Many businesses have been forced to switch to remote work in 2020 due to Covid-19, even if they had zero plans to do so at the beginning of the year.
However, more and more organizations are deciding to transition fully to remote working as a way to increase flexibility, reduce costs, and remain strong during uncertain times.
For many businesses, this marks a new era with a completely new way of doing things. When done well, working remotely can also be an opportunity to help your small business thrive.
Here's what small businesses transitioning to remote work should keep in mind, including our top recommendations of the best apps, productivity tips, and tactics to make flexible working a success.
What small businesses that thrive remotely have in common
1. A great tech stack
The key factor that has enabled the shift to remote working in 2020 is cloud-based technology. Without contact management apps to view customer data anywhere and collaboration tools like Slack to stay in contact with coworkers, we'd still depend on our offices to get work done.
The small businesses that thrive remotely have a great stack of cloud-based apps on their side, including:
- A CRM for contact management with real-time data
- Sales and marketing automation tools to get more done in less time
- Remote communication apps to keep their team in touch
- Omnichannel customer support software for a centralized view of all inquiries
- Accounting systems to seamlessly manage payroll and accounting for a distributed team
- Project management software to keep everyone on track
If all of your business apps are offered as software-as-a-service (SaaS), there's no need to be reliant on the office anymore.
2. A focus on balance
The small businesses that thrive while working remotely know that it's not all about the work. It's also about keeping their team happy and healthy. If that doesn't happen, neither will the work!
Part of the job for small business owners and managers is to help their team to nurture that balance. Encourage employees to work productively, but also set the expectation that they will switch off and have a clear end to the working day.
This starts with your own behavior as a team manager – make sure you're demonstrating work-life boundaries and avoid sending Slack messages at 3pm on a Sunday.
3. Remote-first policies
Transitioning to remote work requires rethinking how things are done at your company. Even the smallest businesses need to pivot their culture to become remote-first. This means making changes so that meetings, collaboration, teambuilding, announcements, and decision-making are all engineered to be carried out remotely. If you can meet up as a team, great! But for remote small businesses, this is the exception to the norm.
4. Respect and value your team
When remote work was just starting to become popular, it was sometimes promoted as a perk (and in some cases, even a justification to pay employees less).
While working remotely has many privileges, it's not always a perk in itself. In fact, some employees might prefer coming into the office! To help your team get the best results from flexible work, you need to focus on two core things: respecting and valuing your team.
This includes respecting each team member's boundaries, keeping work within designated hours, and encouraging each person to switch off outside this time. It also includes making an effort to show each employee appreciation for their work and valuing what they add to the business from their remote office.
To track and reward each person's contribution, make sure to have clearly defined goals and automated reporting in place to celebrate high performance.
5. Awareness of what helps productivity
Everyone has their own way of staying productive, and that's even more pronounced when your team is working outside the office. That said, you can help each person in your team to find their optimal productivity and focus.
Avoid creating blanket guidelines for how your team should work, but rather focus on the expected output. Then, give your team freedom and autonomy to reach those goals in their own way.
According to research by Slack into remote work during Covid-19, new remote workers are more likely to struggle to communicate effectively and find the documentation and resources they need to do their work:
The small businesses that thrive remotely are most likely to respect people's need for undisturbed focus time, let their team mute Slack notifications when they need to GSD, and not always dictate that their team should be online between strict hours if the role allows for more freedom.
6. Seamless hiring processes
You can't hire the way you always have when you become a remote small business. But when done well, hiring remotely can mean hiring more effectively. Not only can you access a wider talent pool, but you can also create a streamlined hiring process that pinpoints the best candidates for your small business.
7. Apps in sync
Data is one of the key foundations of sound business operations. When you're a remote small business, it's even more important that you have up-to-date and reliable data in all of your apps. After all, every team member needs the latest view of your customers, otherwise customer service suffers and it's easy to make poor decisions.
The easiest way to keep your apps in sync and your data connected everywhere is with a two-way syncing solution like PieSync. From your CRM to your email marketing list and customer support software, sync the latest customer data everywhere so your remote team can always see the most accurate picture.