Across the globe, working from home has become the new norm for many businesses and employees over the last six months since the outbreak of COVID-19. Whilst some companies can’t wait to get back into the office, others have seen immense benefits from this new style of working, from a financial perspective as well as in terms of the productivity of their business.
But, how can businesses make this transition to a permanent remote-working business that sees success in terms of profitability, as well as employee happiness and company culture?
Know Your Money has worked with a number of business owners that have been running fully remote companies to gain insight into their top tips for those looking to make the move to remote working for the long haul.
Maintaining relationships with your team
Gemma Whates, Founder of All by Mama, advises on how to maintain strong connections with your employees.
“It can be really easy to lose that daily contact with a remote team and the relationship that builds is really important to nurture an environment of trust. Stay connected to your team with a WhatsApp / Slack group / regular calls (at the same time each week).”
“A ‘well done’ said in person can mean a lot to someone who is working hard and can get lost in translation or feel less sincere over email, so reward your team with gifts when they do well, so a well done still feels as good as if it was said in person!”
Employee progression is immensely important to maintaining motivation within a company, as well as reducing employee turnover. Gemma’s emphasis on finding new ways to thank your employees, other than an email to say ‘well done’, will benefit both your employee’s wellbeing, as well as their input into your business.
Hannah-Beth, the owner of The Little Surprises Company, encourages the importance of ‘virtual socials, shout outs and nice messages’ to keep up relationships with your team whilst working remotely.
The most recommended platforms to use to communicate with your team include WhatsApp, Slack, Zoom, Microsoft Teams and Skype, to help maintain strong relationships across your company.
Giving your employees a reason to communicate
When working remotely, one of the biggest challenges can be ensuring you are keeping up regular communication with your colleagues, as conversations in the office that happen naturally are no longer possible.
Gary Green, Principal of London-based firm of chartered accountants and digital marketers, Key Business Consultants, shares his top tip in keeping your employees communicating closely.
“Pairing up staff can be a big help so that communication lines and support for each other is delegated to the staff themselves and they can work together to ensure that the work is being delivered on time and to standard.”
By creating an online buddy scheme, employees will not only be able to feel confident to ask questions whenever needed on a regular basis, but it also helps them manage their workload by consulting in others and creating a more seamless way of working.
Trust is crucial in remote working
One of the key attractions of remote working is the flexibility and freedom employees have to do their job. As a business owner looking to make their business permanently remote, it’s pivotal to embrace this style of working to save both time, and money for your business, which will increase productivity as a result.
Benedict Jones, CEO of Traced comments; “It’s important that we foster the benefits of working from home and don’t try to replicate an office environment – embracing the flexibility means trusting employees and giving them the space to live their lives.
“We all meet up every morning to shoot the breeze and talk about what we’re working on, any problems we’ve encountered, but apart from that, we can use the day as we please.
“We focus on tasks and projects, rather than putting in an appearance and working 9-5. Some of the team work like that as it helps them to structure their day, but others drop in and out around other commitments.”
Schedule specific times for employees to check in with you
When you’re in the office, it’s all too easy to have a catch up with your manager if you need to talk about something on your mind. When working remotely, this becomes slightly more challenging and potentially daunting for employees, as they are less able to see how busy their manager is that day, and guage if it is the right time for a chat.
Gemma Whates advises remote business owners to “keep communication happening by making yourself available at set times each week for calls. It’s easy to catch your manager / team in the corridor at work but can feel a big deal to reach out to someone on email and say ‘can we talk.’’.
Doing this will allow your employees to feel more comfortable and open to contacting you within these times, whilst also allowing managers to prioritise and manage their schedules more efficiently.
Make sure you separate your work and personal life
Finally, one of the biggest challenges people can face when working remotely is learning how to switch off and differentiate their home spaces away from work.
Hannah-Beth comments, “I think ensuring that people set up a work space where there is a clear physical delineation between work and rest is immensely important. Putting together a good to-do list so that you have a sense of direction for your day and ensuring that emails are turned off at 6pm so that there is a clear end is a useful way to encourage your employees to switch off.”
Cheney Hamilton, CEO, and Founder of Find Your Flex emphasises for permanent remote workers that may have other responsibilities as well that“ It’s ok to take a break. Especially if you are wrestling with kids at home too. Do work in bitesize chunks where possible, try to incorporate that into your planning.”
Employee burnout can be particularly difficult to manage with a remote team, so as a business owner it’s crucial to ensure you are keeping an eye on when your employees are signing off, as well as checking in with them to see how they are balancing the home working life balance.
Whilst every business is different both in an office environment and a remote working set up, these tips will help provide company owners with a guideline when transitioning their business to work from home for the long haul. In any business, communication, trust, motivation, and confidence is what enables employees to produce successful work, and it’s crucial that remote businesses continuously work to maintain this in their company.