Once a dream, working from home has turned into a common reality for many Americans. Businesses of all sizes are starting to realize the benefits and ease of giving employees the flexibility to work remotely.
Research shows that the number of remote employees has jumped 115% since 2005. While allowing remote work can be a bit trickier for larger organizations, it can be a smooth transition for many small businesses. With smaller teams, it is easier to create, implement and manage this transformation. The key to making this type of transition is to create a strategic plan of action.
The benefits of going remote
Before making the move to having a remote team, it is important to understand the benefits that come from it. One of the biggest reasons for making the transition is a financial one. With all employees working from home, small business owners can lower operating costs associated with rent, an onsite IT team and utilities. Office-related spending – including office supplies, furnishing, and food and beverage costs – will also be eliminated. In fact, full-time remote workers can help entrepreneurs save an average of $10,000 per employee per year. Consequently, these lowered overhead costs can boost profitability.
Going remote also has numerous positive effects on employee satisfaction. In 2017, American companies that allowed their employees to work from home experienced a 25% decrease in employee turnover. In addition, going remote gives employers access to a broader pool of talent. Businesses won't be restricted by proximity to the office when searching for qualified and skilled candidates.
Offering this work arrangement may also attract more job seekers. Almost 70% of millennials agreed that the option to work remotely would greatly increase their interest in a job offer.
Transitioning to a remote team
This transformation won't happen overnight. You need a thorough plan of action to streamline the process. Here are three steps to help you build your game plan:
- Make a companywide assessment. Map out the whole organization to visualize processes and workflows that need to remain intact.
- Analyze each employee, their position and their responsibilities. This will help you find the most strategic way each employee can go remote without jeopardizing their duties.
- Tie everything and everyone together. Brainstorm ideas to keep the team and business holistic. This could include implementing online tools, arranging recurring meetings, restructuring organizational flow, etc.
Finding the right tools
Technology is what has made working remotely such a feasible option. Here are the types of tools your organizations should invest in to help your team stay connected, even when working across the globe.
- Communication is key. Select a dedicated communication channel all employees have access to. Platforms such as Slack, Chanty, and Flock are all-in-one communication tools with capabilities for group chats, private messages, voice calls, and video calls.
- Keep your team in sync by implementing a collaboration tool. Asana, Monday, and ProofHub help manage each project and all of its moving parts on one platform.
- Your team needs to work together – literally. With multiple team members working within the same document, it's important to have tools such as Google Docs and Dropbox that offer a user-friendly approach to document sharing.
Preparing employees and managers
Your employees need specific skills to remain productive even when working from home. They have to be organized, self-motivated, disciplined and tech-savvy. Consider offering training sessions before the transition to help employees sharpen these skill sets.
You may also have to adjust your managerial style. It may be beneficial to be more involved in each employee's day-to-day during the first few months of the transformation to ensure productivity levels don't drop. Also, offer additional support and flexibility at the beginning. Your team will probably need this extra guidance to stay on track.
One crucial factor that is often overlooked when going remote is policies. While over 60% of businesses have remote workers, half of them admitted to having no work-from-home policy in place. This gray area can be problematic down the road and should be taken care of from the start.
Make sure you are well prepared for this transition by creating an actionable plan beforehand, being flexible during the process and offering support to each employee afterward.