How to Manage a Small Business Remotely

Small business owners have probably less vacation than anyone – because it’s hard to disconnect from business. Work is rarely organized to be manageable remotely, and usually there are many things that require immediate personal attention. But that doesn’t mean that your business should stop you from taking trips, or that you have to sacrifice your business activities and long-term plans to time off from work you’ve deserved.

There are ways to organize work in a way that would allow you to go on vacation or a prolonged business trip, and tools to monitor and manage workflow while you’re away. Here’s a list of what you need to organize to successfully manage your small business while travelling, being on a business trip, or even living in a remote location.

Ensure proper communication

For successful teamwork, communication is key. This is particularly true when team manager is working remotely: being not able to meet in person and using mostly instant messengers and email tends to slow down coordination and minimize feedback. That’s why implementing special communication tools is worth considering.

If adopting yet another tool sounds scary for you and your employees, think of using something already familiar for everyone on the team. For example, Workplace by Facebook allows to use familiar social media functionality for work communication. Combined with data protection features, it can be a perfect tool for discussing work questions from different locations.

Also, remember how important face-to-face communication is. Schedule meetings, and use video conference tools to organize them. Daily online standups work great for staying informed on your team’s accomplishments without micromanaging or spending too much time on work progress monitoring.

Organize a comfortable workplace

If you’re planning to work on your trip, create a dedicated workspace to work from – ideally, a quiet and comfortable place. It will contribute your focus on work and block out distractions, such as noise, excessive communication, or physical discomfort.

When creating your workplace, take into account the importance of having reliable Internet access. Those who manage business while travelling, are often facing Internet issues that create disorganization and disrupt the agenda.

Make sure that you have a stable connection: you can contact your host and ask them to check connection speed before booking a room or an apartment, or have a backup hotspot just in case Internet connection issues prevent you from working remotely.

Manage time zones

Coordinating team members’ availability across time zones is usually challenging. If you find manual calculations of local time in your home location exhausting and time-wasting, be sure to use a special tool for that. It would help you save time and avoid mistakes and discoordination. For example, Figure It Out app, available as a Chrome extension or a web app, will keep you updated on local time in different time zones.

Stick to one schedule

Speaking of different time zones, it’s easy to start working nonstop when you’re at a different location than your team. You don’t plan to end up overworking on your vacation, right? To avoid that, set up your availability hours, inform your team on them, and stick to them.

Think of a convenient combination of your availability hours and vacation time. For example, sightseeing and relaxing in the morning and being available for work in day and evening hours might be a perfect combination for you.

Automate your work

There’s no need to stress the importance of automation for business success, but it’s worth mentioning it separately that it significantly alleviates the challenges of remote work. When you’re not able to be present and monitor everything, use work and project management tools to stay updated on the current status of the projects your team is working on.

Stay updated on your team’s performance

Keep track of how your team is using their work time – no matter where you’re located! And don’t forget about recording your own work time. Time tracking software allows to connect remotely from any location to log your time, review work progress, and see summary charts for time spent on work assignments.

You can use time tracker from desktop of you’re travelling with a laptop, or, if not, use a mobile app on your phone. Simple and intuitive, it will provide you with valuable insights on how work is performed, and help identify where’s room for optimization.

Delegate as much as possible

Trying to get all work done on your own is what causes micromanagement and all related issues. Delegating is not only important because it gives autonomy to your team – it also frees up your time for travelling activities. Don’t try to do and monitor everything. Instead, delegate some management activities to a responsible person you trust. This will allow you to focus on the main purpose of your business trip, or to disconnect from work and take an actual break.

To remotely manage routine activities, such as searching suppliers, coordinating, purchasing etc., consider signing up for a virtual assistant service. Some of them work for personal purposes only, and some offer business plans that help managers delegate time-consuming routine activities and save more time for actual management work.

Use cloud storages

Accessing documents and archives when working remotely can be easy – use cloud storages for your work files. When choosing the storage service, make sure it offers security features that won’t allow unauthorized persons to access your company’s data.

An important feature for those who travel is the ability to open necessary files from a phone or tablet. When choosing a cloud storage service, check if they offer secure access from mobile devices via browsers or using native mobile apps.

Enjoy your trip

Changing locations – both for developing your business and switching off from work – is a great way to prevent fatigue and burnout. So, the most important thing on a trip is taking the stress out of it – obviously, without sacrificing your business goals. And, while managing your business from remote locations may be challenging sometimes, you can use modern robust tools to stay updated on your team’s progress, discuss work questions with your team members, and cut off time spent on handling routine activities. Enjoy your trip, get inspired, and get back to work refreshed and energized.