More companies are hiring remote employees as technology continues to advance. Remote workers are satisfied with their careers and tend to be more productive.
“I love driving 45 minutes to work every morning,” said nobody ever.
Working from home, remote working, telecommuting – all of these are positions that many adults who have ever held a 9-to-5 office job have fantasized about. What’s not to like about working from the comfort of your own couch, sending work emails in your pajamas, and brainstorming world-changing ideas while chopping vegetables for dinner?
Unsurprisingly, a study of about 1,900 remote workers from 90 countries found that 90% of remote workers want to continue working remotely for the rest of their careers.
It’s not just employees who love to avoid the morning rush hour traffic. A report by SurePayroll found that more than 66% of employers claimed employees who work remotely were more productive than those who come into the workplace.
Don’t let these numbers fool you into applying for remote positions just yet. Just like any other job, remote working comes with its own baggage, including loneliness, a lack of structure to your work, feeling unmotivated and cut off from the thick of the action, feeling unappreciated for your work, and so on.
So, if you already work remotely or are planning on switching to a remote work setup, read on to strike that perfect balance between work and life.
1. Make a Schedule and Stick to It
Working from home can give you a false sense of complacency that you work in an alternate universe with a different set of rules for time and space. Of course, this means waking up at the eleventh hour to the stark realities of deadlines and deliverables.
Do yourself a favor, and invest in a good scheduling tool to keep your work and life under control. Personally, I schedule the heck out of my iPhone’s calendar app, but not everyone is as joined at the hip with their phone as me.
Try a tool such as Plan to structure your day and stay on top of appointments, projects, and even collaboration with your team. It not only works with your Outlook and iOS calendars, it also integrates beautifully with a slew of complementary tools such as Jira, Salesforce, and more.
The important thing to remember is that no matter where you work from, every hour of your work day is important and must be spent doing things that are productive and necessary.
You can always catch that rerun of “Friends” on TV some other time – just not when you’re working.
2. Trust the Cloud
One of the sore points of remote working is the incessant email ping-pong that you play with your team. Who hasn’t lived the torture of scrolling through reams of inconsequential mail to find that one document you need to finalize an agreement?
Save yourself and your team the hassle by storing data on the cloud, where it can be accessed securely yet with ease by your team members. Cloud-based systems don’t just simplify storage but also make searching for and retrieval of data easy across the organization.
Most companies already use cloud-based versions of their SaaS tools, enabling remote workers to access the same technology that regular employees benefit from.
A lesser-known aspect of the cloud is the ability to add your IT infrastructure management to it. This is especially useful for companies that have a large percentage of employees working remotely and logging on to the office network from locations that could be a potential security hazard.
With a tool such as Cloud Management Suite, you can automate routine IT tasks like running security checks on all computers through the network, updating software without disturbing employees’ routines, deploying security patches, and more.
Using the cloud helps remote employees work efficiently and seamlessly.
3. Define Roles Clearly
It’s easy to walk up to your coworker’s desk and have a quick chat to clarify who’s doing what for a project you’re both working on. However, things get a little trickier when you work remotely and you’re not on close terms with your colleagues. This brings on misunderstandings, confrontations, and double work.
This is where it’s important for a manager to set expectations very clearly and spell out in no uncertain terms who’s responsible for what.
You can use the RACI model: Responsibility, Accountability, Consult, and Inform.
A RACI chart helps you keep track of various projects and the role that each team member plays in these projects.
Alternately, if your team uses a project management tool to stay on track of all your work, make it a point to assign clear responsibilities for each task to specific team members.
Smartsheet is a good tool to help avoid role confusion and let team members stick to schedules and plan their own activities more efficiently.
Remote employees must know their roles and the roles of their colleagues.
4. Keep Lines of Communication Open
One of my favorite things about going into work is meeting my “work friends” and sharing a few light moments with them at the water cooler, catching up on the company grapevine.
Obviously, this aspect of workplace camaraderie is missing from remote workers’ lives, where all they see are emails and phone calls all day long. This is probably why communication struggles and loneliness top the list of problems that remote workers face in Buffer’s State of Remote Work 2018 Report.
As a manager with remote workers on your team, you can take proactive steps to make them feel included.
Set up daily 10-minute scrum meetings with the entire team each morning, so every team member knows what everyone else is up to. An open-door policy inviting all team members to speak their minds is another big necessity for geographically scattered teams.
My favorite way to keep the lines of communication humming, though, are messaging apps that our teams use to keep in touch throughout the day.
Less formal than email yet as quick and efficient, messaging apps such as Slack help remote teams connect, collaborate, and build meaningful work relationships on a more informal level, leveling the playing field between on-site and remote employees.
It’s essential for businesses to make communication easy among all employees – both remote and in-house.
Make Remote Workers Satisfied
A study by IWG on remote workers shows that globally, 70% of working professionals work from home for at least one day a week. Another study predicts that 50% of the world’s workforce will work remotely by 2020.
In other words, there’s a very good chance that if you’re not already working remotely, you’ll probably turn into at least a part-time remote worker in the years to come.
And if you’re a business owner, take it from me that you can run a full-service marketing agency without driving an inch or ever meeting half of your employees.
Keep these user-tested rules of remote working in mind to enjoy the best of both worlds without unnecessary drama.