Although many have continued as before, it is impossible to deny the fact that this has revolutionised the future of business and has opened up a Pandora's box on enabling remote work in many sectors.

So, if you are considering embracing this new venture, making an economically steady transition will be vital to your business success. Technology is certainly ready to support this, the only questions is - are you?

Why remote?

Despite the general resistance of business to fully embrace remote work, there are several very real and very beneficial advantages to either fully or partially employ remote workers. These may not be as applicable to certain business forms as others, but they are facts that need to be considered in the current economic climate.

●      Cost effective. Employing a remote worker costs significantly less for a business than hosting one in an office. No office space need to be provided, no office equipment and parking spaces, and in some cases businesses can even save on transport costs if they provide that for their in house employees. In fact, some report saving as much as US$ 11,000 per employee when they work remote...this is a huge saving. This is not only true for the employer - employees also benefit financially as they can save on childcare, transport and work clothes.

●      Increased productivity. This is certainly a great benefit if you choose your team wisely. Distractions at work can often cause loss of productivity, which in turn translates to economic loss. Most employers report an increase in productivity from the remote workers compared to in house employees. This is also linked to decreased stress in employees since they do not have to juggle family life and work so drastically. Finally, this may seem like a cliché but the truth is less social contact at work leads to less disease transmission and less down time due to illness.

●      Access to a global talent pool. This is obviously a great benefit to tap into. Working remotely enables employers to source the best of the best from all over the world - widening their resources and increasing competitiveness.

Setting up your remote team

Once you have made the decision, getting remote work to, well work, you will need to consider the following:

Hire carefully

If you are considering expanding your business to include a remote section, then new hires would be necessary. Hiring the right person for the job is probably the most challenging part of remote business, because traditional interview processes do not apply. Modern technology does however ease this process and conducting interviews via Skype or Zoom is a very viable option. These video calls can give you a good idea of who you are dealing with, but make sure to check online resumes such as LinkedIn and follow up on references. You can even design an online test to gauge expertise and experience and to see how a candidate will fit in with your current team.

Review your communication systems

This goes for both the business headquarters as well as individual remote staff. If your business requires it, make sure the IT sets up the right online or cloud based communication systems for your employees to use. This will not only facilitate good communication, but also regular and effective communication. You can consider a cloud based PBX system for larger companies, or even something as simple as Microsoft 365 for smaller businesses. Whichever you choose, make sure that the system can handle online or cloud based voice and video communications, data transfers as well as cloud based storage.

Create a community

Ninety-five percent of employees believe that work culture is more important than compensation, and just because some of your employees are working remotely, this culture should not be neglected. Make sure to set up regular meetings between co-workers and groups, and promote individual communication between co-workers. Open channels facilitated by unified communication (UC) are most important for this and quick messaging systems that allow one-on-one communications enable effective communication.

This will also involve you changing your management strategy to promote communication and a sense of community. This may be more intensive in the beginning, until you are sure that your team can work together effectively, despite the physical separation.