Updated: Dec 15, 2020
The side effects of Coronavirus (COVID-19) in businesses revealed the fundamental necessity of having a digital infrastructure to keep up with operational performance.
In an attempt to limit the infection, governments have cautioned companies to let employees work from home, as dozens of cities are already shut down and the population is quarantined.
In these situations, being able to telecommute and secure your business cash flow is critical for survival.
So, how do you enable your employees to work from home and what does it take to manage them efficiently?
Table of contents
MAP OUT YOUR PROCESSES
The first step to securing the performance of your business ecosystem is by mapping out all the processes.
You want to know the exact responsibilities of each employee and how they interact with the company internal assets (other employees, providers, partners...) and external players (consumers, government, media...).
I’ve already written a complete guide on how to make a business flowchart, so take a peek at my article about service blueprint.
Having a service blueprint will support your business not only for telecommuting purposes, but it will also give you the necessary intel to better design and review your processes, decrease bottlenecks and identify contact points between your organization and its consumers.
CHOOSE THE MANAGEMENT TOOLS
THAT BEST FIT YOUR ORGANIZATIONAL MODEL
Once you have a clear overview of your processes flow and employees responsibilities, the next step is to identify which tools you can implement in your digital infrastructure.
There are thousands upon thousands of tools out there, so be careful: you don’t necessarily have to pick the best tools in the market, but those that best fit your organizational model.
Your virtual office must be based on as few tools as possible. The main objective is to concentrate all the activities in one or two platforms.
The more platforms you use, the higher the costs (in terms of money, time and skillset). You and your team need time to switch among the platforms and each one requires different skills and knowledge to be managed. Also consider the expensive monthly fees that you have to pay.
Every organization can digitalize all processes and activities that don’t require an actual physical presence in the workplace.
For example, if you own a warehouse, you need the physical presence of employees in the workplace to move goods, unless you use robots.
On the contrary, if you have a retail store, you can easily sell your goods online with an e-commerce site. You can eventually mix the two selling channels (offline and online) to generate more revenue and broaden your target audience.
In the following paragraphs, I will cover some of the main areas that you can digitize. You will also get to see some of the tools I usually use with my clients regarding:
CRM (Customer Relationship Management);
All the activities that can be done with a computer (e.g. design, programming, advertising...);
Accounting and invoicing;
For SMEs: Wix as a website builder and all-inclusive CRM
Whether you are starting a new digitization process or redesigning your digital infrastructure, having an all-embracing CRM saves a lot of headache.
For SMEs (Small Medium Enterprises), I suggest Wix. Wix is not just a website builder, since it integrates an all-inclusive CRM and marketing system. Here are my thoughts on this amazing platform.
Thanks to its drag and drop editor, Wix allows you to build a website quickly and easily. You can start selling your product or service right away. Everything is included for a couple of hundred dollars per year.
The main advantage of using Wix is that you have everything you need to run your business in one platform.
If you want to enable telecommuting for your subordinates without a hitch, you want a:
CRM and task management;
You find all these fundamental components in Wix.
Your employees can access your Wix account, communicate with the internal chat and collaborate by creating tasks and workflows through Wix CRM. Besides, the latter allows you to take care of your contacts and manage permissions for private website sections
With Ascend by Wix you can create email marketing campaigns and automations. You can promote your content on social media and much more. In other words, you don’t need external providers like MailChimp, for example.
The CRM is also integrated with Wix Invoice which you can use to send quotes and invoices.
You don't even need PayPal or Stripe, because you can manage your payments and chargebacks through Wix Payments. This payment system is totally integrated with your website, so your customers are not redirected to a different domain. In other words, the checkout is carried out on your own website.
If Wix financial tools are not enough, you can connect external providers, like Quickbooks or Wave Financial, and use them within Wix.
Do you need help to setup your Wix ecosystem? Schedule a digital marketing consultancy with me. I’ll guide you through the whole process.
For corporations: HubSpot as a website builder and all-inclusive CRM
While I suggest Wix for small and medium enterprises, I advice to use HubSpot for bigger and more complex corporations.
HubSpot is expansive, but it is one of the best all-inclusive tools to scale your business.
You can build your website with their drag and drop editor and rely on their server infrastructure. The main advantages in doing so are represented by the page load speed which is incredibly optimized and the dynamic display of pages. The latter is a feature that allows you to personalize the same web page for different target audiences.
Basically, HubSpot is capable of gathering a multitude of data from your users and displays a specific version of your website to different people.
For example, if a user visits your website for the first time, they probably want to learn more about your business and you should show them a more informative version. If a user is returning on your website, they already know what your business is all about, so you can display a version which focuses on lead capture or shows your business expertise and case studies.
In other words, HubSpot website builder is equipped with a wide range of features to enhance customer experience and lead generation.
In addition to this, HubSpot offers four main integrated softwares:
HubSpot CRM which you can use to manage your contacts, clients and partners. It is totally free;
Marketing Hub which includes all the necessary tools to manage marketing campaigns such as a tracking system, advertising, content management, lead generation and marketing automations;
Sales Hub which helps sales reps organize and manage their activities. It includes marketing automations, a tracking system, email marketing and many other features;
Service Hub helps manage customers' inquiries. It is a customer service tool which works through a ticketing system.
Manage your team remotely with Teamwork
If you don’t want to or can’t use one of the all-inclusive tools mentioned above, I suggest to include Teamwork in your digital infrastructure.
In my career, I have tried many project management tools like Monday, Trello, ActiveCollab and others. The one which really satisfies all my needs is Teamwork.
I have a significant track record in telecommuting since, as a digital marketing consultant, I only work remotely. Besides, when I was Digital Director USA for a multinational company in 2017, I managed about 40 employees located in India and the US while I was in Italy.
A project management tool is fundamental if you want to enable your employees to work from home. It doesn’t only help you organize the workflow and workload, but also it guides you to set SMART marketing goals: the only type of objectives that allows you to boost your business operational performance.
I’ll explain them later. For now, let’s focus on Teamwork.
Tools like Teamwork allow you to assign your employees tasks that follow a specific framework:
Give them a title;
Assign the task to someone;
Set a starting date and a deadline;
Set privacy layers;
Set the task priority;
Set eventual notifications.
This work methodology is very effective, because employees have all the necessary information to successfully achieve their tasks and you, as a business owner, can measure their performance.
In fact, there is a sophisticated reporting and tracking system which can be used to monitor the performance of people or projects.
You can attribute a value to each task and keep track of your progress through a stopwatch.
Teamwork capabilities are infinite. For example, instead of using Slack, keep your ecosystem focused and activate Teamwork Chat to coordinate with your team faster. Take advantage of Teamwork Desk to provide customer service through a ticketing system.
Would you like to implement Teamwork in your organization? Book a digital marketing consultancy with me and get the training you need to guide and manage your team remotely.
Digitize your accounting and invoicing with Wave Financial
I’ve been using Wave Financial for my personal and business accounting for years. I really suggest this tool, because it has a better user experience than QuickBooks by Intuit.
Besides, Intuit will retain your data even after deleting your account. In fact, Intuit will only deactivate your account, they won’t delete it completely.
This is one of the reasons why I trust Wave more.
With Wave you can keep under control your accounting with amazing reports and stats. You can manage payrolls and invoicing with effective built-in tools and use automations like reminders and notifications to encourage your customers to pay on time.
You can allow multiple users to access your account and set different privacy/security layers. In this way, your team will be able to operate remotely and manage your financial department paperless.
Manage your documents and all of your meetings with G Suite
G Suite (by Google) provides professional digital solutions for companies, freelancers and schools.
This service enables your team to work together, even simultaneously, to text documents, spreadsheets, presentations and much more.
You can use Google Drive to archive everything important for your business: images, videos, documents and other files.
In this way, your employees will be able to remotely access the business library whenever they want.
You can even set privacy layers and share files with certain people.
Another amazing feature that I always use is Google Calendar. You can use a personalized scheduler to let clients and partners book a meeting with you. It spares you from an annoying back-and-forth email chain to check for mutual availability.
Google Calendar is perfectly integrated with Google Meet, a video call and conference tool.
SET SMART GOALS FOR YOUR EMPLOYEES
If you want to maintain (and maybe improve) the operational performance of your business, you should tune your mindset to the SMART goals frequency.
One issue of telecommuting is evaluating employee performance.
How can I know if my employees are doing their job if I don’t see them?
Does this sound familiar? This is the common question many entrepreneurs have when it comes to allowing employees to work remotely.
Many business owners think that performance is related to the capability of physically seeing their subordinates at the workplace.
This is wrong.
Performance must be evaluated through results and achievements. This is the main mindset switch.
You have to direct your employees by objectives and not just by “working hours”.
An employee can be at a workplace for hours and achieve nothing.
That’s why, as an entrepreneur, you must set SMART goals. SMART is an acronym which means:
If you want to learn more about this topic, I suggest you to read my guide on how to set and achieve SMART marketing goals.
As I already mentioned before, setting SMART goals is easy when you use a project management tool. If you use Teamwork, every task is SMART.
Operations based on goals are also good to keep the team motivated and on track. Team motivation is strictly related to the capability of measuring performance.
If you don’t know which employee is performing well, how can they know how to improve themselves?
Without SMART goals, controlling relevant KPIs would be impossible.
MANAGE THE SECURITY OF YOUR DIGITAL ASSETS
Managing cybersecurity risks is critical for telecommuting.
Think about it.
Your subordinates must have an Internet connection and access the company digital assets to fulfill their tasks.
While your digital tools should have been already investing in cybersecurity (part of the monthly fee that you pay goes to fund the R&D for improving security), your role is to decrease threats deriving from passwords and access mismanagement.
You should follow these simple rules:
Create a company profile with superpowers (admin) to manage each tool and platform;
Keep those passwords secret and in a safe place;
Give employees individual access to the company platforms. Usually, you can add them by using their email address or phone number;
If you can’t give individual access, use a password management tool.
Point number three is important for many reasons. Individual access is always preferred, because you can retrieve it every time you want without changing the password of the owner/admin account.
Each employee is responsible to remember and keep their access data safe. In the case of a security breach, you can easily cut off an employee from the platform. The intruder will not be able to make substantial changes or steal critical data, since the employee is not the account admin.
Regarding point number four, you have a different panorama. In this case, since you can’t give individual access, your employees use the same admin/owner credential to manage the account.
In case of a security breach, you need to change the password of the admin account as soon as possible in order to limit the damage. In this scenario, an intruder has potentially unlimited access to the account.
So, how can you address this issue?
The best password management tool
Every time an employee leaves a company, all passwords should be changed and online platforms’ access revoked. On the other side, when a new member joins the team, the onboarding process can be a headache if you are not able to provide access to passwords and company’s assets effectively and quickly.
To solve these and many other issues, I suggest using Bitwarden, a freemium password management tool.
Three reasons why you should use Bitwarden:
It has a free-forever version which pretty much has all the features freelancers or individuals need (max two users);
It’s an open source software and offers both the browser plugins and apps;
It’s very useful to manage passwords within a team: you can add/remove users, set security layers and much more.
What tools do you think are most effective to enable your team working from home? Tell me yours in the comments below.