As the pandemic has forced companies to embrace new ways of working, many bosses are considering incorporating remote operations into their long-term business plans. If you’re interested in starting and running a franchise from home, or if you’re exploring how to transition to home-based work, this guide can help you refine your approach.
Running a franchise from home has huge benefits, from flexibility to avoiding the commute. According to research, 76 percent of workers want to continue working from home for at least half of the week as we emerge from the pandemic (Global Workplace Analytics).
But if you’ve been in an organisational no-man’s-land since last March, the prospect of long-term remote working might be daunting - even if you enjoy the perks. In order to move from simply ‘working remotely’ to creating effective workspaces in our homes, it’s vital we establish proven strategies and a solid routine.
How to run a franchise from home
Here are the 14 remote working tips you need to master when running a franchise from home in the long-term.
1. Streamline your tech solutions
By now, we’re probably all familiar with the various communication tools; Zoom, Skype, Teams, Slack… the list goes on. But a surprising number of companies haven’t introduced a refined strategy when it comes to using them. In order to avoid overcomplicating work for you, your partners and your employees, use as few software packages as possible and make it clear when you’ll use them.
2. Schedule purposeful conversations
It’s not uncommon for daily team ‘catch-up calls’ to become tired, repetitive and unproductive. Avoid ‘Zoom fatigue’, by reserving meetings for legitimate reasons - and if you’d like to make regular calls to maintain communication, try raising a daily problem, puzzle or idea to discuss.
3. Make a point of collaborating
If you’re not in an office, you miss out on spontaneous meetings, spur-of-the-moment discussions and other chances to socialise. When you’re running a franchise from home, you have to actively create these collaboration opportunities, so don’t be afraid to arrange brainstorming sessions or other gatherings by email or text.
4. Consider franchisee or employee grants
As an employer, it’s important you acknowledge the differing work set-ups among your business partners or staff members. Some may not have the appropriate furniture or equipment, so offering a small grant could help them improve their home offices and, ultimately, their productivity.
You could also consider offering memberships to nearby co-working spaces or money to spend on outings to local cafes for a change of environment.
5. Create separate work and relaxation zones
If you don’t have a home office - or your partner or children are using it - separating work from rest is easier said than done. But even tiny changes can help adjust your mindset when it comes to sitting down for a day’s work.
Could you set up a small desk in the corner of your bedroom or living room, for example? Or could you pack away all your equipment when you sign off?
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6. Have a separate work number
Another way to draw a line between work and play is to set up a professional phone line. You don’t necessarily need to buy a second phone or SIM card; just use a free online service like Skype or Google Voice.
7. Get out and about
Natural light and fresh air can do wonders not only for our productivity but our mental health too. We all know how difficult it is to find time to venture outside on a work day, but incorporating a daily walk into your regular routine can help you achieve your goal.
If we are going to normalise working from home, we are also going to have to normalise new ways of collaborating and communicating with our business partners, team members, and so on. This means being clear about each individual's work expectations and remote communication habits that will make them the most successful. - Heidi Zak, ThirdLove CEO
8. Stick to your hours
Running a franchise from home allows for flexible working, but it can also lead people to work on beyond their usual finishing time. Try using free online software to block your access to unproductive sites during your working hours. And remember to log off early if you schedule ‘out-of-hours’ calls with colleagues in other timezones.
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9. Prioritise your mental health
The pandemic has had a devastating impact on mental health across the world, so be mindful of your own outlook and the challenges your partners or employees may be facing. It’s dangerously easy to miss the signs of people struggling, so consider the implications of every business decision you make, and put wellbeing at the top of your priority list.
Start by making sure everyone is taking breaks and developing personal relationships within the business.
10. Collect data
Gathering information on how your business and its workers are performing will help you make the right decisions as you develop your remote working system. Aim to understand any operational sticking points and employee wellbeing issues, as well as engagement levels and working preferences.
You may also find it useful to collect direct feedback from your team if you want to further improve your approach.
11. Create a contract
Up until now, many businesses have been playing it by ear as they implement remote working systems, but it’s a good idea to write up an official contract for your workers. Introducing a binding agreement will help you lay out people’s responsibilities and benefits, and should reduce the likelihood of disputes further down the line.
Cover everything from expected working hours and flexibility to use of company equipment and any financial grants available.
12. Don’t forget professional development
It’s easy to defer training and support opportunities when running a franchise from home, but it’s vital you find ways to deliver them effectively if you’re to grow your business. You could outsource your additional training courses to online learning providers and introduce monthly one-to-one catch-up sessions with employees, for example.
13. Be friendly
Judging others’ emotions becomes a lot more difficult when communication moves online. A short email can come off as blunt, flippant or even passive aggressive if you don’t clearly indicate your stance with considered language and punctuation. You may want to think about using exclamation marks, smiley faces and humour to let people know you’re happy with their work.
14. Enjoy the perks
You’re probably using up a lot of energy trying to maintain high levels of productivity and professionalism, but don’t forget to take advantage of the many benefits of remote working.
There’s little point running a franchise from home if you just replicate an office in your house. So, embrace the opportunities to play with pets in your breaks, bake treats during the day and roll out of bed at 8:50 from time to time.
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Alice Tuffery, Point Franchise ©