If you have already made the decision to try remote work yourself or for your staff, but could use some tips, this article will cover the basics.
Let’s start with some terms.
To me, the term “working remotely” means working someplace other than a physical location where your coworkers are. This could be at home, on the road, in a coworking space or or even in your company’s office. Yes, you can work remotely from your company’s office. I worked for years in an office where my collaborators were in different parts of the world. Despite my daily commute, I was a remote worker.
There are “remote work travel programs,” like Wifi Tribe and Behere. I’m pretty sure that’s not conducive to remote work. Change my mind if you disagree.
Even if you work at home, you are still part of a business. Be an ambassador for all remote workers by keeping the cats off your keyboard, keeping the toddlers out of the office, and dressing appropriately. The trappings of domestic life are a distraction from your collaboration with others.
That goes for the people working remotely from company offices too. If you are attending a remote meeting, and the group behind you is planning their lunch, ask them nicely to move on.
Remote workers need to be able to attend meetings. That means you need the right gear. Read this to learn more about how to set up lighting, audio and camera equipment. In summary, you need to be able to turn on your remote meeting gear in a few seconds and be ready.
You need reductant systems just in case. My internet sometimes goes on the blink, so I always have my phone’s hotspot turned on and am ready to switch over to it. I have call-in numbers available for anyone who has audio problems or chooses not to attend using their computer.
A criticism of remote work is that there are inherent communication impediments. Nothing is further from the truth. All the means of communication available to people in offices are available to remote workers, including face-to-face meetings.
Some remote workers attempt to centralize their communications in a single platform, like Slack, MS Teams or a collaboration tool. This takes some time to learn and get right but does consolidate conversations well. I prefer using multiple modes of communication – the phone, chat, video, platforms and email. They are all good for certain things.
There is a lot of email bashing out there. All the collaboration platforms try to convince you that their systems is great because it does away with email. I’m not buying it. Typing communications into their systems is just like typing emails. The search features of email are just as good as those platforms. Ironically, the platforms generate quite a bit of email themselves. “Joe just responded to your question ‘what time is lunch?’ Log in to read his response.” Thanks, that’s helpful.
There is a lot of chatter about remote workers being isolated, and there is something to that. However if you need the stimulation of in-person contact, remote work may not be right for you. The people who are attracted to remote work are those that are interested in the work itself. They do not see work as a social engagement.
If you are feeling isolated, consider going back to the office.