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7 Steps to Shift Towards A Growth-Oriented Culture

Having a corporate culture that focuses on how your employees perform is no longer healthy for your employees or your business. In fact, 60% of employee absences are due to the overwhelming stress brought about by the understanding that their job security is dependent on their ability to deliver results. This can also cause employees to become less productive, dissatisfied with their work, and quit their job.

One study published in the Harvard Business Review recommends the best way to address this by shifting from a performance-based culture to a growth-oriented culture. 

The rise of growth-oriented culture

In recent years, startups have become obsessed with growth hacking. That’s because even though it’s a relatively new strategy, growth hacking is effective in getting customers and generating revenue in a short span of time.

Naturally, startups need to have a culture that encourages growth. And more established companies are beginning to follow suit.

What makes a growth-oriented culture unique?

Growth-oriented culture puts a premium on getting results. At the same time, it focuses on providing the employees a safe working environment where mistakes and shortcomings are valued as part of the growth process. As a result, it encourages everyone to become curious and creative without the fear of being judged.

How to transition to a growth-oriented culture

Communicate your values

In the words of Simon Sinek: “People don’t buy what you do. People buy why you do it.”

The only way you can successfully shift to a growth-oriented culture is when everyone in your business is on board 100%.

For that to happen, it’s not enough that you familiarize your employees with your core values. You need to explain to them why these are the core values of your business. That way, they will get a clearer understanding of what your company stands for and the reason behind this.

Having a meeting where you share these with your employees is one effective way to communicate your core values. Not only will they hear your words, but they will also sense the passion in your voice and see your enthusiasm in your actions.

Follow this up by giving each of your employees a manifesto documenting your business’ core values. That way, they’ll have something to refer back to weeks and months after the initial meeting.

Increase transparency

Transparency is a crucial element in a growth-oriented culture for three reasons.

First, it helps build a level of trust between you and your employees. When it’s clear to them that you sincerely have their best interest at heart, they will be more encouraged to get things done. 

Transparency also helps minimize—if not eliminate—negative gossip and office politics from your organization. That way, you avoid possible tension and friction to arise and affect your employees’ ability to work harmoniously with each other.

More importantly, encouraging transparency within your organization makes your employees feel a part of your business genuinely. When this happens, they become more accountable and more willing to take ownership of their actions.

One way to promote transparency within your business is by making information directly affecting your employees readily available. 

Such was the case with Buffer. Not only did they divulge the salaries paid to their employees, but they also shared the formula used to compute through the salary calculator they have posted on their website.

Source: Buffer

Embrace change

Growth involves some level of change to occur within your business. So if you want to adopt a growth-oriented culture, you must be willing not only to accept change but embrace it.

For this to happen, you must effectively communicate the need for the change and the change it will bring. 

More importantly, you must set an example for your employees. Only then can this become integrated into your corporate culture. 

Adopt the right communication tools

Employees working in a growth-oriented culture need to be efficient in their work process to produce results quickly. That would mean investing in a communication platform to address critical communication pain points, encourage flexibility, and increase productivity. All this was done with just the help of their mobile phone.

Find the right people.

When hiring people to come on board your business, it’s not enough that you evaluate their intellectual knowledge, skills, and expertise. You need to also carefully consider whether they possess the personality and traits that fit your corporate culture. 

This is crucial for startups. That’s because, according to Jim Tolbert, Founder of Vista College, entrepreneurial companies like startups are fast-moving. They want to grow and scale as quickly as possible. As such, they need employees that not only have the skills but the capability to keep pace.

Growth hackers meet these criteria. Aside from being highly-skilled, growth hackers thrive in growth-oriented cultures because, as Sean Ellis puts it, growth is their “true north.”

Make your employees feel valued.

Your employees are your greatest asset. That’s why it’s essential to make an effort to let them know and feel that they are valued and appreciated.

An effective way to do this is by allowing them to take on more responsibilities. This allows your employees to challenge themselves and grow. At the same time, you send them a positive signal that you recognize their skills and potentials.

Other ways to make your employees feel valued and appreciated are:

  • Celebrating their birthdays and other occasions that are special to them,
  • Encouraging them to give suggestions and considering these,
  • Providing mentorship opportunities, and
  • Hosting employee appreciation gatherings.

Welcome feedback

This is perhaps the most challenging of the different steps to take to shift from a performance-based culture to a growth-oriented culture.

Employees working in a performance-based culture have learned to associate their worth and value with their skills and abilities. So, when they receive feedback, they don’t see it as something that could improve them. Instead, they perceive it as a personal attack, making them emotional and defensive.

That said, it’s important to make sure that you carefully ease this into your organization’s culture. And it starts with you.

Ask their honest feedback about your company and leadership style. Mind you, this part is going to be very uncomfortable because you’ll be making yourself vulnerable to whatever your employees will say. However, by setting the example, your employees will become more open to receiving constructive feedback from you.

When giving your constructive feedback, it would be a good idea to follow the sandwich method using the following steps:

  1.   Start by giving your employee some positive comments about the situation that you want to discuss.
  2.   Compliment your employee’s strong points.
  3.   Share your feedback on what can be improved.
  4.   Remind your employee of their strong points.
  5.   Offer your support and help.
  6.   End on a positive note.

Your corporate culture serves as the foundation of your business. Changing this demands a great deal of time, care, and patience. When it is forced onto them, it can cause your employees to exhibit emotional responses to change.

Conclusion

Take these steps and implement them one by one. This allows your employees and leaders to develop the right mindset and slowly adopt the organization’s growth-oriented culture.

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How to Develop a Sales Training Program that Works

It’s the start of 2021, which means it’s the perfect time to implement changes in your company!  If you’re looking to ramp up your profits this year, now is your chance to start investing in your sales team.

How, exactly?

By developing a sales training program that will help drive new customers to your business, that’s how!

An effective sales training program improves your company’s sales performance in the long run. From lead generation to sales management, the program helps your SDR’s develop the skills they need to cover every step of the sales process.

Sure, you can give a few inspirational speeches here and there. However, motivational talks can only go so far when empowering your sales team. You must help improve your team’s skill set, which is what the program is for.

However, here lies the problem:

Even though businesses are spending more on training, most of them are not getting their money’s worth. Why? Because the training delivered wasn’t right for the team

You want to make the most of your sales training program. In this post, you will learn how to design and execute one that will help your team generate sales effectively for years to come.

Table of Contents

Align your sales training program with your business goals 

For any training program to be effective, it should support your company’s strategic objectives. After all, you’re not just in the business of developing people. You’re running a company with its own needs and priorities. 

One of the most important questions that you need to ask is this:

What should your sales team do in order to achieve your business goal?

Once you answer this question, it will be a lot easier for you to design a program focused on increasing revenue. 

Also, you need to have the right mindset to plan and execute a sales training program. If you want your sales team to improve, your program should be designed in anticipation of changes. It should not be viewed as a one-off event.

 Develop great instructional design

You need to make sure that your training program is relevant and practical for your sales team. Since sales reps are very busy people, you must make the learning experience simple enough for the information to stick. If your sales team can’t see the point of your training, they will only resort back to their old ways. 

One way you can ensure that your sales team takes full advantage of their sales training is by creating compelling content.

Feel free to get creative and use different formats and layouts to bring your content to life. Some people absorb information more effectively when listening to the material. Others prefer visual content, which is why infographics and presentations are much better for them.

Therefore, adapt your training materials based on their preferred content format to catch their attention.

Looking for sales training videos on YouTube that you can incorporate in your next program? Check out this playbook from Nutshell CRM.

Build your program on your industry’s best practices

You can’t build an effective training program without first understanding your industry’s best practices. So, find out what works and replicate that in your sales training program.  

Don’t just rely on your own knowledge but invite subject matter experts who have extensive experience in sales. Ask them to discuss important information that you think your sales team should know.

SMEs can also work with your content team to create content assets that would benefit your sales team. 

Focus on account-based marketing

If you’re a B2B company, make sure to include account-based marketing in this year’s sales training program. This strategic method shifts the focus away from a “one-size-fits-all” marketing approach to highly targeted leads.

By targeting relevant organizations and companies, your team will be able to close a deal faster! 

If you want your sales team to learn how to engage their prospects with a sales pitch, account-based marketing is definitely the way to go.

Reinforce your program

The training process doesn’t end when the last spokesperson has delivered his or her talk. You want your sales team to remember what they learned, so make sure to reinforce your sales training program. 

One way that you can help your sales team retain the information is by letting your in-house communication specialists create campaigns. Use different channels like social networking groups, posters, email drip campaigns, webinars to impart nuggets of wisdom from your training. The more the information is out there, the more likely it is that your sales team will apply what they learned. 

Conclusion

There’s no denying that a sales training program is key to the success of your team. It serves as the foundation to help you generate income for your business.

Therefore, how you communicate your training to your sales trainees is vital in achieving this goal. Hopefully, the tips above should help you get started with building a great training program for your team.

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Remote Employees or Freelancers: Which One Is Right for Your Company?

Improvements in both internet and tech have now made it possible for companies to hire freelancers and remote employees. Until recently, many assume that they are one and the same. But with the passing of AB5 in California, it’s clear that they’re not.

In case you haven’t heard, the new California law AB5 is taking effect on January 1st, 2020. It has several implications for California-based businesses and workers, but we can only assume that other big cities like New York and Washington could soon follow.

For those who need a quick summary of the new law, it’s been nothing short of divisive. 

Opposing opinions have mentioned the AB5 could either be the gateway for independent contractors to enjoy more benefits that were only awarded to full-time employees in the past – or it may only be an added burden to the businesses who rely on these independent workers, and a loss of said contractors’ sought-after freedom and flexibility.

Regardless, as a business owner, you may be affected by this law one way or another – and if not now, then possibly in the future.

In this post, we’ll walk you through the fine line that separates remote workers and freelancers, and then help you determine which might be the better option for your company.

Table of Contents

Distinguishing remote employees and freelancers

With a law like the California AB5 hovering over us, the distinction between remote employees and freelancers must be made clear.

Remote employees are considered employees of the company – the only thing that sets them apart is their location. Your company might be based in New York but have full-time remote staff in Los Angeles, Canada, or even as far as China. They enjoy all the benefits your company already has, including insurance perks, vacation leaves, and the like.

On the other hand, freelancers are completely independent of your company and instead render services in exchange for an agreed-upon rate. Freelancers typically work per project or by the hour. 

Usually, you and the freelancer agree upon project deliverables and timelines, and your working relationship with the freelancer ends if deliverables have been rendered in full and no upcoming work is expected.

Key factors to consider when deciding on either remote employees or freelancers

As you can see, there’s an apparent difference between remote workers and freelancers. And while you’re deciding which ones may work best to exponentially grow your company, we’ve outlined a few key factors you may want to consider when you’re weighing each option.

The location of your business

The location of your business might tell you if freelancers or remote workers work better for you.

For businesses based in cities with the highest job growth, you might be fine with hiring freelancers for projects. On the other hand, if the specific talent is a little hard to come by, you can consider taking on full-time remote workers with the specific skill set you’re looking for.

Where your virtual staff is based

Whether or not you want to work with remote workers or freelancers, you’ll need to know where they’re based and what that might mean for your business.

For example, hiring a remote worker in other parts of the world may mean being more sensitive to time zone differences. So you can’t expect instant replies about project updates if it were, say, midnight in your virtual employee’s time zone. 

Scope of work you’ll be assigned

Because you won’t be meeting your workers on the regular in an office, assigning different tasks and projects needs some advanced planning. First, evaluate the kind of work you want each member to be responsible for, determine how much work and effort the role requires, and then you can determine whether or not you ought to hire full-time remote employees or part-time freelancers.

Rulings and regulations

As mentioned before, the California AB5 is one of the laws that might affect your decision to either go with freelancers or remote workers.

Assuming you are affected by the AB5, because the law has stipulations that reclassify independent workers as employees assuming they meet certain criteria, you may be better off hiring a remote team instead of a team of freelancers.

How to build a virtual team

One thing in common if you’d work with remote employees and freelancers, however, is the fact that you’d be managing a virtual team. And handling a completely remote team means having some essential benchmarks, metrics, and steps for success. Here are 6 of our top tips.

Establish the right foundation

When you decide to implement a remote team model, your entire company has to revolve around it. This means everything from top to bottom in your plans must reflect this mode of working and is not just some way to entice talent to come work with you.

Determine your remote team model

Part of building a remote team geared towards the growth of your company means knowing the kinds of team models available to you.

(Image source)

In this first example, the independent model organized by flows and features has each person assigned to handle tasks in that workflow.

(Image source)

In this second example, the functional model organizes people in a more structured way, where one person reports directly to somebody else.

You can read more about growth team models and see which you’d like to implement in your own company here.

Create the description for each remote team member

It’s crucial to be very clear about the roles and responsibilities each member has in their team. When you’re planning out your company structure, outline the kinds of responsibilities you believe each person should have, so you know how to attract and then onboard the right candidate.

Conduct a video interview

Aside from their convenience and necessity when working with remote workers, video interviews have more benefits than you might first think. For one thing, they’re more cost-efficient – both with time and resources. And another, it’s a way to get to know somebody behind a portfolio or resumé.

And according to the Association of International Graduate Admissions Consultants (AIGAC) in a 2014 edition of its MBA applicant survey, many applicants feel that their skills and capabilities are better represented if they’d been interviewed via video. 

This is a good thing for companies looking to use more video calls in their hiring process – a candidate’s confidence in their interview can mean getting to know their qualities and skills in the best possible light.

(Image source)

Take them for a test run

It’s fine if you choose to give test assignments or probationary periods to see how well your new hires adapt and fit into the remote role. Be sure to have metrics in mind in order to measure their performance.

Instill a growth culture

A team with a growth culture should have a collaborative spirit and operate on a basis of trust. You’re all working towards one end goal that benefits the company – and, ergo, everyone in it.

Having a growth culture means being able to work on diverse platforms, cross-function, and to be good not just in one specific skill, but to learn how to incorporate marketing and sales, analytics, engineering, networking, and product management into your team. 

Tips to manage a virtual team

Once you have your virtual team, you’ll need to manage them to make the most of your time and resources. We have here 6 tips to help you become the best virtual team manager you can be.

Make sure your leaders are on board

Your leadership team needs to be on board with your decision to employ virtual workers, else you might clash heads, slow down progress on projects, or, worst, have resentment growing in the background.

If needed, train your leaders and managers to handle remote workers, and constantly remind them of the importance of hiring additional help.

Evaluate their performance

You can see how well your remote team is working if you’re able to determine whether their performance furthers the growth of your company. You’ll need to align with your HR department to evaluate these remote workers with fair criteria based on their responsibilities. 

Provide the right tools

A team is only as good as the way they can work together seamlessly, so employ different tools to help you communicate clearly, collaborate on work, and hit your milestones. Luckily, software developments have allowed people to work remotely, and almost without friction.

Consider also business tools that drive your company forward, such as a business website where, more often than not, domains are tied to different tools and software like email. On average, the cost of maintaining a business website can balloon at about $400 to $60,000 per year, so it’s best to factor this in when you’re budgeting for tools.

Have an onboarding process in place

Once candidates come in, make the onboarding process as seamless as possible. Use guides and handbooks that you can share virtually, create workflows and processes to explain how their tasks fit into the big picture goals of your company.

Set expectations early

Roles, responsibilities, and expectations ought to be made clear from the get-go – even as early as the interview process. Let workers know their deliverables, how often they should report back to their department heads, and how they might be able to ask for support when needed.

Communication is crucial

Remote teams are only as effective as the way they communicate. Have tools like Slack and Google Meet to reach out to others better. Google Suite also lets your team collaborate on projects seamlessly. Keep everyone in the loop with new developments, align with team members Constantly, and keep those communication lines open.

Key Takeaways

Hiring remote workers and freelancers at the end of the day requires the same effort and focus – the only difference lies in the way they’re integrated into your company. Keep in mind factors that may affect your decisions when building a remote team, then prepare to onboard and manage these remote workers accordingly.

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How to Transition Your Startup Team from In-House to Remote Working Amid Coronavirus Spread

The effects of the recent coronavirus outbreak across multiple countries and cities are more than apparent. Tech events – two of the most notable being Google I/O and Mobile World Congress – are getting cancelled, and many companies, including Lyft, Google, Box, and Microsoft, are encouraging remote working to avoid the disease. 

Other than asking employees to stay home, some companies are turning to hire remote workers, especially since popular roles like web developers are becoming the most in-demand remote positions. Many companies employ a combination of hiring remote or independent workers and in-house staff altogether.

And if you’re thinking of following suit to help curb worry and fear among your in-house employees, you need to be prepared. So here are ways you can transition your in-house employees to remote working, especially amid the coronavirus spread.

How to Transition Your Startup Team from In-House to Remote

Set clear objectives for going remote

It’s important to align everybody on why you want to do remote working, especially to avoid the global pandemic. Be clear about your objectives for doing so, so you can start setting expectations. For some startups, perhaps this can be a golden opportunity to experiment on remote working. Can you incentivize employees with more remote working days in the future if you all prove successful? 

Here are some guide questions to help you flesh out your remote working objectives:

  • What do you hope to accomplish by letting employees work remotely? You can cascade this answer to employees to show them you value their wellbeing while not having to resort to halting company operations altogether, as some companies in China have had to do.
  • What company goals are your team working on in the short-term? You may include making a successful transition from in-house to a remote part of this.
  • What specific skills and outcomes are you working towards by going remote? As mentioned before, do you hope to improve your company working style to be able to introduce more remote working days in the future?

Create updated company policies

Speak with your HR department and managers to update company policies accordingly. Specify whether your employees ought to observe the same working hours as before or whether or not you’re also accommodating flexible work hours. Also consider policies on filing for sick days, processing benefits and reimbursements, and other activities that you commonly take care of in-house.

Communicate always, especially at the beginning

For an in-house team that’s starting to work remotely for the first time, communication is crucial. Keep everybody updated on recent progressions within the company and emphasize the need for constant communication especially while remote. Needless to say, you also ought to communicate any changes in policies or team setup that comes as a response to the transition. As the head of your startup, you ought to model the transparency and open communication you expect from your employees in these troubling times.

Prepare remote hiring contingencies

Despite everyone’s best efforts to implement changes from the minute to the drastic to contain coronavirus spread, we can’t say for certain when the outbreak will come to a complete halt. Given this, it is best to be prepared for long-term remote work setups until the virus is contained. This includes streamlining your hiring and onboarding process while your HR team works remotely as well.

Here are some additional tips for remote hiring and onboarding:

  • Consolidate all onboarding documents and files and put them in shared workspaces for anyone to access from their personal computers.
  • Conduct video interviews using software like Zoom or Skype.
  • Have your managers set up team meetings to introduce new team members with one another without meeting in person?

Support employees’ transition and needs

For many employees, this might be their first time working remotely. To manage your personal expectations, and expect things to be bumpy at first. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t provide support in whatever way you can. Here are a few ways you can help individual employees make the switch:

  • Ensure they have their work computer or laptop set up in a convenient workspace.
  • Equip them with best productivity practices when their managers are absent.
  • Send links to tutorials for any new software or tools that you plan to use to support your remote working.
  • Consider making hours more flexible. This is especially for working parents whose young children might be stuck at home due to schools being closed as preventive measures. 

Equip your team with the right tools

Last but not least, the right tools can often help you make remote working as painless as possible. Here are a few tools you can use depending on the need:

For virtual meetings and communication

Software like Zoom and Skype have made it possible to conduct video conferencing within teams and companies. Messaging apps like Slack are also helpful for streamlining communication lines, file sharing, and keeping conversation threads organized. Also, consider having a company-wide shared Google Calendar to share availabilities for meetings, or use appointment scheduling apps like Calendly or Acuity to easily set appointments with specific people.

For project management

Track your projects’ progress using popular tools like Asana or Trello. They come equipped with multiple integrations that also make it easy to share files, monitor deadlines, and see any project bottlenecks at a glance. 

For productivity and time tracking

Tools like Zapier can help you automate certain tasks to keep your team productive while working remotely. And if you want to monitor individual members’ performance, at least if only in the beginning, time tracking tools like RescueTime and Timely can help you see where employees are spending most of their time. You can then provide additional assistance to anyone who might be struggling during the transition.

For security 

You’ll want to put up best data privacy practices when your entire team has to work remotely. When so many people are being forced to work from home with the new virus scare, this can make companies susceptible to malicious attacks by hackers who take advantage of insecure networks and vulnerabilities. 

One option for startups is to invest in virtual networks, but that can be costly. A good alternative is resorting to consumer-grade virtual private networks (VPNs), which use the same security protocols but are a fraction of the cost.

Protect your employees and your company amid growing public health concerns

This isn’t the first – nor last – time we can expect a global pandemic to hit our shores and affect our lifestyle. Fortunately, technology is making it easier for startups and companies to continue work operations while keeping employees safe from home. 

Consider this a long-term investment in your company: when you invest in your employees’ health and safety, they’ll reward you with loyalty and better engagement at their jobs. Use the tips above to help you successfully make the transition from in-house to remote, so you make sure your company stays afloat during these trying times.

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5 Steps to Finding a Great Accountability Partner

If you’re working on hitting some new goals this year, you might find it hard to stick to them. Life happens, things come up, and sometimes our personal goals end up on the backburner.

But one thing that can really help you stick to any big goals of yours this year? Getting an accountability partner.

Read on to see why accountability might be a good idea for you to stick to new resolutions and goals, how to find your own accountability partner, and how the two of you can make the most of your journey together.

Table of Contents

Outer accountability matters for our goals

First of all, let’s talk about why accountability matters – and why you, of all people, might really need it.

A best-selling human nature researcher and author, Gretchen Rubin, first talked about the Four Tendencies framework, which can tell you how well we respond to inner and outer “expectations.

In a nutshell, inner expectations are things like resolutions or new habits and goals we set for ourselves. And outer expectations are things like favors, work deadlines, and any expectation from others around us.

The Four Tendencies framework tells us our own Tendency – whether we’re Upholders, Questions, Obligers, or Rebels. For a quick summary, the framework is illustrated below.

(Image source)

According to Rubin, the most common Tendency is that of Obligers – who have great difficulty meeting any inner expectations for themselves. Because so many people belonging to this Tendency have a hard time sticking to better resolutions, habits, and goals, Rubin suggests the only true way they can stick to these is with outer accountability.

And indeed, most everyone can benefit from having outer accountability, Obliger or not. Because someone depends on you to meet your goals, it’s harder to fall off the wagon. 

You get the right kind of support that you might not get from other people, and it’s just nice to have somebody on the same journey with you.

Ready to get some real accountability? Then it’s time to find yourself an accountability partner.

Steps to find a great accountability partner

An accountability partner is someone dedicated to helping you stay on track with any new goals or resolutions you might have. It’s not enough to have just anyone be your accountability partner, though. Here are 5 steps that will help you find the best person to stay with you on your journey.

Determine what kind of accountability partner you want

Are you looking for an accountability partner for your fitness goals? Or perhaps reading goals?

Whatever it is, it’s more helpful to choose an accountability partner who has a similar goal as you. This way, you both can relate with one another and cheer each other on when times get tough.

Once you know what kind of accountability partner you’d like to have, it’s easier to narrow down your search.

Ask around in your local community.

Look around you. Do you know anyone in your neighborhood or community or interest groups who could be a great accountability partner?

Maybe you have a gym membership and can find a fellow cardio-hater to stay accountable for hitting that running goal you set yourself. Or maybe another mom at your kids’ school would love to join you in your goal to write and complete a book.

You might just be surprised who you find when you start asking.

Check on virtual communities, groups, and forums

If you can’t find anyone in your local community, try going virtual. Look at any forums and online groups for people who have similar passions or goals as you do and start a conversation for getting an accountability partner.

Check Facebook groups, Reddit threads, or look in the comments of your favorite niche bloggers. 

Join an accountability group

By joining in this kind of group, you had the further advantage of this relationship’s power by building accountability with many people at once. Every member of the accountability group holds each other members for following through on their commitments.

They are more persuasive than an accountability partner because any mistakes you made will cause you to lose face with several people instead of a single person. Also, with more people to answer, you will be more obliged to achieve your set goal. 

Avoid choosing a close friend or significant other

When choosing an accountability partner, one thing to note is avoiding a sweetheart, spouse, or close friend.

People who are incredibly close to us may not always be the best accountability partners because, according to Rubin’s personal explanation, expectations from people like spouses often feel like inner expectations that you can ignore.

This isn’t to say you can never ask a family member to be your accountability partner, however. You might have a sister-in-law or aunt who’s working towards the same goals, and you can ask them.

But if anyone feels too close to you and you doubt they’d keep you accountable, it’s best to choose somebody else.

How to succeed together as accountability partners

After finding an accountability partner, there are a few ways you can make the most of your time together. Here are some steps to help you succeed as accountability partners making huge progress on your individual goals.

Set goals you want to achieve and stay accountable to 

When communicating with your accountability partner, be specific about the goals you want to achieve together. You might both be looking to get into better, healthier habits like working out more.

Instead of keeping your goals vague – “read more,” “write more,” “run more” – set a realistic goal.

For example, both of you can commit to running at least three times per week. Try to frame your goal as a habit instead of a metric, i.e., “I want to run three times per week” versus “I want to lose 20lbs running,” so it’s easier to manage and stick to.

Send weekly (or even daily) updates

Decide with your accountability partner how often you want to update one another. Is sending a weekly message enough? Or perhaps you want to send a text and photo the minute you’ve accomplished what you set out to do?

Constant communication is key – you can stick to goals if you both stay committed to updating one another about how you’re doing.

Cheer each other on (but don’t be afraid to show some tough love)

Life happens. Things get in the way. They’re a part of life. You and your accountability partner should cheer each other on during rougher times, giving each other the motivation to stick to your goals until the end.

Don’t be afraid to sprinkle in some tough love too. Commit to one another that you’ll call each other out for your excuses.

Find out what’s working and what isn’t

Last but not least, as you go through your next few weeks or months as accountability partners, it’s important to see what is or isn’t working.

Maybe you find out you need daily accountability updates to stay committed to your goal. Or maybe you’d like to create a little reward system as an extra incentive for both of you.

Whichever the case, talk together to see what’s working in your journey together. Your partners are working towards a specific goal, after all, so supporting each other requires adjustments however you need.

Now get accountable

Finding an accountability partner doesn’t need to be complicated. Know what you want to work on, find someone on a similar path, and stick together. You’re both closer to your goals when you work towards them together

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4 Tell-Tale Signs Your Business Will Be Affected by AB5

California recently passed the Assembly Bill 5 (AB5) law, an employment law that changes current worker classification as independent contractors and employees. The much-debated AB5 law takes effect on January 1, 2020.

In a nutshell, the AB5 law provides key protection for independent contractors who formerly did not receive the same benefits as regular employees. 

Needless to say, this can have a huge effect on the way you do business with freelancers and other independent contractors.

Read on to find out more about the AB5 law, how it might affect your business, and what to do if it is.

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Events that led to the signing of the AB5 law

It’s undeniable that the nature of work has changed over the past few years. The gig economy is on the rise, and figures show that 15.8% of Americans participated in the gig economy workforce in 2015. That number has only grown exponentially.

The gig economy refers to the labor market typically characterized by short-term contract or freelance work. These gig-based jobs are made all the more available through technology-enabled work like ride-sharing apps and the like.

So things like Uber and Lyft employ gig economy workers, but this also applies to freelancers who render service in exchange for a fee.

Numbers show that 8.5% or nearly 2 million workers in California are signed as independent contractors – a much larger percentage than in the entire USA which only lands at 6.3%. 

Image source: UC Berkley Labor Center.

The AB5 legislation resulted from the recent Dynamex case, which concluded in the California Supreme Court siding with the independent contractors who worked for the courier company. 

After a series of hearings, the ruling found that Dynamex’s independent contractors should be considered employees, especially according to the ABC Test. (But more on that in the next few sections.)

What does it mean for small business owners? 

Plainly put, for any business, regardless of size, the new law means additional costs and hiring. 

The AB5 law in its current version obligates employers to pay a higher wage and overtime costs, while also mandating that said businesses are to contribute to unemployment and workers’ compensation insurance for independent contractors as well.

Companies operating in California that employ the services of independent contractors may also be faced with more frequent work, hour, and employment litigation. 

Signs your business will be affected by the AB5 law

Will your business be affected by the new AB 5 law? Here are a few things to check.

The ABC Test

The AB5 law will uphold the three-part ABC Test, a guideline that helps employers classify their workers as either employees or independent contractors.

According to the ABC Test, a worker is considered an independent contractor if the worker is proven by the employer or hiring entity to be:

  • Free from the control and direction of the company or hiring entity;
  • Performing work that is outside the company or hiring entity’s main business; and
  • Normally engaged in an independently established trade, occupation, or business of the same nature as the work performed for the company or hiring entity.

If the formerly independent contractors meet all three criteria for reclassification, they may now be entitled to the following benefits as employees:

  • A minimum wage
  • Workers’ compensation
  • Unemployment insurance
  • Expense reimbursement
  • Paid sick leave and paid family leave
  • Opportunity to join a union

Employers must also pay half of the employees’ Social Security tax after the bill takes effect in January 2020.

Setting up a business in California

For current small businesses already in operation, you may face additional hurdles due to the new law. 

The AB5 law might mean making major readjustments in your current business model to accommodate new workers or to adapt and find more cost-effective measures. 

It’s also necessary to figure out how your business will be paying for the reclassifications. While large companies might be able to ease into it, for a small business, it’s not so easy to suddenly have to give freelancers the same benefits as full-time employees. 

One possibility may include passing on the new cost to your customers, meaning increasing prices of your products and services, but this, of course, may not always work well. The only other alternative at the moment is absorbing the additional reclassification cost as a business expense, but this could be a hefty loss. 

You’ll need to be aware of the law and its implications especially if you’re planning to set up a new business or are making readjustments to your business model. 

Say before the passage of this new law, you had been planning to put up a Software as Service (SaaS) company – maybe because its relatively short-term cost savings, scalability, and resilient hosting service appealed to you, and you had a good idea on what kind of software to create and market.

If you were planning to hire independent contractors – and with SaaS businesses, especially, where you would normally hire independent contractors for developing the software, doing customer service, doing sales, etc – to help you put up and run your business (and you’re based in California), you’d want to pay attention to the stipulations of the AB 5 law to see if your workers are classified as employees or not.

Hiring freelancers in California

Over the years, more and more businesses and companies preferred hiring freelancers, mainly for a host of benefits for both parties. We can probably pin this rising trend to how fast technology has advanced over the past couple of decades. 

For example, these days, it’s not uncommon for people to do frequent video conference calls with freelancers halfway across the world or to use what’s called cloud phone systems, which have allowed companies to hire freelance customer support agents and virtual assistants.  

Recalling our previous example about the SaaS company in California, say you wanted to hire a freelance web developer in your area to create the website where you’d sell your software idea. 

In this case, you’d prefer the developer to be an independent contractor instead of a full-time employee. After all, after they’ve set up your site, most of the work you may require from them involves minimal maintenance – or work that takes only a few hours a month.

Once the AB5 law is enacted in January, you’d need to ensure that this independent web developer is working on tasks that aren’t central to your business, lest they be considered regular employees. 

If most of the work is central to your business, you’d need to reclassify them accordingly. 

You can always, of course, consider outsourcing administrative tasks like managing and publishing on your company’s social media page, or tasks that don’t cover your business’s line of expertise, such as bookkeeping if you’re not an accounting firm.

Exemptions to the rule

While it seems like the new legislation covers absolutely every kind of independent contractor out there, it doesn’t affect professions in various industries that are still considered independent contractors according to the ABC test. 

These include doctors, insurance agents, stockbrokers, real estate and travel agents, lawyers, graphic designers, freelance writers, and several other professions

Notably, ridesharing and delivery companies like Uber, Lyft, and DoorDash insist they’re not covered by the new AB5 law. 

You’re covered. Now what?

So your business is based in California or you’re working with independent workers in the state.

First thing you can do? Lawyer up. If you think your business might be affected by AB5, get an employment law attorney to examine the classification of your current workers. 

While the AB5 will affect all companies that rely on independent contractors solely in California, we know from previous experience that whenever a new law is passed in California, other big city-states like New York and Washington may just be one step behind.

AB5 also means additional business costs and a potential adjustment to your business model. However, failure to comply with AB5 has significant legal ramifications as well. 

Your business could be fined, penalized, or face litigation. That’s why it’s best to be guided by a skilled lawyer along the way. 

Conclusion 

The AB5 will be implemented by January 2020, and its supporters are looking forward to receiving the benefits that the new law promises. However, many employers and workers are still in the dark about how the AB5 will affect them. But for now, the AB5 means added costs to businesses and potentially the loss of the much-desired flexibility for contract workers. While the future is unclear for independent work in California, it doesn’t hurt to be prepared and stay one step ahead of the law.

Categories
Remote Work

8 Tips for Managing High Performing Remote Team

Remote work isn’t anything new. We’ve long seen the advent of completely or partially remote teams, with several companies implementing work from home days once or twice a week or companies operating beyond the four walls of an office altogether.

And let’s not ignore how the current COVID-19 pandemic is only speeding up the need to be able to work remotely. Even after this global pandemic reaches a manageable point for countries and towns to lift local quarantine measures, we’re likely to see several businesses try to make the switch permanently.

Whether you’re working remotely to adapt to current events or are planning to run a team remotely in the long-term, there are ways you can ensure your team runs like the well-oiled machine it ought to be.

In this post, we’ll take you through some statistics that show the future is remote, the benefits of building a remote team, and finally, how to manage a high-performing remote team from scratch.

Remote work statistics

In their 2019 State of Remote Work report, Owl Labs surveyed 1,202 United States employees and found the following:

  • 62% of workers were able to work remotely even once a week, while 38% worked on-site full-time.
  • 42% of remote workers intend to increase their remote workdays in the future.
  • Of the 62% total remote workers who took part in the survey, nearly half (49%) say they work remotely full-time. Only 17% say they work remotely once a week, 13% less than once a month, 11% at least three times per week, and 10% at least once per month. (See graph below.)

Source: Owl Labs

These findings show us that remote work isn’t the future but is already the present. Are there findings that show the benefit of remote working for a business? Unsurprisingly, the data says yes.

Reasons to build a remote team

Here are the reasons you ought to invest in a remote team, as shown by surveys and research.

Lower overhead costs

According to Global Workplace Analytics, “Based on conservative assumptions, we estimate a typical employer can save an average of $11,000 per half-time telecommuter per year.” This estimate is based on savings a company can enjoy because of increased productivity, fewer absences and tardiness, lower turnover rates, and less cost on office rent.

Increased productivity

Like this one from Hubstaff, many reports have shown employees feel they are more productive when they can work remotely. Atlassian found an interesting preference among employees as well, saying 76% of employees prefer to avoid being in their office when they need to concentrate on a project at hand.

Increases job satisfaction

Employees thrive in environments where they feel valued, heard, and trusted. Remote work often encompasses these needs, and employees themselves are aware of this. 

In Owl Lab’s report, 83% of respondents say the ability to work remotely would make them happier, 82% would feel more trusted at work, 81% would recommend their company to a friend, and 80% agree that being able to work remotely shows that an employer cares.

Adds value in the eyes of labor market candidates

In Gallup’s 2017 State of the American Workforce report, they found that flexibility – including the ability to work from home – was one of the most highly-valued perks for millennial job-seekers, beating even student loan or tuition reimbursement.

Softchoice published a similar finding that showed that 74% of employees would consider switching companies if it meant they could work remotely, even if no pay increase came with the job.

How to manage a high-performing remote team

Convinced that remote work should be the norm for your team? Follow these 8 essential tips to make sure you manage a high-performing remote team right from the get-go.

Have a “remote foundation” from every stage

A remote foundation means embracing remote work from recruitment, hiring, and onboarding. With improvements in technology and communication, you can assess, interview, and even test job candidates without ever having them in the same room.

One benefit of embracing a remote foundation is also giving job candidates a taste of working remotely with your company, and especially if they’ve never worked remotely in the past. Yet another reason to establish a remote foundation is, so you already set up your remote team to scale your business right away. 

Of course, depending on the nature of your company, some jobs, especially in-person customer-facing jobs, might not be able to work remotely, so think ahead to make sure you know exactly which positions you’ll be offering this perk.

Choose your remote team model

A remote team model is an important tool for you to see where you need to fill in gaps and help you achieve your company goals faster. Below are examples of team models you can base your team set up on.

Source

In the Independent Growth Team Model, employees work autonomously. Using this model lets you organize your team either according to metrics or workflows. 

Source

Meanwhile, with the Functional Growth Team Model, every team member reports directly to a function head. Using this model allows your team to have more structure, support, and direction to drive your business forward. 

 

Check-in individually with employees

First time for your team to go remote? Just recently hired a new addition to the remote team? Either way, it’s important to check in with employees individually to see if and where they need any support.

Get a feel of how employees are doing and feeling with their deliverables and responsibilities as early as possible. This way, you can see where you can optimize your processes or improve workflows. 

If this is the first time your team is going remote, expect a few bumps on the road. But if you maintain open communication with employees to see what isn’t working so well, it gets easier to iron out the creases. 

Invest in the right tools

The right tools can only help your team meet their goals and perform better together without ever being in the same room. We recommend investing in a few tools for a high-performing remote team, depending on the use case.

Video conferencing

Video conferencing is vital for effectively managing your remote team.

For starters, up to 97% of communication is nonverbal. Facial expressions, hand and head gestures, and body posture are just a few examples of nonverbal communication.

They also serve as cues to let you know whether your remote team understands what you’re explaining. At the same time, they give you further context regarding what your remote team members are actually trying to say.

Moreover, video conferencing tools like Lifesize give you additional features like screen sharing and a virtual whiteboard. These features can further help you explain your points and ideas to your remote team to ensure that everyone’s on the same page.

Project management

Project management tools can ensure your team stays on track with different tasks and goals for each project. After ironing out your entire project management plan, you can plot out sub-tasks and milestones your team needs to get done.

Crowd-favorite project management software includes Trello or Asana, known for letting teams see work progress at a glance while also being able to assign specific persons to tasks, manage deadlines, and comment on tasks and items in real-time.

File sharing and collaboration

In a remote setup, it might be difficult for employees to share files. Instead of relying on email attachments back and forth, consider investing in cloud storage that will streamline the process of file sharing. 

G Suite even lets teams collaborate on documents and spreadsheets in real-time, making it a popular choice among remote workers.

Prepare onboarding documents and processes

According to Novel Coworking, “Today, teams don’t always have to onboard new hires using lengthy seminars. Over time, you’ll see that you can create a quick and painless onboarding process for your entire remote team, so that new hires not only feel welcome but also know how to proceed from their first day onwards.”

One best practice for this is to partner your new hire with a senior team member

Through this virtual buddy system, your new hires know who to turn to when they have any questions. At the same time, this gives your new hires the chance to make a new friend and feel more comfortable working with you.

Set expectations early

Be sure to iron out exactly what you expect from employees while you work remotely. This doesn’t necessarily mean expectations like being online all simultaneously (more on that in the next section). 

Instead, here are a few guide questions that might help you identify which expectations to set and communicate as soon as possible:

  • What benefits do remote employees get from your company, and how may they use these benefits?
  • How can employees effectively file their sick leaves and vacation days while remote?
  • How often do you intend to meet, i.e., in person or virtually?

Aim to be “asynchronous” 

Many remote work setups currently mirror what life is like at the office – which, according to this article, is redundant and can be incredibly counterproductive.

To truly manage and run a high-performing remote team, it’s important to aim for what’s called asynchronous communication. As the name might suggest, this means teams can properly delegate tasks, monitor progress, and collaborate on projects without the need to be online all at once.

This is often where remote companies with employees across multiple time zones and countries thrive – they’ve mastered the art of communicating effectively and clearly, “passing the baton,” and giving their employees much-needed time to think and process new information and requests in the way that works for them.

To master asynchronous communication, here are some tips:

  • Only schedule meetings or make phone calls when necessary, i.e., when something is urgent.
  • Allow employees (and yourself) to respond to emails and messages whenever they have to.
  • Always be clear in what you need from somebody, and encourage this communication type among employees themselves. Provide as many details as needed for employees to understand the context and what you expect from them.
  • Always communicate deadlines and due dates.

Schedule regular face time as a team

Last but not least, keep team morale high by having regular virtual coffee chats and team check-ins. This doesn’t have to be mandatory – but often, by making this an optional activity, like a real-life coffee break in an office pantry, many employees will come together of their own free will.

You can have your team take the reigns when they want to schedule face time together, or your company can organize virtual team-building exercises that keep everyone connected.

Build and scale your remote team with ease

Are you ready to take on the present and future that is remote work? With the right tools and habits, you can easily manage a high-performing remote team from your home office. Be sure to keep these tips handy to make sure you’re doing the best you can to keep your team productive, your goals met, and your company growing.