Remote employees can have a dramatic impact on the value of your business. If your exit strategy is to sell to a third party, take some time to think about the areas where offsite workers could have an impact.
One of the first things any good business broker will look at is your curb appeal. Your business needs to look good, just like a house that’s for sale. (OK, maybe right now a house doesn’t even need to look good, but you know what I mean.)
When I brokered Main Street businesses, I was always surprised at how much we had to tell owners. Clean up the piles of files in the office. Clean and sweep the parking area. Remove the pile of broken pallets next to the dumpster.
What message does your office space send? Is it better to downsize, and just describe the employees who are no longer on the premises? Or would a buyer prefer to see a room full of empty desks, so that he knows he could bring them back if he so desired? (But he would also be calculating the wasted rent in his mental cash flow.)
Equating Dollar Value
What are your productivity measurements or KPIs for remote workers? Can you prove that they are worth what you are paying them? How? What level of confidence can a new owner have that he is acquiring a productive team? A recent survey in the U.K showed that almost 30% of remote employees were working a side gig on company time.
How is their remote presentation? Unless they are in a job that is strictly production-based, most will interact with customers, vendors or other employees. Do you have standards for their workspace and their appearance on video?
Can you give a buyer confidence in their compensation structure? New ownership can be a great time to ask for a raise. What assurances are there that it won’t happen? As I wrote a few weeks ago, how do you integrate them into your culture?
Confidentiality and Human Resources
Confidentiality about the transaction is more difficult. Does the buyer interview remote employees one by one? You can be sure they are talking to each other, whether on Teams or Slack or just texting each others’ cell phones.
On the other hand, a group video call raises new issues. A buyer could come out of it with a poor impression because one individual is obnoxious or inattentive. Someone might press for inappropriate information. (“Will all of us keep our jobs?”)
Remote Employees Increase Risk
I am not campaigning against remote employees. They are a fact of life, now and likely for the foreseeable future. I’m just pointing out that handling their management, controlling the information flow to them, and anticipating their potential impact have all become part of exit planning.
The best surprise is no surprise. Part of your planning process when listing your company for sale should be how you will handle these questions.