Before starting Aimtal, Janet Mesh used to work on her own, doing different jobs from home. In 2018, Aimtal began, and Mesh made it a company where people could work remotely. The main reason for this was that the company wanted to hire people from different places, not just in Boston, where the company is from. Mesh said, “We wanted to bring in people with different experiences and backgrounds, and it has always been important to us.”
Now, Aimtal has 20 workers who live in seven different time zones.
To make sure things work well with people from all over the world, Mesh said they set clear rules and had ways for everyone to talk and work together. She said, “You have to be very careful and have clear ways of doing things to make sure everyone can work together and feel good about it.”
Being a company where people work from home has many good things for small businesses. They can hire more people, save money because they don’t need an office, and often, workers are happier and work better when they can work from home.Insider talked to a small business owner and an expert in working from home about how small businesses can manage their workers when they live in different places.
Make rules about when you’re available
One of the hardest things about having workers from different places is figuring out when everyone is working. Cynthia Watson, who is the boss at Virtira, a company that helps other companies work from home, said, “If you have workers in four or five different time zones, you need to pick certain times when everyone is working.”
At Aimtal, they ask their workers to be available from 11 a.m. to noon and 3 p.m. to 4 p.m. ET. Mesh said these times are when people can talk and have meetings.Other than that, workers can choose when they work. Aimtal uses a messaging app called Slack, and they have a place where workers can say when they are working and when they are not.Mesh sometimes works at night because that’s when she feels most like working. But she knows her workers don’t have to answer her messages when they are not working.
Use messages that are not in real-timeWhen people are working from different places, they can’t always talk to each other at the same time. Watson said it’s important to have ways for people to get the information they need when they need it.
For example, companies can write down what they talked about in meetings and put it in a place where everyone can see it. They can also use tools like Notion or Confluence to share files and give them names that everyone can understand.
“You want to make it easy for people to get the information they need to work,” Watson said.
At Aimtal, they have ways to write things down and share information so that everyone knows what’s happening. They use Slack, tools for managing projects, and a library of information that workers can use and add to. They record meetings and what people say in them and put the recordings and the words on a place where everyone can see them.
“We make sure everyone knows that the information they need is easy to find and use,” Mesh said.
Make personal connections When people work from home, they can feel alone. Watson said bosses at small companies should make sure workers feel like they are part of the company and its way of doing things. For example, companies can have fun activities and things that help workers get to know each other.
“It’s important to have a personal connection,” Watson said. “It helps everyone know what the company is about. Everyone can see how what they are doing helps the company.”
Aimtal has a meeting every week where everyone comes, and they start by saying something good that happened during the week. Mesh said it’s a way for everyone to spend time together and talk about what’s happening in the company.
The company also has times where workers talk about what they learned or how they helped someone, and they have a place where people can share pictures of their pets. Mesh said the pet pictures are one of the most popular things people share.
Mesh said, “It’s important to think about how people are getting along and sharing things about themselves outside of the regular work.”