As I sit here working on my laptop in a café in Box Hill, I can’t help but be drawn back to my recent adventure through the beautiful country of Sri Lanka. My family and I spent 3 weeks in February exploring the country together. What made this trip even more amazing, was the fact that I was able to do it whilst I ran my business remotely. Remote working is not a new concept, so I won’t educate on what it is. Rather, I’d like to give you the key aspects that ensured my remote working trip was successful. By ensuring I had these 7 things under control, my business was able to run well with little to no impact on the fact I was thousands of kilometres away.
Let me be up front, it wasn’t necessarily easy. This was my first time taking the remote working concept worldwide, through a developing country and working with a larger team than I have ever before. The results, however, speak for themselves. I spent less time doing things that had no value to my business and more time working on the tasks that mattered: servicing clients, helping staff, sending out bills and ensuring we got paid. So, on to the good stuff. Here is the 7 key ‘take-aways’ I learnt whilst running my business remotely.
Be Connected As a 100% cloud based business, access to internet was an absolute must! In Sri Lanka, this can prove difficult when you are spending a night in a treehouse. Do some research before you head to your remote destination and identify what mobile network is best suited to your needs. In addition, select your hotels carefully – some may not have wifi internet available which will put a big halt on your efficiency. Also, be sure to download locally any documents you know you will be working on, a big lesson learned for me early on!
Have a Plan Process how your day will operate best and stick to it. Working in an office brings its own distractions but working remotely takes those distractions and multiplies them by 1000%. I found working a couple of hours every morning and another couple of hours at the end of the day worked best for me. By doing this, I was able to communicate with my team despite the time difference, and ensured I could focus on what work needed to be done. I was able to spend the majority of the activity time of the day with my family relaxing on a beach, climbing a mountain, or immersing ourselves in the culture, whilst still ensuring the important tasks were taken care of. Also, keep in mind what tasks work better given your current environment. A video call to a client in the middle of a bustling Street nay be fun for you, but your client may think otherwise.
Get your team on board
Ensure your team are a part of the experience. Working remotely, whilst beneficial for you independently, should also come at the benefit to your team. Your inability to communicate and respond to queries can put serious pressure on the very team that’s vital to your business success. I made sure that I was responding to my team within an agreed upon timeframe and in return they were released to work freely.
Choose your tools wisely
Ensure your software and hardware will enable you to perform as effectively as you possibly can from wherever you are. Things that I had to ensure worked well included my webcam, mobile phone, video conferencing software and workflow management. If I didn’t have the right tools and know how to use them effectively, I wouldn’t have been as productive as I was.
Some of the key software I used, that can be replicated across a number of different businesses and service offerings, include:
- Xero – the key to keeping on top of my financial data;
- Receipt Bank – assists with monitoring business expenses;
- Workflow Max – fantastic tool that provides insight into current job progress;
- Hipchat – Simple and easy instant messaging system to allow for easy communication with my team;
- Zoom – High quality video conferencing tool used to talk with my team as well as various clients;
- Docusign – allowed me to sign off on work without needing pen and paper.
You need to make sure that you stay the course and don’t get side-tracked. The more you focus and get things done that you need to, the quicker you end up relaxing on the beach. Position yourself well to work effectively at your location. Make sure you can restrict the distractions as much as possible. This may just involve sitting down at a desk away from the noise around you to get that one specific task done.
Remote working should be an opportunity to be as productive as possible from wherever you are. If you are not keeping tabs on your progress, you may not be able to identify when you are falling behind in productivity. You need to know what your measure of success for a remote working trip is and be able to measure it well. Also, be aware that your KPI’s when working remotely may be slightly different than when in the office.
Love what you do
Often people assume a change in location will fix what is broke in their job. Trust me, it more than likely will highlight the fact that it isn’t the right role for you. No matter where you are in the world, if you don’t love your job, when the time comes to pull out the computer and buckle down on the tasks, you won’t enjoy it. This is the ultimate key in my opinion. A bonus tip for you – A lot of people I’ve spoken with about my trip comment that they don’t see it as a possibility for them. Generally, this comes from those who are working with their hands such as builders, medical practitioners and hairdressers. These people are often drawn to the attraction of remote working, but don’t see their current job able to facilitate it. My response to that is, how can you work yourself out of the day to day labour of your business and spend more time working on it instead? This will release you to chase these extra opportunities outside of the standard day to day.
If any of this resonates with you, I encourage you to get in touch with someone you know that may have experience with remote working. If you don’t have anyone in your world who can assist then I am more than happy to catch up over a coffee or beer to see where you are at in your remote working journey.