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How to Turn Your Product-Based Business into a Remote-Working Machine

April 9, 2020

Until recently, businesses haven’t been great at embracing remote working. It’s taken a global pandemic for some companies to realise just how many of their jobs can be done from home. And those are just the lucky ones.
This article originated from the Xero blog. The XU Hub is an independent news and media platform - for Xero users, by Xero users. Any content, imagery and associated links below are directly from Xero and not produced by the XU Hub.
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If you’re in the retail sector – one of the worst-affected industries during a lockdown – staying afloat won’t be easy. And as a knock-on effect, some wholesalers who rely on retail are starting to suffer as well.

There’s already a lot of good advice out there for businesses who find remote working easy. So instead, we’ve got some advice for the product-based businesses who might start to struggle.

Ecommerce: give your workers the tools they need

Online businesses have a big advantage when it comes to remote working.

But without the right tools and software, your productivity is sure to take a hit.

Luckily, there’s never been a better time to be forced into isolation. There’s a huge number of powerful collaboration tools out there – and lots of them are free and quick to set up.

So if you haven’t already, you should take a good look at apps like:

  • Slack
  • Workplace by Facebook
  • Zoom
  • And Trello.

These apps all have a free option – and they can all help to keep your teams up to date and fully productive at a distance.

But more importantly, they can keep your teams connected on a personal level.

One of the toughest parts of working from home is the feeling of social isolation. And without the usual camaraderie of the office, it can be hard for your staff to stay motivated and happy.

By giving them the tools that let them check in and catch up with each other, you can help your workers to stay happy and productive – and keep the cabin fever at bay!

(Want to see more tools that help ecommerce businesses stay productive and connected? Check out our case study with SE Simons to see how Cin7 helped them monitor their sales and speed up their orders.)

That’s a good start for ecommerce businesses. But some companies will have staff who can’t work at all.

So what can you do to help your staff who simply can’t do their usual jobs?

Retailers: get ready to retain your staff

Every retail company is suffering from the lockdown. And for some businesses, that could mean half of their employees are out of work.

But if you’re ramping up your online sales to compensate for the loss of high-street trade, you’ll still be able to put some of them to good use.

That could mean shuffling around your employees to get some extra help with:

  • Your warehouses and deliveries
  • Responding to customer enquiries
  • Managing your social media accounts
  • Or researching new online marketplaces to sell your products.

It’s not a perfect solution. Not every frontline worker will have hidden talents for the type of work that can be done remotely. And it’s unlikely you’ll be able to keep every employee busy with new roles.

But for every worker you can put to good use, you’re minimising the damage caused by a tough situation. And you’re keeping a valuable employee happy and loyal for when your business starts to recover later.

That covers the workers who can’t work. But in some industries (especially manufacturing, which isn’t under lockdown), you’re going to have staff who need to keep showing up every day.

So what can you do to protect and encourage the people who still need to come into work?

Manufacturers: give your workers the support they need

Let’s be honest:

Most of the people currently going into work would much rather be staying safe at home.

If you’re running a manufacturing business, you’ll have plenty of jobs that can be done remotely – customer service reps, salespeople, and any kind of admin role.

But you’ll also have plenty of frontline workers still going about their daily business. And it’s important that you do everything you can to support them.

That means spreading useful health and risk information, enforcing distancing measures, and providing all the protective equipment they need.

But it also means things like:

  • Offering flexible work hours – so your staff can skip the rush hour when they travel
  • Relaxing the rules – your workers might have different childcare situations, or they might need to do their shopping or run essential errands at unusual times
  • Lowering the pressure – you might be short-staffed and on tight deadlines, but every happy and healthy worker you have is more valuable than ever before (and it’s important to keep them that way).

Remember: we’re in this together

No matter what kind of business you’re in, you’re bound to have a good chunk of your staff working remotely.

It’s a serious situation, and it won’t be easy for them (or for your company).

So if you want to get the best results from a team that’s working from home, you should be doing everything you can to make their time in isolation as easy as possible.

That means making sure you:

  • Show some trust – you don’t need to check in on them every hour
  • Expect some interruptions – their family homes weren’t meant to be offices
  • Keep up communication – you might be short-staffed and on tight deadlines, but every happy and healthy worker you have is more valuable than ever before (and it’s important to keep them that way).
  • And respect their boundaries – they might be working from home, but that doesn’t mean they should work late or start early.

And if you can pull it all off?

You’ll be able to keep your company happy and healthy for as long as it takes to get back to full strength.

Want to speak to an expert about making your product-based business cloud-based? We are offering a FREE Discovery Session with one of our team so you can discuss your business and learn what could be possible.

Why leave it there?

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