Millions of businesses have been forced to lock their office doors and transition to remote teams. And while this pandemic will eventually end, it’s possible that many of these businesses, including yours, will never return to the traditional office. Are you prepared for this transition?
How to run a virtual business…permanently!
Running a virtual business has its pros and cons—as you’ve likely discovered over these past few months. And while it’s easy to focus on the negatives like isolation, tech issues, and communication problems, the positives far outweigh these challenges.
For one, a remote business has the potential to be far more profitable. By eliminating overhead expenses like a commercial lease, utility bills, office equipment, and furniture, you’ll see an immediate spike in your profit margin.
According to one report, a typical employer can save roughly $11,000 per year for every person who works remotely just half of the time. That number is sure to be considerably higher for employees who work from home full-time.
Secondly, virtual businesses tend to operate much more efficiently. Not only is there less wasted time commuting to and from the office, but your team is able to work in a setting that’s most comfortable for them—hopefully increasing the quality of the work they produce.
But in order to run a successful virtual business that’s optimized for the future, you’ll need to apply some of the following tips:
1. Set expectations
As you transition away from a brick and mortar setup and into a virtual environment, you must set clear expectations from the very start. A failure to do so will lead to confusion and friction down the road.
Expectations must be established around when people are to be available, how work is to be completed, what needs to be communicated, and who reports to who.
2. Hire the right people
When switching to a virtual setup, you’ll need to reconsider your team. Were there people who didn’t perform well during this virtual “test run”? Was it because of external factors, or are they simply not a good fit for a virtual environment?
In addition to asking certain employees to move on, you’ll need to carefully optimize your hiring process to ensure you bring in the right people.
The good news is that your hiring pool just got much larger. You went from only hiring people in your city to being able to hire anyone in the world. Set specific criteria, but don’t be afraid to cast a wide net.
Look for people who are self-motivated and highly disciplined. Attention to detail is also a good trait, as you won’t be able to manage your remote team every minute of every day.
3. Consider a hybrid approach
If a fully virtual model won’t work for you, there is a hybrid approach that could allow you to operate your business remotely and occasionally meet up with your team in person.
Under this hybrid approach, you work from home most of the time and then use coworking spaces when there’s a need to collaborate, hold an in-person meeting, or utilize resources that aren’t available in your home office. Many coworking spaces, like Novel Coworking in NYC, have a combination of private offices, daily offices, office suites, meeting spaces, coworking spaces, conference rooms, and event spaces.
4. Use the right tools
The right stack of tech tools and apps is a must. Your perfect blend will depend on the type of business you run, but you’ll most likely need a cloud storage solution, a communication app, and a project management tool.
5. Find creative ways to connect
Connecting with your team is always important, regardless of when or where. But with this new setup, you’ll have to get clear and creative!
“Creating connections with employees and a culture for your remote company can be difficult without face-to-face interaction, but it’s not impossible,” Business.com mentions. “Make the vision for the company very clear, and post it in a cloud collaboration service where remote workers can access it and be reminded of what bonds them together.”
You don’t want to burden your team with unnecessary meetings and activities, just for the sake of team building. This can have the inverse effect that you’re going for. Instead, find ways to naturally help your team bond in the small, everyday interactions.
Embrace the new reality
You don’t have to remain virtual forever. But if this pandemic has shown us anything, it’s that virtual businesses can still be successful. As we enter into a post-COVID world, you’ll have to consider whether this will become your new reality.