For a good long while, tradition and resistance to change won over advancing technology, and “no” was the response a lot of people got when trying to set themselves up for telecommuting or some other form of remote/location-independent work.
Not so much anymore.
Even in my own industry, architecture, where collaborative face-to-face work and “analog” skills (e.g. hand drawing) are still prized, more and more firms are making the jump to the cloud, and to alternative work models.
That might mean:
- Allowing existing employees to work from home (or anywhere, for that matter).
- A culture shift from a butt-in-seat mentality to performance-based rewards.
- Hiring not only local employees (or those that will move), but hiring from any number of the millions of available people around the world.
- Using contract-based workers or overseas workers to accomplish things on a short-term or task-specific basis.
As tech advances, so will the ability to collaborate without being in the same space. The excuses for why it can’t be done are quickly melting away.
Technologies like cloud storage, online video conferencing, CRM managers/collaboration software, cloud accounting–just to name a few–are enabling a revolution.
In no particular order, I think we need to be mindful of some of the following to make this mode of working successful:
- Absolutely no micromanaging. Now more than ever, it’s critical to outline the desired result and the constraints (budget, pitfalls, etc.) and allow employees the freedom to get there on their own.
- On the other side, as a remote employee, you have to learn how to operate on your own. You no longer have a boss or co-workers to bother every few minutes with a question, so you have to rely on your creative and research skills to get through problems.
- Your home technology will make a difference, so purchase wisely or ask your company to chip in. You need a decent computer, all the right software, and a high-speed connection for online collaboration.
- If you’re “local,” it’s probably still beneficial to visit your office once in a while (unless your company no longer has a physical office).
- Find ways to be social. Connect with customers, co-workers, friends, and family throughout the day. You might even find that you’re interacting with clients and colleagues on a much deeper and more purposeful level than ever before.
- Set boundaries for yourself, or your work live will bleed into your home, and vice-versa.
- Do the best job you can do, and let your work speak for itself to anywho who doubts that working somewhere other than at the office is somehow unproductive.