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Working Remotely: How to Set Your Employees, and Your Business, Up for Success

According to surveys of American workers, 43 percent of employees work from home some of the time, with a full three percent working remotely at least half the time. In other words, we’re seeing a serious boom in remote work not seen before in U.S. history.

And so far, it’s looking like a positive trend. Lots of studies connect working remotely with:

  • Better productivity
  • Lower employee attrition
  • Reduced operating costs
  • Better work/life balance

But we can’t change without a few growing pains, and this shift toward working remotely presents challenges that firms have never had to deal with before.

Coordinate Project Management

Remote work flips the script on standard project management. Instead of having all workers housed in one building, everyone is divided among different time zones and work different schedules. You’ll find this a nightmare without some way to keep everything organized.

If you’re letting employees work from home, start by setting up online tools to keep everyone accountable. Project management websites like Basecamp, ActiveCollab, or Accelo work great here, acting as  low cost “hubs”. In these tools, you can:

  • Assign tasks
  • Discuss strategy
  • Post completed files
  • Schedule projects

Efficient Online Communication

Project management is just the start. When you allow employees to work remotely, you begin to realize just how slow our online communication is. The same discussion you’d have in a five-minute face-to-face chat suddenly takes days of back-and-forth with email. Naturally, these issues need to be hammered out.

Work with your team and discuss possible chat tools. Some of your employees might be fine with email and the messaging tools offered by your project management platform, while others might prefer more real-time communications. Great options include:

When choosing a communication platform, consider:

  • Your team’s needs
  • The ease of keeping in touch
  • Setting up new processes with remote workers in mind

Use Tools to Promote Teamwork

Another detail missing from a remote work culture is teamwork. It’s easy to take your coworkers for granted when they’re in the same building, but what happens when a team member works remotely and needs input on his/her project?

Email is always an option, but for real-time collaboration, it’s too cumbersome. Look into cloud-based platforms that let everyone access the same documents simultaneously. Google Drive and Docs are a good start. Other options include:

Succeeding in the Remote Working World

Companies of all kinds are seeing the value in letting their employees take a non-traditional approach to work, but you can’t flip the switch overnight. Remote working relies on efficiency in project management, communication, and collaboration. Keep these tips in mind as you consider your transition to remote working, and make sure you and your teams have the tools you need to succeed.