More and more businesses are making the move to remote working due to the benefits they can enjoy, such as reduced overheads, access to a wider talent pool and even an increase in productivity.
If you're considering a transition to remote working for your small business, it's important to be aware of how to prepare your business to ensure that the transition is as smooth as possible for both your employees and your clients. Below, Maria Espie Vidal from productivity tool Time Doctor shares four strategies to help small business owners prepare their workforce for remote working:
1. Embrace tech
Project collaboration and communication has to be carefully managed when you're working remotely. As your team might be spread across the globe, getting them to collaborate effectively is crucial. As you’re not there in person, you have to manage your employees and projects virtually. Luckily, there are plenty of tools on the market to help you.
Whether it’s project management tools or time management tools, there’s an online solution for every work process. Always train your employees on how to use these tools before switching to remote work to minimize the chances of any hiccups.
Technology can also alleviate another remote working issue - isolation. There’s a tendency for remote workers to feel cut-off since they’re not physically working alongside their coworkers. Using tools to conduct regular video conferences are a great way to maintain a sense of being connected. Look for tools that support live chat and whiteboards to help your remote workers make the most of these calls.
During a transition, most companies focus on prepping their junior-level employees and work processes for remote work. However, many of them overlook their managers during these periods. Your managers will also have to adapt to this new situation. In fact, transitioning to remote work can be harder for managers than junior employees.
Your managers are now tasked with managing a workforce without being there in person. They’ll have to oversee projects and activities with the same efficiency as they had before. To help your managers cope with these changes, go over training procedures such as:
- Educating them on how to get the best out of a remote workforce.
- Showing them different ways of coping with this change.
- Helping them grasp the new policies you’ve set in place.
- Establishing conflict protocols.
Listen to the feedback you get from your managers. Alleviate any concerns they may have with their new set of responsibilities and roles. Assure them that this change is going to benefit them and the organization at large. Only after this will you have a set of managers ready to get the best out of your remote workforce.
3. Implement policy changes
You can’t switch to remote work without changing your work policies. Your current policies may not necessarily reflect the new responsibilities and conditions your remote team will face. For example, your current performance appraisal procedures may be difficult to implement online with a remote workforce.
Set out clear remote working policies across several areas like data protection, employee availability and accountability to ensure that everyone is aware of what is expected of them. Not only does this reduce confusion - it speeds up adoption. As everyone is prepared for what’s to come, they can adapt to these changing conditions quickly.
4. Address employee concerns
There’s going to be some understandable employee apprehension towards any major change. This is especially true when dealing with business-wide change, such as a transition to remote work. Although this is generally considered a positive, due to a lack of commuting time and more flexibility, it's understandable for employees to air concerns about how the changes will impact them. It’s up to you to address these concerns. Talk to your employees and listen to what they have to say. Many of their concerns may be valid issues you failed to notice when deciding to switch.
Adapt your remote working plan to fit in with your employee’s requests to alleviate their concerns. Emphasize how remote working will help them and the business grow.
Highlight the positives that come with remote working. This helps your employees see the benefits of this shift - reducing the apprehension they might have. Remember, the more open your employees are to a change, the easier the implementation will be.
With the right preparation and policies, you’ll have no trouble adapting to remote work and enjoying the many benefits that come with it.
About the Author
Maria Espie Vidal writes for Time Doctor – a productivity app that helps remote teams improve their time management skills. At Time Doctor, the team's focus is on allowing customers to build distributed teams that can work wherever and whenever they want. The Time Doctor team is also fully remote, made up of 80 people working from 23 different countries.