The concept of utilizing a remote workforce is one of these flexible work options that some small business owners believe is reserved for larger companies than theirs. Why is that?
In reality the barriers to utilizing remote workers seem to have more to do with employer concerns than with any hardware, software, or regulatory limitations. Here are some benefits to offering the option of working remotely as well as some considerations for engaging a remote workforce and finally, a few considerations regarding how to work from home.
Benefits of Working Remotely
When working remotely is an option, employees aren’t the only ones who benefit. Certainly, the worker enjoys certain freedoms not found in the office as well as the ability to work in comfortable surroundings, not to mention a commute time that could be measured in seconds.
The employer, on the other hand, may enjoy expanding the workforce without the expense of expanding the physical workplace. Being open to hiring remote employees may substantially expand the candidate pool, especially in instances where working 100% remotely is feasible.
Finally, assuming that the work space is not entirely virtual, those who do come to the physical office may enjoy a little more elbow room, a shorter line to the coffee machine, etc. When done correctly, everybody wins.
A Few Considerations for the Small Business Owner
We said that employing remote workers has its advantages. That’s not to say that it would be a layup for all of you. Here are some things to think about when it comes to working remotely:
A lot depends on the nature of your business and the job roles. If you run a sales agency, you may have an easier time utilizing remote workers than if your business involves assembly lines. Regardless of your industry or business type, some roles simply do not lend themselves to working remotely.
Can you maintain the culture? Despite appearances, this is not a yes-or-no question. Whether employees work in a physical office or at a coffee shop and internet cafes hundreds of miles apart, the employer must strive to engage each of them and all of them. There are many reasons, but here are the top two: First and foremost, your brand is at stake.
The very essence of your business requires that a consistent experience be delivered, whether to employees, customers, vendors, or the public at large. Employing remote workers doesn’t change that. Employees who are effectively engaged tend to stick around. How do you engage employees without the benefit of controlling the physical environment?
The answer lies not only in conveying the proper virtual environment but also in building and nurturing the same type of relationship with remote employees as you do with the ones you see every day.
Consistency is king. Based on popular chatter, work-at-home employees suspect that you don’t think they work as hard or as much as their in-office counterparts, while the office workers think you let the remote workers coast all day. Neither perception is entirely accurate, but that perception is your problem.
We submit the following two pieces of advice: First, it is human nature for everybody, yourself included, to believe that they work harder than everybody else, regardless of their respective roles. Set it aside and urge everyone in your business to do likewise.
Second, every small business owner should have certain key metrics by which they gauge an employee’s performance in a given role and those metrics should prove valid regardless of the employees work location. Trust your metrics. If it helps prove that both sets of employees are on an even playing field, share and discuss those metrics as is appropriate.
A Few Considerations for the Small Business Employee
Not everybody is equally suited to work remotely. With that said, here are few ways to improve your odds.
Differentiate work life from personal life. This can be a challenge to small business owners as well as to their employees, regardless of where they work. If this has long been the case for conventional employees to commute to a physical work location, imagine what can occur when the home and the work space become one and the same.
Whether transitioning from personal life to work life or vice-versa, learn to put the one down as you take up the other. With practice this becomes habit, a habit with the potential to prevent many problems down the line.
Establish a place and time for working. Statistics show that remote employees tend to work more hours than they would at the office. This runs counter to the perceptions of many, but the key to keeping an even keel lies in self-discipline.
Designate your remote work space. Set a schedule for being “on the job.” Remote working entails certain flexibilities, which is good. Just be sure to compensate when appropriate and assuming that your employer is monitoring your overall productivity, so should you.
Establish a lifeline. It can be difficult to feel like one of the group when you are not physically there. Look for ways to stay connected, not only with your superior but also with your peers. Bear in mind that the ultimate objective is to not only make yourself feel like you belong, but to convince others within the organization to recognize that connection. If you can find an in-office advocate to help you accomplish this, all the better.
The Spring-Green Way
When Spring-Green Lawn Care came into existence in 1977, it did so as a work-from-home endeavor, this despite that the concept of a remote workforce was not yet a thing. But times have evolved and so has the Spring-Green organization. Does this topic interest you? Call 1-800-777-8608 or visit us at www.growmygreenindustrybusiness.com to learn more.