How big and small businesses are shifting to remote work

It’s not just tech companies—small businesses are going virtual to keep their business afloat and, in some cases, reinvent themselves entirely

This week, Twitter announced that employees can work remotely “forever” if they are in a position to do so. Facebook said in an announcement that it will allow its employees to stay remote through the end of 2020. And, according to Slack, there are 16 million U.S. workers who started working remotely due to COVID-19, and that number is likely much higher now. 

But, beyond the tech and information industries are millions of small and microbusinesses across the country—retail, restaurants, services and more—who have shuttered their storefronts and shifted to digital. This leads to the underlying question of how this will impact teams going forward. Is remote work the future of work?

I spoke with Eileen Lee, co-founder of women’s community and networking space, The Lola, Tracy Cote, Chief People Officer at Zenefits, and Auguste Goldman, President of Care at GoDaddy, about how businesses large and small have been forced to pivot to this new reality.  

We discussed how they are keeping their employees productive, how they are fostering community and building a strong team culture when everyone is apart, and if they think remote work is here to stay. 

Watch our full conversation here:

For some businesses, this shift to remote work was especially challenging given the in-person dimensions of their businesses. Take The Lola for instance, which is a place where professional women can gather and connect in Atlanta, GA. COVID-19 forced them to close down their space as their members began to isolate at home. 

“It was a pretty abrupt change for myself and my team to go completely remote,” says co-founder Eileen Lee. They closed in mid-March and needed to figure out creative ways to bring their community together and provide value for their members through this new reality. 

Luckily, they were able to shift all of their programming virtually. Eileen says that they’ve seen a lot of participation in their programming. They have been sharing recordings and making connections offline for their members. 

The exciting part is that almost all businesses were forced to figure out how to work remotely. 

“There have been companies that are already adjusting to that new reality,” says Eileen, “because they’ve realized, ‘Oh, we can be productive and we don’t need to necessarily force everyone to be in a physical space.’”

It was a big change for some employees here at GoDaddy as well. Auguste Goldman, the President of Care, led the transition of thousands of GoDaddy Guides to do their work of supporting small business owners from their homes in a matter of days. 

Shifting to remote work for this team was uncharted territory. “There were so many things we had to learn,” says Auguste. “We had to act, learn and innovate all at the same time.” A challenge was trying to find new ways to lead while still keeping the business running. He says: 

Every day, we just tried to get better. 

When it comes to leading his team during this crisis, Auguste says the most important things he focuses on are having connections with his team and keeping the mission top of mind. He says he shares stories of small business owners with his team members who are surviving and thriving through this crisis so that everyone is reminded of what they’re working towards and who they’re helping. 

Tracy Cote, Chief People Officer at Zenefits, which provides HR solutions to small business owners, says that there are challenges to remote work, especially when it feels like this new reality is being thrusted upon us. But, she says finding the right tools now can help strengthen your business. She says: 

Taking the time now to invest in the tools that will allow your teams to function remotely is an investment worth making. 

To her, remote work is here to stay (in some way, shape or form.) 

“I think it’s going to offer people a ton of flexibility now that we realize we can do this, it works and we have all these great tools at our disposal,” says Tracy. “I think that there are a ton of benefits to the remote work that we’re seeing now, and we’re going to see more of it because people are now realizing that it works for them.”

All of these leaders acknowledged that this is still a tough transition for a lot of businesses. Eileen offers some advice, which echoes Auguste’s thoughts about the importance of connecting. 

“If you are a business owner or an entrepreneur, find someone else who is also going through this,” says Eileen. She encourages business owners to find a community where they can connect. Find your people, she says. 

Editor’s Note: You can join the #OpenWeStand Community on LinkedIn here.

Many businesses large and small are dealing with this new reality shifting to and supporting a remote version of their business. There are a lot of things to consider — and what might have worked for us the past may not work for us now. We may be looking at a very different future for our teams and our businesses, but if we stay connected, invest in the right tools and lean on our community, we may be able to navigate this brand new remote world. 

Check back for more conversations with GoDaddy’s entrepreneur-in-residence, Scott Shigeoka. He’ll be chatting with industry experts and sparking conversations about the issues that are impacting us most during these challenging times.

The information contained in this post is provided for informational purposes only, and should not be construed as an endorsement or advice from GoDaddy on any subject matter.