It has been reported by Forbes that working remotely has become “standard operating procedure” for roughly 50% of Americans. Many marquee names, some alive for more than a century, have become a byword for stagnation and ultimately failure because of being stuck in their old ways of a traditional office To keep up in today's marketplace companies need to not just attract clients and consumers, but also the best talent. And we dare to suggest that having a remote business, or the ability to work remotely, is what will attract the talent you’re looking for
Sounds ominous right? Never fear- successful business people don’t see obstacles, they see opportunity. The online resources available to consumers and business owners alike are nearly incalculable.
We're not saying we're the end all be all experts in running a remote business, but we have certainly learned a few things that we are happy to share.
Isn't this the reason we went digital in the first place? Potential employees are drawn to working remotely, in large measure, by the flexibility it affords their schedule. Your employees lives matter. If it's important to them, it should be important to you too. Our President of Content Strategy, Beth, has turned down many jobs (some paying more) for the ability to work remotely. We asked Beth if working remotely or working at an office with expected office hours are really that different and here's what she said:
"working remotely, and working for a company that says they will allow it from time to time are two very different things. There's absolutely no reason, in our digital world, that employers need to be so strict about office hours (obviously it depends on the industry). For me, being home for my kids is my number one priority. My career and job will never come first. And to be blunt, I'll flip burgers over a prestigious title and more pay any day, if flipping burgers grants me the flexibility my family needs. And I think the majority of the current workforce feel the same way, and we should applaud and encourage that."
Make sure to have an open line of communication with your clients, as well as your staff. There's an old saying in sales: “People don't care how much you know until they know how much you care.” If your remote workers or clients can't contact you when they have a question or a problem, that's a problem. Use tools such as Slack, Airtable, Facebook, and Instagram to stay engaged.
Check-in with your team members. Ask how they are doing and get to know them, their kids, their animals, and what is happening in their lives. Ask how they feel about their workload, and prove that you care by listening and responding with kindness and respect. This goes a long way for freelancers and remote employees. Burnout runs high for remote workers- so understanding all they juggle is a great way to create a place they can do their best work. And yes, we dare to say it's your responsibility as the business owner.
As a remote business operator you have the information advantage. Your flexibility and availability means that you can become an essential point of contact in your industry and for your freelancers and workers. Answering questions honestly, and welcoming concerns gracefully, builds trust. Business is still about relationships. If your workers know they can trust you, then they’ll want to work for you. As we say here a lot, happy workers make for happier clients. It starts at “home” folks.
As your remote staff grows, you will need to be mindful of the time zones and scheduling needs of your employees. One way to keep your team on task is to assign work groups for each locality. These groups allow workers to brainstorm ideas, keep up with local business trends, and encourage one another. It's also a nice way to delegate some responsibility, and find new leaders in your organization. If you are all in different locations, go our of your way to FIND their local meetups, or even have a virtual work session as a team.
This goes for your employees, as well as your customers. One of the potential pitfalls of remote business is losing the personal touch. Think of the person with a hundred friends on social media, but no one to help them move their couch. Studies show that employees value encouragement, respect, and appreciation over money. You can build value into your brand by letting people know you value their hard work and business.
One massive benefit to remote business is the range of talent available. Managers and business owners can hire from anywhere in the world. There are many places to look for new talent but our tried and true method has yet to do us wrong: start at home. Ask if your freelancers know someone or heck- post a call on your personal FB.
It’s ok to be picky too. Ask for references and examples of projects the individual is proud of. If you take the time, and do your research, you can find the very best fit for your company. When you narrow down the pool of potential applicants, schedule face to face interviews using Zoom (our personal go to), Facetime, Duo or another video conferencing service.
This is true when it comes to landing clients and even more true when it comes to landing talent. How do we know that people value flexibility, decency, and encouragement over more money? Because we have agency experience and have seen first hand how you can throw money at employees all you want- but if you don't treat them well and value their input they won't stick around.
One example, we once had a competitor tell us this in regards to how they treat their writers (some unsolicited advice), "Don't overly praise them or tell them how good they are. Then they leave or expect more pay. You want to keep them thinking they can't go anywhere else."
When we heard that, we knew we could and should do better. Here, we praise and encourage. And if a writer moves onto a better gig we celebrate. That's exactly what we want- for our freelancers to grow in their careers, no matter where it takes them. We're just honored to be a part of the journey.
Take a trip to your local Chamber of Commerce. Developing relationships with other professionals in your area seems antithetical to remote business right? Wrong.
Hundreds of years of experience are available to the savvy manager via the local business community. Want to generate local leads? Testimonials of your excellence from respected business owners in your neighborhood is sales gold. A good report from the Better Business Bureau or Chamber of Commerce can set you apart from the pack.
Don’t ever underestimate the value of getting out from behind the computer and in front of your community.
No, that’s not an indictment of your character. Many managers and business owners equate asking for help with an admission of incompetence. That’s just silly; furthermore, it’s counterproductive. Remote business is a relatively new phenomenon, and it’s growing fast. Ask fellow remote workers for advice, and help. We have found that the remote business community is one of the most giving and kind communities out there.
This should go without saying, but we've heard some pretty bad stories out there. Look- people aren't working for you for shits and giggles. No matter what, they do it for the money because they have bills, mouths to feed, and coffee habits to keep up. Do not, under any circumstances, pay late or short change your people. Our motto at ALYKY is we take the hit, not our writers or staff. And we always pay every single week and always on time.
Reach out to ALYKY anytime if you own a remote business, or are a remote freelancer. We love supporting this new way to work and truly believe we're in it together. Email Anna or Beth anytime, we can't wait to hear from you.