If you’re finding yourself in a spot where you need to run your business virtually instead of a physical office let me save you a bit of overwhelm. We’ve been operating online since 2010 and have team members all across the country. Here are the tools that have made that all possible.
How to Run Your Business Virtually
Do you need to transition your team over to telecommuting? Whether it’s a long-term change or just temporary, there are quite a few options available.
If you’re trying to keep your costs done, we’ve picked the best tools that are low-cost or free.
From hosting team meetings to sharing files, I think we’ve got you covered.
Video Conferencing for Small Business
Zoom Video Conferencing
Zoom conferencing is hands down one of our favorites! We do daily huddles and client meetings all through video conferencing.
Since we do have more than 2 attendees on most meetings we use the Pro level, with one additional host. This runs about $29.98/month. If you have shorter meeting sessions (under an hour) then you should be okay with the free plan.
Google Hangouts is another option as included in G Suite, a Google product. You’ll hear more on this later.
Shared Media Storage for Small Business
Google Drive with G Suite
When co-working on projects, having files that can be easily shared can make a huge impact on productivity. This is where G Suite comes in for us.
We can easily work on the same documents together and see real-time updates. It’s actually kind of fun to see edits being made by your co-worker, it’s like a ghost typing.
You can also share files over Google Drive, which automatically comes with all Google accounts.
We do use Dropbox to house archived projects and media files. This allows us to always have a back up in place.
We also store our SOP files, “standard operating procedures”, and share them via link to train new team members.
Our current plan holds 2TB of media files, which costs us $129.35/per year.
Messaging for Small Businesses
Working on social media is part of our business. We have a number of social media strategists on the team managing a number of client accounts. How do avoid the rabbit hole of distraction?
Instead of using Facebook messenger, we use a couple of other alternatives.
Voxer – The Walkie Talkie App
There are only a couple of clients who are currently requesting Voxer communication, which is perfectly fine for me. It’s actually not my favorite.
The notification from this app is somewhat jarring, but hey, you never miss a message that way.
We use the free version since we don’t use it enough to justify upgrading.
Okay, I should’ve put this one first when it comes to messaging programs. I LOVE Slack!
You can create workspaces for everything – internal teams and client accounts. The “channels” allow to organize workspaces so that communication can be streamlined. Have you ever been in a general team meeting wondering, “why don’t they have a separate meeting with that group?” That’s what “channels” do. Keeps the commentary private to only the people it needs to get to.
You know what makes it better? There’s a free plan!
I’ve been using it for at least 2 years now and I have yet to find a need to upgrade to the paid version.
Project Management Apps
If you love spreadsheets, Airtable might be the best option. The layout is similar to a spreadsheet, but you can upload files for the team to review before final approval and view production status.
You can view due dates, project start dates all in one area. It’s definitely one of my favorites.
Asana comes in as a fairly close tie with Airtable. There’s a couple of options when it comes to the layout, lists or boards.
You can create templates for tasks that have the same workflow so they can easily be reproduced with little time spent.
Asana works best for projects that have multiple team members involved.
How to Transition Employees to Telecommuting?
I’m not going to lie, moving employees over to remote reporting or telecommuting takes a bit of an adjustment period for all. If you stay proactive throughout the process you’ll see significantly better results.
- Clearly, and I mean clearly explain the expectations you have for your employees while they are reporting remotely.
- Create an Standard Operating Procedure for telecommuting.
- Set office hours or expecting reporting hours if schedules are flexible.
- Communicate deadlines.
- Provide a checklist of home office requirements: Internet speed, security software, etc.
- Finalize which tools you’ll need your team to use while they are telecommuting.
- Provide video training tutorials that are available 24 hours via website or link. This makes it easier for your team to review training when they are at home.
- Get everyone access and logins prior to transition.
- Check-in. It’s actually really easy to lose team members if they’re used to having co-workers all around them.
- Weekly team meeting via video conferencing.
- Keep a video conference room open as a virtual co-working space.
- Schedule a dedicated 1:1 monthly meeting with each team member, even if it’s only 15 minutes.