Professional Adviser: Effective remote working tips for your business

Remote working has always been at the heart of how we operate here at The Paraplanners. There are definite benefits but it’s not without its challenges. My team and I share our tips for successful remote working in this article for Professional Adviser.

Either read the article on their site or below….

Effective remote working tips for your business

With the current news cycle, you may be discussing the possibility of remote working, or it could be a model you’re interested in exploring for the future of your business.

The Paraplanners team work remotely – my team are home-based and geographically spread around the country with 422 miles the furthest distance between two team members.

For us, it offers many benefits but is not without its problems. We’ve had a lot of practice with remote working and I asked the team to share their advice and top tips.

Work well remotely

The following tips could be useful if you, or your team, are working from home.

  • If possible, have a dedicated space to work in. Somewhere you can pack up or close the door on at the end of the day. It will draw a line between work and home – allowing you to switch into and out of work mode. It should also help make it clear to others when you are working and reduce interruptions
  • Stay connected. You can feel isolated and miss regularly seeing people. While less casual interruptions can be great, sometimes you miss the office conversation. Make sure you speak regularly with your colleagues, get out during the day or perhaps join a local club to see and speak to people. You’ll benefit from that interaction and it’s an opportunity to switch off from the working day
  • Structure your day as if you are going to work. Have a time you aim to begin your day, for lunch and a time you want to finish. Be strict about taking regular short breaks and get up and move. Don’t worry about doing the washing up during that break. You don’t need to be glued to your desk to prove you’re putting the hours in. This is the perfect opportunity to break any long-held and damaging presenteeism habits
  • While a blessing for many, the silence of working from home can be oppressive for some. Don’t push through the silence if it doesn’t work for you. Perhaps you need some music or the background lull of voices in a local cafe

Helping your team to work remotely 

We’ve put in place a number of tools to help us work successfully. These tools ensure that distance doesn’t get in the way of us working well, and they help us to take care of the wellbeing of all team members.

  • Use video calls. We use Skype and Zoom as a way to see the people we’re talking to. It’s more personable and much more effective than phone calls – being able to see how people are reacting is really important
  • Schedule a regular team video call to see how everyone is doing, share news, ideas and information. We see each other every day, at the same time. It’s a really important touchpoint for the team
  • Part of working together is the opportunity to learn from others. We carve out time once a week for a video call where we share what we’ve learnt that week
  • Over the years, we’ve honed our infrastructure to ensure everyone has access to the information they need to do their job. This helps to limit any frustration or misunderstandings – and ensures we’re delivering the best possible client service. Apart from video calls, email and shared calendars, we have three systems that we’ve built into our process and ways of working. We use Basecamp as a central record for projects and files. It means complete transparency and we value that. We manage workflow with Pipedrive so we can all see what is being worked on and what we have on. Finally, we use Harvest to help us track time on projects. The information it gives us helps us to plan in future work more accurately
  • Consider how policies or processes need to change to enable remote working. Do you need to consider your recruitment approach? Think about the physical work conditions of your team members – do they need any special equipment or support? How are you approaching data security and differences caused by remote working? In short, make sure you’ve walked through your key policies and process and, where necessary, adjusted them to take remote working into account

While our business is built around remote working, we still make sure we get together regularly. While the distances mean that that can be at least a day and a half ‘out of the office’ for some team members, meeting each other face-to-face at regular intervals really helps with team camaraderie and is the perfect opportunity to explore some topics in detail.

If you are thinking of incorporating remote working into your business, there are some great resources to help. As a starting point, I’d thoroughly recommend reading Remote by Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson.

Richard Allum is managing director at The Paraplanners