Global Cents has been a virtual company right from the beginning. Year-on-year, we’ve grown and innovated. However, we’ve never changed from being a home-based team of individuals.
Of course, running your business from home can be tricky at times. Many virtual companies have struggled or stumbled along the way, and our journey hasn’t always been plain sailing. However, we’ve picked up a few useful tips about operating a company in the virtual space and working from a home office.
With COVID-19 causing international lockdowns, we thought now would be a good time to share these tips with you, based on 14 years of experience.
Lesson 1 - Use the cloud
Using a server at home to host your company’s website and internal portal may sound like a good idea until something goes wrong that is out of your control. No matter how hard we try, working from home has influences from external forces. Sometimes the power goes out, pipes may burst, the internet goes down, or you have other distractions and duties that a more professional environment doesn’t have. In addition to this, a home server will fail to pass any software audit from any respectable customer.
The bottom line is that you should be using a reliable cloud-based or hosted service provider to store your most important data and assets. These services ensure that your most critical information is always protected and available when you and your customers need it.
Lesson 2 - With email, you pay for what you get
We all know that email offers incredible ROI and is one of the most cost-effective ways you can get your message out there and communicate with customers.
However, choosing the cheapest hosted email and web site provider is risky at best. There are many reasons an email could be considered spam by a receiving email server, including the reputation of providers and their IP addresses. Choosing a cheap provider can quickly end up with your one-to-one emails arriving in your customers' spam folders. More importantly, when your email service is down, you want to be able to rely on professional and immediate support - which many cheaper providers do not offer.
Lesson 3 - Structure is good
Remember that when you’re working from home, you’re at work, so the priority is on your work. If you have a home office, make sure when you’re in there, your household knows you are working and should not be disturbed.
Having a set schedule (start and end times, breaks, etc.) is simply the best way to stay productive and avoid distractions at home. It encourages predictability and access to employees, customers, and other professional contacts when you need them.
Always keep in mind when the working day begins and ends. No boundaries or time limits lead to overworking and burn out. Top performers maintain a schedule, stay focused, and respect their boundaries.
Lesson 4 - Internet speed is an excellent investment
Dropping a Skype call with a family member is acceptable. Dropping a call when closing a million-dollar deal is not.
A reliable and fast connection to the internet is an investment in your company’s continuity and image. You want to be professional and dependable. A continuous internet connection keeps you in touch with your customers and allowing them to trust you with their business.
Lesson 5 - You’ll be wearing your headset a lot. Get a good one
Linking in with our previous lesson, sounding clear and professional online is critical to your business appearance. You wouldn’t wear casual clothes for a meeting with a customer, in the same way, you shouldn’t use low-quality sound equipment when dealing with online clients.
A good headset sounds clear and is comfortable to wear, enabling you to talk longer without discomfort. It also saves you from the pain of conducting a conference call via your cell-phone, which, if you’ve ever experienced it, can be extremely frustrating.
Lesson 6 - Watch your bandwidth
Depending on your circumstances, bandwidth may be a limited resource. We recommend not consuming bandwidth on video conferencing when audio-only and screen-sharing will suffice. This is especially true when collaborating on a document or reviewing images. By forgoing video feeds when you don’t have to use them, you also keep everyone concentrated on the work and not on the camera.
However, when using audio-only during important collaborative meetings, it’s helpful to ask questions periodically, to gauge employee or customer understanding and keep their interest.
Lesson 7 - Don’t live exclusively behind the screen
While operating a virtual company from the comfort of your home is possible, most customers and colleagues appreciate meeting in person now and then. It shows them that you value them and their efforts.
When times allow, we suggest meeting in person every quarter or so, to refresh and maintain relationships. After all, it’s good for you as well.
Take control of your home office
We hope our insights are useful to you when working remotely.
Working from a home office can be challenging for individuals and businesses that don’t go about it the right way. However, with the right approach and tools, you can make a success of your business right from your living room.
Global Cents offers some of the best tools and solutions for automating business processes. If you would like to see how you can optimize your work environment with premium offerings, visit our website, or contact us for more information.