Remote teams are here to stay, which means many businesses need to support their remote employees. This could include helping less-than-tech-savvy employees configure a 2nd monitor or replacing in-office perks with at-home options (admit it—you miss that office candy dish, too!).
Let’s look at how your small business may be able to capture a piece of this growing market.
One way to garner a piece of the pie: partner with a larger company. Are there any Fortune 1000 businesses in your area? If so, work on building a collaborative partnership to service their remote-employee needs. No doubt, it’ll take time and networking to create that relationship—fortunately, your small business brings some distinct advantages to the partnership.
First, as a small business, you can quickly create a product or service to meet both the remote workers’ and company’s objectives.
Does the big business want to offer perks to help employees bond and create a virtual culture? You can adapt (and partner with other small businesses) to deliver a weekly pastry and coffee basket to replace what the in-office break room used to have. (Want to take bets on how many times the doughnuts are mentioned in the team Slack channel?)
Second, small business owners can help larger businesses achieve their CSR goals via the impact a small business has on the local economy. Your business employs local workers, decreases environmental footprints, contributes to local taxes, and keeps dollars in the local community—up to 67 cents of every dollar spent in a local business stays in the community. Any big business is bound to have some of those objectives included as part of its CSR goals.
Even if you don’t partner with a larger company, you can still target remote workers as your next customers. With digital nomadism going mainstream, remote workers live everywhere, not just where their employers are based.
Do some market research. Talk to the owners of local co-working spaces and home realtors—they’ll know who many of the remote workers are and may even be able to tell you how large the local population is.
Whether you’ve partnered with a big business or targeted the remote workforce directly, here are a few ideas for what remote workers could use.
Remote workers may have elderly parents who are aging in place. Growing older at home doesn’t always mean 100% independent living—services required may include meals, transport, technology help, personal assistance, physical aid, and even comfort in the form of in-person company. In many situations, adult children fill these needs.
According to the “Caregiving in the US 2020” report, 53 million adults reported themselves as caregivers (“having provided care to an adult or child with special needs at some time in the past 12 months”). 61% of those caregivers also work, which translates to over 32 million employees attempting to juggle career and caregiving responsibilities simultaneously.
Flexing work hours to help with a child’s reading assignment may sound easy, but the realities of managing full-time parenting and full-time work can lead to burnout. Thus, parents need help with traditional child care duties (like feeding, bathing, entertaining, and supervising their kids) and support with remote learning duties.
The reopening of schools won’t diminish this need. According to an NPR poll, 29% of the families polled may continue with remote learning indefinitely.
Additionally, students forced into distance learning due to school closures may face learning gaps. McKinsey & Company’s “best case” scenario shows students may lose an average of 5 months’ worth of mathematics education due to remote learning. This means many children will need tutoring or extra assistance to catch up.
Remote workers may also face a double-whammy as part of the sandwich generation—caring for aging family members and children at the same time.
Eating never goes out of style. Any food-related business could market itself to remote employees as a perk or a time-saver.
Do you know a business that is doing 100% remote onboarding of new employees? Offer a service delivering lunch to local team members on a new colleague’s first day to replicate that in-person “get to know you” lunch.
If you run a microbrewery, could you deliver a 6-pack to remote employees to replace the in-office happy hour? As a coffee roaster, could you provide coffee beans to remote workers every Monday morning in lieu of the breakroom coffee?
We’ve all tried the “I’ll just sit at the kitchen table with my laptop” routine—but it doesn’t take long for a sore neck and carpal tunnel symptoms to kick in.
Your business could help remote workers set up an ergonomic workspace at home. This could be a complete home-office redesign or simply carving out a sliver of the spare bedroom to set up a desk. Don’t underestimate this need—many people lack either the knowledge of where to place equipment for optimal body alignment or don’t have the mechanical aptitude to configure the space.
It turns out that “no commute” doesn’t equal “spare time.” Many remote workers have replaced those commuting hours with longer workdays.
Throw in “at-home-all-day syndrome” plus the distractions of handling chores mid-workday, and many remote workers have found themselves wanting to hire out household maintenance tasks such as house cleaning and yard work.
The US Chamber of Commerce suggests a house-cleaning stipend as a perk for remote employees.
Employees are demanding better mental health coverage. The American Psychological Association says there is a “national mental health crisis,” with 1 in 5 adults reporting a decline in their mental health in the last year.
Remote workers may be especially hard-hit as feelings of isolation and burnout run rampant.
Any business offering mental health support—counseling, therapy, or even wellness services such as yoga and meditation—may find remote workers are a viable target market.
Because it’s easy for remote workers to get caught up in the all-work-and-no-play scenario, many businesses have enacted policies to encourage employees to take downtime.
If your business offers hospitality or leisure services, you could help remote workers utilize their leave time. For example, if you own a campground, you could offer glamping trips as a quick, socially distanced getaway for stressed-out workers.
Remote workers’ needs have 2 common themes: support and efficiency. If your small business can help to fill those voids, remote employees may be the perfect customers for your business. You can always embrace financing to help target this new market.