How to Create a Successful Remote Office
Many businesses have had to quickly become a remote office, whether or not they’ve spent enough time planning a proper remote work setup. Depending on your industry, it may be entirely possible to become a temporary (or permanent) remote office. When you feel overwhelmed about how a remote office setup will work, keep in mind these three important topics: teamwork, strategy, and customers.
Keep your team in a good rhythm
Take care of your team and help them meet their work goals by reviewing these steps. View this as an opportunity to grow a positive culture and hit peak productivity as a team.
- Maintain a consistent structure (on a daily or weekly level) inclusive of a quick staff huddle via conference call, the same as you normally would with your staff meetings in the office. Discuss company-wide announcements and each team member’s daily goals during these regular huddles. This puts a good routine in place for team members and helps with maintaining daily priorities and continuing to achieve goals.
- Standardize your official internal announcements so that your team knows where to look for guidance, preferably through an easily documented digital paper trail. For example, in addition to making announcements during the regular staff meetings, send announcement memos both by email and on your company instant messaging app to communicate important information, but ensure that your team is aware that they are required to actively check those accounts. Once you have a standard in place, it will be easier to go back and search for previous announcement details through your digital paper trail.
- Don’t forget the mail. If circumstances require it, plan a weekly post office errand to gather important mail such as customer payments or vendor bills. Because the United States Postal Service (USPS) is considered an essential business, your local post office may be open during their normal or temporarily condensed business hours. To double-check, you can call your local branch or the national postal service hotline, but you may experience longer than usual wait times. Be sure to continue practicing social distancing and general hygiene when visiting public areas such as the post office. Private delivery services such as UPS or FedEx may follow similar practices as USPS, but the best place to confirm is by checking their websites or calling their customer service phone numbers.
Keep your overall business strategy in mind
There will inevitably be tough decisions along the road during this pandemic crisis for all businesses large and small, which is why you must always keep your business strategy in mind, especially during uncertain times like this. Doing this will help put your business ahead of the game once things return to normal.
- While there are likely many pressing matters and urgent to-dos that have sprung up since the pandemic began, revisit the Urgent Important Matrix. As quoted by President Dwight D. Eisenhower, “What is important is seldom urgent and what is urgent is seldom important.” Use the matrix to divide tough decisions into the four categories in this order: Important Urgent, Important Not Urgent, Unimportant Urgent, Unimportant Not Urgent. Then engage in the tough decisions with a clear mind and don’t allow fear to take over.
- Evaluate your strategy for general business operations, such as your team’s daily software program usage. Is there a subscription program not in use or no longer necessary for business functions? Cancel it. Is there software that can replace a currently inefficient business process? Buy it, but be mindful on whether the subscription price is well worth the amount of time and effort saved. Can you structure your business to live online, mostly or completely digital? Go for it. When building a remote office setup, a good rule of thumb is to digitize and create efficient systems.
- Do some research. Research shifts that other companies and competitors in your industry have or have not been making. This pandemic has created a unique chance to innovate and reinvent your company in ways that your competitors haven’t considered. For example, you may realize that your business may not even need a physical office and can be entirely remote; if this is the case, this could be the right time to evolve your existing business model based on that knowledge, saving you a large overhead line item in the future.
- Find useful resources to support your business. There is an abundance of blogs, websites, and webinars containing resources that can help your business weather the storm. When reviewing these, be sure to check the source to make sure it is credible. Talk to your colleagues, tax advisors, financial advisors, business coaches and mentors to get a pulse on the business climate locally. If you’re a small business, check out SBA.gov for details on SBA loans and other government resources. Many business coaching companies have been offering free live webinars and blog articles regarding specific topics throughout the country.
Assure your customers that you’re here to help
A business is no business without its customers. Your customers deserve to know what’s going on from your standpoint and for theirs. Give them the assurance that your team is ready to help in these times of crisis.
- Prioritize health for all by closing your offices to the public and moving to a remote work setup for the safety of everyone involved in your daily operations. Make sure your customers know what to expect during this sudden transition to a temporary new normal.
- To alleviate any questions your customers may have, dedicate a page on your website and a few posts on your business’s social media accounts to communicatehealth updatesand procedures that your business is taking. Include guidance on how to contact you, and be realistic yet timely with your customers on estimated wait times for responses to their phone calls, emails, etc.
- Ensure that your customers are kept in the loop on the most important information about your business, but don’t go overboard with email communications. Just like your own email inbox, your customers’ inboxes are likely already overloaded with the same COVID-19 information from many other businesses. Provide just the right amount of information – not too much and not too little. You don’t want to lose an otherwise attentive audience because of information overload, causing them to unsubscribe with the box check-marked ‘I receive too many emails.’
- Explore ways to provide added value for your customers. Review your current contracts to see if there are any specific things that your customer can benefit from during this time. Examples could include pivoting their marketing and advertising strategies to account for budget changes, developing a short series of :05 to :15 second videos highlighting what they’re doing for their own customers during the quarantine, or finding other creative ways for them to maintain a strong online presence. From a marketing perspective, it’s imperative to be at the frontlines handling pressing issues, and the efforts taken to market to your customers’ audiences right now will prove beneficial with marketing efforts in the future when the world begins returning to a new sense of normalcy.
The sudden timing of setting up your office to work remotely may not be ideal, but think of this as a good time to reevaluate your business operations and see if there are ways you can innovate. TEAMWORK, STRATEGY and CUSTOMERS – remember these main topics to get your company through this crazy time. With the help of technology and resources provided to us in this day and age, you can build and sustain a remote office through this time and well into the future.