Like it or lump it, remote working is having a moment right now. An outburst of cloud technologies and connectivity tools has made the ‘virtual team’ a reality, and we see workers from distant parts of the globe pulling together to meet common business goals. With more and more people opting to work from home or off-site, remote working is fast becoming a mainstay of the corporate domain.
According to the Office for National Statistics, the number of home workers in the UK has grown by 1.3 million since 1998, amounting to 13.9% of the nation’s workforce. While in the United States, Global Workplace Analytics reports that approximately 20–25% of workers operate remotely on some occasions, and 3.7 million people now work from home at least half the time.
The rise of remote working has become impossible to ignore. But, what makes it so popular?
Why work remotely?
From an individual standpoint, the growing trend in remote working is undoubtedly positive, bringing greater flexibility in work hours, time saved on the daily commute and a better work-life balance. This is terrific news if you’re a parent juggling family responsibilities alongside a hefty workload. But what impact does it have on the average small to medium-sized enterprise? Quite a lot as it stands. Remote working can be a step in the right direction for many companies, offering a wealth of opportunities to cut costs while boosting the productivity of your team.
- More talent – Remote working opens up a whole world of talent and you can hire the best and brightest people for the job, regardless of where they live.
- Office savings – With fewer bods on-site, businesses can save on overheads such as rent, rates, lighting, heating, equipment and any other costs associated with running a physical workspace.
- Enhanced productivity – Forget the idea that working from home equates to slacking off. In a recent survey by employee engagement firm TINYPulse, 91% of respondents said they were more productive when working remotely. When all that’s needed is a good internet connection, remote work makes it possible for people to choose when, where and how they work, so they’re motivated to hit maximum productivity.
Judging by these benefits, working remotely is working smartly and the traditional office may soon become a thing of the past. But it’s not all smooth sailing. For some organizations, the more flexibility that’s added, the more it can feel as if you’re losing control of your team. To get the most out of a remote workforce, you need a well-considered approach and the right tools for the job.
Here are 3 practical tips to make remote working work for you.
3 tips to make your remote team a success
1. Create connections
Strong communication is vital for running a remote team, and in these digitally connected times there’s no reason why distance should pull people apart. Thanks to modern devices and apps, we no longer need to be sitting in the same room to touch base, share data or collaborate on projects. Whether your teammates choose to work from a home office, a local co-working space or a coffee house, make sure they have the communication tools they need to be productive.
With full mobility across multiple platforms – Windows, Mac OSX, iPhone and iPad – DropTask acts as a real-time communication channel for teams working online and easily overtakes email in the collaboration stakes. Project teams can target their interactions so that essential messages or files don’t get drowned in people’s inboxes, and individuals can quickly locate conversations without having to dig through an email chain that’s miles long. There’s no reason for freelancers and other ad-hoc workers to feel left out of team play either. They can stay in touch on the projects that concern them and keep close ties with the team from within one virtual workspace.
2. Fit in some Face-Time
Encourage your distributed team to schedule frequent hangouts in their DropTask calendars – maybe weekly, fortnightly or monthly – so that everyone knows what the rest of the crew is working on and can offer each other support where needed. Regular video or phone conferences are great for connecting people and provide a valuable outlet for sharing issues or problems, ensuring no one in the team feels isolated or stuck. But remember that while technology is great, nothing beats face-time. It’s a fact that human beings work better together when they’re comfortable in each other’s company. Inviting your remote workers to ‘get personal’ via face-to-face meetings at the HQ or during fun, social activities will build camaraderie, and can make all the difference to team dynamics.
3. Keep tabs without losing trust
One of the biggest fears among managers is that remote workers will ‘goof off’ if left to their own devices. This comes down to trust. Showing that you trust your virtual team is essential to making things work as it gives them the vote of confidence they need to be productive – but you still need to stay in the loop. Incessantly asking questions and checking up on people will only undermine trust, and so the best way to ensure people are doing what they’re supposed to is to keep a tight focus on results. Set concrete goals, deliverables and timelines, and if they aren’t met, follow up with your team members to find out why.
Using DropTask, you can track workflows and view progress across a remote team via an easy-to-read visual dashboard without having to constantly badger people for updates. There’s no need to stress about your team getting stuff done because you can easily keep tabs on what they’re up to, even when you’re on the go. DropTask’s phone, tablet and desktop apps all support offline capability, so changes are automatically synced whenever you’re out and about. By giving you ‘remote control’, DropTask is fully equipped to save your sanity as a manager and help you stay coordinated as a team, no matter where you all are.
Make DropTask your ‘virtual office’ and get the best out of your remote workforce. Available via the web and with native apps on Windows, Mac, Android, iPhone and iPad, it’s a multi-platform friendly tool for bringing your team together seamlessly. How do you make remote working work for you? Add your tips in the comments below.