Offices are falling out of fashion and not all of them are being replaced by workplace sharing solutions like WeWork. Remote offices are increasing in popularity, enabled by modern tech, but as many businesses enter a brave new world, they need to know how to do so properly. Remote offices can be a great way to save money and even improve productivity, but they need to be done properly.
Onboarding and the Hiring Process
Hiring remote workers is obviously trickier and requires more trust, so you need to try and gain as much information as possible about them. It would be madness to welcome somebody into your team without conducting a video interview first (if you can speak face-to-face that’s obviously much better too).
You need to look out for professionalism and timeliness, as they will need to be able to match deadlines every single time in remote context. You should also do your due diligence and screen them, potentially with a background check service. When you onboard your new employee, all paperwork can be digital (solutions like Adobe Acrobat offer digital signatures), but make sure you have a clear filing system on your computer, back-up everything regularly and can easily access important documents when need be.
Communication is vital as managing your team will be much harder with remote work. You need a communication strategy that keeps everybody in the loop. Daily individual calls are a good way of doing this, as are weekly videocalls with the whole team. Remote workers will almost definitely communicate through different channels like instant messaging and calling, but part of any company should be security and ease.
A unified communication as a service (UCaaS) system is a great way of setting up remote office communications – it’s one solution that offers IM, email, chat, video conferencing, desktop sharing and business SMS that works across phones and computers. The industry standard is looking like it’s RingCentral, but before you make any decisions you should carefully read a ringcentral review and decide if it’s the most appropriate for your business.
If you’re running a remote office, you will save a lot on equipment cost, but you need to have equipment protocols. At the time of hire, make clear which equipment the employees are required to use and which equipment you will provide. If they’re using their own equipment, you should probably have a good insurance plan, as well as a short-term plan for instances where their essential equipment might break. You should probably pay for any crucial software licenses and collaborative tools that the role requires, but it’s perfectly acceptable for you not to pay for their phone, internet or computer. Just make sure you discuss everything in the open before the hire.
Make sure the collaboration tools you provide allow employees to share and build ideas. Remember that even small businesses are attractive targets for hackers (43% of cyber attacks target small business), so make sure that any software you deploy is safe and secure, easy to deploy, protects your IP, works okay with your current systems and have good customer service and support.
If the SaaS that you use goes down, your remote office can crumble, so you want to know that any problems can be solved quickly and professionally. Google’s free suite is a good starting place for collaboration tools, but you will likely develop the need for more specialized SaaS as your business matures.
Culture is very difficult to systematically impose in a remote office, but culture is so important for a business that you should try. You need to explicitly state your cultural rules; make sure everybody has a copy of the company’s code of conduct and know exactly what the company expects from them. The more you define these, the less room for confusion. It’s very important that you create an atmosphere that welcomes and invites employees to ask any questions about the company culture that they might have, as this will help to keep everybody confident, productive and on board.
It can be very beneficial to have a weekly bonding activity, like having drinks over camera or even meeting up if possible. Even though there’s less interaction than in a traditional workplace, you need to think about the employee experience. Remote work can be lonely, so make sure they have opportunities to make friends with other employees. It can be a good idea to have a shared message board or social media page where employees can post personal pictures (who doesn’t like a dog pic?) or even memes.
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