The COVID-19 pandemic has stopped many people around the country from working traditionally. While self-isolation has been imposed in many different countries around the world, many businesses have been brought to a halt, with only key-workers allowed out of their homes, and a lot of business people are having to do what they can with their main offices closed.
Working completely from home is something that comes naturally to many people. Freelancers often complete work outside of a normal schedule anyway, and can work mobile or remotely when needed.
However, for those that do 9-to-5 work, perhaps as part of a team or in a traditional collaborative office environment, it’s quite the task to carry on as normal, and it can be stressful trying to figure everything out to get going.
Are you a small business owner, wondering how you’re going to maximise productivity while unable to leave the house? For some advice and inspiration, take a look at this quick guide, detailing some of the things that you might need to get your business through self-isolation.
1. The perfect home office space
Most homes aren’t really well-equipped for handling business as usual, and are in fact full of distractions that can be difficult to avoid. After some inspiration on how to build the perfect home office? Here’s a bit of a checklist to get you started:
- A calm, inviting environment –
This might be a bit of a no-brainer, but cultivating a workspace that you’re happy with should be your first step, as you’re going to be spending a lot of time there over the next few weeks (or even months, depending on how the situation holds up).
You don’t have to replicate your office environment exactly, and in fact, now is the time to find exactly what helps you to be productive, and work to the best of your ability.
You never know, as a potential positive outcome to this whole situation, you might find something that helps you to concentrate and work that you can then take back into your office when this all blows over.
Examples of the sorts of things you could add include quite, secluded space, away from family or distracting electronics in your house, some on-harsh lighting perhaps, and even some plant-life to freshen things up on your desk.
It’s important to be comfortable when working, too, so make sure you’ve got an adequate chair, and a keyboard that won’t have your hands cramping up as you type.
- Decent internet speeds –
With such a heavy reliance being put on technology and connectivity in order for us to stay in contact with one another, a stable internet connection is extremely important, and many companies such as Netflix and YouTube are already reducing their video quality in order to keep up with the demand on their services.
Fortunately, most of us are lucky enough to have a good enough speed on our homes to deal with the normal workload, but offices typically have a better network infrastructure, and some may struggle.
If your speeds aren’t doing enough for you, consider disconnecting some of the different devices that you don’t need, and maybe even moving your workspace nearer to your Wi-Fi hub, or wiring it in entirely.
Some traditional houses have thick walls, resulting in ‘dead spots’ at points throughout the home, and so you could order some booster kits if you’re struggling to get signal in this way, too.
In a worst case scenario, you could connect to your mobile phone’s Wi-Fi hotspot and use the data from your phone contract, although be careful that you don’t burn through it all too quickly, as bolt-ons can be quite expensive.
- Social Media -
While it might not be a direct piece of software that you install, or even something that you consider as important to a productive workspace (and rather a time sink, if anything), but social media can help you massively, particularly during times like these when accessing your customer base online is all you can do.
Additionally, most people will be using their phones and computers a lot more in order to connect and reach the outside world, and so it’s the perfect time to start marketing to new customers.
2. Wider Technology
Aside from the normal pieces of kit that we use on a daily basis, such as our phones, tablets, and computers, now might be a good time to look at some of the other technology available to us, and how we might be able to integrate that into our business model.
If you look at the property investment industry, for example, some innovative companies such as RWinvest are utilising virtual reality technology in order to continue the viewing experience remotely with potential tenants.
Rather than having to go to the property, investors simply download the software and get an immersive, authentic look as to what it will be like. This is also great for international investors buying from afar, or for looking at off-plan property developments (investment properties that have not yet been completed and are still in construction stages).
3. Remote Customer Support
According to Forbes, remote work can lead to increased productivity, which ultimately helps a business’s bottom line.
Coronavirus or not, a remote customer service rep proactively can reach out to current and prospective customers with new offers, preemptive solutions, product news, and more. Meaning even working from home can make communication easy and effortless using the Internet or telephone while performing the same responsibilities as a customer service rep. All you need to use is the right tool.
Stay in touch with your clients from home and boost your customer support services via live chat. Through live chat, you can provide constant support to customers or prospects without getting distracted from a remote environment that is often loud or distracting or if you feel uncomfortable speaking on the spot, as you won't be making calls.
4. Secure finances and a solid financial plan
If you’ve just started up an independent business venture, or perhaps are thinking of kickstarting one as a side project while you’ve got a bit more time on your hands, then it’s hard to stress the importance of having a solid financial plan in place, and a roadmap that perhaps takes into consideration the current economic climate as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Sit down, figure out the outgoing costs of your business, and also your current financial commitments to calculate whether it’s something that will be sustainable.
If you don’t have the right amount of capital to be able to get started, perhaps look into some saving and investment methods that can bolster up your portfolio. You could also look into some business methods that don’t cost an initial amount to get set up, such as an online storefront, with an inventory that is supplied on demand.
Remember, when you start seeing a profit from your business venture, it’s important that you funnel some of this money back into expanding, to stop the venture from stagnating.
Sam Makad is a business consultant. He helps small & medium enterprises to grow their businesses and overall ROI. You can follow Sam on Twitter, Facebook, and Linkedin.