For many small business owners, employees and customers feel like family. There is culture and a rhythm of how the group works together.

Additionally, owners and employees often serve as consultants and counselors to their customers. Small businesses have intimate knowledge of their customers’ needs and goals. As a result, the clientele develops a high expectation for service.

While you may want to step away, it’s not always possible to completely disconnect. So how do you continue to support your business family while spending quality time with your actual relations this holiday season? Creating effective processes and implementing effective technology can

Complete a full project assessment.
Before your vacation starts, get a detailed understanding of what you and your employees need to accomplish before returning to your regular routines. Ryan McCarl, founder and CEO of WordBrewery  a small business that develops online language immersion programs, suggests you work up an assessment of current projects and their status and pair it with a list of priorities.

Google’s G Suite work package, or even just Google Docs alone, has recently become one of the top tools to use for remote work capability. You can use the suite to create and save project assessments for multiple employees to access and update. Google Docs is free to use, while G Suite provides other options, like security and storage, for either $5 or $10 per month per user.

Establish a remote headquarters.
Once you have an understanding of what needs to get done while you are away, you can keep operations running as seamlessly as possible. Alexis Robin, cofounder of p.Link [], explains that there are ways to simulate an office environment by using various technologies.

“Apps like Dropbox  can easily become a remote file cabinet, and Zoom can be used in lieu of an in-person conference room,” Robin says.

Training employees to utilize and rely on a remote headquarters as opposed to an actual office will help ensure the business runs smoothly, even when those employees are not seeing your face every day.

Communication is key: Utilize apps and phone mobility features.
When communicating with other employees, business owners can use the various messaging apps like Slack , and project management apps like Basecamp, or even free texting apps like WhatsApp, in addition to the typical emails and calls.

Keep in mind, a lot of nuance can be lost when using these apps or email. The ability to write quickly and clearly will is essential to good remote management. By brushing up on your writing skills, you will reduce dreaded back-and-forth with confused employees. If there is confusion, thwart debating the topic over multiple emails by holding a quick video chat to encourage active discussion.

When it comes to communicating with clients, however, communication methods like instant messaging, app messaging, or email are not always sufficient. For addressing customer service issues, apps like Parature and from Salesforce can serve as lifelines to you or your trusted employees. With these apps, customer issues or questions can be addressed or managed from your mobile phone.

Brad Mainland, CBIP professional consultant, advises that a call forwarding service is one of the most important tools in which to invest. “Clients have a tendency to get anxious when asked to use an alternate contact method or person,” Mainland says.

Phone mobility packages provide features such as “office anywhere,” “personal attendant,” “sequential ring” and “simultaneous ring.” With these features, calls can be routed to cell phones or to multiple people, ensuring that a call never goes missed and clients remain happy.

Be there, without being there.
Consider setting aside specific times during your holiday break to reach out to each employee, as well as your key customers, while you are away. The holidays can be a stressful and, for some, a difficult time of year. Connecting with the people who are important to the success of your business will go a long way to creating stronger bonds and more support for 2017.

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