Remote Readiness. Is your small business prepared for the long haul?

Can you imagine the challenges our world would have faced if the COVID-19 pandemic hit in the late ‘90s or earlier? While we have all struggled to some degree during the lattest edition to the coronavirus family, the technology growth over the past 20 years has prepared us for the quick-switch of office work to remote work. Technology has expanded our ability to work, socialize, shop, and date from home. For those of you who prefer creative comparisons: In the ‘90s we were all sitting on our own island tossing corked bottles of handwritten letters into the water, when one day in 2010 a carrier pigeon landed in our lap.

Whether you already worked from home, or were forced into remote work in March of 2020, the reality was that regardless how trained, tech savvy, and prepared we thought we were, small businesses around the world are still faced with a steep learning curve. Sure, working from home seems fun, flexible, and simple. And in many ways, it is. Though, a KFF tracking poll in mid-July showed that 53% of adults in the United States reported higher negativity on their mental health over concerns of COVID-19. Other studies since July have reported increased stress levels, concern, and mental health challenges. The biggest culprit is social isolation. Though when it comes to remote work employees often cite the following as ways that a company has not improved the work environment while managing remote workers:

  • Poor communication
  • Loss of leadership interaction with employees
  • Difficulty engaging with coworkers
  • Non-visual communication (text, messaging, and group management platforms) create misunderstanding
  • Poorly defined work tasks and goals
  • Privacy concerns
  • Employees and leaders feel more indebted to always “staying on” even beyond work hours

That brings me to a new tool out by Toptal. Taken directly from their Google company profile, “Toptal is a global remote company that provides a freelancing platform that connects businesses with software engineers, designers, and business consultants.” Basically, they know what your business needs to know about remote working. Toptal’s tool is called the Remote Work Readiness Assessment.

If you follow my blog you know that I will occasionally recommend products and services beneficial to at-home and remote workers. However, due to the growth of remote work and my belief that when all COVID-19 is said and done, I’m confident that remote work will quickly replace nearly all administrative and in-office work. That might not be entirely accurate since I’m basing my opinion purely on the science of guessing.

While my science of guessing may not be based on statistics, what I do know is that since March of 2020 businesses across the country have been sniffing out remote work as future potential. While the current administration has been touting the progress on a vaccine, you can also bet that companies are taking the pandemic more seriously in regard to keeping workers safe at home, especially with yesterdays news of AstraZeneca putting their vaccine study on hold.  

Taking all of this into context, the question is, how prepared is your small business to manage remote work for the long-term?

Toptal’s Remote Work Readiness Assessment will help you figure that out, as well as set you on a plan for success. How do I know? Well, I tried it.

What is Toptal’s Remote Work Readiness Assessment evaluating?

As a leader in the industry of remote work, Toptal asks you to take a small assessment quiz about your company’s current remote work environment. Questions focus on employee and leadership engagement, managing security and privacy, managing workloads, goals, and internal audits.

The six areas that the quiz is designed to assess are:

  • Hiring, Management, and Engagement
  • Remote Strategy and Leadership
  • Communication and Collaboration Tools
  • Technical Infrastructure
  • Policies and Compliance
  • Security and Privacy

I do need to say that my business is a one man show and I have no direct employees. However, I often hire contractors for illustration, design, proofreading, and other areas at the request of clients. Taking the assessment, I used those as factors to consider.

The Results of my remote work assessment

The assessment was simple to take and took me less than five minutes. Considering I am my only employee I went into the assessment thinking that it may not be a huge benefit to me. I come away thinking that there is room for me to grow.

Now, I have a background in management and leadership at some pretty big companies before I started my fulltime writing career. So, things such as procedures, project management tools, goal setting, and time management have been ingrained into me. Much of that I brought into my super small business. Why? Because you never know where your business will grow, when it will grow, or how quickly. It’s good to have the foundation established. So, what I say to super small businesses is that Toptal’s remote work readiness assessment might help you regarding your next step.

For small businesses with remote work employees, this is a great tool.

After taking the assessment Toptal provided a “Key Areas of Focus” based on my responses. In short they look like this:

After receiving your assessment, you can download your PDF report that summarizes Toptal’s recommendations. You will also have an opportunity to speak with an expert about your results.

Is it worth it?

Of course, the Toptal Remote Work Readiness Assessment is worth it. I only recommend things that I think will benefit my readers. Which small business this assessment works for depends on your business needs. What I will say is that this tool is particularly good the larger your business, or your business reach is. Partner names such as Airbnb, Shopify, Bridgestone, and Duolingo are listed on their front page. But I’d also suggest the assessment for small businesses and startups with a handful of employees who intend on growth.

One of the challenges that small businesses face falls under the Ancient Greek philosophy that it is what we don’t know that we don’t know. You may know that there is more out there, but you don’t know what it is, how to find it, or how it will impact you. This free assessment may be the key to managing the challenges your small business faces when going remote.

A couple questions answered

Was I paid or compensated for this endorsement? Nope, not at all. But, if Toptal wants to send something over I wouldn’t turn it down.

Do I intend on using this assessment in the future? I do. I’ve been slowly transitioning into a new business format where I build a team that can provide more services.

How did I find the Remote Work Assessment? It was recommended by a colleague after reading my blog post, Work from Home Best Practices, published in April 2020.

Do you often receive recommendations due to your blog posts? I do. On occasion I will receive comments in blogs, but what I find is that readers tend to reach out more through my contact page to open up a dialogue. I will often use their comments, suggestions, and recommendations to create new content and update older content.

I’d love to hear from you. Have you taken the Toptal assessment? Do you have other products you recommend, or would you like me to check out a new product?

Don’t forget to follow my blog, like and comment!

#Shamelessplug

I am a full-time freelance writer specializing in books, though I also write blogs, web-content, and handle several other types of projects. To see what I offer visit my rates page or contact me with specific queries and questions. I’m also available to help mentor you through your first book. I’d love to work with you, and if you know anyone else looking for a writer I offer a generous referral fee.

If you would like to leave a donation for people interested in writing a book about their life and challenges, but lack the budget, you can contribute here.

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