Best practices for managing SMBs remotely during COVID-19

Best practices for managing SMBs remotely during COVID-19

In Disney’s Aladdin, Princess Jasmine was cooped up in her palace, occasionally slipping out of the castle walls or flying through an endless diamond sky with the eponymous hero. Now that lockdowns are the norm in Missouri and across the nation because of COVID-19, we get to empathize more with the princess. We’re facing an entirely novel world of our own, one in which we’re making our businesses flourish while our personnel work from home (WFH).

For many business owners and managers, managing remote teams is a completely new experience. This is why we’ve come up with an “A Whole New World”-themed article about remote team management best practices (original song lyrics are credited to Alan Menken and Tim Rice).

“A novel world, with new horizons, new pursuits”

Unlike in an office setup where everyone’s under the same roof, using the same internet connection, and are given standard office equipment, your staff will literally be left to their own devices. Here are some questions to help you navigate this unfamiliar scenario:

  • What devices do your staff members need to accomplish their tasks? Do they meet your minimum requirements, or do you need to order equipment for them?
  • Are their internet connections reliable, or do they have to be enrolled in better services?
  • How will you keep company data safe and secure? Your employees will most likely be using their own devices to connect to your company network, thereby increasing your vulnerability to data breaches.

Productivity, cost-efficiency, and data security must be looked at from a new angle — that of the context of supporting remote work.

“I'll chase my staff anywhere”

If you’re someone who swears by the management by walking around (MWBA) strategy, then sheltering in place can be disheartening and frustrating at first. Keeping track of your employees and their tasks will feel like chasing a brood of headless chickens — unless you use tools and strategies that keep everyone on the same page.

Use a cloud-based project management app. Having a place where everyone can see everybody else’s tasks, dependencies, progress status, and blockers will help you coordinate efforts with less effort. You can use relatively simple ones like Trello, or more sophisticated ones like monday.com, Microsoft Project, or Wrike.

Hold daily virtual standups and/or weekly meetings. Agree to a common time when you can discuss projects and give everyone an opportunity to pitch ideas and raise concerns. Use chat apps like Slack and Telegram, or videoconferencing ones like UberConference and GoToMeeting.

Share calendars. Use an app like Calendly to check each other’s availability and easily arrange meetings and discussions.

Not all teams operate the same way, so you’ll need to explore what will work for you. Don’t worry — our IT consultants at Umbrella can help you out with this. To illustrate, we can help you set up management systems that are comprised of Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) apps that are free to use, be it for a limited trial period or indefinitely. This means that you can enjoy their benefits while still keeping your belt-tightening measures.

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Apps like UberConference are helping SMBs remain afloat by expanding their free services.

“All day to spare”

Because your staff members don’t have to spend time commuting, they have much more time available for work. In fact, remote workers tend to be more productive than office workers. Ironically, however, having no boundary between work and home makes people run the risk of overworking.

To help your employees perform at their peak and avoid burnout, have them read our post, “5 Easy ways to relieve stress while working from home.”

“Let me share this new way to work with you”

Managing the IT aspects of remote work is difficult if you go at it alone. Thankfully, Umbrella is here to help you during these trying times. Contact our IT experts to learn more about navigating our whole new world today.

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