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Ultimate Guide to Remote Work

Leela Hopkins
,
VPM Staff
Last Updated
September 25, 2020

You're ready to start your remote business, but how do you set it up for success? One of the benefits that online businesses receive from remote working includes lower overhead costs due to not having workers on site. You can select employees from all over the world. Plus working remote gives greater flexibility and can increase staff productivity. With all those advantages, it's important to go into detail on the most influential tips and tools to make working remotely work.

How to Set Up Your Remote Team For Success

Many remote teams will run into these challenges in setting up a remote team. They can be grouped into these four categories below:

  1. Team camaraderie and culture
  2. Remote hiring
  3. Communication
  4. Remote management

It helps if online businesses and those who support remote work make careful plans beforehand. Below lists the solutions to help alleviate or avoid these challenges many remote teams face.

Define Your Company Culture

The culture of your company will shape the type of team members and work environment you create. The following advice will help you set up expectations to contribute to positive company culture.

Although it’s great to end up with a list of words or values, it is also very important, even more so with a remote or distributed team, to document what you hope your company culture becomes.

Your culture is going to be more difficult to grasp for new team members so over-communicate it and be clear. This is why communicating your mission statement will help workers understand the values they want to uphold for themselves and on behalf of the company.

VirtualPostMail Does the Following:

Welcome new team members just like you would in a physical office environment.

VirtualPostMail (VPM) holds a “Story-Time” where the new hire is virtually introduced to all of the team, and the team spends the rest of the time getting to know the new individual team member through a variety of questions.

Some questions include the following:

  • Tell us about what you did before joining us?
  • What do you like about your role with us?
  • What inspires you every day?
  • What are you passionate about?

Setting expectations on which communication channels are to be used helps set the tone and encourages communication. For example, you may want ‘serious’ documentation by email, whereas casual discussions can be done via Slack. It is important to ask that team members stay logged in to these tools to avoid any barriers to that communication. Something as simple as keeping that tab open will keep the door open for communication as well as create a more cohesive and collaborative workplace.

Take time to learn about others on the team. If you are physically sitting beside a team member in the office every day, it won’t take long to start learning a lot about them. This becomes more of a challenge when your team is remote. A solution is having simple and fun activities. It can make a big difference and help to grow a positive company culture with a remote team.

VPM Does the Following - Hold virtual meetings to keep everyone communicating with culture-related news and events through “Lunch and Learn” sessions. At “Lunch and Learn'' sessions, you can share TED talks or do activities related to your culture. During the "Lunch and Learn," VPM always finishes by going around asking each team member to share opinions and speak about key takeaways from the hour. This helps to not only talk about culture, but also learn more about how others on the team think.

Learn How to Build Culture in a Remote Team.

Open Up Your Talent Pool to Hire the Best People

There are unique advantages and challenges to hiring remote workers. The same standard hiring process you use for in-person interviews does not apply. So, what now?

First, consider what criteria the candidate and future team members should have. You are able to hire people from anywhere in the world, but you must ensure that they have the right qualifications, experience, and knowledge for the role. That is why your job listing and your expectations of the role should be clear and concise.

Remote Hiring Tip #1- Use project management tools like Asana to manage applicants. This will let you and other remote team members view, comment, and keep track of applicants.

Remote Hiring Tip #2 - Interviews should be done face-to-face with the help of technology such as Google Hangouts. Pay close attention to the interviewee’s ability to communicate, body language, facial expressions, and tone of voice to get a better idea if they are a fit.

Remote Hiring Tip #3 -Make sure to ask the right questions in your interview. You will be hiring that person for a virtual position, which will require a different set of skills compared to an office job. Your questions should examine their independent working habits, behaviors under a deadline, and dig out their motivations for working remote.

For example:

  • What are your remote work experiences?
  • What tools have you used to complete and manage remote projects?
  • What is a work challenge you ran into, and what did you do to resolve that?
  • How do you stay organized?
  • How do you stay focused on deadlines when working remotely?
  • Have you ever had a tight deadline, and how did you manage it while working remotely?

Remote Hiring Tip #4 - Evaluating a candidate further might be essential. You can do this by checking their writing strengths using email and writing exercises. If it’s commenting and managing, see if they can verbally communicate ideas via the interview with your list of questions.

Overall, here are some rules of thumb you can use to define the best kind of remote worker to look for.

  • Hire doers - By hiring doers, you will get things done. This is necessary for those working from a secluded island. You don’t have to give doers tasks to know that projects and tasks will be completed. However, it’s still necessary to provide direction and guidance around the goals and most important things to be executed for doers.
  • Hire people you can trust - You must trust who you hire because if you find yourself worrying about what that person is doing, you have a problem.
  • Hire people who can write - In a remote setting, communication is one of the most important parts of a remote team.
  • Hire people who do not need a social workplace - People on remote teams must be comfortable without the social setting. The best remote workers will thrive in this type of environment and it takes discipline and focus.

Communicate With the Right Business Tools

Online businesses need to overcome the challenge of communicating remotely. When you talk in person, there are a lot of physical and other non-verbal cues available to aid communication, but remote conversations can be fraught with misunderstandings.

You can combat this by ensuring that you frequently connect with your team. This might entail some repetition of tasks and expectations, but it’s necessary to ensure everyone understands each other.

It’s useful to employ a project management tool to help with general organization. There are many to choose from, such as Asana, Trello, Monday.com, Wrike, and it’s a good idea to use one that you know works well for you.

After handling the organizational aspects of your collaboration, set up your means of communication. It can be difficult to make time for video meetings, but they are essential for productivity. And what if you have a quick question that doesn’t need an email? Slack is a lot of companies’ favorites for casual team discussions, but Microsoft Teams works well too.

Schedule Meetings Often

Good management involves scheduling meetings in advance because you avoid meeting clashes, and employees in other time zones have the opportunity to prepare for the meeting request in time. If you do need to hold a last-minute meeting, you should be aware of everyone’s availability beforehand.

A recommendation is to give your team the agenda in advance and also an opportunity to add items about the meeting topics, resources, examples, data, or presentations you'll be reviewing or discussing. Taking follow-up notes after meetings is also useful to make sure everyone has the same information. Google Calendar and Google Notes are easy ways to handle thoughtful meeting schedules and share important topics.

VPM Does the Following - Weekly 1:1s are always held within departments by managers. Even if the 1:1s are short, these meetings are still held because it is important to give and receive feedback and stay on top of things as a team. It keeps everyone on the same page with projects and focused on the same end goals. This is recommended for your remote team. Need virtual meeting tools to make this happen? Check out the Top 8 Virtual Meeting Tools for Remote Working.

Provide Access to All Remote Business Tools

Regardless of location, all employees should have access to the necessary tools for completing their daily duties.

Remote workers require more technology to do their jobs beyond the usual tools such as email. You should make a checklist for the individuals, including tools and access information that different departments require.

VPM Does the Following - VPM likes to walk new hires through all the programs and tools that are specific to them during on-boarding. New hires are also introduced to new tools as needed along with training. This gives them the chance to ask questions and become confident in the use of the tool before diving right in. Overall, this helps provide team members with the comfort of navigating tools.

Check out more Tools to Use to Run a Remote Business.

Best Practices For Remote Work

As important as it is to set your remote teams up for success, it’s critical to set up your individual workers for successful remote work. Having to manage schedules within the home environment present their own challenges. So here are some tips to help make things easier.

Put a Daily Routine in Place

Having a set routine may seem pointless when working from home, but without one, it’s easy to procrastinate and lose initiative. A good starting point is using the same schedule as in-office colleagues or creating a schedule you’ve been accustomed to in a physical office setting. This will help keep you on task and manage your time.

You can also set harder tasks for the mornings and easier tasks in the afternoon when your productivity is lower.

Another idea is to begin scheduling personal tasks and work tasks into your calendar to also help establish a routine.

Set Up Your At-Home Office Space

If you have an office space at home, this is the best place to work. However, if there’s no such space, it’s a good idea to allocate one particular place to work where you’ll be undisturbed, which helps to separate work and home life. Distractions are difficult to avoid, especially if you live with others, so try to find the quietest environment. When you’re finished working for the day, you should be able to shut down your computer and switch off work.

Some people enjoy working from home in the morning and in a coffee shop in the afternoon to break up the work environment. Keep the work schedule consistent no matter where you choose to work so you remain productive.

Allow Yourself to Take Breaks

It’s often difficult for remote workers to “turn off” or allow separation of work and home, so breaks are needed. Think about how a normal day in an office goes. For example, you get in on a Monday and chat to colleagues about your weekend, do some work, then head to the kitchen to make a coffee.

When you’re working remote, don’t be afraid to do the same. Of course, you won’t have in-person colleagues to chat with as frequently, but it’s a good idea to take breaks often. Otherwise, burnout can occur.

As someone working for a remote business, are there any downsides? Yes, but you can be a successful remote worker by knowing what to avoid. Learn the Essential Mistakes and Problems You Must Avoid When Working from Home.

That’s nice, but how do you help your team as a remote business owner? As a remote business owner, check out these tips and tricks on how to motivate your remote team.

Choose the Right Tools For Remote Working

Work is different for everyone and depends on individual styles and the kind of work you do.

Successful remote work relies on having the right tools to stay in touch and be productive. The following is a list of remote tools to help your remote team achieve optimal results.

Small Businesses

Google G-Suite

There are two main benefits of using Google G-Suite. It's universal, and most of your employees will be able to access the platform and be familiar with it. Moreover, you and your staff can use the many available features, such as Google Sheets, Google Docs, Google Analytics, and Google Slides. The shared Google Calendar feature is very useful for online businesses.

Asana

Asana provides management for projects big and small and is perfect for creating tasks and delegating to team members. This makes it easy to see where and what everyone is working on. It has a chat feature that pops up in each task to keep your conversations organized. You can upload documents from Dropbox or Google Drive to make collaboration easier.

Virtual Business Address and Virtual Mailbox

VPM is a good choice if you want a sophisticated way to manage your personal and business mail under one service. It provides you with a permanent business address to use for registering your LLC or corporation. It also offers check depositing, package forwarding, mail forwarding, mail scanning, and free registered agent services.

Zoom

Zoom is an easy-to-use video conferencing tool, which offers call recording and screen sharing, and the attendees do not need an account to access it. Only the person setting up the call needs an account. This makes it very easy to communicate with clients and colleagues both international and domestic.

Slack

Slack is a popular casual chat app suitable for teams, which offers messaging services and the ability to create customized channels that can be used for collaboration.

Check out 35 Helpful Remote Work Tools For Your Business.

Accounting

Accelo

Accelo enables visibility across your client database, improves processes, and manages billing all in one system. This means that it’s easier for everyone to track invoice records.

FloQast

The FloQast tool was designed by accountants, for use by accountants. FloQast integrates with your ERP and Excel reconciliations to simplify your monthly close with a centralized checklist and automated tie-outs.

Virtual Business Address and Virtual Mailbox

Accountants need a business address to receive mail such as a client’s company financial files. Use VPM for your digital storage of mail and for record-keeping purposes. The business address is also needed on the company’s website to show the financial firm’s credibility. Listing a home address as an office address is not allowed in some cases, and in others, it makes the business less professional.

Zapier

Zapier is an expert at integrating multiple applications for accounting.

BizPayO

BizPayO makes payments easy. It offers manual and automatic payment services from bank accounts and credit cards.

AuditFile

AuditFile is a secure, cloud-based solution that helps CPA firms and internal audit teams perform efficient audits, reviews, and compilations.

Receipt Bank

Receipt Bank connects accountants, bookkeepers, and businesses to unlock the value of accounting data.

QuickBooks

QuickBooks keeps everything organized in one place and is excellent for tax purposes. Easy-to-read reports and dashboards help you make smarter business decisions.

Microsoft Access

Microsoft Access can help you create functional applications with its rich and intuitive design tools.

DocuSign

DocuSign helps organizations connect and automate how they prepare, sign, act on, and manage agreements. As part of the DocuSign Agreement Cloud, DocuSign offers eSignature, which is a way to sign electronically on most devices, from almost anywhere, at any time.

Get the 28 Remote Tools to Run Your Accounting Firm.

Legal

Google Drive

Google Drive is ideal for keeping your files organized in a central online location, which is necessary for legal online businesses. Team members in multiple locations can locate and access files on Google Drive for case purposes.

Microsoft Teams

The Office 365 subscription includes Microsoft Teams. Remote employees will find it useful for communication and collaboration. It works well in conjunction with the Microsoft Office suite of products, such as email, Word, Excel, and PowerPoint. Microsoft Teams lets you make voice and video calls as well as offers a direct messaging service.

Virtual Business Address and Virtual Mailbox

VPM will help with your need for digital documents, mail scanning, mail forwarding, and package forwarding. Use the business address to register for your LLC or corporation and protect your privacy on state websites. Get a professional business image instead of using your home address that can expose personal information. Receive personal and business mail under one platform to manage all legal, client, and business documentation for record-keeping and tax purposes.

Clio

Clio offers cloud-based software to law firms that handle various law practice management tasks including client intake, contact management, calendaring, document management, timekeeping, billing, and trust accounting.

Scanner App

The Scanner App is a time-proven scanner machine that stays on your phone and can scan almost anything you’d wish to scan.

Casetext

Casetext is a primary legal research tool for lawyers to gather case facts, legal problems and desired outcomes, finding legal information and laws, as well as legal analysis.

Get 31 Remote Tools to Run Your Law Firm.

Real Estate

Virtual Tours by Google Maps

Invite customers inside with a 360° virtual tour of your property on Google Search and Google Maps.

Virtual Staging Solutions

With Virtual Staging Solutions you can inspire home buyers and help them better imagine their future home, making your real estate listing stand out from the competition.

TruPlace

TruPlace provides floor plan tours, professional real estate photography, and professional vacation rental photography to showcase your rental properties.

Virtual Business Address and Virtual Mailbox

By using VPM, you will enjoy the privacy of a business address instead of using a home address and get a professional business image to manage your communication with public-facing material for customers and clients.

Periscope

Periscope offers a free way of live streaming virtual home open tours to your clients. You can continue to hold open homes, even when people can’t physically be there.

HelloSign

HelloSign can collect e-signatures on documents no matter where you or your clients are. The free version offers three documents signed, which is a great way to try it out.

Gmail

Gmail offers many features to connect with your clients plus stay on track of appointments, as well as general property information by using their organizational tools.

Need Help Growing Your Remote Team?

Delegate your tedious operational tasks to your remote back office team to grow your business. Get a team of trained and dedicated assistants to handle your operational business tasks without the hiring headaches.

https://www.virtualpostmail.com/
Marketing Specialist at VirtualPostMail. I am dedicated to bringing you useful information to help you run your business remotely. My ultimate goal is to help you successfully take your business fully remote.
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