Running a print shop is quite like being in a relationship. It’s hard work and most likely, you’ll pour your heart and soul into it. Then comes the pivotal moment: Sometimes love means letting go and taking a step back. Though this might be scary at first, trust us, with a solid plan in place it will work out wonderfully for all parties involved. Today, we talk to Adam Smith from Luckyprints on how he successfully manages his shop while working remotely.
One of the first things you need to do when you’re planning on working remotely is putting an action plan into place. A good starting point is identifying all your resources and making those available to your staff, and making those accessible to yourself when you’re not in. One way to go about doing this is moving to a cloud-based production management system, which also serves as a guaranteed backup in case something happens to your hard drive. Adam notes: “We use tools like Printavo and Asana, which allow us to communicate where each individual aspect of an order is at any given moment. I can log-in at any time and get a real-time overview of where every department in the shop is at — without contacting anybody.”
Training your staff
Properly training your staff and giving them responsibility allows shop owners to confidently work remotely. Trusting your staff to handle the day-to-day aspects might take some getting used to but will allow you to comfortably step aside and will make your business more sustainable. “It empowers them to take things up on their own and offer solutions if any issues come up,” Adam says. “Working remote and getting in that position has really shown me what my staff are capable of and has increased the confidence of my staff.”
Threads of communication
Notify your staff ahead of time when you’re planning on working remotely in order to keep things running smoothly. The staff of Luckyprints start their day with a production meeting. “If I’m available, I will call in and handle the production meeting as if I were there,” Adam says. “I do have a specific team member who is trained on what to cover during the meeting when I’m not available.” Adam also relies on the usual communication tools that he’s able to log onto, as long as he has an internet connection. “We use an internal chat system called Slack and an email platform called Spark, which allows us to delegate incoming emails,” Adam comments. “If we have a project inquiry email coming in, one person is authorized to manage and delegate the tasks out across the frontend team. The program also allows us to have messaging and chats around certain emails, keeping all communication in one spot.”
Whether big or small, when an event arises that calls for immediate action, make sure there’s an emergency plan in place so your team knows exactly what steps to follow. This plan should be followed in case something happens to your computer or cell phone. “I have a file in our Dropbox that can be accessed, which contains certain passwords to things and payroll accounts,” Adam notes. “I can make those temporarily available to key team members with instructions on how to execute certain tasks.”
Pitfalls of working remotely
An important aspect of working remotely is sticking to the same goals that you normally would. Adam emphasizes the importance of handing off accountability to your team: “Business owners tend to micromanage every single aspect of a day. The biggest favor you can do yourself and your team is giving up some of that control. Let them pitch ideas and allow them to try different approaches. A team environment is the most collaborative and yields the best results because you have different perspectives and different insights.”
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