Virtual Office: How To Make Remote Working Work For You

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By Rachael Hope

Recent world events have given business owners and entrepreneurs plenty of pause for thought regarding their organizational structures.

While remote working doesn’t come naturally to everyone, for the foreseeable future, it’s something that we must learn to embrace. But, this doesn’t have to be a bad thing — remote working can revolutionize the way you do business for the better.

The Benefits of Remote Working

Research shows that a happier workforce is a more productive one, 13% more productive, to be exact. Striking the right work/life balance has been identified as a cornerstone of workplace wellness (another business essential) as it boosts employee morale.

In short, the flexibility offered by remote working can help employees, and business owners feel empowered and happier in their work and home life and become more productive.

Such flexibility also allows employees and business owners to work anywhere globally and create meaningful change on a grassroots level. For example, those in rural or economically deprived areas can access life-changing employment opportunities.

While people with chronic illnesses or disabilities can still work when commuting, and other factors form barriers to entry. At the same time, business owners can save money because they don’t have to invest in infrastructure.

Plus, remote working options are part of corporate social responsibility, and a comprehensive and meaningful CSR strategy can help your business attract more institutional investors. So you’re saving money, attracting investors, improving workplace wellness, and creating significant community change in the process.

What’s the catch?

Remote Working: Avoiding the Pitfalls

As with anything, there are potential pitfalls. While working remotely, employees may feel isolated, unsupported by management, disconnected from their colleagues, and experience increased distractions by not working in an office environment.

Meanwhile, business owners and managers might worry about maintaining productivity, reduced employee accountability, or feel like they don’t know how to help their employees navigate a remote working environment.

Luckily, when you implement effective strategies, you can:

  • Excel business growth
  • Improved your ROI
  • Create a healthy, happy, and productive workforce
  • Provide employment opportunities globally
  • Develop a global online customer base

All while operating your business 100% remotely, and here’s a case study to prove it.

Successful Remote Working in Action

Design Bundles is a fantastic example of a successful remote working venture. Their marketplace operates entirely online, so anyone in the world can download their premium design resources.

The business started and scaled on a shoestring budget, without any central office using the team working application Slack.

In December 2015, three budding entrepreneurs combined their relevant skills and experience to kickstart their first remote venture. They launched their first “Font Bundle,” offering a massive 96% off the RRP. The friends and co-founders then set up the first-ever PUA encoded online marketplace, FontBundles.net, and by July 2016, they started a second venture, Design Bundles.

Their combined marketplaces now have a total of 800,000 products created by over 6500 independent designers. With consumers rushing to download premium SVGs from Design Bundles, the company grossed over $10,000,000 in revenue in the last financial year.

While the company is registered in the UK, they employ 50 people globally, have 14 translators developing their digital marketplaces to be multilingual by 2021, and over 100 independent Plus Designers.

To this day, the co-founders still retain 100% ownership of the company. They also still champion diversity and flexible working and continue to experience impressive business growth as a result.

Aside from Font/Design Bundles, their other brands and products include Monogrammaker.com, Themeplanet.com, and Fontsy.com. And you guessed it; they also operate 100% remotely.

Build a Positive/Productive Remote Team Culture

Team culture is the invisible driving force behind your business. Everyone cultivates it daily, and it occurs whether you take ownership of it or not. This often hidden factor serves as a positive, indifferent, or hostile influence on everyday business operations and external stakeholders.

“Culture is like the wind. It is invisible, yet its effect can be seen and felt. When it is blowing in your direction, it makes for smooth sailing. When it is blowing against you, everything is more difficult.”

Bryan Walker & Sarah A. Soule, HARVARD BUSINESS REVIEW

Suppose you are used to a traditional brick and mortar workplace set up. In that case, it will come as a relief to know that the building blocks for a positive and productive remote team culture are primarily the same — it’s the implementation that differs.

You can build positive remote team culture by clearly communicating expectations and staying accountable.

Communication, ownership, and accountability are essential in any venture, but even more so when you and your employees are on separate premises or even working in different countries. Technology is a great ally, and specific applications and software will help.

Recommended Software for Your Remote Venture

Applications such as Slack (as used by Design Bundles) and Asana can help bring a team of remote workers together. Slack allows you to host group conference calls and create relevant channels (or groups) so that everyone is on the same page.

And you can invite external clients and stakeholders to take part in relevant communications.

You can also utilize the inbuilt ‘random’ channel to converse about non-work related things — it’s like stumbling upon a friend who works in a different department and having a quick catch up.

Meanwhile, Asana helps you to manage your team’s work, projects, and tasks online. It’s great to get everyone on the same page and set obvious goals for individual projects and team members from start to finish.

Utilize these applications in tandem to help keep business on track, increase productivity, and improve employee morale. You can also communicate via online chat or call internally and externally to help everyone feel a little more connected even in the online world.

Don’t Forget About Workplace Wellness!

If your venture has employees, workplace wellness is an area you can’t forget. Consider providing specialized support from a mental health or counseling service to employees, or create a list of helpful resources and free helplines. You can also offer the option of regular one to one check-ins via Slack to your team.

Think of this as a digital open-door policy! When the channels of communication are kept open, employees are more likely to ask for the support they need, and team leaders or managers will be able to form a clear plan of action to help.


About Author:

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Rachael Hope is a writer, digital marketer, entrepreneur, and artist on a mission to help bloggers and businesses prosper in the digital world. She operates her business 100% online and works with other remote companies across the globe. When not clattering keys on her PC, she is likely practicing yoga, painting, watching wrestling, or playing with her two cats Yuna and Binx. She is also the founder of Rachael Hope Media.

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