When people hear that I work remotely there are many responses. I’m not sure that people realize the many aspects of it. If you read my blog you know that I’m a huge proponent of working remotely. This post is a summary of considerations that both the employee & employer need to consider for a successful experience.
Working remotely suits the community building role for a number of reasons. We are an independent type that is self motivated. There are also many advantages to not being onsite:
- provides a unique perspective from the customer’s eyes
- ability to wok on projects without frequent interruptions at the office
- employer has access to a larger more skilled & experienced hiring pool
- it’s convenient to work flexible hours & provide 24/7 service
- utilization of Web 2.0 tools
- higher job satisfaction
- lower cost of living
The downsides for working remotely:
- working too many hours (I am guilty)
- lack of social interaction in real life with coworkers
- conference calls with speakerphones are a pain
I’ve been working remotely for 12 years. As a librarian, my region office was 75 miles away. I supervised 7 sites. Online I’ve worked with a number of companies. The main ones have been located in Victoria, BC Canada, Herndon, VA, San Francisco, and my present one is in Rochester, NY. (I live in northern Minnesota)
The following considerations for working remotely are important. Many of these are important in any workplace.
- the contact at the company plays a big role
- trust & respect are imperative
- common vision & goals
- listening & communication in both directions
- outline expectations for both sides
- will provide internal support & connection
- deliverables rather than a time clock
- projects & routine tasks based on a timeframe
- goals based on strategy & objectives (mutually established)
- reporting based on deliverables
- collaboration tools – it’s all about efficiency
- imperative to working remote
- utilize what the company has established & add to that if needed
- share calendars for scheduling meetings
- wikis are great for planning
- access to the bug reporting software (yes I provide product feedback directly into the system)
Suggestions for success in working remotely:
- Establish relationships with key people in the organization
- Find out how they prefer to communicate & use that
- Be perceptive to needs of the organization & remember that at meetings you’ll be missing the nonverbal cues
- Train them in Web 2.0 activities – this will build mutual respect
- Talk about what your work & responsibilities because many may not know what you’re doing
- Circulate positive feedback within the company (I love sending company wide emails ) Remember that you’re the link to the customers
- Encourage communication internally amongst departments – I frequently joked, "Don’t you people talk to each other?!!"
- Ask the right questions (see the previous one) – there is more burden on you as a remote employee to stay up to date.
- Work with a transparent organization.
- Interview the potential employer in order to identify expectations.
Home office visits are another important aspect of working remotely. I will be covering that in a future post. That is a time to solidify the relationships & get to know each other in person.
If you’re en employer I would encourage you to consider offering a remote option. The advantages far outweigh the disadvantages. As more knowledge workers realize that they offer valuable assets think that geography will become less of an issue.
What questions do you have about working remotely?