23. March 2016–
Remote working has increased in popularity year after year. It’s especially popular in the freelancing field but other industries have taken on the model too. This is of course partly because of technology but also comes as a result of employee and management interest.
So what’s all the talk about and how can you maximize the return on remote working?
As an employer
If you’re an employer and are considering switching to or integrating remote working into your business model, you are probably rightly considering how you can keep costs low. You might be tempted by the prospect of being able to hire the best people from any geographic location. But how do you keep productivity high?
1. Track Progress
Collaborative software and web-based tools like video conferencing will help you keep track of your team. What are some of the best and most commonly used tools in the start-up scene?
Asana is a great tool for helping you track progress internally. You’re able to create lists of tasks and have conversations, which can help keep you and your team in close contact.
Mention helps you keep track of what's being said about your company on the internet. It's a media monitor, so if you're a VC or tracking other competitors, you can also track other companies in one place. This can be extremely helpful when it comes time to create your monthly newsletter, which MailChimp makes simple.
2. Collaborate and Communicate
Google Docs will help you keep workflow smooth. Whether you are working on job advertisements, making a blog post or brainstorming, you can easily share and allow editing.
Skype for Business, Slack and Basecamp are all popularly used. You can discuss specific projects internally and publish company updates. With Basecamp, you can do as PointNine Capital does and create separate 'circles', depending on the team members' specific areas of interest. For example, you can have a separate Tech Circle and Founders' Circle.
If you’re in an international team, try World Clock for OS X, which keeps track of time zones and allows you to schedule international meetings and calls.
3. Keep time management a priority
It’s important you know the average time for a task. Make sure you’ve talked about how long each task should take so you can hold people appropriately accountable.
Setting deadlines is also key.
4. Make sure your team is still a team
Communication is even more important in this fluid setting. Ensure that you record your meetings (online or offline) so that what’s been decided can be accessed. Make sure you celebrate your successes together. This will keep morale high which in turn helps produce more enthusiastic and engaged employees.
You can also try 15five, which aims to help with employee engagement and feedback by streamlining the process. Employees are asked to answer simple weekly questions and managers write back. Through this “conversations are transformed into meaningful action.”
As an employee or freelancer
Berlin’s cafes and coworking spaces are full of people on their laptops. While it might seem like the ideal working situation (no commute, no office, the possibility of staying in your pyjamas) it can be hard to stay on track and feel connected to your work and the company culture. How can you stay engaged as a remote worker?
1. Find a co-working space
We found some of Berlin’s best co-working spaces for you. You should note that many of these spaces are geared towards a particular industry. These places don’t just offer quiet workspace and free plugs, but can also fix a major problem remote workers have – feeling alone! Many also host events where you can meet others who have similar interests and work.
2. Choose your work hours wisely
While it might seem like a good idea to start a project at the last minute you should try to keep to a regular schedule and think about when you are most productive. One of the benefits of coming into an office is the routine it creates for you. When you’re on your own the parts of your routine might differ but these habits are meaningful motivators and will help structure your day.
Fortunately for you this may be at other times outside of the traditional workplace hours and one of the benefits of working remotely is that it is possible to choose when you work. Pay special attention to when work is due and the time constraints of other members of the team.
3. Ensure your accountability
Staying connected to an employer through one of the task management systems talked about above is important. Your company probably trusts you to stay up-to-date with deadlines and to keep in communication. Efficient task management is vital.