Remote working isn’t new to all of our customers. ACG of Americas was founded in 2007 and has operated with remote teams since its founding. The company provides network security services specifically for companies with remote operates, so its business is strong right now.
We talked to Juan Carlos Sánchez Pignalosa, the company’s CEO and co-founder, about how this works. He is based in Miami, but the company’s seven full-time employees work from locations in the Caribbean and Colombia. It uses Bento for Business to manage employee travel benefits; because Bento runs on the Visa network, cards are accepted worldwide. “The controls are awesome,” he says. “We’ve been able to immediately block an account if a card is lost”
Not only does his staff work all over the world, but they can help other companies do the same thing. “We are a provider of remote solutions, and we have a remote workforce.” Remote working is standard operating procedure.
ACG of America’s core products are firewalls, VPNs, routers, and VoIP: the technology that makes remote work safe and secure. “We are one of the small percentage of companies that can help other companies work remotely,” Sánchez says.
He knows a few things about managing remote teams. The key is to tell people what they are expected to do and then evaluate them on results. It’s the same as in an office, except that face time reinforces the message. “People tend to relax at home,” he says, which doesn’t mean they can’t be productive. They simply need different guidance than if they are in the office, so managers should pay attention to make sure that timelines are not slipping. Having tools for continuous communications and online meetings is imperative.
And, if bandwidth is an issue, have your company’s IT staff identify the best ISPs in your community and provide workers with tips for improving their home connections. You give up enterprise-scale bandwidth when remote working.
But you can make remote working work
Sánchez has also operated through a few cycles remote work through of waxing and waning demand, and he has three tips for entrepreneurs who haven’t:
1) Respect pricing. If your pricing is fair, you shouldn’t undercut yourself by cutting prices in a panic, nor should you gouge when demand is high. Both practices hurt the long-run integrity of your business.
2) If you can’t be in direct contact with customers, offer outstanding service. HIgh quality can help offset a perceived loss of personal touch.
3) Be responsible about logistics and timelines. Understand how long it takes to set up and ship things, and tell customers that. That will go far to calming their nerves and offering a high level of service when they can’t see you in person.
Like many entrepreneurs, Sánchez can’t sit still. He recently started a second company with his wife and a friend. LeArmet.com offers high-end motorcycle accessories sourced from artisans and suppliers around the world. Online retail is a little different from network security services, but Sánchez is excited about the potential. He is looking forward to seeing customers in their new gear once people are allowed to travel freely again.