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Escape the Office: Remote Work For the SBE

Cropped shot of a man sitting behind his computer in his home office

You can admit the truth: It gets tiresome, doesn’t it? The same four walls day in, day out, of the office. And the commute? Tied up in traffic or queued for the underground: It cuts into your day, your family time, your breakfast. Wouldn’t things be simpler if your trek from the house to the office lasted as long as it took you from your bedroom to your living room?

Consider the option of remote work: Work your hours from home, from a café, from the middle of nowhere so long as you can connect to Wi-Fi! You wouldn’t be alone if you thought remote work might be a good option for you: 71 per cent of employees consider their work-life balance as one of the most important facets of their job. Too little life and too much work leads to a disgruntled employee on the hunt for a new position. In addition to the balance concerns, almost two-thirds of employees stated their best (work-related) ideas came to them while outside the office (i.e., at home, in the shower, in a park, etc.). [Tweet "Too little life and too much work leads to a disgruntled employee."]

Remote work itself isn’t a new concept: Consider the traveling salesperson. They would work from their vehicles or hotel rooms on company business long before the advent of Skype or cloud computing! Sales slips would come in during their periodic appearances in their home or branch offices or perhaps through the post. Face-to-face meetings would be arranged well in advance to keep them abreast of trends or business goings-on.

Now, mobile apps such as the aforementioned and instant messengers make the possibility of regular face-to-face conversations almost guaranteed as long as both parties involved own a smartphone and can get signal. A full  67 per cent of surveyed employees  wish their employers offered flexible working? The work-life ratio counts for only one part of their reasoning. call-to-action-810x75-c Look at commuting: Consider the time spent as you travel to and from the office. Work-life, right? Even at a half-hour one-way (a low-end figure), you can easily tack on 20 hours per month that might better go toward family time, personal time, anything-but-a-cubicle time! What of the money spent on fare for the rail or cabs? Monthly rail passes alone can cost 14 per cent of the average wage in some areas! What if you drive your own vehicle: Money on fuel, insurance, and wear-and-tear on your car also factor into the mix. How many pounds go into your car’s tank per week? Couldn’t you stand to put that money back into a nest egg for later in life? Remote positions also offer employees the opportunity to relocate at their discretion (or for their benefit). A dream house in their price range but impractical for a daily commute might sit quite well with a once-a-week jaunt. A lower cost of living or a better school district could entice families to a new location (and help foster SBEs there!). And these could all be possible without a letter of resignation with remote work.


This benefit could also extend to the employer: A wider berth of potential candidates could await without concerns over relocation expenses – if remote working could fit your business. Some businesses even choose to forego a permanent physical location outside of the founder’s home and operate on a completely remote basis! Cloud technology allows the team to remain connected and offers a chance to save on extra expenditures such as: Rent, utilities, even equipment! Should you need a conference area for clients, you could rent a location for a matter of hours, not months. Not all businesses could operate on a remote basis: A tea house, for example, wouldn’t quite work without somewhere for its customers to drink, or for the tea to brew. Should you find your company could operate with remote workers, don’t jump directly into it. Choose one or two employees to operate outside the office three or four times a week and inside the remainder. The outside days will help ease them into a longer leash with which to do their duties while help to assuage any feelings of loneliness that might arise. Consider a company blog for everyone to write as a virtual watercooler. Use their in-house days to gauge the program’s effects and to take with your employees about their feelings with regards to their new-found freedom. Woman Working From Home Using Laptop On Dining Table Include them in your staff meetings or team sessions via conference calls or video chats. Try to avoid text-only communications such as email as your sole method of communication with remote personnel. Such methods lack the interpersonal appeal of vocal or video means and can foster feelings of isolation. If your team sessions include a special luncheon or afterhours activity, be sure to include them in the fun. Morale can suffer, especially if they look to your social media or company website and see everyone else on a night-out and they didn’t get so much as an invite. See what sort of equipment will be required to make your remote test a success. Can your employee access your Cloud from home? Do you use cloud technology? Will you? Plan for, at minimum, a smartphone and a laptop or tablet. Are there enough company devices to loan one out? Any specialized software? If so, you most likely want to offer a company device. Remember to protect your assets, physical and virtual. Only permit access to necessary information for your remote workers to complete their tasks. Someone who handles shipping invoices wouldn’t need to see your budget plans. Another useful practice is to operate along Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) to allow secured remote access to your systems. This allows the opportunity to work with the data without modification to the existing systems. Use Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) encryption in tandem with these networks to bolster the security of the connection. Also create and enforce password policies to help protect your data. Optimally, you would want to use randomly generated passwords of 12 characters with 90-day lifespans. After three months, your employee gets a new password. While these measures may seem stringent, consider this: Some viruses will target devices and piggyback on their connections – your connection, in other words – to sneak into your company’s database through these VPNs. Never consider yourself too small to worry with something such as this! This data concerns not only you but your clients as well! Consider the addition of a biometric time clock to help accurately document hours worked on company devices. You could also consider them an added level of security that ensures the only person who accesses the device received proper authority. One last thing: Don’t forget: “Work from home” still means work. You should feng shui your in-home workspace to your optimal office. Buy a quality chair, decorate to best suit your tastes and comfort, but don’t forget the true purpose of that space. Consider that you might video conference with an important client who may not appreciate certain objects in the background. Hang with care (or make them easily concealable for such chats). Make sure to incorporate breaks into your day just as you would at the business office. This will help foster a sense of consistency between locations and keep your routine somewhat intact. Don’t forget to chat with your coworkers just as you would in the office and don’t expect them to make all the efforts. Take the time to call on a project or just to say hello. Above all, remember you started to work from home for a variety of reasons, one of which involved a change of scenery. Keep it up! Take the time to work outside the house now and then (just don’t forget you SSL).