Hear from 3 company leaders on how their businesses are receiving the benefits of remote work.
Here's what you need to know:
- Analyze office communication practices through the lens of remote work, and make sure you’re clear about expectations around it
- When working remote, reflect your company values in your virtual behavior — such as understanding childcare and mental health needs
- Managers don’t need to understand an employee is working by seeing that employee physically working; they can refer to the metrics and outcomes they’ve set for employees to confirm this
Employers and workers laud the benefits of remote work like cost savings on rent and utilities, less time spent commuting, and greater flexibility to organize their day. But a successful and satisfying remote work arrangement takes more than just migrating your existing way of doing business online. Remote work can be great — it can be collaborative, productive, and deeply satisfying. However, small business owners need to consider how they’re operating in order to reap the benefits of working remotely. Here’s where to start.
Read more: Remote First! A Primer for Small Businesses
Rethink communication styles and formalize expectations
Communication on remote teams is different than that of the office. But that doesn’t mean it’s inferior or difficult, just different. Consider your current communication styles at your small or medium-sized business. Do you “pop over” to a colleague’s desk when you have a question? Do you rely heavily on in-person meetings? Are you an email company or an intra-office messenger company?
“We had become reliant and comfortable with in-person and 1:1 meetings to set priorities, clarify miscues, and inspire a sense of togetherness,” said Halloran.
But they’ve been able to bridge the gap thanks to the right tools and by setting expectations.
“We’ve been able to work through this by getting accustomed to Slack and Zoom, detailing action items in Zoho Projects, and setting some ground rules,” he added.
“We’ve been able to work through this by getting accustomed to Slack and Zoom, detailing action items in Zoho Projects, and setting some ground rules.”
Analyze office communication practices through the lens of remote work. While many remote-first companies rely on asynchronous communication, there is no one-size-fits-all answer. Async is highly effective but the switch can be jarring for businesses that rely on quick answers and responsiveness. More important than how you communicate is that you’re clear about expectations around it.
Reflect company values in virtual behavior
As the initial shock and awe of the COVID-19 pandemic fades, so too has the curtain dropped on the employers unwilling to support their employees through the ongoing challenges of today. If you’re remaining remote, make sure you reflect your company values in your virtual behavior.
“That’s one of the biggest things I’ve been working with clients on,” said Collins. “How we can help them continually show up for their company values while working remotely. Because that’s part of the deal, of the agreement you make with employees when they come on board.”
For companies that pride themselves on inviting employees to bring their full selves to work, this may mean showing leniency with grace when an employee can’t make a mandatory meeting because of difficulty securing childcare. Or it could look like offering team members additional PTO to take a much-needed mental health day.
Measure outcome, not productivity
“Small business owners can focus on tracking output rather than input.”
In physical office environments, many managers visually check in on employees. For remote environments, formalized expectations for employees give the manager a way to tangibly measure what was formerly qualitative.
“To alleviate this concern, small business owners can focus on tracking output rather than input — measure employee performance, and not what they are doing every minute of the workday.”
Managers don’t need to understand an employee is working by seeing that employee working; they can refer to the metrics and outcomes they’ve set for employees to confirm this. Employees can organize their time and projects to capitalize on their productive hours and work style while still meeting goals.
Focusing on how to make remote work, work is more impactful than celebrating why it does. Most important is to recognize remote work and workers as having specific needs, then removing obstacles and providing the right resources for them. Start at your SMB by getting clear about communicating, staying true to company values, and focusing on metrics that matter.
Want to know if you’re ready for permanent remote work? Find out today.