More and more Americans are managing their businesses remotely – whether from home or while traveling. And more recently, it’s been the way many companies have stayed relevant during mandated stay-at-home or shelter-in-place orders.
If you’ve just started managing your business remotely, or you’re ready to take the plunge on a more consistent basis, consider these five critical tips for ultimate success.
Tip #1: Communicate, communicate, communicate.
Communication is an essential element of managing your business remotely – and you can never do too much of it. The more you communicate with your employees and customers, the more successful you’ll be. Set up a communication platform all employees can use, such as Zoom or Skype for video calls, or Trello or Microsoft Teams for project management. Be consistent using these platforms and provide training to employees who may need a little extra assistance.
But having the right communication tools available is just the first step. If you have employees, you need to keep the lines of communication open. Encourage questions and provide answers where you can. Talk often by having regular staff meetings and one-on-one sessions with those you manage.
If you don’t have employees, stay connected with regular status update meetings with your clients – or you can set up a project management tool to help your clients see progress, ask questions and chat with you. Whatever works best for you and your clients is what you should implement – but you need to do something to encourage regular and consistent dialog.
Tip #2: Create a comfortable work environment.
Are you working at your kitchen table, or do you have a dedicated space for a home office? Do you prefer to work at the local café where things are a little livelier? Whatever you decide, it needs to be a place where you can focus and limit distractions during your workday. Consider some of the following as you find just the right location:
- How good is the Wi-Fi?
- Are there distractions (including snacks and food)?
- Is the location private, where you can discuss personal matters with clients or employees?
- How noisy is your intended office area?
- You may have to experiment a little to see what works best for you. If you do encounter distractions while working, switch things up – maybe hide your snacks or shut the office door for a while.
Tip #3: Stick to a schedule.
One of the most significant benefits of working remotely is the ability to create your own hours – and you don’t have to commute. However, you must create and maintain a schedule every day. Use time management tools to help you prioritize, and build in breaks and exercise to your daily plan. When you consistently work during certain hours, employees and clients will start to learn when you’re available, which will help you balance your home and work life.
Additionally, set clear expectations every day, with fixed deadlines for tasks. Follow up regularly with your team to create accountability. That way, you’re motivating yourself to stay focused on your priorities as well as others.
Tip #4: Have a reliable back-up plan.
Things are going to happen when you’re working from home. For example, what will you do if the power goes out? Because a reliable internet connection is essential to working remotely, figure out how you’ll adjust now so you’re prepared for the unexpected. Maybe you can work at your local public library or a coffee shop near your home. You should also invest in a Wi-Fi hotspot to use wherever you may roam – this can be a particularly great option when you’re on the road.
Tip #5: Maintain a strong online and mobile presence.
No matter the type of business you run remotely, you need a robust online presence, so potential customers know who you are and what your company can do for them. Keep your website updated and relevant and be an active social media user. Share your latest promotions via email, or build business through webinars. And most importantly, don’t stop working on leads because you’re working remotely. If you can’t meet face-to-face with a potential client, set up a Zoom call to walk him or her through your product offerings. With so many online and mobile tools, you may be able to do more in your day because you’re now taking away the travel time.
Following these tips will help you successfully manage your business remotely. But, as with most things in life, experience is the best teacher. The more you practice, the better off you’ll be. Remember, you don’t have to plan every single step ahead of time – just set up some guidelines and get to work.