The Roaming CEO: Maintaining a Pulse On Your Business While Working Remotely
The demands on SMB CEO’s have evolved alongside the growing capabilities of today’s technologies and the client’s own expectations. The challenge many are faced with is how to maintain that same level of accessibility while outside the office…
The most obvious answer to how most CEO’s stay connected to their business is technology. However, utilizing technology without a clear plan is as useful as building a house without a blueprint. Of course, there are some who successfully accomplish this feat, using a number of tips and tricks to help the average traveling executive maximize productivity and accessibility outside the office.
‘Fail to plan, plan to fail’- Plan ahead! One of the most important factors for any CEO to take into consideration is proper planning before your departure. A clear line of communication with employees can help to prepare and address any hot topic items which may require your presence. There’s nothing worse than reaching your destination only to receive a reminder of a contract that needs your John Hancock.
The planning doesn’t stop with others, put together an agenda for yourself as well. What do you want to accomplish while away from the office? Working remotely can provide you time to focus on tasks without the activity around the office and constant flow of emails distracting your train of thought.
Tip: Digital signatures are quickly becoming the industry standard. Take the time to establish an e-signature which can help you sign documents on the go. Share your calendar with employees within each department or project team so they know your availability.
Now that you have your personal effects packed, let’s discuss a few items that are often forgotten.
Security & Health: Double check and make sure you have all of the proper vaccinations for your destination. Ask your company insurance provider if the policy is valid overseas for emergencies. If not, considering taking extra coverage. Make copies of your passport in the event it is lost you will have some proof of your citizenship. Leave an extra copy with someone you trust either at home or in the office.
Money: Call your corporate card provider and inform them of your trip. Banks may think the authorizations are potential fraud and deactivate your card as a security precaution. While we are on the topic of credit cards, make sure that your card will actually work. The majority of European merchants have switched to the more secure chip technology with fewer businesses abroad able to accept the outdated magnetic-strip cards. Finally, always have local currency on hand. Not every place will accept credit cards.
Perhaps one of the biggest commodities we take for granted is immediate access to high speed internet. We presume that anywhere we go will have a strong Wi-Fi signal. Even countries that are as technologically savvy as our own may have areas where there just won’t be internet access available. Stay strong and prepare accordingly. While your hotel may offer Wi-Fi, you should test the signal long before an important meeting or video-conference.
Tip: Pack an Ethernet Adapter cable since some places will only offer wired internet. Add an international talk and data package for your mobile device. Consider adding Wi-Fi tethering to your mobile service plan or purchasing a hotspot device to provide internet service in those moments where free Café connections are unavailable.
While no one loves meetings, they are a necessity, especially while you are away. The best solution is to consolidate into a single meeting. Block out an allotted amount of time to streamline and go through all of the items with employees that require your attention. Postpone non-critical meetings until your return, prioritizing those who would be slowed down without input.
Tip: If you have strong internet access, take advantage of some of the video conferencing options for an even greater engagement. Try Google Hangouts, Skype, FaceTime, or other professional conferencing options available such as Citrix GoToMeeting.
The most important tip for any CEO involves empowering others. Many CEO’s feel the need to weigh in with their feedback or approval on every email/discussion/meeting. Ultimately, it is in everyone’s best interest to allow employees to figure things out on their own. Sometimes traveling can force this to happen. More often than not, emails resolve themselves before you have a chance to log on because employees place more thought into a solution, rather than knocking on your door. The result of using restraint is an opportunity for you to focus on thinking big and finding new ways to grow your business.