of trial and error to work out which cloud based applications best suit your business’ needs. Some options to consider include Asana, which will help manage your to-do lists, Slack, which allows your team to collaborate on projects, and Skype, which enables your team can keep in touch no matter where they are, through instant messaging and conference calls.
- Set expectations
One of the most difficult concepts to grasp as a business owner is the ability to manage staff who aren’t physically present. And while it might take some getting used to, this can easily be overcome by setting clear expectations for anyone working remotely. Be clear about how you need to be updated on progress – whether that’s daily emails or phone calls, and agree in advance specific days employees need to be in the office; to attend company meetings, for example. Once you work through the logistics and put guidelines in place, you’ll find staff more than willing to oblige as they’ll want this to work as much as you do.
- Empower your team
Many of us work with highly capable staff members who are able to take on more responsibility. But if you’re always close by to help out and answer questions, they can often end up relying on you to problem solve rather than thinking for themselves. By allowing your team to work remotely, you’ll find they’ll become better equipped at managing situations and learning to get things done on their own, ultimately resulting in a more independent and capable team.
- Lead by example
By implementing remote work practices, not only will your staff benefit but you will too. Many small business owners find it difficult to take time off, so learning how to manage your business remotely will provide you with a better work/life balance and allow you to spend more time on the things that matter most. Start with a half day here, a full day there, and slowly work out the best way for you to keep on top of your business remotely. There’ll be some trial and error in the outset, but once you get into the swing of it you’ll soon find yourself able to take off weeks at a time, even learning to manage your business while away on holiday.
Embracing new processes can be difficult, but nothing will benefit your business as much as going digital and implementing remote working capabilities. We’re incredibly fortunate to live in a world where technology allows us to communicate with our team and run our business from anywhere in the world. So if you haven’t yet thought about moving your business to the cloud, make it a priority for this year. Not only will it benefit you and your staff, but it will help you implement more efficient systems and processes, which will ultimately make your business more productive.
Tim Hoopmann is the CEO and founder of Cornerstone, a bookkeeping business specialising in cloud services. Following his years of experience as a consultant and business owner, Tim is now passionate about helping other businesses make the transition to being fully digitised to allow for greater freedom and work/life balance for business owners and employees alike.