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Remote work is the new work, for Millennials, startups, freelancers, entrepreneurs and any professional who doesn’t need to be in an office. It’s becoming normal for anyone who’s career is “knowledge based.”
These days you can work anytime, anyplace, anywhere.
An American Community survey in 2013 found that ‘risen 79 percent between 2005 and 2012 and now makes up 2.6 percent of the American work force, or 3.2 million workers.’ Remote work is becoming increasingly popular, partly due to the recession, as the recent book by 37Signals founders, Jason Fried & David Heinemeier Hansson, Remote: Office Not Required explains to those who are considering embracing this trend.
The perception we have of remote workers is however wrong. They aren’t all 20-something web developers and social media consultants. In fact, according to the New York Times, the average remote workers is ‘a 49-year-old college graduate — man or woman — who earns about $58,000 a year and belongs to a company with more than 100 employees,’ based on recent census data.
For anyone who works remotely, or manages a team of remote colleagues, the challenge is in ensuring everyone is happy and productive, whilst also being secure.
Several startups have been successfully experimenting with remote working practices; Buffer, 37Signals, Chargify, GitHub and Zapier, so we thought we’d share with you some of the best advice we could find.
1. Hire People Who Just Do It
The last thing you want is a headache thinking something hasn’t been done when the employee or contractor responsible is 8 time zones away. Calling them in the middle of the night won’t go down well for either of you. Plus this gives you an added headache. Hire only those you are confident can and will get sh*t done.
2. Trust is a Two Way Street
You need to trust those you hire. They need to trust you to get stuff done when you say. It’s a two way street. Remote work doesn’t work when both parties are constantly chasing or stressing about the other.
3. Hire Those Comfortable Without A Social Office
Working in an office is a social experience. The reduced chance for random socializing is probably one reason for higher productivity amongst remote teams. But not everyone is comfortable spending so much time in their own company. You need to be sure your remote team is okay with this, otherwise it will hinder good work being produced.
4. Have The Right Tools
When it comes to remote work there are a lot of tools you can use. Here’s a selection of the best of class favored by the geographically diverse:
The two most popular ways to make free online phone calls, group chats and instant messages. Both easy to use and set up. Google might be easier for your team, if you also use Gmail a lot. Just for the convenience of staying within the same program.
This is like an anti to do list productivity app. Everyone might have a preferred to do list tool. Plus there are some great group ones, like Basecamp or Trello, but iDoneThis is a way of telling the group what you’ve done, past tense. People can comment, give you digital high fives. Its a great way to keep the team motivated and on task.
Most remote teams use dozens of cloud-based systems. When new people join it can be a pain to get them signed up to a whole load of different accounts. 1Password is a identity manager which can be separated into vaults, each shared with different team. This is just one password for encrypted vault and it can be stored on enterprise storage instead of a cloud service. A new team member can be given that password and access everything they need to get started.
Google makes working in an environment where sharing is essential a lot easier. This is the way notes are passed, or data analyzed, when it is too big for emails or productivity tools. Although some now Office360 is a powerful and affordable competition you may consider. Yet to be albe to work offline you can go for free Libre Office (known before as Open Office)
Remote unfortunately doesn’t mean paperless. Sometimes documents need to be printed, signed, scanned and emailed back. Not any more. Hello Sign takes the hassle away.
5. How to Stay Safe?
In lieu of a strong password policy, which is a must regardless, using 1Password or other best in class password safeguard is a great first step. Depending on the work you do, you may be just using cloud services across the internet. You may however need a more robust, secure, infrastructure, such as a virtual private network (VPN).
This is something a CTO or Information Security Officer would take care of, especially when remote working is concerned. It can be a major regulatory or security failing if sensitive data was transmitted over an unsafe connection.
Sensitive documents also need to be secured. These are the sort which can’t be uploaded to Google Docs or other public cloud services. As we’ve often said, the security and privacy provided by private cloud firms isn’t enough. Your best solution is a private cloud device, which like Sherlybox can be accessed by remote team members.