Remote work isn’t new, but since the pandemic changed how and where we work, remote work is here to stay. Susan has worked remotely for over ten years, and Beyond the Chaos has been operating as a virtual business since its beginning. We’ve rounded up a few of our favorite resources to help you and your team optimize remote work. Enjoy our tips, tricks, tech guides, and communication dos and don’ts for thriving in a virtual working world.
Favorite Remote Work Tools
Using email to stay connected is not enough, as we’ve seen with the explosion of Zoom and other video conferencing systems. If you’ve been following Susan or BTC for a while, it’s no surprise that Slack is our favorite communication tool. Check out how our virtual team uses Slack for daily communication, as well as some “Slackiquette” to help you respect your work-life balance.
Of course, we can’t forget Teamwork.com, our favorite project management tool. If you used it before moving to remote work, you lost nothing in project status as you transitioned to work-from-home life. Here’s a more comprehensive list of project management process tools.
Tips for Managing a Virtual Business
Perhaps the stay-at-home orders from the pandemic were the first time you’ve ever considered taking your business 100% virtual. But you must weigh the pros and cons before making that decision. Here’s what Susan took into consideration when making the decision to own a virtual business.
And just as important as managing a remote or virtual business is how you manage yourself. It’s probably the biggest challenge in the virtual world. Read more here about how to manage yourself while managing a business.
How to Create Virtual Relationships
The biggest challenge we hear from individuals who work remotely is the feeling of isolation. People miss the opportunity to grab lunch with coworkers or attend the company happy hour. But just because you aren’t going to a physical office doesn’t mean office relationships should stop. So how can you improve relationships virtually? Check out our tips for building relationships in a virtual world.
One fun thing our virtual team does every morning is an icebreaker question via Slack. Questions range from our biggest fears (roaches… or being burned or buried alive) to movie sequels that should be made (The Adventures of Buckaroo Bonzai Across the 8th Dimension and Big Trouble in Little China). It’s something we look forward to every morning. It helps boost morale and gets the remote team to know each other better.
If ice-breakers or conversation topics seem to be running sparse, there are numerous online games you can play with your teammates. Virtual bingo over Zoom is a fun one.
Susan also participated in a small business webinar where she presented on how to improve communications despite the distance. This video is packed full of best practices.
Balancing Personal Life with Remote Work Life
The best thing about working from home is your ability to set your own working hours and schedule. Gone are the days of worrying about a commute taking too long, child or pet care, or if you have time to pick up that prescription. Working remotely allows you the flexibility to fit in aspects of your personal life that often drop to the wayside when you’re running to and from the office.
- Never leaving your home office and working continuously, and
- Suffering from gaps in communication around team members’ schedules, including your own.
The best way to stay on schedule with work and your personal life is calendar blocking. Calendar blocking creates little Tetris® style blocks on your work calendar to hold time for walking the dog, finishing that expense report, cooking dinner, etc.
Why “Working from Home” Doesn’t Have to Be at Your Home
Because Beyond the Chaos is a virtual business, we can work anywhere in the world. For example, Susan feels lucky that she GETS to work when on vacation, as opposed to HAVING to work on vacation, as one of the OneLife Mastermind members regularly reminds our group.
The pandemic pushed remote working – or working from home – into the category of normalcy. Let’s push it one step further. Working from home doesn’t mean you have to be at your desk at home. Why must you be tied to your home address to be more productive? If you have a stable WiFi connection, a laptop, and a charger, does it matter if you do your work from the mountains, a favorite coffee shop, or on a train in Germany? Work where life takes you. It’s definitely no different than working “on the road” while traveling for business.
Remote work is here to stay. Embrace it! Tools will continue to evolve to make remote working even more efficient. Plus, if you’re a small business owner, you get a whole other perk – your talent pool now widens to a global talent pool. A physical address is no longer a barrier to finding the best talent.
And speaking of the talent pool… you may also find yourself with another set of challenges. Remote work might mean fewer lunches, happy hours, and conferences where schmoozers can schmooze. That will be a challenge for those employees whose main job skill is socializing or networking. People who succeed with remote working will be those who can produce results without needing face-to-face contact. You may find yourself re-evaluating what it means to be a productive team member, as simply just “showing up” isn’t going to cut it when you physically can’t show up.
For additional self-guided resources, visit our complete guide to successful small business operations.