Chris Harley holds a Ph.D. in clinical psychology and is passionate about improving the lives of others through his work. He has written extensively on mental health and its impact in the workplace. When he's not exploring the latest well-being practices, he enjoys reading and relaxing with his two cats!
Almost 70% of the American workforce would like to work remotely. Covid lockdowns introduced the possibility of working from home for millions of employees, opening their eyes to a new life of conducting meetings from living rooms and filling out spreadsheets in their PJs. There’s no doubt that it’s an appealing way to get the job done! For startups, this means that there’s no better time to create a business with remote capabilities. Appeal to a wider audience and lower your costs by following these steps to ensure the success of your remote small business.
1. Create a Remote Work Policy
Remote work policies are becoming more common in businesses across the world, as they make way for either hybrid or fully remote employees. For your startup, it’s an essential step that lays the foundations for a fully-functioning, productive remote team.
A remote work policy outlines how your remote staff will be able to work outside of a central office. Essentially, it’s everything you need to consider to make sure you stick to the law, provide a safe, supportive workplace, and keep your employees happy whilst also ensuring the work gets done. This policy will be shared with every existing and new member of your team, keeping everyone up to date with how your company will function.
Some of the details you’ll need to outline include:
Payment Processes: Remote employees must be paid securely and on time. Outline how you’ll ensure this and any actions your team must take to enable payment, such as sending through their account information. Be aware that if you have international staff, you may need different processes for different countries.
Tax Information: Outline how you’ll help your staff with taxes. Will you cover their income tax for them, automatically deducting it from their pay? Or will they be working as independent contractors and be responsible for their own taxes?
Essential Tools: You may have essential tools, software, and technology that your team members will need to use. Outline what’s needed for different job roles and how it’s accessed. For business-wide tools, like a communication platform, it may be as simple as downloading and logging in. Equipment like laptops may be provided by the company, or you may give them a budget to buy their own.
Working Hours: Outline when employees are expected to work. You may be fully flexible, allowing staff and freelancers to complete the tasks in their own time, as long as they meet deadlines. Or you may have set work hours for each time zone. You may also detail information about any regular work meetings or one-on-ones that you expect staff to attend.
2. Invest in the Right Tech
Every remote company needs the right technology to get up and running. This can include tech that you invest in for a physical location, such as security cameras or a card reader, as well as software that all staff access.
Key software and technology to invest in include:
- An in-house communication system for all employees
- Video conferencing software
- Project management tools
- Payment and accounting software
- Productivity trackers
- Cloud file sharing and collaboration platforms
All work and communications need to be able to be completed and tracked digitally. Consider how your staff will best carry out work, how you’ll monitor their progress, and how you’ll stay in touch throughout projects to understand more about the technology you need.
3. Build a Tangible Work Culture
Just because you’re a remote business doesn’t mean you don’t need a culture!
Almost 95% of executives and a further 88% of employees view culture as vital to business success, which doesn’t change because your team isn’t in an office. But creating a tangible, positive culture with staff spread across the country (or world) isn’t always easy.
Before hiring, outline how you’ll create a culture that entices top talent. Create an onboarding process for all new staff that outlines your expectations of them but also details how you’ll fulfil their expectations of you. Decide what kind of company you’ll be: fun, quirky, eco-friendly, contemporary,? Then detail how you’ll instil these characteristics in your brand.
Some important cultural considerations that employees find appealing include:
- An awareness and understanding of mental health
- Sustainable and ethical practices
- Innovation and contemporary tools and practices
- A no-tolerance policy for workplace bullying and harassment
4. Hire a Remote Team
Of course, you can’t create a remote company without a remote team! As your staff won’t be in a fixed location, advertising your positions is made a lot simpler. You can advertise locally, in newspapers, and on neighborhood job boards, but you can also advertise nationally or globally.
To find staff who are specifically looking for remote positions, you can also use remote job boards, such as the US-focused platform on Wrkfrce.
5. Get to Grips With Remote Management
You’ve outlined your policy, set up your company practices and processes, and hired your staff. Now all that’s left to do is get to grips with remote management!
Start by ensuring you have great communication software that allows you to chat with your team. A tool like Slack will allow you to speak to your employees one-on-one, send messages to different departments, and communicate company-wide. Progress trackers and project management boards will help you stay on top of how quickly work is progressing, too.
Management is about more than just keeping work on track, though; it’s also about ensuring your staff are happy. Make sure your employees know you’re always there if they have a complaint, suggestion, or simply need to talk. You may also want to set up team events, like a weekly quiz on a Friday afternoon to boost morale and help your staff get to know you and each other.
Other key roles of a remote manager include:
- Setting up training
- Allocating work
- Enabling in-house staff progression
- Ensuring staff safety
Remember, no one aces remote management on their first try. Let your staff know that this is new to you, too, and welcome feedback from your new, remote team.
Setting up a remote small business can be challenging, but the end results of a productive, happy team working in harmony around the country make it all worth it! Hopefully, this article has given you the tips you need to bring your business to life. Good luck!