Last year’s outbreak of COVID-19 made a very profound impact on the contemporary business landscape. One of the most significant transitions we have seen was the rise of virtual teams and the massive switch to work from home.
How big of a portion? According to a recent survey, 80% of company leaders plan to allow employees to work remotely, while 47% will enable employees to work from home full-time. This can be best described as tectonic changes.
Of course, all significant overhauls that envelop this scale must include various challenges, obstacles, and adversities. In this article, we will cover some of the most notorious problems and try to find practical solutions for dealing with them.
When they are at the workplace, employees are working with an infrastructure that’s already been laid out and can get support from other departments. Moving workers out of this controlled environment to their homes leaves them with their own resources. Lack of necessary tools, varying software versions, and different software platforms are only some of the problems that undermine effective collaboration and productivity. One of the most straightforward workarounds for this obstacle can be found in platform-agnostic cloud tools, where updates are passed to all end users simultaneously. Most of these platforms usually feature built-in collaborative tools, making them even more suitable for virtual teams.
In a physical workplace, communication develops very spontaneously, and answers can be found through chatter and brainstorming as much as established communication hierarchy. In the virtual environment, however, a lack of clear and transparent hierarchy often creates clutter where critical information is often indiscernible from jabber. In order to avoid this problem, you need to establish firm rules about what needs to be reported to whom, when, and through what channels. This way, your workers will always know where to get relevant info without unnecessary delays and idling. In turn, all of your processes will be sped up and run more efficiently.
Poor worker engagement
These are two factors that take the hardest hit by relocating workers from offices to their homes. Without any motivational tools and supervision of their superiors, your employees can slip into idling and start losing productivity. This is an issue that needs to be cut in its roots. Fortunately enough, the gravity of this problem gave birth to tools for employee engagement explicitly designed to address problems related to virtual teams like check-ins, notices, scheduling, rosters, administration, and onboarding. Most essential processes are kept under one integrated umbrella and employee voices are allowed to be heard. Both these factors have a very positive impact on morale.
Response time and accountability
The problem of accountability is not related exclusively to virtual teams and remote working. But some mistakes are easier to trace in the digital environment, and unread emails, unopened messages, and other invisible walls make coming to the bottom of the problem even harder. Although this issue can’t ever be rooted out, you can, at least, do your best to cut down the response times as much as possible. Enforce the rules where priority emails will need to be responded to without any delays. Also, you can set up separate communication channels only for problems of this sort.
Lack of trust in leadership
In normal circumstances, inspired leadership keeps the workforce high-spirited, motivated, and on track with current obligations. Translating this sort of leadership into a virtual environment is very hard even if management and staff have a personal or professional history, as in numerous contemporary startups. Since you will undoubtedly lack this inspiring personal touch, you should try to bind the workers closer to the goals of your company, perform internal marketing actions that will promote your mission statement among the staff, and motivate workers to take action in building the company future by incentives and chances for promotion.
Of course, failing motivation is not only the result of absent leadership. Remote working simply doesn’t provide a sufficiently stimulating environment to help your employees reach their maximum potential. That is why you need to find another way to keep them stimulated. Do your best then to provide them with to-do lists for every new workday or at least ask them to submit their own. Short, specific, and feasible goals will help your employees plow through their obligations much faster. Offering small incentives like, for instance, leaving the workplace earlier if the tasks are finished will undoubtedly give them an additional reason to stop procrastinating and tackle their obligations head-on.
Absence of support
Last but not least, we have to mention the lack of support employees get when they are working from home. In the previous section, we have noted that most of the software issues can be prevented by adopting the Cloud technology where maintenance and updates are the responsibility of the service provider. Even so, you should do your best to build a comprehensive knowledge base where your staff will be able to find all the answers regarding technical issues and procedures without having to lose time by referring to higher-ups.
We hope these few examples gave you some general idea about the challenges startups are facing while building virtual teams and transitioning to a remote working model. Although telecommuting got a great boost with the outbreak of COVID-19, this model gained traction much earlier and will not stop developing even after the outbreak is over. With things as they are, the best we can do is to join the early adopters and make the transition as painless as possible.
6 Ways to Survive Business Seasonality without Going Broke
Although we usually tend to associate seasonal spikes and off-season times with tourism and seasonal business, in some cases, companies can operate without any revenue for months in a row, we can hardly narrow this problem to one specific industry.
For instance, some of the biggest companies in the world like Amazon, make 30% or more of their annual profits during the winter holiday season. So, the problem of seasonal slowdowns is real, present and it hits all industries without prejudice.
With that in mind, let us see what we can do to overcome this obstacle and survive business seasonality without going broke.
Diversify the product portfolio
No matter what we do, we can’t change the fact that holiday and vacation seasons are the periods when people spend most and where, depending on the industry in question, a large portion of your revenue will come from. What you can do, however, to mitigate this problem is to expand and diversify the portfolio of your products to offer the customers something interesting during the slower periods in-between. Also, you can use smaller holidays like Veterans Day and Father’s Day to roll out enticing discounts and create revenue pockets that will be smaller but far more frequent.
Put a fresh spin on the marketing strategy
This strategy can be especially effective in the tourism industry. For instance, if you are marketing your place of operation as a summer retreat covered in hot beaches and fresh cocktails, you can’t expect to see much cash as soon as autumn settles in. So, why wouldn’t you put more focus on the local customs, history of the place, cultural events, autumn fests, nearby landmarks, and, why not, even kick-start some small but alluring local event? This small focus shift can open you the doors to yet untapped customer pools (in this case, families with kids) and keep your business profitable for a good part of the year.
Keep an eye on the cash flow and debts
In other words, you have to have a plan B for the scenario when your revenue will not be able to cover the expenses throughout the year. In this scenario, your priority should be to be able to repay debts and gear up for the next season. So, set up the contingencies as soon as possible so you won’t have to make any sudden and ill-advised moves when the troubles finally start kicking in. One of the most popular options you have on the table is fast debtor finance that, in some cases, allows you to repay 85% of your invoices within 24 hours allowing companies in need some much-needed off-season flexibility.
Do your best to manage off-season expenses
The measure we have listed above will enable us to get a quick financial injection and keep the cash flow alive in the worst-case scenario. Of course, this shouldn’t be your only and long-term strategy. Ideally, you should put more effort into understanding and managing your expenses during the slower periods of years. For instance, moving on to cloud-based services and outsourcing some non-critical business activities will allow you to scale down off-season if you notice the expenses are going out of hand. Renting unused assets is another way to make some money while cutting maintenance costs.
Make an expansion to the ecommerce sector
This move will incentivize your customers to spend more money offseason by offering them an option to purchase without leaving the home. Still, as enticing as this proposition is, you should do your best to kick-start your online store with annual subscription discounts, referral programs, calls to action, and other popular strategies aimed at temporarily boosting sales. What’s great about this entire expansion is that with well-thought-out and implemented marketing you can create a pool of customers that weren’t interested in your products or services prior to ecommerce expansion.
Establish secondary income flows
Last but not least, we would like to remind you that sometimes the best way to establish a seamless cash flow for your seasonal business is to seek it outside your native industry. Granted, you don’t have to go all-in and try to rebuild your business from the grounds up in some more consistent but even something as simple as starting a blog, opening up a gift shop, offering the logistics and transport services to other small businesses can help you not only stay afloat but also soar up and branch out in some completely unexpected directions. There is really no bad way to earn more.
We hope these few mentions will help you to keep your seasonal business (or any business in general) profitable during the slower parts of the year or even come up with some ideas of your own. Every problem looks difficult until you actually start working on the solution. Seasonal businesses are no different and now you know where to start.
How Can Your Business Benefit From The Services of a Recruitment Agency
Recruiting new talent within a business organization can be expensive and time-consuming. It wouldn’t be wrong to state that new employees’ recruitment rarely offers a guarantee while the process uses up significant company resources. Employees are a crucial asset for any business. If you are a business owner, your employees serve as the driving force for pushing your business forward while boosting sales revenue. With that said, the HR department of any business might be stuck with the tricky task of ensuring that they hire the right kind of well-suited individuals for the job and can become a proactive part of the business culture.
Typically, businesses compete with one another to get the most skilled and experienced staff on board. Employers require the support of specialists who excel in hiring strategies while identifying talent and negotiating terms. This is where businesses find recruitment agencies most useful as these (recruitment agencies) relieve enormous pressure while helping businesses to find the right people for moving forward. Read on to learn more about how your business can benefit from the services of a top recruitment agency.
Identifying Top Talent
The greatest benefit of recruitment agencies is that they assist both parties: the employers who are on the search-out for talent and the professionals looking for the best career options to utilize their capabilities. Both parties are perfectly placed within the recruitment agency, which operates as an intermediary between both mentioned parties. The consultants working at the agency are well-familiar with how to prevent bad hiring and know how to identify valuable candidates for the required positions.
After you, as a business owner, create a vacancy and establish the task criteria, the recruitment agencies initiate finding suitable candidates to fill those vacancies. The recruitment agencies have ample knowledge of people’s salary expectations and use their strong networks to identify those individuals. The extensive knowledge of recruitment agencies about the job market’s separate segments proves a great benefit to hiring organizations.
Effective Advertisement of Vacancies
Sometimes when business employers advertise roles, they fail to get applications that meet the required caliber. Often, such an incident occurs due to a bad advertising strategy. Another benefit of getting a recruitment agency’s services is that it won’t merely advertise the vacancy for your company. Still, it will also actively seek professionals that are the perfect fit for the job description. Often, recruitment agencies establish and maintain direct contact with professional candidates they know well from the past. Thus, the recruitment agency directly seeks out professionals and invites them to apply for the role.
Interviewing Candidates & Negotiating Salaries
As mentioned before, the hiring process of talent is time-consuming and costly. And as an employer, the last thing you want to do is finding out that you and the potential candidates are poles apart on job benefits and salary. A recruitment agency can help you in effective salary negotiations while providing you with valuable assets. Many top recruitment agencies take up the cudgels of placing skilled candidates and settling salaries on your (the company’s) behalf. By meeting a middle point on behalf of both parties (employer and the candidate), a recruitment agency proposes an acceptable salary package, providing a realistic prospect of having the deal sealed.
Also, by interviewing on behalf of the employer, recruitment agencies save valuable time and money. The initial step of candidate-screening usually takes place over the phone. Subsequently, the list of potential candidates is narrowed while the skilled talent is shortlisted while unsuitable matches are eliminated from the hiring process. The recruitment agencies also conduct background checking so that your organizations’ HR department doesn’t have to do that.
How a Bad Website’s UX Can Affect Your Business
Web designers often emphasize the importance of a well-functioning website. In today’s world, a business website is a powerful tool and is often a vital component of a successful business venture.
According to UX statistics, just one second of slow loading can lead to a 27% drop in sales. Despite this, web design and UX is often overlooked by business owners.
So how can a poor website’s UX affect your business? Let’s see.
Effects of Poor User Experience
Website abandonment is a term used to describe a visitor leaving a website before completing the desired action. According to statistics, 52% of users list bad UX as a reason why they wouldn’t consider engaging with a company again. This could be due to poor design, slow page load time, or any other factor that drives away a website visitor prematurely. Poor UX is one of the easiest ways to increase website abandonment and reduce sales rates.
Bad UX Affects Your Brand Image
Bad user experience does a lot more damage than one might think. It can significantly affect how your brand is perceived. It’s a representation of your brand, and while your website design doesn’t always reflect your business’s core values, it sends a message to consumers. Think of your website as something that has to leave a good impression. And you know what they say, you never get the second chance to make a good first impression.
Search Engine Visibility
Google is the world’s number one search engine. It’s important to note that it favors websites with good UX. What does that mean for your businesses? If Google doesn’t like your website, it can’t rank high in SERPs, which means that fewer people will see your website. That further leads to fewer customers. To Google, an excellent UX is equally significant as the content quality. Google strives to ensure that users have the best UX available and issues such as performance, mobile-friendliness, or page speed, factor in search engine rankings, making the improvement of a website’s UX a primary requirement.
What Do the Stats Say?
1. According to statistics, companies lose $62 billion annually due to bad UX ($2 billion due to slow page load time alone);
2. 13% of users will tell 15 other people about their negative experience;
3. UX optimization increases revenue by as much as 37%;
4. Around 94% of website users will make a judgment based on the website’s responsiveness within a short time span.
5. 61% of customers will go to another site (most likely to your competitor’s site) if they can’t find what they are looking for right away.
UX optimization is a crucial part of online businesses that is often overlooked. Some business owners believe it’s not important or worth the time, money, and effort to ensure that a website is fully functional. However, research and statistics prove that addressing the issue of functionality and design can help you attract more customers and boost your chances of success. Investing in a website’s UX is one of the smartest things any entrepreneur can do.
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