As the COVID-19 crisis continues to develop and evolve with each passing day, there may be a point where you and some of your employees may have to work remotely. While not all functions of an eCommerce business can be run from a home or remote office, some can such as marketing, finance, customer support, and more.
Yesterday, I shared information on how to prepare a contingency plan for your business. In it, I addressed how businesses should be ready to have employees work from home or an alternate location if necessary. Today, I’m sharing tips on how to efficiently work remotely.
Use of Everyday Applications
Most business software such as email, finance, order management, etc. can be accessed via the Internet and should be accessible from any location. If you have systems that are not web-based that you or your employees will need access to, consider setting up remote access software such as TeamViewer, GoToMyPC, or equivalent to gain access through a virtual desktop.
If your company doesn’t use instant messaging, now may be the time to consider it. Free applications such as Skype and Slack make it easy for remote employees to quickly communicate with each other without having to pick up the phone.
Working from home doesn’t equal vacation. Make sure employees know what the expectations are during the time they will be working remotely. If work hours need to be adjusted, try to be as accommodating as possible during this time.
Make It Easy for People to Contact Each Other
If you have voice mail, update your greeting to reflect that you’re out of the office and provide an alternate number, such as a cell phone, that they can contact you at. Update phone numbers in your email signatures and any company directories. Appoint someone in your company to get updated contact information for everyone and distribute it to all employees.
Make it Easy for Customers to Contact You
Customers will need to communicate with you as well. If it’s necessary for your customer service department to work from home, consider setting up a virtual PBX through a company such as Grasshopper that will allow phone calls over VOIP. Just make sure you change phone numbers on your website and you’ll also want to consider emailing your customers letting them know if your number will be changing. If you’re able to forward your existing phone number to your new virtual one, that is preferred.
Stay Connected With Everyone
Have a video conference call with all your remote workers a few times a week, if only for a few moments to check-in, see how everyone is doing, and keep morale high. We’re all in this together, so make everyone feels at ease and comfortable during this difficult time.
Keep it Clean
Keeping your work area clean is the key to staying healthy. To disinfect or clean your computer and mobile devices, use a 70 percent isopropyl alcohol wipe or Clorox Disinfecting Wipe and gently wipe the hard, nonporous surfaces of your devices, such as the display, keyboard, or other exterior surfaces. Do not use bleach! Avoid getting moisture into open areas such as the keyboard, power and USB ports.
While you’re working from home, it’s necessary for you to have bandwidth allocated for business use. Ask family members to refrain from using the Internet for non-business use such as gaming and video streaming.
It may be necessary for employees to take their computer hardware home with them. While this is discretionary, should it be decided that you will be allowing it, take inventory of all equipment being moved from the office and advise employees on how to properly care for it. Encourage employees to leverage their own equipment and mobile devices wherever possible.
These are just a few tips to help you work more efficiently outside the office. At Your Store Wizards, we’re a 100% remote company with team members in California, Wisconsin, Florida, and the Caribbean. Many of the practices I mentioned above are key to managing our own workforce and an efficient remote team.
Be well and stay healthy!
General Manager, YSW
Scott Sanfilippo began his eCommerce journey in 1994 by co-founding one of the Internet’s first online retailers, TheFerretStore.com, which was acquired by PetCo in 2006. In 2001, he co-founded the eCommerce design and marketing firm Solid Cactus, which was acquired by web.com in 2009. Today, Scott is the General Manager of Your Store Wizards and is part of the Cast that makes happiness at the “Most Magical Place on Earth.” Scott lives in Delray Beach and Orlando, FL.