Business owners and entrepreneurs work tirelessly everyday to do what is required to make their business successful. With the effects of COVID-19 taking a toll on businesses in every industry, business owners are now tasked with the responsibility of running their company completely online.

For some, this transition came easily. But for others, with little time to strategically plan how to run a virtual company, it has proven to be more difficult. With so many obstacles that working remotely presents, it’s hard to navigate. To help others smoothly make this transition, we sat down with 12 business professionals to get their tips on how to successfully run a company in this remote environment.

Hold Regular Video Meetings

To help make remote work effective, business leaders need to know how to utilize remote employees correctly. For me, I like to have video meetings every week with our remote employees. I’ve found that it is very important to screen prospective job candidates and only hire people that are comfortable getting on camera. This way, you have employees who can look you in the eye, build trust, and strategize in a scrum-like environment.

Brian Greenberg, True Blue Life Insurance

Common Place for Team Projects

Make sure there is a common place, whether it be a spreadsheet or online service like Asana, to keep track of what tasks or projects your team is working on at any given time. This online schedule will help you organize tasks and plan for the future in a way that does not disrupt the workflow. This also helps with time management and data tracking because there is a trail of evidence for all the work you and your team do.

Court Will, Will & Will

Lock the Door Before Meetings

In my business, I do quite a bit of video time with potential and past students of our Scaled Agile courses, training the SAFe certification courses and facilitating roundtables and live webinars.  Therefore, I need complete privacy and silence. I have two big rules for my remote environment.  One: I always lock the door before a meeting or a class so no interruptions and two, I always use a virtual background so that my audience is not distracted by what is going on behind me.

Debra Hildebrand, LurnAgile

Maintain a Sense of Meeting Routine

Maintain a sense of routine by holding meetings at the same times you would have held them in the office, whether they be intermittent throughout the day or a team meeting in the morning. This will help your employees keep to as familiar a work environment as possible because they can anticipate the usual. Use these meetings as an opportunity to ask for their input as to how to best conduct their work in a remote setting. If there are changes that need to be made, your team will be the ones with the best solutions.

Jon Schneider, Recruiterie

Check-In On Your Employees

This has been a year of change for many people. When running a completely remote company, it is important that managers go the extra mile to ensure that their employees are in a good mental state at least on a monthly basis. When working from home, it can be difficult to leave your personal problems at the metaphorical door, so create a time and space that you can check-in with employees and make sure they are not feeling overwhelmed, stressed, or burnt out in any way. The happier your employees are, the more productive and efficient they will be!

Nikitha Lokareddy, Markitors

Continue to Invest in the Company as a Whole

You have to put time and money into both operations and culture at the same time. Many companies want to believe that remote work is just like office work, but without being intentional about events and systems that protect and enhance the culture of the remote workplace, your employees will splinter off and the company will become highly siloed. Invest in communication tools, online events, awards and recognition, and informal conversational time. These tools build community among your employees and keep individuals connected to the larger team.

Rob Bellenfant, TechnologyAdvice

Daily Coffee Hour

One effective way for our business to keep going remotely is to have a daily coffee hour. There’s a Google Hangouts link every day at 2 PM, where anybody can quickly pop in for a coffee break and chit chat about off-work topics. The daily banter helps to reduce stress, boost morale, and, ultimately, keep things humane. And—it doesn’t cost any money!

Hung Nguyen, Smallpdf

Keep a Focus on Teambuilding

We’ve made the switch to being an entirely remote workplace, and a few employees are just starting to come back to the office. In some ways, it’s been a more productive time, because people have been able to focus on getting stuff done. At the same time, communication has taken more work.

To make sure we’re working together and continuing to enjoy each other as people, my team has a virtual happy hour every few weeks. It’s been a nice way to reward ourselves for getting so much done, and it also builds chemistry that carries through into our work.

Elliot Brown, OnPay

Clear Separation of Business and Personal Space

Make sure you have a clear separation of your business and personal life in terms of space. If you have an office, make sure any people you live with are aware that the office is off-limits, especially during working hours. This helps you to create the right mindset when you walk into your office. Otherwise, you may never be able to focus on what your business needs.

Phil Strazzulla, SelectSoftware Reviews

Mr. Rogers’ Calls

We use a format called “Mr. Rogers’ Calls” to connect our remote employees. Each week, an app pairs our people up for 1 on 1 video calls. The only rule for these conversations is you aren’t allowed to talk about work. Instead, team members connect on topics like travel, hobbies and pets. These personal connections go a long way to building comradery in the remote office, which allows our business to run effectively.

Tasia Duske, Museum Hack

Have the Right Mentality

From the beginning, we’ve relied a lot on self-starters who don’t need a lot of hand holding. I’d say having the right mentality on your team is important, especially since remote work doesn’t allow for in-person management. Scheduling regular check-ins, either via Slack or teleconference, has been a must for our team as we’ve endured the obstacle of lockdowns and working from home.

Jake Rheude, Red Stag Fulfillment

Promptly Return Calls and Emails

Since remote work removes the comfort of physical proximity, it’s more important than ever to promptly return your client and team members’ calls/emails and participate on chat threads on any pressing projects.

Mark Christensen, People & Partnerships