How to empower your small business with remote workers
Embracing remote work can help your team and your bottom line
It’s hard to think that people would not prefer working remotely. In fact, according to a recent survey, 81% of on-site workers believed that they would be happier if they were allowed to work remotely.
Take a moment to think about your office environment. What is it like? Do you have your noise-canceling headphone plugged in to focus better on the task? Have you been interrupted by someone offering a snack or by someone who had a “quick question”? Was your commute to work long and difficult and you’re already dreading the commute back home?
The workforce today is a lot different than what it was a decade, or even three decades ago. Studies have shown that remote work has grown by almost 159% since 2005.
The State of Remote Work 2020 report further strengthens the concept of remote work. 98% of remote workers that were part of the study said that they plan to work from home “at least some of the time” for the remainder of their careers.
This is one of those trends that’s probably going to grow in the coming years. Remote work will become the norm as it offers more flexibility to the employees and the employers get the opportunity to find talent from around the world. There’s never been a better time for small businesses to set up their remote work policies.
The big question then is what do small businesses need in order to make team collaboration in a remote environment just as productive as a regular office environment?
In an office, communication is a lot more visible. You can stop by a colleague’s desk for a quick clarification or call for an immediate group meeting. You also have the opportunity to “read the room” and study the body language to gauge the team’s morale.
Assessing these interpersonal reactions gets difficult on phone calls and video conferencing. Communication tends to slow down. Remote work encourages small business leaders to rethink how and how much they communicate. Here are a few ways to enable good communication when working remotely:
- Set clear boundaries: Establish a workday schedule and stick to emails or work-specific chat apps to keep your private and professional lives different.
- Set clear expectations: Whether it’s a priority project or a normal, small task, setting clear deadlines and expectations can help orient the whole team towards the primary goal.
- Use work chat and team communication apps: For every “quick question,” send your colleague a message on the work chat app. This way you won’t be interrupting their focus and still get your answer.
- Be prompt: Since there is no physical proximity in remote work, it’s crucial that you actively participate in conversations and don’t take too long to revert. This builds trust and also establishes your presence in times of urgency or crisis.
- Enjoy virtual connection: Whether it’s a Friday team huddle or a daily 30-minute video call to replace the team briefing and water-cooler conversations – have a regular virtual meeting to strengthen the team bond.
While the benefits of remote work are quite evident for employees with less commute, the advantages of a remote team for a small business employer might not be so obvious. How can your business benefit from the approach that allows your team the flexibility to work remotely?
Here are 8 reasons why a remote team can empower your small business:
- Increased productivity
As a business owner, you need to trust your team to let them work remotely because this can provide an increase in overall productivity.
According to studies, when it comes to performance-based remote work, employees can be 20 percent to 25 percent more productive than their onsite colleagues. The main reason is that remote employees:
- Are not in a loud environment getting distracted
- Can avoid the long, arduous commute
- Have better control of their day
People who work remotely at least once a month are 24% more likely to be happy and productive. One of the key benefits of remote work is flexibility. However, if your business does need face-to-face meetings, then you could adopt a more balanced approach where you split time between home and workplace. Adopting a more cohesive and holistic approach will allow you to observe the change and notice the rewards.
- No commute. More time.
A reduction in the time spent commuting is definitely a major benefit of working remotely for the employee. However, this could benefit your small business too.
Multiple studies have shown that the health and well-being of your team translate into better productivity and reduction in absenteeism. Whether it’s a 30-minute train ride during peak hours or a 60-minute drive during rush traffic, this is the time that they’ll never get back and the commute will only tire them.
When working remotely, your team will start their workday fresh. The absence of a commute will not only give them more time during the day, but it’ll also reduce their traveling cost. They can spend this sum of money on something they enjoy, which will eventually translate into a healthier, happier, and more motivated team.
- Access to a wider pool of applicants
The younger generation of today has grown up with the ability to effectively communicate from anywhere in the world. While they’ve been doing this in their personal lives, most expect this to spill over in their professional lives, too.
Work flexibility is one of the key factors that most young professionals consider when looking for a job. Offering this benefit can help your small business attract some of the best, highly skilled professionals that might not have otherwise been interested in the role.
Having a remote work environment allows you to find and hire talent that is outside of your office’s normal commuting distance. This can particularly benefit professions or locations where there is a shortage of skills.
With a remote setup, your small business can widen its nets to find and work with some of the most talented individuals irrespective of where they’re based. It also gives you the option to work with freelance talent. For example, for various tasks such as web design, the right freelancer can give you the desired results without breaking the bank. All you need to know as a small business leader is how to hire a graphic designer that can do the job well and is willing to stay up to date with the latest technology and tools. You can use these types of guides to help you when you are recruiting other specialists, too.
- More cost savings
Renting and maintaining an office space is an expensive affair. There is a strong chance that the rent and utilities of your office space are one of the biggest expenses your business incurs.
A remote work environment can completely do away with these costs that can later add to your overall profit margins. However, if your business does require a bit of face-to-face time on a regular basis, then you could rent a smaller office space. This way, only those who are required to come to work will go, while the others can work remotely saving the additional office costs.
- Better employee retention
One of the biggest disadvantages of smaller organizations is losing talented employees. The cost of hiring and training a new employee can often become difficult for the business to bear. Small businesses also cannot compete with the industry giants with respect to the salary and benefits that they offer their employees. Therefore, it is crucial that you make the most of the advantages you have.
Unlike small businesses, most large organizations may find it challenging to go remote and this can make it difficult for their employees to work without the freedom they need. Working from home gives people the enhanced work-life balance that allows them to cater to their other responsibilities and work efficiently. Both of these factors play an important role in employee retention.
- More independent employees
People are often quite particular about how and when they work. This becomes difficult when everyone has to come to an office and adapt to the same approach. Giving your team the flexibility to work remotely gives them the freedom to work in a way that suits them and their lifestyle. The control that they lack in the office, they get at home.
For example, some people prefer to have a tidy desk and work best in an early morning serene and silent environment, while others do their best work curled up on their couch late at night.
Of course, as an organization, you can have certain systems in place, but within particular guidelines, your team will have the flexibility to create a schedule that best suits them and allows them to deliver their best work.
- Technology helps
Access to some of the best technology has not only made working from home possible but also effective. With fast wi-fi connections, project management tools, cloud computing, smartphones, instant messaging, technology has enabled us to communicate effectively and perform our best despite being in different corners of the world.
One of the common misconceptions is that a remote team is a disparate team. However, given the tools these days, that’s simply not the case. All you need is to give access to your team to these tools, and you’ll be empowering your remote team in no time.
Supercharge Your Small Business with Remote Workers
As a small business owner, you get to decide how to create a great work from home policy that benefits your team and your business. If you’re in an office setting, maybe you can transition slowly instead of opening the floodgates in one go. However, if you’re just starting out, then there’s nothing more powerful than a policy that works for everyone.
A helpful and easy way to find the right remote workers you are looking for is also to publish your job advertisements on your social media pages. One of the most known social media networks for this purpose is Facebook, but there are many others. By using social media scheduling tools you will save time and you will also reach many people at once. Maybe one of your fans will reshare it or will simply send the link to a friend that could be a good fit for the job role you have posted.
The best way to get the most out of remote work is to embrace it and find creative ways to make it serve your team and your bottom line. More companies today are empowering their employees to work in a way that suits them and gets them to do their best. With the latest technology and clear guidelines, you can achieve your goals working remotely.