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How to get your business fully remote

Bryan Smith
Jun 17, 2020 10:00:00 AM

Your business has been working for years or decades just like how it is. Why would you want to fix what isn’t broken? Well, aside from current events necessitating as much remote work and self isolation as possible? Because working remotely is better.

Nothing was wrong with the horse when the automobile came along, after all.

Surprisingly, having business functions be as far away from brick and mortar is highly efficient. The infrastructure costs of running an office is considerable, and perhaps counter-intuitively the work environment of an office entails a lot of wasted time. Having people work remotely is often more productive than you’d think.

You’re already doing most of your critical management functions remotely right now

Email has utterly replaced mailed letters. In fact you’d have to talk to retirees to even hear about people who could remember the days when office letters were a main mode of business communication.

Telephone calls and instant messaging have been highly integrated in how we do work pertaining to communication.

Your office may be into using Google Drive, Google Hangouts and other web-based office suites or project management tools to better facilitate shared document tracking and collaboration.

Things are already leaning more and more towards the natural efficiency of using our own machines at home to take care of the meat and potatoes of the business world.

So what else is really left?

This varies from business model to business model. It is, after all, fundamentally different to run a business that offers industrial services from the guy in town who does digital marketing and manages social media accounts. But, as different as those businesses are, there are some major similarities.

Both of them have face to face meetings occasionally, both of them have to track their expenses and do their accounting, and no matter what kind of business you run, you will always be in communication with your customers.

It’s just that the marketing guy in town does most of those essential things from his house. There’s no reason why those shared things for the brick and mortar industrial business can’t be done by someone working from home either.

The majority of office work, management, sales, design, and company meetings can and probably should be done remotely.

Decide what you need

Running your business online is partly something that inevitably happens on its own and the other part, you do need to seriously plan for and commit to.

If you want to make your business fully remote, then you need to plan and commit what you actually want to be done that way.

Otherwise, you’ll just be stuck in limbo, where you’re paying for the office, and workers more and more often have some reason to say “I’m going to work from home today!” – and then your other staff are physically present and it starts killing morale – especially in a small business.

Once you’ve decided that such and such office work can be done entirely at home, or this part of the management process should be done in virtual meetings, or this kind of training shouldn’t be done during in-building hours and can be done from home, then you can start planning and making actual decisions for how to transform your business.

You have to be paperless first

If you are physically handling hard paper copies of documents that are critical to your business, then you need to keep those documents or services entirely digital. They’re easier and cheaper to do that way, and once you have those docs in the cloud, it becomes much more difficult to lose them, and they can be accessed from anywhere.

While you have to have physical copies for some things, you may decide to keep your metal filing cabinet at one secure location.

Keeping collaboration docs like purchase orders and invoices in the cloud is an easier way to keep track of them. Most things that go paperless also go to the cloud, that way they’re not locked as files to someone’s home computer, where simple things like hard drive crashes and power surges can spell disaster.

The same is true for design collaboration. Most of software development is done in remote teams these days. Team members may be working on the same project from all over the world, especially when you’re enlisting specialists that are hard to find in one local area.

Many other engineering tasks that require compliance documentation and CAD can be done directly from peoples’ computers at home, too.

Consider enlisting digital services, or outsource to them

There are firms that are dedicated to outsourcing functions like accounting or IT support. They have virtual assistants that can help your remote employees stay productive and on task.

Business owners have to decide when building a remote operation, how much of their business they want to outsource, and what parts they want to keep in-house, but working from home or otherwise remotely.

Software packages and other services

Of course when moving operations to work remotely, different tools and software packages will be needed to make the most out of that transition.

Many software solutions today are already fully compatible with decentralized work from home scenarios. However, to keep workers on track and communicating, it’s important to have a collaboration platform that supports messaging, file sharing and management, and most importantly video conferencing with scheduling.

Keeping schedule discipline

Collaboration software is so crucial because the hardest part of working from home is schedule discipline. It is true that while at home potentially a lot more can be there to distract employees from their workloads, having scheduled meetings and project goals are standards that must be adhered to very rigidly if you are going to be seriously working from home.

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