The Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has swept nations globally, with the nature of the situation ever-evolving. Many small and large businesses affected by this pandemic don’t know what tomorrow holds. As a result, remote working has become a must—even for companies who were previously against it.
In the coming weeks and months, businesses must learn and adapt to change in order to minimize the economic impact. Whether it’s establishing a work-from-home protocol or moving most aspects of business operations to the cloud, remote work has become the new norm, and small businesses must embrace this change to survive.
So, what does this all mean? What’s next for your business and your team? Although we’re entering an ambiguous time, the bright side is that we do have the help of technology and each other. Let’s take advantage of what we have access to and get through this together.
Here are a few remote working tips to surviving COVID-19 as a small business:
Set Up a Remote Leadership Team
Decision making from the top-up is key to shifting to a remote working team. Entrepreneurs, business owners, and anyone in leadership roles are the key drivers during this experience—no matter how small the team size.
Start by rallying specialists who already have remote working experience. Lean into these experts to help communicate any nuances and act as a resource to other team members who have never worked from home before or have questions.
The purpose of a remote leadership team is to document changes in real-time, prioritize upcoming challenges to address, and to assign champions that can be responsible for finding that solution. Your remote working team can be made up of one person or more, but essentially serves as a task force who can make critical decisions in this rapidly changing time.
Show Up To Interactions in “Person”
Small businesses, albeit small, still need to engage their staff regularly in a remote working environment. Especially in an unprecedented time where the safety and health of everyone are at risk, keeping virtual interactions as “in person” as possible is key.
Show up to weekly stand-ups, meetings, and cocktail hours using a camera. Zoom for video conferencing, for example, is a fantastic communication tool for small and large teams who work in a remote setting. If you and your team don’t have access to a camera, now is the time to buy one!
Develop and Share a “Source of Truth” to Keep Everyone In The Loop
Creating a single source of truth for any pressing questions is critical during the COVID-19 pandemic. When going remote, a common challenge is keeping all staff in the loop. By creating a single digital location to track important process changes, businesses can minimize confusion and dysfunction. Tools that small businesses can use are Google Suite, Microsoft Teams, and Slack to keep live documents for sharing. SharePoint can also be used as a website repository. Your company’s “source of truth” can live digitally in any of the tools mentioned above for effective knowledge sharing.
A best practice for developing a “source of truth” is to share accurate, real-time information. Important information to include can involve direct links and access to legitimate sources like the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Government of Canada website.
Use the Right Office Equipment (But Stay Comfy)
Working from home lets you stay comfy. Unfortunately, staying in your pjs or cozying up on the couch can decrease productivity for many individuals.
But it doesn’t have to.
Start by looking into ergonomic office items to amp up your workspace. A good chair, proper desk, solid lighting, and an ergonomic mouse is crucial to creating a “productive zone.” If you normally operate with two monitors in the office, see if you can bring these monitors home so that your workspace feels just like the office. By using the right office equipment, small business owners and their staff can create a productive work environment where they can get stuff done.
Distinguish Between Work Spaces
Creating a distinction between where you work and where you relax and play is crucial to developing solid habits and keeping productivity levels at a high.
It’s important not to work in the same space as your “relaxing zone” (like your bed or couch), as this can create a lazier remote working atmosphere altogether. For example, if you normally binge watch Netflix on the couch or at the dining table, then perhaps this is not the place for you to bring your laptop to do work. Setting up rules that you can follow, like no phones at the desk, can also help with remote working productivity.
The Future of Work Is Here: Thinking Long-Term to Become a Remote Company
Gone are the traditional 9-5 work-weeks that we all once knew before the COVID-19 pandemic. If small businesses are to survive this unprecedented pandemic, they need to consider:
- Establishing a remote leadership team,
- Embracing video conferencing for team engagement,
- Developing a source of truth document,
- Purchasing the right office equipment (if possible), and
- Making a distinction between your home workspace and your relaxing zone.
In addition, building flexibility into our small business culture will make us and our businesses better across the board. No matter how long the COVID-19 pandemic stays around, businesses —even those who have never considered it before—must be open to remote working and set clear, systematic processes to help their businesses survive future unprecedented scenarios.