As part of Lenovo ThinkBook Mentorship Programme, Red Balloon Founder Naomi Simson mentored three regional SMBs, offering them her expert advice on how to navigate business challenges.
We asked them to share their learnings and provide their top tips and key learnings on how to manage remote work. Here’s some more about these exciting rural start ups and their insights.
1) Pointer: Pointer is a remote work solutions company that is passionate about bridging the city/country divide. It supports individuals, organisations and Government to leverage remote work and distributed teams to not only attract and retain the best talent but to utilise the economic, social and environmental benefits that come with ‘remote’. They offer capacity building training, in person or online as well as recruitment services.
Tips from Jo Palmer, Founder, Pointer:
- Be prepared to handle changes to your usual workflow. This could be as simple as ensuring you have a camera and microphone to join in on video calls, through to utilising different project management software to asynchronously communicate with remote team members.
- Identify how you like to communicate and as a team, set some guidelines around the ways various information should be circulated. The Pointer team has a set of rules we call ‘communication hygiene’. Rules include things like no internal emails and if it takes more than three messages back and forth to get something across, jump in a video call.
- Manage your energy levels and keep connected. Remote work can be very isolating at times and without the normal break room chat, it’s easy to feel disconnected. Team building is critically important for remote teams. Check in on your team’s headspace regularly and be open with your responses. Set up casual connections- a Friday show and tell before the daily stand up, a fortnightly bake off, an afternoon dog walk on a group call.
2) Youngster.co: Youngster.co is an intergenerational service that connects tech savvy juniors, and mature people that need help with technology. They organise virtual, one on one and small group sessions where youngsters and seniors come together to solve problems elder might have with their technology.
Tips from Tony Rothacker, Founder, Youngster.co:
- Set boundaries: When working remotely it is important to take time for yourself and family. It is easy to get drawn into being available all the time, trying to composite for not being there in person, so make sure to turn off the devices at the end of the work day and even seek locations with no internet to disconnect every once in a while.
- Leverage video conferencing tools: When interacting with customers and clients while working remotely, try to re-create an in-person experience. So, instead of talking on the phone or writing emails, seek a video conferencing option where possible. Additionally, make sure to improve the video and audio experience with a good mic and quality camera.
- Invest in your workspace: Create a dedicated space with good lighting and minimal disturbance, to ensure you remain productive while working remotely.
3) Shop My Town: Shop My Town is a global platform and marketplace that connects people back to their local traders. The service creates a sub-platform for each specific region, where local businesses can advertise themselves on their own dedicated page, adding their social media channels, promotions, and any other information. Rather than just setting up a platform for them, Shop My Town works with the individual businesses to help them tell their best story.
Melody Jarvis, Founder, Shop My Town:
- Have really well set up technology. Technology has changed so rapidly, and we need to embrace the new functionality. Communication must be rapid, if you want to keep the momentum and deliver outcomes in a reasonable timeframe. A lot of people are held back from investing in new technology due to the perceived downtime of setting up hardware. Thankfully that’s more an issue of the last decade, as most devices and PCs are plug and play, and you can really start to enjoy the benefits of faster, more user friendly access to the new global world online.
- Develop a rhythm. My biggest fail with productivity has been due to working 24/7. Being set up remotely means we CAN access our emails, workflows and our team at any time of the day or night. However, should we? We all know, when we work longer hours, with less downtime between work, we experience a marked reduction in our effectiveness and overall enjoyment of life. To protect yourself from yourself, develop a rhythm as to when you check emails, respond to clients, create content, and work on social media. Then educate your team and clients about the new routine, so you are all on the same page. Thank you Naomi Simson, who recently shared in our Lenovo Thinkbook Mentoring Program how she sets her weekly rhythm, and cast a vision I could replicate.
- Develop systems that empower your team to care for your clients. When you work remotely, the systems you use have to build natural communication to replace what is lost in face to face interactions. For example, I normally take client feedback in an appointment, and then type it into the client notes for my team. However I have now incorporated this into a new ticketing system, so the client sends a quick email after the appointment, so my team can directly help them. Yesterday I finished a client meeting, and when I logged into my team chat a few hours later, the client had emailed their needs to the ticket, our team had fixed her concerns, and emailed her back. Client was delighted!