• Meriem Belhiba

Survival guide for small businesses to work remotely

Coronavirus sneaked in announced ushering tough time no one thought of.

We know you haven’t planned for this. You’re unprepared for these sweeping changes. No one is. And, you’re not alone. We’re all in this.

But, if history has taught us a thing or two, it’s that no tough time lasts. It’s a matter of time.

And, from our experience running a startup during hard times in Tunisia, we know that the survival is for the smart and strong.

Now, we’re forced to stay indoors till order is restored and pandemic is curtailed. Millions of small businesses are facing remote working for the first time.

Digital communication agencies and brands alike need to turn working from home to a forced fate to a success.

But first…

If you are reading this because you or your organisation has opted for remote work because of the outbreak of the coronavirus COVID-19, you should first think of your safety and that of your team. To stay up to date on the latest news and updates please go to these sources:

WHO: https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019

CDC: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-nCoV/summary.html

NHS: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/

Tunisian Covid website: http://covid-19.tn/

What you should know about remote working from the onset?

Photo by Alvaro Reyes on Unsplash

You’re not alone in this, so don’t freak out!

The pandemic has brought seismic and unprecedented changes all over the world.

Everyone is affected. We have never been reunited like we are today. Nothing had impacted all the world simultaneously.

We are in this together. So, sigh of relief, please!

We are combatting a common enemy that has no goal but to make us aware of how our fates are interconnected.

Big companies like Facebook (FB), Google (GOOG), Twitter (TWTR) and Amazon (AMZN) have opted for mandatory remote work for their employers around the globe.

These companies have more than 1000 employers to manage. So why freak out when you have a smallish number to take care of?

Team onboarding is not that easy but not that hard!

Your team is likely to be new in all of this. This could leave some struggling to adjust to this abrupt change. Given the overwhelming load coronavirus added to their plate, your team needs you more than ever.

As a manager, you have more on your plate. You’re invaded by hesitation and lack of visibility in this uncertain time. But, you are the one who needs to prove your leadership skills and competencies.

You need to guide them through this tunnel and implement a vibrant culture. Be patient with them. They need time to get accustomed to work from home.

  • Over Communicate with them: Reach out to every team member proactively. Message them regularly and set up a weekly 1-1 check ins.

  • Share your work ethos: Your team knows you very well. Each one of them knows the culture they are part of. But, you need to make them sure that even in this uncertain time nothing has changed. They need to know that you’re stubbornly clinging to them.

Infuse trust and value and get productivity and agility.

Time to reinforce a community spirit:

Again, it’s a tough time for all of us. Social isolation can trap us in a dark circle of anxiety, loneliness and fear. As a CEO or manager, you need to surround yourself with your team members. Make them feel they’re still connected to each other. Some of the things we started to do in KPEIZ are:

  • A messenger group where all the members can interact and talk with each other.

  • A whatsapp group for people who are decluttering their social media accounts.

  • A virtual night party where employers are invited to share jokes, drink and socialize with each other without feeling alone.

Now what do you need to do to make remote working as smooth as you can?

Photo by Tom Rodenby on Unsplash

Working remotely can get you scared. And that’s why you need to debunk the myths.

First, debunk the myths about working at home.

Remote work conjures up a lot of myths around it. You might be thinking of how your employers or teams will be hanging on in pyjamas and throwing away all their responsibilities.

Sorry, but this is an old-school stereotype. And, it’s time to get rid of this image and make your own version of it.

Second, time to invest in reliable tech.

Are you considering having access to stable WiFi? Well, you should. But, you need to consider more reliable technology to get through remote work.

Start off by giving your team all the hardware they need to work effectively. Send them their pcs, headphones, wireless keyboards and mouses and extra screens. They will need their office material to be as effective and productive as they are at the office.

The challenge with remote work in the period of covid-19 is more than having the basics to run a work.

Communication lays at the heart of effective teamwork and team management. You’re accustomed to in-person interaction. You might not be familiar with how effective online communication could be led online.

Deploy the right communication tools for remote work:

  • Instant Messaging tools: Some tools help you quickly respond to your team members and comment on each task they are responsible for. Getting instant feedback and response is integral. Use tools like Meistertask, Slack and Fleep.

  • Project Management tools: Managing projects and tracking progress can be daunting. Automatize your projects through project management tools like Basecamp, Meistertask and Proofhub.

  • Video Conference tools: You need to over communicate, remember? Holding video conferences with your team to indulge in brainstorming or project analysis is primordial. So, use reliable video conference tools like Zoom, Google Hangouts and Skype.

  • Social Media Marketing tools: with having everyone confined indoors, everything happens online. Digital marketing in the age of coronavirus is tricky. No room for error. You should know how to handle your clients’ accounts accurately. Social media marketing tools help you clear up the vision on what’s going on online. Keeping an eye on your competitors, optimizing your content and saving time by automatically generating your report and KPIs are but few perks of the benefits you can reap from these tools. Time to invest in these tools like Audiense, KPEIZ and Followerwonk.

Third, stay calm and safe.

Even Though we don’t think bringing Michel Foucault into the discussion is a good idea.

But, we need to clear our throats and tell you this: society tends to inflict strict and rigid schedules upon inmates. So, why should you impose this on your employers or team?

Unless you’re dealing with infants or inmates, you need to let your team work comfortably and without a hell of a pressure.

Don’t get them stuck into your timetable. Give them some degree of flexibility for them to figure it out and start to adjust to the remote work style.

This is a great opportunity for you, on both sides, to build mutual trust and learn how to communicate without bombarding each other by calls and emails.

While learning how to manage your team remotely, stay safe and take care. And, remember you and your team will pass through all of this.

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