Thousands of companies are already operating on a remote basis entirely: reaping the benefits of functioning without a traditional space, and allowing employees a greater sense of freedom and control over their labor.
Most businesses allow at least some wiggle room for remote work these days, but operating fully remotely, full time, is a much more substantial undertaking. If you’re interested in starting to transition or going all the way to become a fully remote business, you need to have several essentials in place.
Why Go Fully Remote?
Let’s look at some of the reasons you might choose to go fully remote:
- Cost savings. Running a traditional office is fairly expensive. Not only will you be paying a lease, you’ll also be covering utilities, supplies, and other extra costs. Operating remotely slashes many of these expenses.
- Productivity. Multiple studies suggest that working from home empowers employees to be more productive, which ultimately improves the company’s bottom line.
- Employee satisfaction. Employees in remote environments tend to enjoy the benefits of it, which means they’re more likely to stay with your organization for the long haul.
- Secondary and tertiary benefits. Dozens of other benefits play a role as well. For example, remote employees are much less likely to spread infectious diseases to one another, and the reduced commuting by private vehicles will cut your firm’s negative impact on the environment.
Everything You Need to Run a Business Remotely
If you decide to make the transition, these are the seven things you’ll need to have in place:
- An intranet. A company-wide intranet will enable your employees to stay connected at all times. With this, you’ll gain access to communication platforms, apps for productivity and collaboration, even data analytics platforms so you can evaluate your team’s performance. You can think of it as a suite of tools that equips your firm to operate remotely. As long as it’s easy to integrate, simple to learn, and not excessively challenging to use, the intranet can help you achieve far more than you ever gained in a traditional office environment.
- A transition plan. Before you can transition to working remotely full-time, you need a transition plan. When are you going to make the change? Are you going to approach it in phases? If so, which employees will be the first to work from home, and who will follow them, and in what order? When your employees start working from home, how will their day-to-day assignments change? And who will be responsible for managing the changeover?
- New rules, workflows, and policies. Some of your work won’t change at all. Individual tasks done on the computer can be done in pretty much the same way, regardless of whether there’s an office involved. But other jobs will require some adjustments. For example, do you have to use a new platform to accomplish a job? Do you have to collaborate or communicate with teammates in new ways? Are you capable of doing this at different times of the day?
- Documented expectations. As an accompaniment to number three above, it’s worthwhile to document your expectations of employees. For example, are they still required to start working at 9 and finish at 5? Or could they be more flexible with their hours? Are they required to be online and available for communication throughout the day, or are you more concerned about task and milestone completion? Make sure you formalize your expectations, and inform all employees about what they are.
- Backups and failsafes. Although working from home can make many things easier, it also presents a few potential complications. What if a staffer loses power, or his or her access to the Internet? What happens if you can’t get in touch with an individual? Therefore, it’s vital to have a few backup strategies and fail-safe plans, both for the team overall and for individual workers.
- A trial. Before you take your business fully remote, it’s a wise idea to attempt a trial run. Select a handful of key employees and allow them to work from home exclusively, or allocate a few days with the entire team operating in the remote environment.
- A definition of success. It’s also useful to establish a clear definition of success in advance. What is your biggest priority: Is it saving money or improving productivity? What pitfalls do you anticipate, and will you consider your project a success if you manage to avoid them?
Once you have these seven essentials in place, you should be ready to take your business fully remote. From there, your success will depend on your adaptability.
Are you willing and able to integrate employee feedback? Can you learn from your mistakes? Are you willing to experiment with new approaches and unfamiliar tools to make your organization even better?
The most successful remote businesses are the ones that have evolved over time.