If you were a business owner who was unsure about the concept of remote working, it’s more than likely that 2020 swept in and forced your hand.
In March last year, hundreds of thousands of Australians swapped their daily commute and business attire for a desk in their living room and all-day pyjamas. Remarkably, the business world kept on turning. In fact, research has found higher levels of satisfaction and reduced incidences of burnout from employees who are able to work remotely.
Now that the risk of COVID has subsided for the most part in Australia, demanding your people return to work in person five days a week could be a disadvantage. They have had a taste of skipping the bus and the 6:00am starts just to get to work on time… and they like it.
The Monday-to-Friday in the office work-week is over. Faced with the new normal, the best option is to adapt. Here are some tips on how to do this from a small business accountant team that works with a range of industries:
The benefit of face to face work is you can literally keep an eye on people. The risk of having people working remotely is that it is hard to know what everyone is doing all day.
When you create flexibility to work from home, be clear about expectations and boundaries. Let your staff know what time you expect them to be at their desk and when you would like them to be available for calls. Ask your time to ‘ping’ you with a direct message or update their messenger status if they are planning to leave their desk for more than a few minutes. These things should go without saying, but unfortunately they don’t. If you create policies, share them and refer to them, you will establish the structure your business needs.
You do have the option to monitor keystrokes and measure the activity of your team electronically but not everybody is comfortable with being tracked this way.
It may work for your team to have at least one day per week when everyone is in the office. This gives people a chance to connect, build rapport and collaborate in person. Another option is a regular team Zoom call to chat and catch up. This reminds people that they are working together towards a common goal. For example, at Imagine Accounting our entire team tries to work in the office every Tuesday and we have a Teams Meeting every Monday.
Save money by hot desking
With so many people working from home, businesses no longer need a seat for every person at their office.
In the age of remote working, can you reduce your space, sub-let part of your office or lease meeting rooms by the hour? If you’re not sure, book a chat with your small business accountant to look at your budget.
This can be a game-changer for your business in terms of money saved. And you can afford to splash out on a bit more luxury if you do need to all get together in person or meet with important clients for a presentation.
The new normal is hyper-connected, even though we are apart.
All of a sudden, travelling across town for meetings seems like a prehistoric move. If you’re not already making the most of Zoom for meetings, Slack and similar apps for live chat between your team and task management software so people know exactly what needs doing and when… you should be!
With this being said, don’t be constantly distracted by new options for communicating or try to stay in touch with your team across too many platforms. Pick and stick so everybody knows where to find each other.
Smile for the camera
You can also leverage technology to reach a wider audience. Host a webinar for your clients. Make videos they can watch, to explain your products or services. With people becoming more familiar with learning and being sold to this way, you have the potential to open up to a whole new customer base.
Another tip that may seem simple but can make a big difference is to make sure you have a great professional headshot and attach it to your online profile. When they don’t have the chance to meet you, prospective clients and partners see you as a disembodied voice or words in an email. Share a smiling picture and you will grow their familiarity… and familiarity breeds purchases!
Line up a photo shoot for your team and tailor the backgrounds of each image to match the look of your brand.
Look beyond borders
According to employment hero, 55 per cent of workers say they would look elsewhere if their remote option was taken away.
However, this shouldn’t stop you from looking elsewhere… you can now draw from a global pool of talent.
Now that people are more confident with communicating across time zones and screens, make the most of the opportunity this presents and build an offshore team. You can recruit administrative and customer service staff for a fraction of the cost of an Australian team member. This can help your business to grow so you can hire more people at home.
Remote work has the power to reduce absenteeism and improve employee satisfaction. It’s here to stay so you may as well embrace it! For advice on how to do it in a cost-effective way, reach out to your IT specialist and small business accountant.