Adjusting your business for a remote workforce

| By: Arlin Sorensen

“In any moment of decision, the best thing you can do is the right thing, the next best thing is the wrong thing, and the worst thing you can do is nothing.” ―Theodore Roosevelt

I’m sure most of you have started to, if you haven’t already, transitioned your team into a remote workforce. Most of the time, working from home is just a convenient thing for your colleagues. But there are times, whether a colleague is sick or your office is inaccessible due to a natural disaster, where working remotely is necessary.

Both managed service providers (MSPs) and small- to medium-sized businesses (SMBs) are in a position where a remote workforce is needed to keep their organizations running. Many challenges come with a remote workforce, from making sure end user technology is working to ensuring they can do their jobs securely. Beyond your colleagues working from home, you need to make sure you prepare your business for this shift.

Here are 15 adjustments you’ll need to make to manage your team and maintain your business as you make this transition.

1. Know your numbers

Employees may be working from home, but your accounting department still needs to keep track of your numbers. Keep your entries up to date, and be sure to stay on top of everything. You may be the type of person that waits to look at your numbers until you file your taxes, but now’s the time to change your behavior and get in the habit of entering your numbers now, so you have an up-to-date financial status when you need it.

2. Use a budget

You’ll want to stick closer to a budget during these times. I suggest creating a budget with two scenarios: one with your expected budget and another for the worst case (20-30% less than your expected budget). You’ll want to compare your real financial situation to these budgets at least once a month, but more often would be better. Continually reviewing your current expenses to your planned budget will let you see when you’re deviating from your path.

3. Conserve cash

Cash will always be king. Now is the time to review your expenses and see if there are items that should be temporarily ended or deferred. One report to keep an eye on is ‘Free Cash Flow.’ This is the amount of cash available for you to do business.

4. Talk with your experts

You don’t want to be left in the dark. Get in touch with a trusted financial advisor to start talking about long-term economic slowdowns, or the worst case, a recession. You want to be prepared for any scenario that could happen and position your business as best you can to weather the storm.

5. Have a bank line of credit in place

Banks loan money to people and businesses who can prove they can repay the loan. Talk with your bank now to set up a line of credit.

6. Stay close to your clients

Your clients will be facing the same challenges you are. Reach out and connect with your clients and assure them you will be there for them to help them through tough times. Be in continuous contact with your clients so they know you’re there when they need you.

7. Take care of your people

Much like your clients, let your colleagues know you are there for them during hard times. Family, financial, personal, and other issues will pop up, and when a colleague knows you’re there for them, you continue to build trust and loyalty between the two of you.

8. Over communicate with your team

With your team no longer in the same building and spread across multiple locations, you can’t communicate enough to keep everyone in the loop of any changes or details about the business or how to serve clients. This will give everyone what they need to do their job and feel empowered to do it well.

9. Work from home will be the immediate reality for many

Put practices and processes in place to enable your team to be productive outside of the office and share them with your clients. Working from home will be new for a lot of people and will take some time to get used to it while being surrounded by distractions around the house.

10. The balance sheet matters

Your business is still operating no matter what’s going on. Don’t lose sight of the reality that you have to keep the doors open to pay your colleagues and serve your clients. You’ll likely have to make concessions to help others, but you have to keep perspective knowing that bankruptcy helps no one. You can help, but don’t go overboard and destroy your company.

11. Pay close attention to the sales pipeline

Every business is going to be disrupted, but you’ll want to stay on top of deals. Make sure you’re keeping up with communications and continually moving toward closing a deal.

12. Evaluate your people

Nobody likes the thought of downsizing during a difficult period, but when it comes down to reducing your team or losing the business, there is a clear choice to be made. Create a Reduction in Force (RIF) list before it’s needed to keep emotional and personal feelings away from making the best decision if it comes to downsizing.

13. Planning is always a valuable tool

There will be an end, and those who are ready for it will have significant opportunities for success. Take time to plan for contingencies, but also the opportunities that will present themselves when business gets back to normal.

14. Stay calm and press on

Steady leadership is needed during uncertain times. All of us need to stay calm and keep things in perspective, even when we’re a bit overwhelmed and unsure of what’s coming next.

15. Start planning for the celebration when your team is back together

Your team will need something to look forward to, so plan a party and keep pointing them to something special to come.

We are experiencing an unprecedented time in history. With the right processes and mindset, we will make it through. We are all in this together.