Two Considerations for Small Businesses & Remote Work

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Smaller businesses have as much to gain from remote work as larger corporations do. But like all organizations, small businesses have had to learn how to maintain productivity and collaboration with virtual workplaces. Though you may not have all the resources at your disposal, here are some ways to increase productivity and collaboration within the context of your remote strategy. 

1. Create Some In-Person Collaboration 

As a growing business, you’ll have to consider the tradeoffs a fully remote work environment will have on your success. A survey conducted in 2020 by Intermedia reports that 94% of small business owners said in-person interactions are essential to conducting new business. If you’re looking to grow, and with the pandemic easing, some face-to-face time with your team might be necessary. 

Some ways to encourage in-person collaboration: 

  • Don’t just look for employees to come in for business-related reasons. Happy hours, lunches, or team bonding activities should be reintroduced as well.
  • Communicate that the office is open and ready for those who’d like to come in. According to Glassdoor, nearly 75% of employees are eager to get back to the office — not necessarily full-time but in some capacity. 
  • If fully remote, evaluate whether you can afford to bring people together once or twice a year. 

Striking a balance between what’s best for your business and your employees should be your number one priority when it comes to in-person collaboration. But we’re not saying to forego remote options entirely. There are many benefits of remote work you don’t want to miss out on. Most decision-makers in small businesses are currently using a hybrid work strategy and plan to continue to do so. 

2. Work to Continuously Maintain Productivity 

Smaller businesses can gain many competitive advantages from remote work. Compared to larger companies, smaller brands can create an environment where they can test, learn, and react faster. But maintaining this agility through your productivity is critical. 

The on-set of COVID-19 may have negatively affected work productivity for a time. With the pandemic subsiding, workers have figured things out. The environment employees are working in still has a large impact on how productive they may be. A comfortable spot and the right equipment are the building blocks for a productive workspace. 

Small businesses may not have the means to monitor employees workspaces, but there a few other ways to support your employees’ productivity:

  • Review, adjust, and communicate employee objectives and expectations. Role definitions can get hazy during remote work, leaving employees unsure of what to focus on and which tasks to prioritize. When they understand what’s expected, they’ll feel more secure and confident in their role.
  • Establish rules and norms around communication — such as expected response times, appropriate recipients, and other points of etiquette — so that everyone is following the same playbook. Technology such as chat tools and project management software can make communication much easier.
  • Without being intrusive, improve employee monitoring to gain better visibility into daily performance. With more visibility, managers can recognize and reward a job well done or identify warning signs of a struggling employee and quickly intervene — all of which help foster a supportive work environment. 
  • Offer regular time management tips to employees, such as how to keep a regular schedule, block off time on the calendar for project work or for catching up on emails, and make sure enough breaks are taken. 
  • Think strategically about your platforms and tools. If you’re still using the same technology you were before quarantine, it’s time to reevaluate. Shoot for quality over quantity when it comes to your meeting, communication, and project management software. Look to automate processes as much as possible and seek to make your employees’ virtual experience better.

It’s worth considering the tradeoffs of remote work as a growing business. If you want to learn more download our comprehensive guide on the challenges and benefits of remote work for you and your employees. 

understanding today's remote work reality

Understanding Today’s Remote Work Reality eGuide

1 Brenan, Megan. “COVID-19 and Remote Work: An Update.” Gallup. Oct. 13, 2020.

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