Working Remotely - A Better Way to Run Your Ecommerce Business

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Ecommerce businesses can grow so fast that they may find themselves overwhelmed keeping up with the changes and finding qualified people to do the work.

Let’s just take one section of an Ecommerce business as an example, the product catalog. There are hundreds of SKUs to publish across many different sales channels. The challenges include constant product updates, dealing with suppliers in different time zones and providing customer support around the clock. And that’s just one part. How about the rest of the business that needs constant support?

As office technology rapidly progresses, the traditional working environment no longer meets the market demand. Omnichannel Ecommerce customers expect a cohesive experience at every touchpoint, whether at the store, online or mobile. Keeping pace using a single operations office with employees working only from 9 to 5 isn’t going to cut it anymore. And, opening more locations may not be economically feasible. So, how does a company juggle all those SKUs and channels while keeping customers happy?

The solution is a remote working structure. We will show you some of the advantages and why companies should adopt it.

The Future of Hiring

Our work environment has changed. The era where most employees gather in the same building is coming to an end. Unless the work is physical like manufacturing or shipping, most office tasks take place on a computer, in a virtual office.

Technology, globalization, the rise in real estate and transportation costs have resulted in shrinking the physical workspace. For some businesses, it’s time to let go of the old school 9 to 5 workday mentality. Eliminate office politics, the countless meetings, and working in cramped, lifeless cubicles. It’s time to welcome the innovation of remote working structure and a new breed of worker.

Furthermore, the current workforce is a blend of three generations, the baby boomers, generation X, and millennials. Remote work suits all of these groups. It allows baby boomers to care for their parents, generation Xers to take care of their kids, and millennials to work online, something they’re used to.

Collaboration tools, cloud-based systems, wireless devices, and video conferencing have made it possible for people to work from any location. By avoiding the commute and working in their best environment, they achieve better productivity.

Of 15,000 workers polled, the New York Times reported: “43% of employed Americans said they spent at least some time working remotely.”

We’ve been able to source and accommodate some of the best people in the industry because we can support them in more than one location. – Michael Pryor, Co-Founder of Trello

Is Your Company Ready for A Remote Working Structure?

Here are some questions to consider.

  1. Does the company already outsource jobs or offer to telecommute?
  2. Does your company work online, store documents and graphics in the cloud?
  3. Have you outgrown your physical workspace?
  4. Is it challenging to fill jobs locally?
  5. Do employees ask about working remotely?
  6. Are you prepared to accommodate current employees that are not comfortable working remotely?
  7. Are you in any of following industries?
    • Medical and health
    • Customer service
    • Administrative work
    • Sales
    • Computer and information technology
    • Advertising
    • Education and training
    • Accounting and finance
    • Ecommerce

If any of these ring a bell, it’s time to take a hard look at leveraging the remote work environment for your company.

All necessary tools to support the remote work structure are ready and waiting online. Some are free, others cost a fraction of setting up a new office somewhere.

Useful Tools for Better Productivity

Here are some favorite collaboration tools that can help you manage your remote working environment.

Team Communications

  • Slack – Is widely used by companies around the world. Team members can quickly communicate through messaging, calls and share files in one place
  • Skype– A free app that works well for instant chatting and video meetings.

Meetings

  • Zoom – Video conferencing that has the video gallery view, showing everyone who is in the meeting. The best way to have a virtual face-to-face meeting.

Project Management

  • Trello – Highly customizable, you place projects into individual cards. Tag people to notify them of specific tasks or developments. Using it for complex projects is simple.

Storage and Sharing

These two are amongst the best file sharing programs.

  • Google Drive – cloud-based storage for your document and multi-media files.
  • Dropbox – secured online storage for documents, photos, and videos.

Everyone in the organization should have regularly scheduled times for posting and communicating on projects. With just a few tools, any business can run 24/7 with the most talented people around the world.

The benefits flow both ways, to the company and the workers.

Benefits to Businesses and Owners

One great motivator for the remote working structure is the reduced overhead. By not needing larger office space and equipment, there is a substantial reduction in the operating expenses.

Other benefits include:

  • Reduced cost of office equipment.
  • Remote workers tend to be more productive and most likely will accept lower wages in exchange for the ability to work remotely.
  • Ability to hire top-quality professionals at a reasonable fee.
  • Lower turnover rates
  • Increased productivity due to lower absenteeism from commuting, weather, illness and childcare problems.
  • Ability to hire the best workers from a global talent pool, not just locally.

Hiring a remote workforce doesn’t mean there aren’t problems. You can set up key performance indicators (KPIs) for both management and employees so that everyone is on board. They understand your business goals, expectations, and deadlines, right from the beginning. Avoid problems by scheduling a regular team meeting to discuss ongoing development, issues, and future objectives.

Although trust is an integral part of both sides, remote workers still need clear direction and supervision to ensure tasks get done on time.

Worker’s Benefit Too

A decade ago, it was more of a dream for most workers to work from home. Long commutes and office hours were the norms. As more companies transition to telecommuting and remote work, it has opened doors to a lot of opportunities and a better quality of life.

When appropriately managed, workers can achieve better work and life balance. Here are a few advantages of working a remote job:

  • Save time on commuting – for example, if someone commutes 2 hours per workday, that’s equal to 20 days saved per year.
  • Freedom of working with whom, when and where.
  • Provide better quality of work for job security.
  • Flexibility to spend more time with family and friends.
  • Ability to manage a healthier lifestyle through exercise and eating at home.
  • Work in a comfortable environment.
  • Reduced stress.


Kristen Vogt, Knowledge Management Officer at EDUCAUSE, had this to say about working from home. “I began working remotely when my kids were toddlers, and they were my structure. Dropping them off and picking them up from daycare signaled when I started and ended work. The structure helped me keep a healthy balance right from the start.”

Remote workers are independent contractors who must provide quality work to ensure continued business and referrals. Because they are their “own boss,” discipline and time management skills are a critical part of their daily routine. Successful remote workers typically put in longer hours than their office working counterparts.

Remote Working Structure Improves Business

As mentioned earlier, the remote working structure is not suitable for every business. Also, working remotely is not for everyone. It depends on the industry, personality, set of skills, and preference.

The combination of flexibility and freedom to hire anyone without compromising the quality of work is a perfect marriage for any business.

If you’re a multi-channel Ecommerce business, you can take advantage of both the traditional office and remote working structure to maximize efficiency, productivity, and customer service.

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