It’s a beautiful afternoon in Barcelona. I am messaging our Development Team in Mar del Plata and about to get on a call with our Design Lead in Boston. She will send an email to one of our clients in San Francisco, who found us online.
A couple of years ago this would have been totally chaotic. The most inefficient way to work. Teams spread across the world? Total insanity. How would you manage to actually get any work done? A revolution in the workplace is taking place, and it’s for the best.
Remote workers are more and more prevalent in business. Many major industries and companies provide their employees with not only home office but anywhere-in-the-world-with-a-wifi-connection office. There was a time in which if your colleagues or coworkers wanted to get in touch, they only had an office phone number. If you were out of the office they had to find you at an alternate phone number or maybe, if they were lucky, a pager. A remote position meant telemarketing or costumer service at a below minimum wage. It was just insane to think that a full-time real career could be developed that way.
Let’s give, once again, a round of applause to technology. Broadband Internet, video conferencing, instant messaging, group chats, project management tools and many more have made remote work over the past 10 to 15 years seamless and will continue skyrocketing as this business trend rises. Also, companies all over the world have stopped renting traditional offices and can run their business in co-working spaces with lower costs. Add shorter commutes and flexible work hours to that and you’ll see there’s less time wasted thus more productive work hours.
It’s not just about being wherever you want whenever you want. It’s also about saving time and energy by avoiding everything it takes to get in time to an office every day and by being able to skip the routine office life. Remote work doesn’t equal home office. Being remote lets you have more freedom and get things done without mourning about how unlucky you are when Monday comes around or how cramped the subway is.
Of course, remote employees also need to get used to this kind of work. They need to be flexible and develop skills that allow them to keep the privilege of working remotely. They don’t get birthday cakes, real coffee breaks or after office beers with coworkers. They can’t read their boss’ gestures or expressions. Sometimes we are tempted to stay at home in our pajamas and notebooks and may feel isolated.
Currently, we can find many tools to work remotely and not get lost, such as unified communication tools that integrate instant messaging, voice, audio and video services and let strategy, operations and production converge.
There can also be face-to-face meetings or team building days planned out. But, at the end of the day the key is getting organized, focusing on objectives, avoiding micromanagement, not being stuck at home and enjoying freedom.
One of the reasons why employers think about betting on remote is lower fixed costs per employee. A highly equipped traditional office space and the costs that come with it isn’t a high priority anymore. Also, companies that embrace remote work can hire top talent. More and more, skilled workers will adapt to a remote working lifestyle and only firms that can adapt to this will be able to work with these talents and get a chance to become market leaders.
Going remote is not a walk in the park. We know that. A company needs to make many adjustments for it to go well.
Managing remote employees, their workflows and understanding that productivity isn’t just measured in hours spent in a certain closed place can be tough. Let’s take a look at some criteria to take into account when going remote:
Output work cultures: Objectives need to be set precisely. Outputs are the tangible result that will make the business function and having them as goals lets employees focus and stay productive.Metrics: Goals have to be measurable, realistic and attainable.Communication: Remote workers need to communicate with specific words. There are no gestures or tone over the Internet so everything must be crystal clear. Keep the conversation flowing.Project Management Systems: All team members must be able to know what the rest of the team is working on, get assigned and assign tasks and understand which are the high-level priorities.Feedback: Design a structure for individual feedback. Set a frequency. This will allow remote workers to know what to improve and feel a closer work engagement.
A remote future does not eliminate the possibility of an existing company culture and team building. It’s not all work no play nor all play no work. You need a lot of planning, monitoring and iterating to achieve your team’s best possible level of efficiency but getting there is worth the effort. Of course you’ll need real interaction at some point. When working with clients, you sometimes need to reach out and travel to their HQs for special milestones, kick offs or other events.
At Lateral View, we work remotely since its early beginnings in 2008. At first, the whole team lived in Mar del Plata, Argentina, so we had an office space where we could meet comfortably but anyone could work from wherever they wanted any day of the week. There were no limited home office days whatsoever.
As time passed, both the agency and the team grew and a few members decided to move to Barcelona where we decided to rent a co-working space. To this day, we never lose focus of our business needs. They are at the core of every decision we make, every new team member we hire and every project we get into. We are flexible but strictly organized and have learned how to work remotely over time.
This let us hire top talent, work with clients all over the world, function with different time zones and increase our productivity. This is why we are convinced that the future of work is remote.