As an owner and operator of a marketing agency the lockdown and following quarantine has, for lack of a better word, been frightening. The world economy has ground to a halt, smaller businesses are struggling to survive and everyone is being forced to adapt. So many businesses today are now finding themselves in a position where they have to work from home, or not work at all.
Here at Demodia, we’re used to this kind of home-working environment. For many years we have operated with customers, team members and partners as far as Switzerland, UK, Italy, the USA, Australia and South Africa all working together on projects, directly from home. With different time zones, cultures and languages, I understand more than anyone that this is a daunting challenge—but Demodia is proof that this can be done, and it can be done well.
No matter how you feel about it, remote work is becoming normalised, and more and more offices are becoming synonymous with homes. As a business owner, it can be daunting to tackle the challenges of allowing your staff to work remotely. Many remote employees battle with collaboration, productivity and accessibility, and the additional challenges of promoting team unity make many businesses tread water.
As many companies are tackling this for the first time, I figured that now would be good to share what I’ve learned over the years of running a business remotely, and sometimes from a home office. Having the right mindset is important, but having the right tools is critical. Here are a few tools and aspects of running a business remotely that I’ve found useful over the years. I hope you find the tools and insight useful during this time.
Let’s take a look.
As a business, you want to get things done, and to get things done, you need to complete projects. Some teams still try to handle everything via email. Things get lost, plans get ignored, and nothing gets done. That’s where project management tools come into play.
Project management tools help you keep track of documents and tasks to organise and manage your team.
Our Top Pick: Monday.com
Monday.com is an online project management application that uses a board-like approach for projects. You can earmark projects to be in different stages of development and tag team members who are responsible for those different stages of development to begin work on the project. It also includes email notifications on upcoming tasks for each of your team members and provides a multitude of stats for management to judge performance.
Team unity and synergy is key to running a successful, consistent business that lasts. Communication is critical towards this goal, and errors or misunderstandings are bound to happen when teams are not physically together in the same room. These errors and disputes can be detrimental to your business goals, sapping the productivity of your organisation.
Messaging and team collaboration tools are developed precisely to counter this common problem, allowing your team to communicate and collaborate in a professional, efficient manner.
Our Top Pick: Slack
Slack is one of the more popular and loved remote messaging work tools—and for good reason!
Slack provides a digital space that encourages teams to communicate in real-time via text or voice communication. They can share ideas, comment or react to messages, use specific channels for different topics. It brings all of your team communication into one location, making managing remote employees easier.
Accessibility and cloud storage
No team member can get any work done if they can’t access the work in the first place.
When working remotely, accessibility can prove to be a significant obstacle, and without a proper cloud storage tool work can get lost, damaged or irreversibly altered. Businesses who do not provide easy accessibility or cloud storage solutions can run into problems. Remote employees of these businesses often just don’t get tasks done.
Luckily, there are many cloud storage and accessibility solutions available today for businesses of all shapes and sizes. These enable your team members to work together on the same files, store things for easy access, and keep their efficiency at optimal levels.
Our Top Pick: Google Drive
Google has gone from being a handy search engine for consumer use to influencing aspects of professional, civil and even governmental concerns. Google Drive represents a monumental step forward for the company to assist businesses with their trademark simplicity and convenience.
Google Drive is a cloud storage platform that also offers word processing, spreadsheet, presentation, forms and more to their users. Remote workers can store, share, comment and edit documents in real-time, with changes being recorded immediately. It can also be used by managers for reporting on weekly metrics. Additionally, files on Google Drive can be synced across devices, improving accessibility and convenience.
Time management and productivity
One of the more prominent challenges of remote work is keeping time management and productivity relevant for your team. With so many distractions at home, employees can quickly forget that they’re supposed to be working and staying on target, on tasks.
There are a few remote time management and productivity tools available to help alleviate some of these business challenges. These practical applications can keep your staff productive and focused while keeping you informed of how many hours they spend on individual tasks.
Our Top Pick: HarvestApp
HarvestApp tracks each individual’s time they spend on tasks, making them accountable for their working hours. It offers real-time alerts and other features to encourage team members to avoid distractions and maximise productivity. It also includes an invoicing system and project management features that all integrate with other tools like Slack. I have personally found HarvestApp very useful for keeping my team on target and on time.
Meetings and client calls
Perhaps one of the most jarring aspects of remote work is the ability to give your clients and prospective customers the attention they need and deserve. Due to the nature of remote work, it’s often simply impossible to meet face-to-face with clients as much as you’d like. This can lead to clients feeling uncared for and cause them to look elsewhere.
Skype is great when you’re talking to your aunt from Pennsylvania, but not so great when you’re trying to close the next best deal. That’s why there is an array of options for professional conferencing and meeting applications that you can use to make a great impression, wherever you or your client are.
Our Top Pick: Zoom
The primary challenge of group calling applications is the quality of video and audio. Unfortunately, not providing on either front makes you look unprofessional and unprepared. Zoom delivers on both essential aspects, is easy to use and offers the most affordable and simple pricing.
During meetings and video conferences, you can record any call and save it as a video or recording, share your screen and make notes where appropriate. Zoom also offers video webinar tools, meeting additions, business IM and voice sharing possibilities.
Marketing on the fly
Marketing is one of those business functions that should be running no matter the circumstances your business finds itself in. If you don’t market your business, you can’t expect to make sales, and if you can’t make sales, you can’t continue the business.
This is why marketing tools that can be operated remotely and by different people in different locations is important when running your business from a home office. It enables you to continue marketing when other’s simply cannot.
Our Top Pick: HubSpot
As a HubSpot gold partner, it’s no secret that we are big evangelists of this marketing automation platform. We’ve written a few blog posts on HubSpot and its capabilities in the past, but briefly, HubSpot gives you the power to see opportunities in your marketing campaigns, websites and sales techniques. An always online, customisable and easy to use interface ensures that you and your employees can access HubSpot and use it to its full potential no matter where you are seated in the world.
You’re running your business. Now fly.
I hope that these tools have helped you. During these times, it’s important to keep working and keep perfecting your business processes. By adding the capability to work from home the correct way and with the right tools, you’ll be adding value to your business by preparing for the unexpected.
Now that you have your business running, you must begin to think about how you’re going to continue marketing your business. The best way to reach as broad an audience as possible from the comfort of your home is through digital marketing, and we are experts at it.
Demodia offers business from around the world premier marketing consultations, advice and guidance. With over a decade of digital marketing experience in marketing automation, social media marketing and SEO, we have solidified our place as the go-to guys for getting your business out there.
Contact us today and discover the true potential of your business.