Have you ever felt that your workplace was just slowing you down? That you could achieve and do more if you were free to plan your own schedule and day? If so, that’s good. That means the entrepreneurial spirit lives on in you.
In today’s world of connectivity, you can access pretty much everything and connect with pretty much everyone regardless of where you’re located. So, if you ever wanted to just get up and hit the road as a business owner, there’s not much stopping you.
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You no longer need to be slowed down by your cubicle to keep track of things at work.
If anything, there are more and more people pursuing the freelancer lifestyle (over 57.3M in 2017 according to Upwork). The ability to work from anywhere in the world is on the rise. With the available technology, we can adapt to almost any type of situation.
Physically being in an office setting is no longer necessary.
For more insights, I recommend checking out GetVoIP’s report on remote work benefits.
There are a ton of benefits in terms of finances and operational activities.
You cut costs by not paying for an office space, there’s more work flexibility, your employees are more satisfied and the list goes on. In short, managing your business remotely gives you versatility in terms of your private life and business as well.
The process may not be easy, but it’s definitely possible.
But before you take one step out of your office, you have to ask yourself:
Is my business sustainable while on the road?
The answer? Depends.
It depends on what you do, what industry you’re in, the type of business you operate and more. Travel limitations can vary as well, so, you need to have everything planned out in advance.
Let’s take a look at some of the businesses that are sustainable while traveling:
- Freelance writing.
- Running your own agency.
- Being a consultant.
- Web and app development.
- Virtual assistant.
- Graphic design.
- And more.
Are you seeing the trend?
All the above jobs can be done with just a laptop and an internet connection. In fact, if you’re a one-man-band, there’s nothing stopping you from becoming a digital nomad.
Though setting up your business to run remotely is something that takes time and can be challenging, here are three tips to help you out on the way.
Communication is essential if you ever want to make it far as a business.
Even more so when the said business is on the road working remotely. In an office setting, people always close – physically. And it’s easier to get the point across.
When working remotely, communication might seem difficult at first. So, here’s how you solve that.
Be sure you’re consistent with the platform and tools you use and everyone on your team knows how to use them.
But you also have to encourage proper communication within your team. Be sure to eliminate any shyness they might have at first.
Your employees might not want to “bother” you or colleagues at first. They might be afraid of asking for advice, so, make sure everyone is on the same page and comfortable with communicating.
Be comfortable with escalating, as long as you’re polite and gentle, but also firm.
But remember, it’s not just about the tools – it’s how you use them.
There is no such thing as over-communication.
Train your team to talk often. If they have any new ideas that might help you, any concerns or comments on your business – be sure to hear them out. This will help you out in the long-run and bring you closer with your team.
Generally speaking, your approach should go something like this.
Agendas and plans go on email, project ideas and comments on Trello, quick and instant communication on Slack, and important video calls on Zoom.
2. The environment
Your environment is just as important as having a proper communication system.
And by the environment, I mean the virtual one (see: above about communication platforms) and the physical one.
In terms of your virtual environment, you should create one that encourages open communication.
Be sure to plan meetings in advance regularly and take the timezone differences into consideration.
Ideally, you should check on your team at least once a week to discuss how the week went, if anything could be improved and so on.
It’s important to stay consistent and build this habit of catching up.
In terms of your physical environment, you should try to find a spot where you can work free from distractions.
There are a lot of things you need to take into consideration here, how good the wi-fi is, distractions, noise and so on.
Some people prefer to work in a cafe where there’s some background noise while others prefer to work from home where there’s a lot of distractions, so, it’s hard to say if there’s a “best” place to work from (co-working space, maybe?)
Sometimes you just have to experiment and see what works best for you.
Whatever distractions you find while working, be sure to switch up your environment. If your distractions are in a physical location (snacks, food, etc.) hide them or at least move them as far from you as possible.
If they’re on your laptop (social media, games, etc.) you can use software that blocks your access for certain hours. Always try to discipline yourself and follow your set rules.
When building a working environment, it’s important to go with your instinct. If something’s off about the place, switch it up and find a new place.
Be sure to get into the habit of working certain hours and eliminating distractions.
3. Set a schedule and keep to it
Speaking of discipline, if you want to effectively work remotely, you should set up a schedule and stay true to it.
Remote work isn’t about doing whatever whenever you feel like it.
If anything, too much freedom can be a bad thing and backfire. It’s good to be flexible to a certain extent but you still need to have some ground rules for your time.
It goes without saying that your mileage may vary and there is no right or wrong answer as to how your schedule should look like. Every business is different and a lot depends on your industry and the culture you want to build.
But generally speaking, you should keep the following in mind.
Working hours vary from person to person and you can’t expect someone working remotely to be available 24/7 just because they’re near a laptop.
Instead, you should set some clear expectations for your team (e.g. what has to be done by the end of the week), so they have some standards to meet up to and can more or less manage themselves. This also instills trust in your employees.
Of course, your team won’t online all the time, but are there specific hours they have to be online?
Everyone should be ready for a quick video-conference (especially if planned) and access to proper connection should be mandatory too. Ideally, they should also be in a quiet room with a good microphone.
I cannot stress this enough as proper communication is vital. Slow connections and constant echo in a video-call is a headache for everyone involved and will want them to focus on just ending it.
If you want to get across something important to your team – be sure to do it in a video-call.
For the most part, you should have some specific hours set up for your employees during which they’ll be available in case something unexpected comes up.
But when working remotely, it’s hard to stick to a schedule because you don’t have any real office hours.
This is why it’s so important to plan ahead.
Consider doing weekly Friday check-ins with your team to see if everything is going on course and everyone is on the same page. As the leader, try to set an example – encourage people to talk and be natural.
All this to say, the more you know about your team – the better.
All in all, running your business remotely can be hard – but it’s possible.
You don’t have to plan every single step ahead of time, but you should establish some guidelines and what the work atmosphere should be like.
Be sure not to overstress yourself though it though because sometimes things will naturally fall in line.
The tools you use make a difference, yes, but it’s about how you use them. Likewise, it’s just as important to hire the right people who had at least some experience working remotely.
There are strategies that will help you out along your journey but sometimes, experience is the best teacher. And the more you practice, the better your business will do.