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The past couple of months have turned us all into home-based workers. And if you’re considering starting your own business, then it’s a future you’ll probably need to get used to. Remote working is definitely the new normal in so many ways, with everyone from independent contractors to blue-chip corporations realizing that it makes sense. Not only do home-based workers generally enjoy higher levels of productivity once they settle into a routine, but they also report greater job satisfaction – and a better work-life balance without a commute to factor in. But home-based working only tends to be successful if the right tools are in place to enable the process to be seamless, so how can you make your home-based business easy to run?
First of all, if you’re going to be running a business from home and collaborating with others, you need a robust project management tool in place. The solution a lot of people are turning to is Microsoft Teams, but there are also project-focused alternatives such as Basecamp, Trello or Slack. These platforms allow you to work remotely while collaborating on things like documents and presentations, and maintain visibility of a project status and who owns what actions to progress it.
If you aren’t working in the cloud, you need to make that move sooner rather than later. Cloud-based working refers to using applications and software which aren’t downloaded as pieces of software onto a particular machine – they exist virtually instead. This means that you can log in anytime, anywhere and from any device, which gives you the key to flexible working. This way of operating is also more secure, as any data is held remotely on secure servers and backed up regularly. If you need to move your operations, work with a Cloud Solutions specialist who can recommend the right IT ecosystem to support your business.
When you’re largely working on your own in an office space, the key is to be highly organized with the tasks that you need to complete. Getting a properly organized email system – such as following the five folder email method – is a good start to stop messages spiraling out of control. You can also use a task app on your phone or a list maker like OneNote to keep a running to-do list. The advantage of doing this digitally rather than writing it down with pen and paper is that you can set automatic reminders to trigger you to do things.
A video conferencing tool is also essential when you work from home. Make it a personal mission to call people and connect rather than relying on email all the time, as this helps to establish better working relationships when you rarely meet in person. Zoom has become very popular of late and Skype is the office standard. Things which can be missed in an email such as tone of voice and facial expression become clearer with video calling. It’s always best to favour a call and then follow up any further details with an email to keep you feeling connected to clients or co-workers.