The pandemic did one thing that has made business easy for entrepreneurs across the globe: it mainstreamed the idea of a virtual or remote workplace. Today, knowledge workers all over the world are no longer piling into cramped cubicles. Instead, we are embracing a work-from-home culture and all the freedoms that it comes with us.
The RealTalk Blog takes a look at ways that new entrepreneurs can start their virtual businesses in the COVID age.
Benefits and Challenges of a Remote Workplace
It is first important to understand both the benefits and challenges of launching an online/virtual startup. On one hand, you will have very little overhead, and you won’t have to pay for a brick-and-mortar location. On the other, choosing your employees might be a bit more challenging as you may not have an opportunity to meet face-to-face with your potential staff outside of Zoom. However, it also opens up a global workforce, and you aren’t limited to the talent pool in your city or state.
How To Choose Your Employees
Choosing remote employees is much like choosing those for an in-person position. The difference is that it might be a tad more difficult to get a good feel for their personality. Start by looking at their resume, CV, or personal website. If their skills match your needs, then there’s no reason to not move forward with an online interview. Zoom’s Customer Marketing Campaign Manager Kaitlyn Guzman explains that your online meeting should start with preparation. Next, make sure to choose a time that works for everyone, which is particularly important if you’re in different time zones. If necessary, enable screen sharing so that you can watch your potential new employee complete any applicable tests to evaluate their skills in real-time.
Establishing a Business Structure
Establishing your business structure is the best way to set your business apart from yourself. It’s also one of the only ways to separate your personal assets and keep you safe from litigation. If you need LLC help, you can use an online formation service to help you navigate the complex rules and regulations, which vary by state. Working out your LLC online can also save you money as there is no need to use an attorney service.
In addition to your legal structure, you’ll also want to create an organizational chart so that your employees know who to contact if they need assistance. Start at the bottom and show your staff who to contact first if problems or questions arise. You can use Microsoft Excel to design an organizational chart, which you can then distribute to your employees. According to Bright HR, having this in place encourages leadership at lower levels and brings about change from within your organization.
Maintaining productivity was once thought to be the greatest challenge of going remote. However, we have found that that’s not the case, and most employees tend to be more productive when they aren’t constantly subjected to unnecessary micromanagement.
As a business owner, you can help maintain a culture of consistent productivity by first demonstrating your values and work ethic. You must also learn how to communicate empathetically, realizing that each employee is in a different situation. While some can answer calls at the drop of a hat, others may be dealing with children who have been taken out of their school situation by the lingering pandemic. Tax consulting firm PWC also offers the additional practical advice of making sure that you have a great set of headphones and giving yourself permission to step away from work to reduce stress.
Staying connected to your employees on a professional level is crucial. However, so too is getting to know them personally. Take advantage of chat platforms and don’t forget to engage in fun “group” activities that you can do together but apart. One idea is a remote movie marathon, where your workers log into a shared viewing platform to watch and talk about the film. You can also do a virtual happy hour in the morning with cocktails or in the evening with adult libations. Don’t forget to reach out to each individual every once in a while, to touch base. If you have more than a handful of employees, drafting a monthly newsletter will also ensure that everyone is on the same page.
There are many ways to launch your business remotely and to establish an effective and productive team of distance workers. It starts with preparation and ends in your business’s success. Remember, the pandemic paved the way, it is up to you to make the most of our culture’s new acceptance of remote work.
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