The American dream used to mean buying a home, building wealth, and having 2.5 kids. According to a recent GoDaddy survey, the majority of small business owners now define achieving the American Dream as “feeling happy in life” and nearly half said their goal was “freedom to follow my passions.” While wealth is still a motivator, there is clearly a shift in what business owners are wanting, and that’s a fuller life with more control and independence.
Last month we talked about working without borders and the shift that the COVID-19 pandemic brought in remote working. Freedom to work from anywhere is now a reality and it seems it’s more important than ever to today’s workforce, including business owners.
So, what do you need to be able to successfully work remotely?
It starts with having the right processes and structure in place. Let’s get into the details:
First, you need to make sure your business model will support remote work. Many professional services, like accounting, marketing, and consulting can work well with remote work, whereas businesses that provide hands-on services, like HVAC, mechanics, and medical care are likely not the best options and may be trickier to navigate. However, most professions can do some level of remote work with some sort of hybrid remote/in-person model.
If your business model supports remote work, you will need to work with potential clients to determine what their expectations are. Some businesses may expect to have freelancers/contractors work onsite or meet in person on a regular basis. And for good reason – there are some advantages to being in the operational setting and talking to clients one-on-one. As a remote worker, you will need to consider how you can achieve the level of connectedness your client needs, and you will want to discuss in-person expectations. Ultimately, the goal is to see if the client needs align with the direction that you are taking your business.
Every item on this list is important, but I may venture to say that the most important factor in working remotely is building client trust. As with any client relationship, you will always want to reinforce the idea that they made a good choice in hiring you by providing incredible customer service. Communication is always key in building and maintaining trust and remote work makes this effort even more important. Conversations and plans that may casually come together in an office setting need to be intentional and specific when done via email or video calls. Establish regular meetings and checkpoints on projects and keep your client informed of progress.
When discussing expectations with your client, it’s also important to address what your working hours are and when you will be available, especially if you are planning to take vacation time.
If you had stock in Zoom prior to the pandemic, your probably made a killing on its massive growth during 2020 and 2021. Zoom, Google Meets, Microsoft Teams have all become staples in remote work, but that’s just the start. Make sure you have the software and equipment you need to be able to function at the level your clients need you to. Simple things, like software that allows the ability to share calendars, files and projects are game changers. Also, consider having the same communication resources and apps that your clients use to communicate with their employees so that you can be kept in the loop.
Solid Support Team
In addition to the right software, apps, and equipment to support remote work, be sure you have the right people on your team. One of the intangible benefits of working in an office is having an unofficial support team of peers in and out of your department. It’s important to have people you trust to bounce ideas off of and go to for advice. When you build a remote support team, consider including a CPA, legal counsel, a mentor/coach, and others that do your type of work.
More and more business owners are shifting their goals from tangible assets towards intangibles, like happiness and freedom. With the recent shifts in the workplace, working remotely can be done successfully when you have the right elements in place to support your mission. When done well, working remotely not only helps your client reach their goals, but also allows you to achieve your goals of having the freedom to follow your passions and take more time to enjoy the world around you. Sounds like a win/win to us!