Handling small businesses from home can be a difficult challenge. Daily life distractions, coupled with miscommunications between team members, make the entire process hectic. There are a lot of things buzzing around that can make a small business leader feel confused and gloomy about the situation. However, worry not because investing in the right tools, equipment, and strategies can turn it all into a walk in the park!
Continue reading to unravel the most comprehensive, ultimate small business work-from-home guide!
Set Up a Proper WFH Office
The essential-most thing that you must do is invest in a proper work from home setup. Remember, you’ve to handle a business, and no makeshift office at the kitchen table or bedroom would suffice the needs.
Now, it certainly does not mean to go overboard and invest hundreds in an office setup. A quality work-from-home office requires a desk and an ergonomic chair only. The important part is; these things must be in a dedicated room that separates your office from the rest of your house activities.
You can add things to make your office feel like a more productive and happy place for you. For example, you can install a music system or invest in some cheerful room décor.
Apart from this, we recommend investing in high-quality, latest gadgets. There are several remote work-oriented devices available today, such as 2-in-1 tablets.
Choose the Right Communication Methods
Virtual work’s biggest con of yet is miscommunications. Lack of communication between employees and business owners’ forms the most fundamental reason behind unsatisfactory work deliveries. Hence, creating hindrances for your small business growth.
On the other hand, remote workers feel more insecure about the job and virtual companies due to a lack of communication. As per one report, about 90-percent of IT professionals believe that remote workers are insecure, with concerns like scams and cybersecurity topping the scale. So, when operating your small business from home, first invest time in establishing good and stable communications means.
Begin by getting a secure internet connection at your place and asking your team members to get one too. Next, select appropriate tools in each communication medium.
Generally, there are three types of communication methods; chat apps, video conferences, conference calls. Each of these has its pros and cons. And, while you cannot depend solely on one method to pull you through all business matters, several free tools can make it easier.
Some of the best remote work communication tools include:
Slack is a team chat tool accessible through both desktop and mobile. This amazing tool allows you to manage multiple teams at once for specific projects.
It has a ‘Channels’ feature that enables members to remain involved in messages related to a particular channel only. Hence, keeping everything organized and simple.
You can also do 1:1 video conferencing and share files on this application. It is available in both free and paid versions.
Another powerful tool for small businesses; Zoom allows you to conduct high-quality and seamless video conferences with your remote teams. It has outstanding features like call recording and screen sharing.
The free version permits 40-minutes of group calls only, whereas the paid version offers unlimited calls. It is an outstanding video conference tool to remain connected.
Similar to Zoom, Skype is also primarily a video conferencing app. It functions along with a diversity of gadgets, ranging from desktops to Xbox One Console. Plus, it’s completely free!
Skype enables teams to chat, voice, and video call immediately. It also offers extra features, such as filters and audio adjustments.
Besides team communication, another aspect that you should consider is customer support. Leading a small business from home may not provide the best grounds to continue customer support the old traditional way. Instead, you should opt for better, newer, and faster technologies like VoIP.
VoIP technology (Voice over Internet Protocol) enables you to make calls using Internet connection. All you should do is connect to a VoIP service provider or install a verified VoIP application on any device, and get a VoIP number. And, you now have a secure and fast connection to strengthen your business customer support.
Make Sure Everyone’s on the Same Page
In pre-Covid times, everything was way too simple. You could give the entire store a survey to ensure everyone’s doing alright. Or, you could stop by the manager’s office to take a stats overview.
Physical presence at the small business was quite beneficial for owners, where they could evaluate employee’s sense of responsibility and capabilities by body language alone. However, remote work has concealed everything from everyone.
The teams are forming with members all over the globe. Plus, misunderstanding about job responsibilities and duties are preventing employees from delivering quality work. Consequently, small business leaders have to experience loss and diminishing profits.
So, once you have selected the right communication sources, it is of utmost importance to ensure everyone knows about their responsibilities and duties.
Here are some efficient methods to keep the remote team informed and on the same page:
#1. Conduct an Introduction Session
If you’re forming an entirely new team for your small business or adding in newbies, conducting an introduction session is an excellent way to get started.
You can host this session on a either call or video conference. However, it is suggestable to opt for a video conference to make team members feel more secure and comfortable.
Begin the session by introducing yourself in a casually formal manner. Then, you can ask members one by one to tell you about themselves. It is not necessary to remain all formal, discussing your qualifications and achievements. Instead, you could be a little easy by discussing things like hobbies and interests.
You can even host a few virtual happy hour sessions where your team members do fun activities. It can boost your team morale and bring them together (more on this below!)
#2. Clarify the Roles
Fun aside, ensure that every member of your team knows and understands the duties. Select a convenient communication mode to explain what the particular person will be doing for your small business.
Talk about everything in detail from work hours to deadlines. Clarify your expectations from the team members, and do not ever leave anything to chance. Virtual work can already be very uncertain, and leaving things to chance would only create hurdles in business growth.
You can also create a spreadsheet for each member and mail them. It would help them remember their duties and report work timely.
#3. Provide a Schedule
Yes, the biggest benefit that lies in working from home is being able to choose the work hours yourself.
However, this flexibility may not be in favor of your small business.
It is recommendable to create a business roadmap. A business roadmap is a layout of the company’s fundamental objectives and principles. It outlines everything from project details to deadlines.
Once done, ask your remote team to report on these timings virtually. The designed schedule would signify the time when that kitchen table of yours is your work-from-home office.
This particular strategy would help the work get done in a particular time frame. Hence, allowing you and your employees to focus on other life activities too.
It will also serve as a separator between work and life. Thus, enabling everyone to maintain a work-life balance.
However, you should base this schedule on the convenience of all team members, especially if your employees are from other countries. Perhaps, it would be ideal to conduct a video session and mutually decide work hours.
#4. Understand the importance of Prompt Response
Responsiveness can suffer a lot when leading a small business from home. Remote work eradicates the benefits of physical proximity. So, you should be more prompt in answering everyone’s queries and resolving issues.
You should keep a close check on emails, calls, chat threads, and messages. Being prompt will help maintain the workflow and prevent delays. Plus, your employees will feel more alert and dedicated to the work.
Spend Quality Time with Team
Managing, supervising, and handling everything virtually indeed makes the job of a boss difficult. But, know that your small business won’t be able to touch those heights of success and survive in challenging times without the whole-hearted input from your employees.
Research shows that workers perform 13-percent better when happy. So, while getting all those business stats right, do not forget to spend some quality time with your team. And, similar to any other task, you can do it virtually!
Here are some amazing ideas to nurture your work-from-home small business team:
- Have Virtual Movie Nights; if your team expresses interest in certain movies or TV shows, you can certainly go-ahead to host virtual view parties on weekends. It will allow your team members to explore each other and develop good terms.
- Play Online Games; everyone has come to acknowledge the joy of online games during the lockdown. And, while these do appear a little dumb, playing them along with your office buddies can be surprisingly fun. There are also several team-building games that you can try out.
- Get a little personal; Video conferencing in casual attire and discussing day-to-day life things can ease the tension amongst new team members. If you’re not comfortable with sharing your personal life, you could feature pets in the videos. Perhaps, ask each member of the team to introduce their pets. Or, you could recipes, effective exercise routines for fitness, and discuss generic topics of interest.
There are a lot of things to consider when handling small businesses from home. And, while it may not be as easy as it seems, do not let the challenges let your hopes get down. Focus, patience, and the strategies stated above are all you need to get your business to the heights of success. Good Luck!