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Here’s How to Scale Your Small Business Using Remote Workers
Do you struggle to find talented staff at a reasonable price? It can be challenging to build a high performing, motivated and successful team. As business owners, we are faced with skills shortages, unrealistic expectations from staff, difficulties in finding office space and pressure to increase wages.
I addressed these challenges in my own business by building a high performing team of remote workers. By ‘remote workers’ I’m not just talking about staff in low-cost countries, I’m referring to anyone who works from a location other than your office. This could mean people who live in the same city and work from home and it could also mean staff on the other side of the world.
In this article, we’ll explore the benefits of hiring remote staff and how to get started.
Why Work With a Remote Team?
The key advantage of a remote team is that you expand the pool of talent available. Why continue fishing in the small pond when a whole ocean is just around the corner? You no longer need to be restricted to staff who live nearby.
Enabling staff to work from home or from their local co-working space reduces their time spent commuting and increases their quality of life. More time spent with their friends and families, pursuing their hobbies and keeping fit and healthy should increase happiness levels. Another indirect benefit is a reduction in overhead costs, as a large office space is no longer required.
So what do you need to do in order to unlock these benefits?
How to Get Started
If you build a remote team you will no longer be able to schedule a meeting in the staff room or ask people how their weekend was when you bump into them at the coffee machine. Instead, you will have to implement systems that allow you and your team to communicate clearly and directly without being in the same office.
Fortunately, the necessary technology is widely available and there are plenty of user-friendly cloud-based tools. My company uses the following: Trello (project management and operations), Slack (team communication), Helpscout (managing client emails), Google Docs (sharing files) and Xero (online accounting).
Will remote staff impact the experience of your customers? If customers are used to walking into your office and talking with staff then having these customer service roles handled by remote staff would impact their experience.
Consider whether you can reset the expectations of your customers or whether some roles are better completed from your office rather than becoming remote.
3. Defining Tasks
Some tasks and roles are more suited to remote workers than others. There have been remote software development roles for years, whereas a builder who is required to be onsite at specific locations could not be based in another country.
Think about the characteristics of the tasks that you would like completed and whether these tasks are suited to remote work.
Hiring and training remote staff
1. Finding the right person
Remote workers need to have the same qualifications as other staff, but they should also have a couple of extra characteristics. Not everyone is cut out to perform well when their employer is (thousands of) miles away.
First of all, you have to be able to trust them. Moreover, they have to be motivated enough to do what you need them do (regardless of geographical distance). Finally, they have to be proactive so you don’t have to hold their hand at every step.
2. Setting Expectations
Make your expectations clear from the outset. Do they have a set start and finish time? When do you need them to be available? (This is important to think of when you are in different timezones. There is usually an overlap of a few business hours.) How will they communicate with other team members?
3. Once They’ve Started
During a remote worker’s first week, schedule a welcome call in which you address your expectations and they can ask any questions they may have. Introduce them to the team and assign them a buddy. Send them an information pack with FAQs, your company’s vision and values, their new colleagues’ contact details, and any practical information they’ll need.
During a new team member’s first month, make sure they get used to communicating on the channels you use. We ask them to participate in Slack (team chat software) conversations, post photos of their pet / location and become a real part of the team.
Now it’s your turn
If you can match the right staff to the right roles, there can be a huge upside to building a remote team. As long as you’re willing to introduce some new technology and adapt to a different mindset, hiring remote staff could be a great next step for your company.
“The opinions expressed by Smallville Contributors are their own, not those of www.smallville.com.au"
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