Top five tips for running a virtual business
As I write, the UK is currently still on lockdown due to the ongoing COVID-19 crisis but there’s much speculation in the press that our Government is set to announce a gradual easing of measures at the end of this week. That’s great news but what this uncertain period has shown many businesses is that we can work in different ways and working virtually with team members at home can be just as productive, if not more so.
My business, Claritum, provides an e-procurement solution ‘Source to Pay’ which enables employees, procurement experts and suppliers to collaborate efficiently to maximise savings opportunities. Like all businesses, we’ve had to move quickly when the crisis hit to protect our staff, remodel aspects of our business and adapt whilst still delivering the same service level to our customers. It’s been challenging to say the least but with challenge comes opportunity.
Even with a potential gradual lifting of lockdown measures, it’s clear that the we won’t be rushing back to our offices to work as we once did for quite some time. Here’s a summary of what I’ve learnt about running a business virtually during the lockdown period:
- Communicate, communicate, communicate. Communicate with customers and your teams and use video as much as possible, and at least once a day with your team. People might not like video at first, but they will soon get used to it.
- Team wide coffee machine meeting video calls three times a week, it keeps people connected and talking. No purpose for the call, just a catch up as happens when fetching yourself a coffee.
- Have virtual management meetings even if you don’t normally have meetings. Use a scorecard so everyone knows and remains accountable and can see what everyone else is doing with running the business. A scorecard with job responsibility down one side with days and weeks across the top, projecting out several months. Populate the scorecard with what people should be doing. I get my team to put their own tasks in and then it is easy to track progress and it makes virtual management easy and collectively. Sales reporting progress and forecasts, development teams doing the same for example and have a column for problems and other aspects where everyone is responsible across the business.
- Use technology such a Slack messenger tool, it is great for asking a question or asking for something to be done, a quick update on something, where a phone call is not needed and you can come back to it when you are ready as it remains like a to-do list. Such a simple questions, I need to buy xx for example, far easier than phoning.
- Presentations and documents need to be in far more detail than normal for your Board and for customer presentations. Things that are easy to ask in a meeting often don’t get asked in a virtual meeting.
Claritum are members of the SETsquared Scale-Up Programme. If you’re currently scaling your business and are looking for support to raise investment for your R&D – our Scale-Up Programme could hold the key to unlocking your next phase of growth.
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