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Running a business remotely poses a unique set of challenges – especially when that business has traditionally been run from an office. However, in today’s connected world, it’s eminently possible, so here’s our guide to how you can make remote management a success for you and your company.
Setting yourself up, establishing a routine, staying flexible, keeping your people together, communication, managing supply chains, insurance.
First things first, you need to make sure everyone can reach each other, and anything they may need to access from your company’s server. Use a secure remote VPN (Virtual Private Network) if you’re handling important data, large files, and want a smooth transition from office to home office. TechRadar gave their rundown on the best options for your business, which you can find here.
Just as with office life, managing remote employees needs structure in order to be successful. Set up regular catch-ups with your team, and have a to-do list on the go to make sure you know what needs to be done. While running your business from home offers more flexibility, it’s important to keep to a schedule when necessary – although embracing asynchronistic working techniques can allow your team to tackle different tasks over a longer period, should that be necessary with suppliers/customers in different time zones.
Taking the time it takes to commute out of the day can free up several hours, in some instances. And, if you can use that time productively, whether it’s early morning or early evening, do it – and claim the time back later in the day. While that might mean answering emails or making calls, it can also be a time to practice some mindfulness, do some exercise, or ensure your work environment it set up to allow you to perform your job to your maximum potential.
Remote communication between employees is essential. While a few words over WhatsApp might work for you, companies such as Slack or Discourse are popular options that can keep everyone as one – both in and out of the office. If people are used to collaborating in person, they’ll need to be able to collaborate if they’re out of the office, too.
Undoubtedly, that phrase has been uttered before – and now it’s time to put that theory to the test. When getting people in the same place becomes more of a challenge, running a business from home means communicating clearly over email becomes more important than ever.
Video conferencing has become much easier, and mean you can get everyone into the (virtual) room. As with any meeting, it’s important to have an agenda, and ensure that every attendee who needs to be there has connected before you begin. To ensure order, make sure someone is running the meeting, and gives everyone the chance to speak in turn – as video calls can be tough to control.
If you’re working away from where you usually would, you may have to work with your suppliers to ensure you can still get prototypes, samples and products into hands before they’re ready to go. If you’re also having to deal with returns, making sure they’re going to the right place for them to be dealt with. You may need to update your customers if your logistics are changing, and be sure to notify them of any shipping issues that could be faced, it's all part of maintaining consumer trust.
Ensure you’re insured
If you’ve got stock, technical equipment, or money at your home, make sure your insurance policy covers you. And, if anyone’s going to be visiting you, make sure they’re covered as well – in case of any accidents, you’ll need a public liability policy.