How Entrepreneurs Can Leverage a Remote Workforce

StrategyDriven Managing Your People Article |Remote Workforce|How Entrepreneurs Can Leverage a Remote WorkforceAround 36% of companies report that they will be using a hybrid work model permanently. But despite the prevalence of hybrid work ecosystems, some entrepreneurs may feel hesitant to take the leap. Some reason that it’s important to have in-person connections with their employees, especially when the business is new or in a growth phase.

Even though personalized connections are important, there’s no reason to limit yourself to a traditional, office-based work environment. And with the variety of cloud-based project management tools available, you may be able to get even more out of hybrid or remote workers than those sitting in the office.

Use a Project or Merit-Based Compensation Structure

How do you know if your remote workers are earning their pay? You can eliminate uncertainty around this question by using a project-based compensation system. In this way, employees get compensated, at least in part, according to their accomplishments, as opposed to simply putting in hours or connecting to your system. Here’s how this can work, step by step:

  1. Set up milestones for projects.
  2. Provide your employees with two kinds of pay: a weekly minimum and a milestone-based bonus.
  3. Evaluate progress towards each milestone on a weekly basis, providing adjustment, encouragement, and tools to support your employees’ efforts.
  4. When the milestone has been attained, have a brief meeting to review the quality of work, how they felt about the process, and how you can better support them for the next milestone.
  5. Pay your employees. Even if the end result isn’t quite up to your expectations, pay your employees anyway.

This kind of structure works well with anything that involves employees producing a product. However, a milestone-based system could be a challenge when employees perform duties such as customer service or tech support, where success is at least somewhat determined by the experience of the person they’re serving.

If this is the case, you can use high-level metrics as milestones, providing remote employees with bonuses when those are met. Naturally, the longer the period between bonuses, the higher the base pay needs to be. But regardless of the ratio, bonuses are a powerful motivator for employees you can’t monitor face-to-face.

Use Cloud-based Project Management Tools

A lot of business-critical work can either be accomplished digitally or produced in a digital format. If this is the case with your remote employees, you cannot only use project management tools to organize tasks, but you can also use them as a conduit for submitting work products.

The types of tools you use will depend on your industry and the infrastructure of your business. However, in most cases, you can gain both organizational and operational efficiency with the right digital solution.
Some common project management tools that work for remote employees include:

  • Monday
  • Easy Projects
  • Zoho Projects
  • ConnectWise Manage
  • ProntoForms
  • Wrike

Regardless of how you keep track of what your employees do, it’s important to maintain open lines of communication. Fortunately, many project management solutions also include several forms of communication, so they can serve as platforms for both interaction and production. You can also use vanity toll-free numbers to encourage remote employees to reach out whenever they want to ask questions or need support. For example, the number could be something like 888-HELP-NOW, which would be a breeze for remote employees to remember, providing simple access to the support they need–as easy as walking down the hall to chat with IT.

Provide Structure—But Not too Much

By striking a balance between structure and employee freedom, you can create an atmosphere that encourages employee satisfaction and productivity. Even though clocking in and out may work well for a manufacturing facility, forcing employees to register exactly when they log in, and disconnect can have negative consequences. They may feel like “big brother is watching” when you want them to see you as a helpful resource focused on supporting their achievement.

Here are some ways you can set up a structure that respects employee wishes without weakening your operation:

  • Hold employees accountable for what they do and create instead of when they’re in front of their screens or taking calls. Provide positive feedback when their production meets or exceeds expectations and constructive feedback when it falls short.
  • Use a flex-time setup, where employees can take breaks when they’d like but for a limited amount of time. For instance, they can have an hour-and-a-half of downtime every day whenever they want.
  • If your business model allows for it, give employees the freedom to work on weekends as well, especially if they have to take care of something during the week and don’t want to lose pay.A remote workforce can save you a lot of money when it comes to office expenses while simultaneously enabling greater agility. With a project-based payment structure, cloud project management tools, and just enough structure, you can create a productive remote work environment that makes employees happy while making you money.


Readjusting Your Business During The Pandemic

StrategyDriven Managing Your Business Article |Business during the pandemic|Readjusting Your Business During The PandemicThe pandemic is not over, much as we would all like it to be, and it is as important as ever to make sure that you are taking it into account when you make major and even some of the minor decisions you need to make in your business, every day. In fact, most businesses are going through a process of constant readjustment in order to keep up with the many changes of the world right now. So how can you make sure that you are doing this right – and what kinds of adjustments might you need to make in this regard?

Build Your Customer Relationships

In order to continue to survive as a business, you need to make sure that you have some strong customer relationships. This is often easier said than done, but it is something which you can be sure to work on easily enough if you want to make sure you see your business through these testing times. To build on your customer relationships, let them know you value them, and make things as easy for them as possible – for instance, by ensuring that you are easy to find online and easily contactable.

Maintain Social Distancing Without Harming Productivity

This is one of the puzzles that most businesses have been struggling with recently, but it is hugely important to make sure that you are aware of some of the solutions. In fact, it is perfectly possible in most scenarios to maintain social distancing without harming productivity, but you do need to think carefully about how you are going to achieve it. For instance, social distancing in the office by allowing people to work from home, and changing shifts around so that there are fewer people but all the same work still gets done when it needs to.

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Secure Your Finances

Finances are always important for a business, of course, but it is vital that you are looking after your business’ money at this turbulent time. You never quite know what might happen at the moment, so being able to have something to fall back on is certainly going to be helpful in any case. Securing your finances is easily achieved as long as you make a point of planning ahead, and you are budgeting your business accordingly. If you can do that, you should find that you are able to be in a much safer position on the whole.

Consider Alternative Products & Services

Sometimes, it can prove helpful to have a variety of different products and services which you can turn to, especially if your business is particularly struggling with the changes of the pandemic. If your business can shift gears in some important way, you are more likely to survive these strange times, so this is certainly something that you will want to bear in mind as best as you can. If nothing else, you are going to find that it keeps you busy and you are not over-relying on this or that, which is always wise.

Advice for Building a Remote-Working Business

StrategyDriven Starting Your Business Article |Remote Working|Advice for Building a Remote-Working BusinessIn light of COVID-19, many businesses are making the switch to remote working. Or if you are just starting up a new business, then this could be how you need to work from the get-go. Remote working is the way of the future, with ever-increasing advancements in technology, it seems that everything is going online.

There are lots of advantages to remote working. For one, you will have fewer overheads. Secondly, you and your staff should have a better work-life balance, and thirdly, you can employ the best possible people regardless of their location.

However, there are also some risks to consider. How can you be sure that your staff are doing what they said they would? And how can you foster a supportive working environment if you never see each other in person?

Here is some advice for building a remote company that runs smoothly:

Use the Right Tools

Your employees are going to need access to all the important documents required to perform their job effectively, from home. There are many software options available to you in order to implement this.

You may need to consider remote conferencing software, such as Zoom, and project management software that allows you to assign tasks and create workspaces, such as Notion. You may also need a password manager and encryption. If you share logins, then this could be particularly important.

Choosing the right software, to begin with, is important so that everyone only has to learn one system. So do your research and figure out what’s right for you.

Determine Your Communication Plan

The biggest thing a remote business is missing is in-person communication, which is why a communication plan is so important. When will you communicate and how? Perhaps have a catch-up skype call every Friday, or messaging tools. Keeping a line of communication is essential.

You may decide to meet in person every so often, especially when hiring new employees. For some businesses and people, this is important. If you do, just make sure that you adhere to social distancing measures and that you keep the space clean with disinfecting sprays, hand gel, sanitizing wipes and more. It would be effective to have sanitizers and sprays across each workspace in the office, and you can order in bulk from Brooklyn Equipment’s line of sprays if you want to keep them stocked up. That way, everyone can feel safe and secure.

Choose the right remote workers

For remote working to be successful, you need the right workers. You will probably have a lot to choose from and need to be stringent in your decisions. Read CVs thoroughly and speak to people on a video call to get to know them better. Ask for references too if necessary. It is not just about having the experience and skills, they need the right mindset, be self-motivated, and they need to be a good fit for your company.

Find creative ways to connect

Remote working makes it difficult for people to feel part of the team, which can be important for retention of good employees. Hold group video calls, have a cloud collaboration, and get creative. Consider remote challenges and activities for them to participate in such as fancy dress over video call or a Friday quiz or shared lunch.

Set Clear Goals

Goal setting is always important, but especially for remote workers. Determine what your expectations are, and when deadlines should be met so that you can keep people accountable. You should also have frequent performance reviews and set tangible, clear and achievable goals. This will also help keep your staff happy as they can see themselves progressing.