Closer to home, many employees are already saving themselves long commutes to the city by negotiating to work from their home base instead.
These emerging non-telecommuters represent a shift in business mindset and the changing perception of how, where and when we work.
So how does a business owner facilitate a remote working relationship, especially one where you may never meet your contractors face-to-face? These three best practices may provide a good start.
When it comes to choosing the programs you’ll need for working remotely, you’d be wise to befriend the iCloud. The technology of online communication hasn’t only kept abreast of rapid globalisation in the modern workforce – it’s wholly responsible for it!
The advantages presented by modern technology continue to grow and evolve, so it’s important that you do your research and educate yourself on all the necessary and relevant systems that will enable you to work remotely. After that comes the all-important implementation of those systems.
This means setting up and paying your monthly or yearly subscriptions, mapping all your data and creating systems and procedures that detail the way you’ll use and administer your programs. To give you a head start, I’ve included a list of such programs at the end of this article.
Communication is key in a remote working relationship. In fact there can’t be enough of it, especially if you’re working with an offshore contractor. The rule of thumb is, the more details the better.
Be clear and concise with your instructions and your expectations of what needs to be achieved. Set up weekly video Skype meetings to discuss next week’s agenda, share ideas and get updates on work already completed or in the pipeline. It’s been proven that web based meetings are better planned and more likely to stay on topic than the more traditional office meeting so take advantage of this.
It’s also a good idea to invest time in face-to-face orientation with your virtual staff. Get to know your employees and colleagues so even if distance separates you, you can still remain updated on your staff’s lives.
In order to maintain a successful, ongoing virtual partnership there needs to be clear cut parameters around how your remote staff will work and what’s expected of them. This means that virtual roles will need well-defined job descriptions, and project management procedures must be carefully documented and followed. In other words, accountability is vital.
If you set a weekly meeting at a certain time, the expectation is that staff will be online and available at that time. Similarly if you have monthly quotas to fulfill or key performance indicators to reach, both parties need to understand what they are and how to achieve them. Defining the roles and responsibilities of your virtual staff ensures that they are kept accountable even if they don’t have an onsite manager checking and reviewing their work each day.
Project and Task Management: Basecamp, Asana, Trello
Accounting: Saasu, Xero, Shoeboxed
Email Marketing: Mailchimp, Aweber, Infusionsoft, Web Chameleon
CRM: Highrise, Zoho, Salesforce
Google for Business: Google Drive, Gmail, Google Calendar
File Sharing: Dropbox, Google Docs
Social Media Management: Hootsuite, Buffer
Content Curation: Feedly, Zite
Communications: Skype, Eventbrite, Go to Meeting
Blog Administration: CoSchedule
What other best practices have you used in your remote working relationship? Share them with us in the comments section below!
Kristy Smith is the energetic founder, director and driver of Virtual Elves, a business that provides you an understanding of how to work with a virtual assistant. Connect with her at www.virtualelves.com.au