So you want to create a remote work policy for your business? Congratulations, and welcome to the club of business owners who have sought greater flexibility as entrepreneurs.
Some of us are telecommuting converts who recognized the business benefits of working remotely year-round, while others are business owners adapting to sudden economic and cultural changes like recessions and public health crises. In either scenario, transitioning brick-and-mortar business operations to remote practices that can be effectively performed from virtual environments can be intimidating – but it is a business goal that is very much within reach.
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We all know what passes for gospel in our brand-driven, always-on culture: “Network your way to the top.” “Just say yes.” “Get out there!”
But what if you stopped all that networking? What if you distilled your business development to the bare minimum and still managed to grow your company? What if — instead of getting out there — you could simply stay in?
I’m much more comfortable in my home office than I am selling to a room, yet I own a successful business for which I am the primary sales driver. My business requires me to network, schmooze and take lots of meetings. It means I regularly fly thousands of miles on my own dime to meet a potential client or give a talk. And it means I must keep a robust social media presence even as sharing makes me incredibly self-conscious.
It’s enough to make me want to hide in the bathroom.
Over the years, I’ve developed a formula that allows me to play to my strengths and nourish my introversion — to focus less on the outcome of “success” and more on the everyday. I never will be relaxed on flights or stop getting anxiety attacks before a meeting. But I’ve grown a business that can sustain the real me. I call myself a “hermit entrepreneur.”
More and more employees are putting in a full day’s work without ever leaving the comfort of their home, new research shows.
More than 35 percent of the chief financial officers (CFOs) surveyed said the number of work-from-home and other remote-work opportunities at their companies has increased in the last three years, and just 3 percent said they’ve seen a decline, according to a study from the staffing firm Accountemps.
The phone keeps ringing. The kitchen sink is full of dishes. The dog has been snoring for 30 minutes and you desperately need to write out your monthly budget and pay your bills.
But those things have to wait, and it’s not always by choice. When you work at home, you have to ignore your everyday concerns and responsibilities until your actual work is done. Because, let’s face it, folding laundry doesn’t pay the bills.
Can You Stay on the Job at Home?
So how do you stay productive when you’re expected to live and work at the same address? Ask most work-at-home professionals and they’ll give you a list of strategies they use to stay on task when the dishes, the garden, and the neighborhood pool keep calling their name.
When Jim Ball ran a traditional call center in Golden, Colo., in the late 1990s, employee turnover was rampant. Often, Ball was forced to hire just about anyone who walked in the door because few people were willing to commute to the call center and sit in a sterile cubicle for minimum wage.
When Ball and his partner Steve Rockwood sold the call center in 1997, they decided the next business would be radically different: Customer service agents would work from home.