Saturday Feb 04, 2023

Remote possibilities: seven tips to help you leave the office behind for good – The Guardian


With the world of employment changing like never before, many are increasingly finding that work is wherever you (and a trusty internet connection) are. Indeed, many small businesses are ditching their offices altogether. We asked some owners who’ve been there, done that, for their top tips on making fully remote working work.

Make your virtual office feel like a real one
“I’ve helped dozens of businesses go fully remote, and my top tip is to schedule team time in – at 11am, put the kettle on and collaborate,” says systems strategist Elle Baldry, of Elle Baldry Consulting. “The teams that work best together use a mixture of communication in the form of scheduled one-on-one meetings to get help with projects, facetime as a team online, and messaging apps which allow for both private and open communication.

“The latter supports the building of those relationships which would have happened over the kettle or a shared love of sushi. Some businesses have even gone as far as always having a video meeting link open as a form of staff room, so when you’re making tea at home you can share your break with others. Technology can bring us together, but the culture of a workplace is important.”

A virtual staff room enables colleagues to share their breaks. Photograph: Westend61/Getty Images

Equip your staff correctly
“My team of eight and I have been fully remote for seven years now, having sold off a previous business that was office-based, so we have plenty of experience in making the switch work,” says Mark Webster, co-founder of website marketing experts Authority Hacker, based in Edinburgh. “Along the way, we’ve made some classic mistakes that remote businesses often make, such as trying to run the business the same way as an office.

“What we’ve found is that taking a small fraction of what a physical office costs and putting it into remote infrastructure gives huge returns. Everyone has their own preference for their home office setup, so I recommend paying for whatever IT and office equipment your team wants.

“Your video call equipment is crucial, too. Buy everyone a 1080p webcam, a high-quality headset, and an LED light. A fast, stable internet connection is critical, too, as any loss in performance can impact the flow of a video call. When you have a small team, this stuff doesn’t cost very much, but it has a disproportionate impact on productivity.”

Caroline Marshall of Upsource. Photograph: Kirsty Mackenzie

Use apps to improve connectivity
“I launched my business in July 2020, and while there were some challenges around my team of 12 working remotely to begin with, the model now works very well,” says Caroline Marshall, of virtual assistant service Upsource. “In person, you can always grab your boss or colleague to get your burning questions answered, while remotely, you either have to organise a time-consuming call or send an email, which might get lost in a heavy inbox.

“This is where project management and communication apps, which can be really important for your team to get work …….


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