When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, businesses around the world closed their doors and sent employees to work from home. Nine months on, almost 42% of American companies remained entirely remote, and the number of remote workers is expected to nearly double in the next five years.
So it’s clear that remote working isn’t going anywhere for a while. With that in mind, it’s no surprise that entrepreneurs and business owners are looking at how they can build a successful remote-first business.
Building an entirely remote business isn’t an easy process. But the good news is that there are some best practices you can follow to ensure that your remote business is both efficient and sustainable.
Without further adieu, let’s take a look at five tips for building a successful remote-first business in 2021 and the best practices you should follow.
1. Have a solid digital infrastructure in place
First things first, you need to have a solid digital infrastructure in place if you’re building a remote-first business.
‘Okay, but what is a digital infrastructure?’ we hear you say.
Digital infrastructure is a combination of all the technologies you use to manage your systems and processes.
Put simply; it’s the technology and software that you use to keep things running. It ranges from your operational security and IT systems all the way through to your project management system and communication tools.
Having a solid infrastructure in place provides your team with secure access to the platforms they need to do their work, allowing them to be as productive as possible. Without it, productivity could be restricted, and employees might struggle to collaborate with other team members efficiently. Not to mention, without legitimate security systems in place, your business is at risk from hackers.
With so many businesses working from home now, malware experts have upped their game. In fact, during the first month of the pandemic, ransomware attacks increased by 147%. And with most cybercriminals targeting financial companies, it’s clear they know what they’re doing.
So take a weight off your shoulders and get a reliable digital infrastructure like a robust MDM solution in place to support your workforce. Without it, things could unravel pretty quickly.
2. Set clear goals and measures for success
Keeping a remote team aligned is easier said than done. Heck, it’s even tricky when you’re working in the same office, let alone from different locations.
Setting clear goals and measures for success is a great way to align the team, ensuring that everyone is working toward the same outcome and hitting the right milestones along the way.
When it comes to creating goals, be as detailed as possible. You want your employees to be crystal clear on what the company objectives are and what’s expected of them. This involves outlining the company’s strategic vision, brand identity, goals, milestones, and measures for success. All of this information also needs to be easily accessed by every team member.
Visual learning is one of the best ways for employees to absorb new information and execute on their goals. Use visual tools like infographics, presentations and charts to improve retention.
To avoid any miscommunication with your goals and objectives, make sure that everything has been thoroughly proofread. Or, if you don’t have the time to proofread everything manually, get yourself set up with a platform like Grammarly to do the leg work for you. The last thing you want is an employee misinterpreting the company goals or failing to hit milestones because they misunderstood what they are.
3. Keep your team organized and implement processes
With team members working in different locations and potentially in different time zones, everything must be organized. Otherwise, tasks and projects can be tricky to keep on top of.
So, how do you make sure your entire workforce is organized?
We have two suggestions:
1. Use a collaborative platform to host all your projects and tasks
Using a collaboration software can be extremely useful when trying to keep a remote team organized. It allows everyone to work from one location and helps team members keep track of tasks. Not to mention, it provides management oversight into how everyone is progressing with their day-to-day work.
This doesn’t mean that you’re safe from time wasting activities and poor time management, so do a monthly or quarterly review of your team’s activity. See what works, what doesn’t, and what can be improved.
2. Have set processes in place for different work activities
Having set processes in place is a great way to standardize work and keep things in order. If everyone on the team knows what process to follow for specific areas of work, it makes things more efficient and easier to organize.
For example, let’s say your marketing team is working on a content plan. To save time and make the process easier to manage, you might create a template for documentation and content planning as a guide for all team members. That way, no matter who’s doing the work, the marketing team will have a set process to follow.
As a result, team members can follow suit with the same process in the future, saving time and improving efficiency. What’s more, a time tracking app can help you to measure the exact amount of time that was spent and saved.
If you find that specific tasks or positions need quite a bit of training, it may make sense to build an online course for internal use.
4. Identify the best methods of communication
Communication is one of the most important elements of successfully running a remote-first business.
Why is that?
Because without the right communication tools in place, tasks might get overlooked, duplicated, or, at worst, forgotten completely. As you can imagine, this means productivity can take a hit.
This process is known as the silo effect, which happens when teams don’t have an effective method of communication.
You’ve likely experienced the silo effect at one time or another. If you’ve ever been on the phone with customer support, they transferred you to another department, and you were forced to provide the same information to the second rep, you’ve been subject to communication siloing.
When it comes to remote-first working, effective communication is vital to ensure productivity remains unscathed and teams can work efficiently. With the right methods of communication in place, you can remove those silos to the benefit of all.
For communication in the workplace to be efficient, you need to identify the right communication tools for your business. Whether that’s an email client, an instant messaging platform like Slack, or opting to have all communication take place in a project management tool, you need to find what works best for your business.
Ultimately, the platforms you choose need to be suited to your needs as a business. We always advise erring on the side of over-communication to keep those silos at bay.
5. Utilize digital marketing and find the right marketing team
Without an online presence, your business might struggle to get off the ground and reach new customers. That’s why digital marketing needs to be on your radar.
Whether that’s utilizing social media to promote your business, or using content marketing to provide the strongest link-building results, you need to spend some time reviewing which practices will be a benefit.
For instance, if you’re starting a cold outreach campaign to promote your product or services, it’s crucial to find the right prospects e.g. decision makers in outreached companies. Be sure to validate email addresses and other information to avoid deliverability issues, high bounce rates and lower conversions.
Make sure you spend some time evaluating how you can use digital marketing to raise awareness and engage with potential customers. For example, doing omnichannel marketing to connect with customers on their preferred channels should be an excellent strategy to start with.
Fortunately, marketing teams are usually pretty well-suited to working remotely. Marketing team members are natural communicators who are used to working in the digital realm, so it’s not too difficult for them to work remotely and still communicate effectively.
But remember — working remotely isn’t for everyone.
Sure, a lot of people have been forced to work remotely because of the pandemic. But that doesn’t mean everyone wants to work from home. 47% of employees say that they only want to work from home up to two days a week, with some saying they’d rather not work from home at all.
So make sure everyone in your digital marketing team is comfortable working from home.