Businesses have been impacted in many ways since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, including having to adapt to working remotely. Although we are beginning to see a return to our normal work environments, the last year has shown us that remote working can be just as productive. In fact, many employees have reported that they prefer it, with recent research showing that almost one in five workers would choose to work at home every day while a third would on most days.
This may be down to the fact that we have realised the effective technology we have at our fingertips. Tools like Zoom allow us to connect with people at the click of a mouse and the internet can provide us with a pool of information and resources on exporting to new markets.
So how can businesses continue to make the most out of remote working?
Use technology to boost productivity and teamwork
It’s important to stay connected to your team whilst working remotely. Luckily there are a host of platforms and tools businesses can use to keep conversations going.
Many companies might see the removal of face to face meetings as a negative, but if the technology is used to its fullest, there is no reason why work can’t still be productive.
•Video conferencing: There are many programs to help your team collaborate and connect, including Microsoft Teams, Zoom, WebEx and Skype.
•Cloud storage solutions: To encourage sharing and collaboration across your team you could consider using cloud storage solutions such as Dropbox or Google Drive which allow you to upload, share and edit files.
•Project management: When your team was in the office you might have taken it for granted how easy it was to get together around a white board using post it notes to plan your projects. But remote working doesn’t mean this has to stop. Tools like Trello, Asana and Miro can be used to create a way of visualising work while making it more interactive.
Create and optimise your website
Your website is like a shop window. When people are looking at your business, the layout, design and feel of the store will influence whether they will purchase your product or move on.
Your website should also convey your brand’s story. A customer will be looking at why they should trust your company and buy from you specifically. In fact, a recent global study found that consumers are up to six times more likely to purchase from purpose-driven companies. You can convey your story through blogs, videos, and articles to engage your customer and help them identify with your company’s mission.
Website localisation is also an important factor to consider while exporting. Diversity exists across global markets, so a one-size-fits-all approach won’t work when it comes to developing your international trade strategy. That’s why it’s so important to carry out thorough research into your target markets before developing a new website or modifying your existing one to appeal to new audiences.
At Business West, our digital support team can help you pin-point the best channels to promote and sell your products or services to an international audience. Find out more here.
Communicate with your export markets
To understand what is going on in your export markets you need to communicate effectively with your network. While jumping on a plane and travelling across the world may show potential customers and distributors that you’re serious – the same goes for being proactive in organising video and phone calls. It may just be more time and cost efficient while also being better for the planet.
Being proactive with your network remotely could involve garnering the opinions of importers, distributors, customers, or freight forwarders.
At DIT, we’ve held a series of virtual meet the buyer events over the past year which have resulted in new sales relationships being built without businesses needing to travel. To discuss your own export options with one of DIT’s International Trade Advisers in the South West contact 01275 774 456 or visit www.great.gov.uk to find out more about the range of support available as well as live export opportunities. DIT’s services in the South West are delivered by Business West. For further information, click here.
Make the most of remote opportunities
Physical events, conferences and meet-ups have all been cancelled or re-arranged during COVID but many of these are continuing in an online format and companies are becoming more innovative with virtual alternatives. If COVID has taught us one thing, it’s that people are driven to find creative ways to stay connected.
In the business world, a host of events are being held to encourage firms to keep the momentum going. DIT are hosting a series of virtual events to help businesses expand their exports, with topics such as cultural considerations when exporting to Japan. A full list of the events for businesses in the South West can be found here, along with other events organised by Business West. UK wide events organised by the Department for International Trade can be found here.