"Does remote working have to mean working remotely?"

These are strange times, unsettling times, and if I am honest this is not a normal question that I overhear much in more normal times, but recently THE question that I keep hearing is ‘do I have to work remotely and what does that mean for my customers?’ or, put another way, ‘does remote working have to mean working remotely?

Over the last few weeks, I have had many conversations about this topic as every founder, entrepreneur, business owner, and indeed every one of us, has to very rapidly adjust to the new reality of our working lives. But for those of you running your own business it is not just about adjusting to working from home. Probably of even more importance is how will it effect your customers and your business.

Charles Dickens once famously wrote “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of light, it was the season of darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair.” And so it seems today. This present situation seems to have polarised people as we have seen an incredible coming together and sense of community and helping the vulnerable on the one side, and numerous acts of stupidity, selfishness and even cruelty on the other side. But where does all that leave your business?

My conversations have revealed those in despair and a ‘half glass empty’ attitude with the outlook that their business and the world will never recover, and also those with a very pragmatic, fighting spirit and a ‘half glass full’ attitude. Like everything in life, our thoughts dictate our actions, and every action has a reaction.

 So to return to the question ‘does remote working have to mean working remotely?’ then my answer is an emphatic NO, whatever your business does. Each and every one of us needs to do the right things for the right reasons and be positive and help support each other, and that most certainly means supporting and continuing to engage with our customers. In these days of technology and easy communication it is more simple to do that than at any point in history.

By communicating with your customers and keeping them engaged you will remind them that your business is there and cares about them and is keen to retain them as customers. In short, you value them and they in turn are very likely to value you and your business. These acts will not only keep you and your customers sane whilst remote working, but it will also ensure that you are not working remotely from them. Indeed, in many cases it is a perfect opportunity to become less remote from your customer base by engaging with them in different and imaginative ways, and for them to be able to see you and your business differently to how they might have done so before, and differently from your competition.

We will certainly all have different memories of the spring of 2020, and how it will be recorded in history we have yet to see. But I for one will be looking at the bad hand that we have all been dealt with just now and seeing how to turn it to our advantage. So let us all look at things with a positive attitude and make sure that our thoughts and actions have positive reactions for us as individuals and as businesses.

In doing that we can take the positives from Charles Dickens’s words and focus on “It was the best of times, …it was the age of wisdom, …it was the epoch of belief, …it was the season of light, …it was the spring of hope…”

Do not be remote, stay positive, and I am sure that you and your business will survive these strange and unsettling times better than you might imagine now.