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Tips for successful remote working as a business owner

6 April 2021

Whether your company already has a flexible work policy or are thinking about introducing one, there has been a huge global impact from COVID-19 on all businesses, small and large, and one of the most prevalent changes for everyone is working from home.

According to a Norwegian University of Science and Technology study published by the Journal of Praxis in Higher Education, the arguments for flexible working include --but are not exclusive to-- the following:

  • Greater flexibility in organizing work and family life situations seems to significantly reduce stress for many people, which in turn improves their health
  • Time that was previously used for commuting, especially long commuting, or travelling between meetings can now be used for other things, which in turn may lead to higher productivity and quality of the work (some people's commute may take two to four hours of their day, in cases even longer, and shorter distances may be doubled due to traffic jams in big cities)
  • One common argument that has repeatedly been discussed is that a home office situation provides fewer distractions and can make people more efficient
  • Employers, for their part, see and welcome the opportunity for reduced travel costs and less need for office space

As a manager or business owner these should all benefit your business, however there is increasingly more challenges managing employees when they are working remotely. Here are some tips.

Communicate with your team about remote working

Whether or not your team likes working from home there will always be challenges for them and you. To know what these challenges are and to be able to overcome them, you must listen to your team and take into consideration any changes that can be made to make their remote working experience better.

The best business owners are the ones that can listen and take on board constructive criticism. Listen to what your employees want, to make their work experience better. The happier they are, the more inclined they are to work towards the goals of the company. Your job as a business owner is to lead your team towards the company goals and you can only do that if everyone is on the same page. Just because your team are not together physically does not mean communication should fall short.

Afterall, a business owner does not equal a leader.

Schedule time to simply ask how your team are – this will not only provide you with knowledge but also build trust between you and your employees. Which brings us onto our next point.

Trust your employees

Managing remote teams can be a challenge. How do you know your employees are not sitting in front of the TV binging their favorite box set? The only answer to this is, you do not. Supervising remote teams is impossible and as a business owner you can either embrace the situation and the remote working statistics of productivity or you can micro-manage and suppress your team.

Trust is essential to build an effective team, without it there is less innovation, collaboration, creative thinking and productivity. If your business has one goal, you need to trust your team to work with you to get there, whether they are working remotely or from the office.

Set Expectations early and often

Just like working in the office, its important that your employees know what you expect of them. This all relates back to communication, and when working remotely it is even more important as face-to-face communication does not exist. Work life balance is often hard to achieve when remote working due to there being no physical separation from home and the office which contributes to burnout. To avoid burnout, help your employees maintain a work/life balance by clearly defining work hours, expectation of replying to emails and calls outside of work hours and when they should take breaks. By setting your expectations your employees can plan their working day, making it easier for them to separate work and home life.

Set goals and share your progress

One of the problems with remote working is disconnection. As previously mentioned, the face-to-face interactions and group discussions are difficult to do when your team are not in the same room, however team interaction is not impossible. Utilize your time on video meetings by planning exactly what you want to discuss.

Motivation is also something that can lack when working remotely, however there is one way to tackle both these issues.

Remind everyone what the team goals are, where are you trying to go and where do you want to be? Constant reminders of why you are working as a team sparks motivation and team morale. Individual goals are also important and connecting with your team and knowing their personal goals is just as important as your team goals.

When your team knows their goals, they can share progress which is essential to build a positive team. Celebrating goals sparks positive reinforcement and encouragement towards reaching more goals in the future.

Inevitably, compulsory working from home will come to an end. However, you need to remind yourself as a leader, what do your employees want? If remote working works for your company, why not continue to offer that flexibility to them?

A great business owner is a leader, despite the location.

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