Small businesses today have a special kind of freedom that didn’t exist just a few decades ago. You can start, run, and grow your business with virtual employees who work anywhere, anytime. This provides a ton of benefits to both your team and your business.
It could even help you grow faster with better profit margins. But you need to understand how to piece together a virtual team – and what you need to do to manage remote workers without shared, physical office space – to make it work.
Here’s what to think about if you want to grow with virtual employees.
Knowing When and Why It Makes Sense to Work Remotely
The first step is to make sure your business can grow with a team that doesn’t operate out of the same physical space. While virtual teams can be the backbones of successful businesses, it doesn’t work for every single company.
If you need people in the same space most of the time, you might explore the “virtual team” aspect by offering flex time or some telecommuting options. This allows you to give a great perk to your existing employees, which might help you retain your top talent – a key factor in continuing to grow your business over time.
And remember that you don’t have to make every position a remote one. If your team is working well in-house, you don’t need to reinvent the wheel.
But to grow, you might need specialized talent that only exists in certain locations. If you’re not already in one of those skill hotspots, you may need to consider remote hiring options.
Grow Your Business by Hiring the Right Person (No Matter Where They Are)
If you are willing to create remote options and hire for remote positions, you will be able to tap into an exponentially broader pool of job candidates. It allows you to pick the very best person who can help your company grow, instead of being limited to your local area.
Hiring virtual employees for specialized jobs can also help you cut down on overhead costs – especially when it comes to negotiating compensation, because you’re offering a highly valuable and in-demand perk. That means:
- Potential hires don’t need to demand expensive relocation packages since they can stay where they currently live.
- You can provide a highly valuable benefit to your new employees at a very low cost for you; in fact, remote work can help you save money since you won’t need to pay for more office space.
Save on Costs with a Virtual Team and Creative Office Space Solutions
You may be able to better grow your business if you have lower overhead costs to deal with, and again, virtual employees can help you accomplish this since remote work doubles as a benefit for them and a cost-saver for you since you don’t need to invest in more space.
That being said, working with a team that’s 100% remote, 100% of the time, can get tough. And if the goal is growth, it’s important to understand the limitations of fully remote staff members.
Team meetings become harder, communication gets complicated, and managing multiple people in various locations can feel impossible. These complications can be compounded by employees who struggle with self-motivation, or if you have a highly specific vision that requires more hands-on guidance.
But there are still some solutions that offer the best of both worlds. If you need office space but don’t require that your whole team be there Monday through Friday, 9am to 5pm, consider coworking spaces. Companies like WeWork provide a range of options for businesses from hot-desking to dedicated office space. Purchasing memberships at coworking spaces can help you come together with your team when you need without being responsible for paying for a full-time, dedicated location.
The Tools to Use to Manage Virtual Employees
Ultimately, you have some big decisions to make:
- Will your team be 100% remote, or will you keep an office space and offer benefits like flex time or telecommuting options?
- If you have an office space, will it be your full-time office or will you look for flexible solutions like coworking spaces?
- Will you create new remote positions to hire the best talent regardless of location?
Once you determine how exactly you want to set up options for remote work, you need to know how you’ll manage your employees who take advantage of the option to work from anywhere.
Here are a few tools to consider when it comes to managing a full-time or part-time remote team:
Communicating will be one of your biggest challenges, so make sure you have systems and tools in place that make that easier. Here are a few suggestions:
- Slack: Great for messaging, project management, and real-time conversations
- Zoom, Skype, or me: These are all meeting softwares and platforms, allowing you to meet with both team members and clients as necessary, no matter where everyone is.
Project Management Tools
In addition to specific channels for communication, you need one spot where everyone’s to-dos and tasks live. Stay organized and on top of everything with solutions like these:
- Asana or Trello: Both are good for task and project management so everyone is aware of their responsibilities, the status of projects, and what needs to happen next.
- Toggl: This is a great way for employees to track their time and log how they’re spending their working hours.
File Storage Systems
You also need a way to store and share files from multiple devices in various locations. Consider these options:
- Google Drive: Google Drive allows you to store, share, and manage files. It’s cloud-based and you can create Team Drives on which to share company files that require collaborative work. It’s especially useful if you already use G-Suite for Business and run email and other applications through Google’s setup.
- Dropbox: Dropbox works very similar to Google Drive and is a good all-around solution (especially if you’re not a Google platform diehard).
There are countless other great tools you’ll likely want to use with your virtual employees, especially as your team continues to grow. The right ones will depend on the kind of work you do, but do look for technology and tools that are cloud-based.
That will allow you to access them from any device, anywhere in the world – a must not just for a team of virtual employees, but for any business with a focus on growth.
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