By Debbie Gregory.

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There has been a huge surge in both business owners and employees working remotely from home because of the pandemic. This change has been well received all around.  Projections show that remote work may be here to stay. Employees are still able to effectively communicate, productivity has not gone down, employee satisfaction has gone up, and businesses are saving quite a bit of money on overhead such as office space rent.

While there are a lot of benefits of remote work for both the employee and the business, there are also a lot of concerns and challenges to address. We are all exploring new issues with productivity, boundary setting, and personal relationships. Employers are worried their workers at home are too easily distracted with everything going on in their home life. They worry they do not have as much control over their remote workers and have concerns on effectively managing them; even while they feel that the work-life balance for employees is the greatest benefit of remote working.

With all the challenges, most small business owners have worked from home for years. A vast majority of them work from home and that number is even higher amongst the younger business owners.  It seems that age plays a big role in how remote work is perceived. A recent study found that the younger the owner, the more positive they are about their employees working remotely. Younger business owners tend to feel that remote workers are more productive, more positive, and overall harder workers than those working in a traditional office setting.

Should You Have Your Employees Work Remotely? This is a hard question to answer. In order to figure out if a remote workforce would be best for your business, you need to consider the employees’ specific job duties, their ability to work effectively from home and their ability to work securely from home.

Below are a few ideas to consider:

  • Is the employee safer at home than in your office?
  • Would your business benefit from lower overhead?
  • Does the employee have the equipment and technology at home to work efficiently and effectively? If not, are you willing to provide it?

FYI – VAMBOA is partnering with Dell Technologies to provide significant discounts on computers and you can check them out here:

  • Does the employee work with highly sensitive business data? If so, do you have security practices and solutions in place to safeguard that data when accessed remotely?
  • Does the employee have the tools to provide customer service or customer support?

If you choose to allow your workforce to continue to work remotely, you will need to put in place policies on how they will work, how you will manage them and how you will deal with the various challenges that will come up.

Below are some of the things you will need to work on:

  • Make sure you put in writing your new remote work policies and distribute them to your team so that everyone is on the same page.
  • Schedule and conduct regular check-in calls, video chats, or meetings to ensure everyone stays on the same page and works together.
  • Provide opportunities for remote social interaction. Even though you are not all working in the same location, team building and bonding is still very important. Schedule and conduct virtual happy hours, trivia contests, team luncheons, etc.
  • Make sure to deploy the correct technology to keep your employees connected and collaborative. Things such as video conferencing tools, instant messaging, office productivity software, and more. This is also an excellent time to update your computers and other equipment.  You may want to transition from desktops to laptops
  • Additionally, take the time to assess how working remotely is going for your staff. Schedule one-on-one talks and ask your employees how things are going for them and if they need more support from you.

People were already adopting remote work; the pandemic simply accelerated the popularity of the trend and it seems to be growing significantly. More and more companies are looking to expand the remote team model and shift a large portion of their workforce to remote work for good. Since more employees now have the technology and equipment they need to work remotely, it is easier for companies to offer that ability going forward.  Small business owners should seriously consider moving to this model too.

As employers and employees alike experience the benefits of working remotely, more companies will inevitably decide to make the leap. In the future, once the pandemic has finally passed, there will be a dramatic rise in fully remote companies with no physical workplace and providing savings.

Speaking of savings, VAMBOA is pleased to announce that we have partnered with Dell Technologies to provide VAMBOA members and friends significant discounts.   Please check them out here: