How Remote Work is Reshaping Online Businesses in America

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What used to be a preserve of a few large businesses with the will and resources to support remote work has now become almost everyone’s norm, even those who were either reluctant or indifferent towards remote work. 

Over the past two years, most companies and businesses have embraced remote and hybrid work, with at least 57% of employees working remotely for the past two years. 

However, the conversation around how remote work has evolved is centered around medium and enterprise businesses. 

There has been little to no attention on the trickle-down effect of remote work on smaller and bootstrapped online businesses, which include creators, freelancers, and solopreneurs. 

Remote work trends have an impact on small online businesses.

Being aware of how these trends affect your business helps you adjust your strategy and shift the way you approach hiring, using technology, and your overall strategy to survive and thrive. 

In this post, we’ll talk about four remote work trends and share how you can take advantage of the opportunities they offer.

Remote work trend #1: hiring and roles

Remote work has given employees the freedom to let go of the daily commute and eventually move to buy properties in neighborhoods where life is more affordable and they can live and work from home. 

The evolution of how employees view their living conditions has led to a growth in remote and hybrid work setups, sparking discussions on the feasibility of having onsite roles and how companies can successfully hire remote workers

Remote work has provided small businesses with the flexibility they need to hire contractors to help run their day-to-day operations without the overhead costs of hiring a full-time employee.

It also allows them to save on hiring costs, contractors deliver tasks faster and on time, helping small online businesses get more work done with fewer resources. 

In fact, a quarterly study by WeWorkRemotely reveals that the remote work job market is more competitive today, with remote job positions getting 300% more applicants.

Remote work trend #1 hiring and roles

Online contractors are distributed globally, and an increase in connectivity and access to hiring platforms such as Problogger Jobs Board, Upwork, WeWorkRemotely by remote workers means that they can apply for available roles.

More business owners are using platforms to hire writers, marketers, and developers, customer service professionals and product managers for full-time or part time roles depending on their needs. 

Remote hiring is not only confined to professional services in the tech industry, but also cuts across other industries as well. Upwork’s study on the number of remote workers in other industries confirms this:

Remote work trend #1 hiring and roles2

Mckinsey echoes these findings by sharing the top 10 roles that can be done remotely:

Remote work trend #1 hiring and roles 3

Remote work has broken more barriers and revealed what is possible.

Sure, there have been some accelerators such as the Great Resignation and COVID, and they have reshaped what businesses can and can’t do to get things done, what roles they can hire for.

So, how can you take advantage of the availability of global talent and the possibilities that have emerged due to an evolution of what can and can’t be done remotely?

The availability of global talent means that you can take advantage of things such as timezones, and hire freelancers depending on their needs and scale up or down as required. 

For example, a report by Hiverhq reveals that 76% of businesses are hiring customer service support to help with outside hours. 

Remote work trend #1 hiring and roles4

For example, a print-on demand business, looking to improve their customer service during peak seasons, would hire freelance customer service agents outside their time zones to provide continuous support outside normal business hours. 

Access to global talent allows you to have different views that give rise to innovation, as you get a new perspective on how you can serve customers, tell your brand story, and even serve customers, helping you stand out in the marketplace.  

The evolution or roles that contractors can do remotely gives you an opportunity to decide what roles require remote workers and what roles to hire locally.

Remote work trend #2: technology 

The emergence of remote work has seen a shift towards specific technologies that enable businesses to get more work done, serve customers, and collaborate efficiently. 

For example, in their 2021 Future Workforce Report, Upwork reveals that most businesses have adapted the use of communications and productivity software to help improve how they work with employees

Remote work trend #2 technology

This was not only limited to during the pandemic, but also, businesses are looking to stick with these technologies in the long run to help them continue running their operations remotely. 

While this trend signals efficiency in collaboration and productivity, the challenge is that there are a ton of remote technology tools on the market, and it's even difficult to decide which one is best for you

A good indication of the availability of tools for your marketing tech stack is how they have grown in the past two years:

Remote work trend #2 technology 2

The result?

Remote work trend #2 technology 3

As a small business owner, you're probably bootstrapping so, how do you turn around this challenge to help you thrive?

First, go for creator-friendly tools that support you as you grow. You likely don't need a huge and expensive marketing tech stack to start with, but tools that will do the basics for you

For example, if your business relies on content production, check out AI tools that will help you scale content production and fill in the gaps that you have, instead of having to hire someone. 

An AI tool will, by no means replace your capabilities and expertise.

However, jumping the first few hurdles of the content creation process, such as creating outlines, and SERP research to get you going, will help you stay productive and efficient. 

On the other hand, if you’re running a sales team, you need to have enough resources to help them stay productive.

According to Hypercontext’s 2022 report The State of High Performing Sales Teams, having access to resources is the 3rd most important factor for sales employees to be more productive

That means investing in the sales tools and training they need to get the job done. 

When looking for tools, choose tools that automate your repeatable tasks as much as possible to help you focus on productive work that moves your business forward.

Not all paid tools will deliver the value you’re looking for and sometimes, you can always get the job done with free versions of the tools available.  

When looking for tools to buy, go for those with great support and are easy to use to make it easier for you or your team to get up and running once you sign up.

Remote work trend #3: the creator economy 

For most of the Gen Z population, the rise of remote work and an existing preference towards self-employment over traditional occupations has put them on a path to becoming digital creators.

Self-employment has been on the rise, and developing technology and an evolution of business and consumer needs has also sustained the rise in creators, leading to an increase in self-employment:

Remote work trend #3 the creator economy

A good example of a rapidly growing group of creators is the community that has grown around tools such as Notion. 

For Notion, the versatility and ability to customize the tool has opened it up to more creators who get certified, create and sell Notion templates, and some have been very successful. 

Other creators rely on platforms such as Patreon or Gumroad to make money from their craft. Unfortunately, platforms aren’t always a creator’s best friend, making it tough to make money as a creator, solopreneur, or freelancer. 

Creators with many followers tend to win and make more money from these platforms. The types of content creators put out that have huge amounts of followers are difficult to replicate, which puts most creators at a disadvantage. 

For example, it is difficult to replicate things like music or comedy, if we look at what Khaby Lame has been doing to become the most popular creator on TikTok

For most creators who are looking to create content and turn their craft into an online business, this situation presents them with a fork in the road: stick around and hope to make it big someday, or adapt. 

Sticking around and hoping isn’t much of an option, so, here are how you can adapt:

Niche down instead of trying to appeal to a mass audience: The benefits here are two-fold: first, you may end up creating a huge audience that helps you become a popular creator on a given platform. 

Two, you may end up becoming the go-to influencer in your niche, given that you’ll have enough traffic, reach, and engagement to convince brands to collaborate with you to promote their products.

Remote work trend #4: cybersecurity 

Remote work means that most of your meetings, files and communication will be online. When you’re working with contractors remotely, then you will have to provide access to your files, and to the tools you use online. 

You’re vulnerable and that puts you at risk of losing your information or having to contend with unauthorized access to proprietary information.

For 42% of businesses, not knowing how to protect themselves from cybersecurity attacks exposes them to data breaches, phishing and identity theft

How Remote Work is Reshaping Online Businesses in America

A compromise in sensitive information about your business has the potential of;

losing customers (in cases of identity theft), halting your operations (denial of service or access to your content) , and even loss of your competitive edge (having others use your strategies to outcompete you). 

As a small business owner, one of the ways you can get around cyber security challenges is to make sure that you rely on cloud storage and data solutions that help you protect your information and encrypt your data. 

If you rely on content creation to build an audience, use a digital asset management tool that allows you to control how you share your files, who has access to your files, and helps you encrypt your content to prevent unauthorized access.

This way, you have control over how you manage the security of your content and documents. 

When working with remote teams, don't provide unfettered access to your content and information

Create a remote work policy that explains how you intend to protect your data and how they should handle sensitive information concerning your business, and how they should respond in case of a data breach, such as losing the devices they use to login to work.

Conclusion: how remote work is reshaping online businesses in America

Going by the trends we just discussed, remote work is here to stay. Some of the changes businesses have had to embrace to survive will eventually become the norm. 

For example, hiring contractors for specialized purposes will deliver more value in terms of business outcomes. 

The creator economy will continue growing and cybersecurity concerns will still grow and businesses will have to keep improving the strategies they use to protect themselves

Leveraging these trends will not only help your business grow but also allow you to stay competitive as you’ll be relying on strategies that bigger businesses are using to survive and thrive.

About the author 

Peter Keszegh

Most people write this part in the third person but I won't. You're at the right place if you want to start or grow your online business. When I'm not busy scaling up my own or other people' businesses, you'll find me trying out new things and discovering new places. Connect with me on Facebook, just let me know how I can help.

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