How can SME businesses work remotely?

Trying to adhere to Government guidelines relating to COVID-19 about Social Distancing and Self Isolation many SME owners are nervous about how they will keep their business trading through the next few months, we share our top tips for remote working.

Care for your people

Your team are your number one asset. Without them, your business wouldn’t be able to operate. Therefore, put them first. What can you do to keep them safe during this crisis?

If they have underlying health conditions, you might make special allowances to put them out of harm’s way. If they need extra support to be working at their full potential, make this a priority.

NB– Many businesses we know are closing down their offices so their team have minimal contact with others reducing the risk of catching the virus, ensuring everyone is safe and they are all working remotely from home- and their clients have not noticed any difference in the service. But how can they do this?

Find alternative ways of working – Remote Working from Home

Thanks to digital technology, if you are an office-based business, you may not need to be in the same physical location to carry on delivering work for your clients.

You just need three main business functions to continue:

Communication, Access to Systems/Client Data and Internet/Broadband Connection:

 

1) Communication

  • Email
    • Cloud based work email can be accessed anywhere through an Internet connection in your home
    • Office based Server email may be restricted so contact your IT Provider to see if you can have a remote access option.
    • Create a new cloud based email on Gmail, or Hotmail these are free, easy to set up and you can all access the same email from different locations
    • Move to Office 365 – which offers remote access of outlook (email)
  • Smart Mobile Telephones – those that have internet access
    • Access your emails and respond via your mobile – no need for laptops
    • These can also be used to talk to your clients and colleagues
  • Client Meetings

Visual 1:1 meetings with clients can continue using video conferencing such as:

Skype https://www.skype.com/en/get-skype/

Zoom https://zoom.us/download

Google Handouts https://hangouts.google.com/

These are all free to download and the call Is free as it uses the broadband connection

They can also be Installed and used on mobile telephones

Audio 1:1 meetings with clients just continue using the telephone.

 

2) Access to Systems/Client Data

  • Many systems that businesses use, ie Stock Management, Client Relationship Management, Project Tools and Finance are all cloud based so therefore can be accessed from any location with Internet connection, based on remote logins ie username & password. These are usually subscription based so they may be worth checking out.
  • Move to Office 365 – which offers remote access of windows functions WORD, EXCEL & POWERPOINT plus OUTLOOK for email.
  • A central data storage system where all the company’s files are kept can be cloud based rather than physical server storage in the office. With cloud based this offers remote access and files can be easily copied/saved from the server to the cloud system. There are many systems that are free to download such as:

Dropbox – https://www.dropbox.com/en_GB/basic

Dropbox Business https://www.dropbox.com/business pay for more storage

One Drive – https://onedrive.live.com/about/en-GB/download/

  • A cloud based storage offers a perfect back up of your data and will not be lost if your computer breaks or your office based server fails.

 

3) Internet /Broadband Connection

  • There are a number of connection methods to access the cloud based systems.
    • An internet connection via a telephone line
    • An internet connection via a wireless system
    • An internet connection via a satellite link
    • An internet connection via your 3G or 4G on your smart mobile telephone.

Utilising online drives and remote logins if you can to allow you to all stay connected without duplicating files, missing information or giving yourselves extra work. Are all the things your team need in the cloud? If not, it could be time to scan in and upload essential documents.

 

Keep in touch

Bear in mind that a crisis will be unsettling and anxiety-triggering for many. Maximise technology to minimise your team’s loneliness, sense of isolation or panic. Keep in touch via phone, text and email, even if you can’t be together in person.

Also don’t forget to keep in contact with your clients so they know you are trading.

Stay positive

Finally, look on the bright side as much as you can. It won’t be easy to keep doing business as usual during a crisis but developing resilience and learning to rapidly adapt to circumstances will stand you in good stead for the future challenges your business will face.