The Secret Of My Success… For Working Remotely

mel_kirkThe ways that people work are changing. Since the introduction of cloud computing a decade ago, there’s been a raft of collaboration tools introduced to the market to help people work together regardless of their location.

This shift has meant that companies are able to recruit better talent as they’re no longer restricted to their local talent pool – anyone can work from anywhere at any time, assuming they have a internet connection of course.

There are many many benefits to working remotely such as being able to cover different time zones, the ability to hire resource that may not be able to make it to the office – whether that’s for personal reasons such as having small children or for geographical reasons, costs are reduced which can be passed on to the end user and teams tend to work more efficiently – without having to waste hours travelling.

However, it’s also worth noting that it’s not all plain sailing. Working with remote teams takes careful management for it to be effective and so we’ve detailed some of our top tips below:-

Open Communication

It can become all to easy for remote workers to become isolated and work individually on projects, which can be detrimental to the end product. For example, where a designer would normally talk you through a concept design, simply sending an email with a design all of sudden seems to become more acceptable when you’re not face-to-face. Be sure to make a call to chat through any decision making processes as it will ensure that there’s no misunderstanding.

Another element that is often missed is that of sharing new product ideas, marketing initiatives and successes unless it’s directly relevant to a person’s role. For younger companies especially (which are often the first companies to adopt remote working), they will go through a number of changes as they mature. Therefore it’s essential that regular updates are given to the team to not only get their buy in but for them to fully understand the mission of the company and so that they feel comfortable when talking about the company and/or product to others.

Where possible try and make time for regular updates where you can catch up with the whole team to find out what’s going on. If it’s in the diary, it’s more likely to take place!

Show Your Face

Even if it’s just on a conference call, having a video conference will allow you to personally connect with the person at the other end and can often deliver a message more effectively as you’re able to see facial expressions. That said one-to-one meetings will always have their place and getting the team together occasionally is invaluable for maintaining team spirit.

Utilise Tools

There are a whole raft of collaboration tools that allow you to work in real-time with other team members, regardless of their location, which means that you no longer have to wait for emails to ping backwards and forwards. GoogleDocs is great for viewing and amending documents with comments, whilst others might include Yuuguu for screensharing, Basecamp for project management or ProofHQ for streamlined review and approval of marketing collateral.

By using these tools effectively, you should always set out projects that the teams will be working on and who is responsible for each – that way no balls get dropped and you’re always able to tell the progress of all aspects of the project in question. This will also help motivate the team when the comfy sofa and daytime TV seems oh so appealing.

These are just a few tips, but the important thing to remember is that just like an office based team, individuals are just that – individual, therefore the way that they each work will change and it’s important to recognise this to work seamlessly rather than enforce a one size fits all policy.

We’d love to hear what you think makes remote working successful and whether you have any tips and advice of your own that you feel work for you that you can share, so feel free to use the comments below.

Mel Kirk is a freelance Digital Marketing Consultant who specialises in consumer engagement strategies. She currently manages the marketing function at ProofHQ and previously managed the social strategies for Aardman Animations and Carsonified to name a few. It’s fair to say, Mel embraces her inner geek.