Running a business from home can be an exhilarating and highly rewarding experience. But remote business owners know that leading from a home office also poses unique challenges.
On one hand, the flexible nature of working from home makes it easier to integrate your professional schedule with personal commitments. On the other hand, the chaos of everyday life can sometimes bleed into your workday. And if it becomes a habit, your impact as a remote business leader will suffer.
We know about these challenges first-hand because TalentCulture has operated as a remote business for more than a decade. Over the years, our Founder, Meghan M. Biro, has learned a few things about what it takes to succeed at leading a virtual team. She recommends that remote business owners focus on three priorities…
3 Priorities for Remote Business Leadership
1. Separate Work From Home
The pandemic taught many of us how tough it can be to focus while working from home. It also taught us there’s no magic formula for remote work success.
That’s because many factors conspire against people who work remotely. For example, if you’re a parent, or you live in close quarters, or you’re easily distracted by your surroundings, finding time to concentrate on deep work can seem impossible. Have you tried these tips to improve your productivity?
Create a Remote-Friendly Work Setting
Not everyone has enough room for a dedicated home office. Regardless, it’s vital to establish a workspace that helps you mentally step away from your surroundings.
Start by designating a separate, well-lit work zone — even if it’s only enough space for a dedicated desk and chair. Make sure these furnishings are ergonomically designed, so you’ll be comfortable enough to remain focused. Next, remove clutter and unnecessary home decor from the area.
If your home isn’t large enough to provide the kind of space you need, consider organizations that provide coworking spaces. Many options are available now, from local, dedicated “pay-by-the-hour” work nooks to memberships in global networks for professionals who need reliable access to an office while on the road.
Schedule Focus Time
Blocking time on your calendar can be a highly effective way to make progress on specific tasks throughout each day. This scheduling method helps you visually track how much time you’re devoting to specific activities, projects, or teams.
As a remote business leader, sharing your time-blocking calendar can also help you manage boundaries. Employees who want input or feedback can quickly see your open timeslots. This makes it faster and easier for them to arrange meetings. It also relieves you from the pressure of immediately responding to every request.
Make Room for Interruptions
As we learned during the pandemic, sometimes family life will spill into your work-from-home environment. Whether it’s making lunch for the kids, running an errand, or taking time for a personal phone call, you’ll want to schedule work breaks into your day.
Let your family know in advance when you’ve allocated flexible time on your work schedule. This way, they’ll know when it’s convenient to ask you for help or request your involvement in household tasks.
Keep in mind that interruptions aren’t necessarily a negative thing. Interacting with family or friends can recharge your batteries. You may simply want to set aside time to get away from your computer. It may be hard to know when to take a break. But taking time out of your work day to get fresh air or make yourself a snack can keep you feeling refreshed and ready to take on the rest of your day.
2. Build a Team Culture
It’s not unusual for remote business leaders to become consumed with work. But even if you enjoy intense work sessions, remember that others may not embrace that approach. It’s important to consider the signals you’re sending about your work culture, especially when you’re working from a distance.
Try these tips to build a stronger remote team:
- Define the values that drive your organization, and communicate these values through a clear mission statement. Your mission, vision, and values are powerful tools that serve multiple purposes. They can:– Distinguish your business in the marketplace
– Help staff members understand their purpose and engage more deeply with work
– Help your team set relevant goals and take pride in the company’s success.
- Regularly recognize individual and team achievements. Tangible incentives and rewards can make a big impact. But simply showing genuine appreciation on a regular basis can also keep employees engaged and motivated.
- Encourage social connections among team members by setting up informal virtual activities that build trust and strengthen relationships.
- Drive team collaboration by moving beyond email software with tools that support natural group communication across your distributed workforce.
- Prevent remote team communication missteps by scheduling regular group meetings and empowering individuals to arrange meetings when they feel real-time interaction is the most efficient solution.
These efforts to elevate communication and collaboration will likely require more time from your team members. But in the long run, you can expect to benefit from a stronger culture and better business results.
Provide a Work-Friendly Workspace for All
Do your employees struggle to work or socialize in a home office setting? Just as you may find value in a coworking space, this may be a valuable option for your staff, as well.
First, gather feedback from your team with a survey that asks for specifics about when and where they work, any issues they’re experiencing, and their level of interest in a hybrid work model. Then investigate vendors that fit your organization’s needs.
If you’re new to coworking services, or you’re unsure about the risk of investing in this kind of service, consider a line of credit. This can provide you with some financial stability until you can determine if a long-term coworking relationship makes sense for your business.
3. Keep Your Team On-Task
As a remote business owner, you’d probably like to think employees are just as passionate about work as you are. But even with a strong work culture, that’s not necessarily the case.
The bigger question should be, how can you help people produce on a more consistent level? Getting team members on the same page to complete tasks as a unit is complicated — especially when they work remotely. As a leader, it’s your job to ensure your team’s time and talent are allocated more efficiently and effectively. These steps can help:
Be Alert and Mindful
Do you know when to step in and guide your team’s efforts? This can be particularly tricky if you’re new to remote leadership. No one wants to be micromanaged. But if a core issue is overlooked, it can affect the rest of the team. And in extreme situations, your business’s reputation can be significantly affected. You’ll want to listen carefully to staff feedback, and proactively fill in gaps when your view isn’t complete.
Intervene When Needed
Initiating a difficult conversation with an employee isn’t fun or easy. But you can rely on proven techniques that can help both you and your employees grow professionally. Ultimately, this can sustain a strong culture.
Stay Ahead of the Curve
Proactive conversations about key projects, roles, and tasks help your team members stay on track. Set expectations upfront to ensure that people fully understand their roles and responsibilities before jumping into an assignment. Ask your staff how you can help them complete their deliverables. Then, schedule regular check-ins to make sure no one feels overwhelmed along the way.
A remote business model can be a terrific way to structure a company. But leading a virtual team poses unique issues. Be sure to manage your own time and resources proactively, while also keeping your team’s interests in mind. By prioritizing your attention, your culture, and your team’s changing needs, you’ll be better prepared to serve your customers successfully and grow your business.