AOLU: Best Practices for a Productive Remote Workforce
AOLU: Best Practices for a Productive Remote Workforce
AOLU: Best Practices for a Productive Remote Workforce
AOLU: Best Practices for a Productive Remote Workforce
AOLU: Best Practices for a Productive Remote Workforce
AOLU: Best Practices for a Productive Remote Workforce
AOLU: Best Practices for a Productive Remote Workforce
AOLU: Best Practices for a Productive Remote Workforce
AOLU: Best Practices for a Productive Remote Workforce
AOLU: Best Practices for a Productive Remote Workforce
AOLU: Best Practices for a Productive Remote Workforce
AOLU: Best Practices for a Productive Remote Workforce
AOLU: Best Practices for a Productive Remote Workforce
AOLU: Best Practices for a Productive Remote Workforce
AOLU: Best Practices for a Productive Remote Workforce
AOLU: Best Practices for a Productive Remote Workforce
AOLU: Best Practices for a Productive Remote Workforce
AOLU: Best Practices for a Productive Remote Workforce
AOLU: Best Practices for a Productive Remote Workforce
AOLU: Best Practices for a Productive Remote Workforce
AOLU: Best Practices for a Productive Remote Workforce
AOLU: Best Practices for a Productive Remote Workforce
AOLU: Best Practices for a Productive Remote Workforce
AOLU: Best Practices for a Productive Remote Workforce
AOLU: Best Practices for a Productive Remote Workforce
AOLU: Best Practices for a Productive Remote Workforce
AOLU: Best Practices for a Productive Remote Workforce
AOLU: Best Practices for a Productive Remote Workforce
AOLU: Best Practices for a Productive Remote Workforce
AOLU: Best Practices for a Productive Remote Workforce
AOLU: Best Practices for a Productive Remote Workforce
AOLU: Best Practices for a Productive Remote Workforce
AOLU: Best Practices for a Productive Remote Workforce
AOLU: Best Practices for a Productive Remote Workforce
AOLU: Best Practices for a Productive Remote Workforce
AOLU: Best Practices for a Productive Remote Workforce
AOLU: Best Practices for a Productive Remote Workforce
AOLU: Best Practices for a Productive Remote Workforce
AOLU: Best Practices for a Productive Remote Workforce
AOLU: Best Practices for a Productive Remote Workforce
AOLU: Best Practices for a Productive Remote Workforce
AOLU: Best Practices for a Productive Remote Workforce
AOLU: Best Practices for a Productive Remote Workforce
AOLU: Best Practices for a Productive Remote Workforce
AOLU: Best Practices for a Productive Remote Workforce
AOLU: Best Practices for a Productive Remote Workforce
AOLU: Best Practices for a Productive Remote Workforce
AOLU: Best Practices for a Productive Remote Workforce
AOLU: Best Practices for a Productive Remote Workforce
AOLU: Best Practices for a Productive Remote Workforce
AOLU: Best Practices for a Productive Remote Workforce
AOLU: Best Practices for a Productive Remote Workforce
AOLU: Best Practices for a Productive Remote Workforce
AOLU: Best Practices for a Productive Remote Workforce
AOLU: Best Practices for a Productive Remote Workforce
AOLU: Best Practices for a Productive Remote Workforce
AOLU: Best Practices for a Productive Remote Workforce
AOLU: Best Practices for a Productive Remote Workforce
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AOLU: Best Practices for a Productive Remote Workforce

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Competing in a global workforce means working for and with co-workers who aren't necessarily co-located. Despite the rise of the distributed workforce, working remotely is still in its infancy and is often times misunderstood. 40% of workers could work from home at least part of the time and 79% of that population would choose to work from home if given the opportunity. Is it right for you?

Working remotely changes the focus from getting through the day to getting things done. Learn the tips and tricks from someone who's spent the past 6+ years working for geographically diverse companies, spanning time zones and continents.

If you've ever checked your email from home or chatted long-distance with a team member on the opposite coast, you've already worked remotely. Get rid of the air quotes that typically come with "working from home" and find out why telecommuting is the new black.

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  • Welcome to Best Practices for a Productive Remote Workforce.
    My name is Jayna Wallace, and I’m a Design Director for the AIM team.
    I started out as an in-office employee for Netscape here in Columbus, OH back in 2004, and in 2006 I transitioned to working out of my home fulltime.
    Since then I’ve been worked on distributed teams for Myspace, Blockbuster, EightShapes, Abbott Labs and Refinery29.
  • I never know what to say when someone asks where I work, because while I do work from home, I’m not a freelancer, and I also don’t want people thinking I’m stuffing envelopes for some fly-by-night company that I saw advertised on a phone pole.
    You might hear me use any of these terms today.
  • More employees are doing it than ever before.
    It’s not just moms - The majority of telecommuters are male.
    79% of those interviewed said they’d like to work from home at least part of the time.
    Those without children are just as likely to work from home as those who are parents.
  • If you’re not already - why would you want to?
    Obvious benefits: miss out on the in-office fire drills (real or imagined), burnt popcorn, the sounds of the copier, loud co-workers who insist on listening to meetings in their cubes on speakerphone...
    Just yesterday Buzzfeed published The 26 Most Annoying Things About Working In An Office
    Noisy typers, noisy eaters, people who make unnecessary noise...not to mention burnt microwave popcorn.
    Technology makes it possible:
    Online collaboration tools – These are usually hosted in the cloud and offer virtual meeting spaces for teams
    Teleconference systems - Allow meetings to take place no matter where you are in the world
    Mobile communications platforms - Smart phones and now tablet PCs allow easy access wherever you are
  • Increased productivity is one of the biggest benefits in allowing employees to work from home.
    There have been lots of studies in recent years that show that working remotely - or outside the traditional office setting - has had a positive impact on productivity.
    For all the reasons you’re probably already aware - cuts down on distractions, makes for happier, more well-balanced employees, and it gives the employees a sense of empowerment.
    --
    The Telework Research Network reports that workshifting increases productivity by 27%.
    Stanford University conducted a 9-month study of Chinese call-center workers of and found a 12% increase in productivity for the at-home workers.
    British Telecom found that productivity rose 31% among its 9,000 telework employees.
    The Procter & Gamble Company (P&G) had a 10-15% increase in productivity after transitioning to a home environment from a bricks and mortar call center.
    Dow Chemical estimates a 32.5% increase in productivity among its teleworkers.
    Alpine Access, one of the nation’s largest all-virtual employers, attributes a 30% increase in sales and 90% reduction in customer complaints to its home-based agents.
    American Express teleworkers handled 26% more calls and produced 43% more business than their office-based counterparts.
    Compaq Computer Corporation documented increased teleworker productivity ranging from 15 to 45%.
    I could go on. But basically, working remotely has been proven to increase productivity. And yes, there are exceptions, but overall, in addition to being great for employees, working remotely can be great for companies.
  • Fewer Sick Days
    You know those co-workers who always insist on coming into the office when they’re sick? To show how dedicated they are - but they end up getting everyone else sick? Well now they can keep right on working when they’re sick. From home.
    Instead of coming in - making themselves sicker, as well as passing along their germs to everyone else - they can rest up and still put in a few hours of work from home, and keep you from contracting whatever horrible contagious disease they’re passing around.
    Which means fewer sick days for everyone involved.
  • Weather Emergencies
    Let’s say there’s a giant snowstorm that comes through town and all the roads are closed. For some companies, that means an entire day lost.
    But if you’re already set up to work from home - if your whole team knows how to do it - you don’t have to lose any time at all (at least until the power goes out).
  • Disaster Preparedness
    Same goes for disasters. About a year ago, the Directors on the AIM team were required to put together a plan for Disaster Preparedness.
    Because everyone on the team can already work remotely - and does so on a regular basis - we’re a lot further ahead of a team that’s not used to working remotely.
  • Employee Retention
    Happy employees are more likely to stay.
    According to Global Workplace Analytics, 95 percent of employers report that telecommuting has a high impact on talent retention.
    Allowing employees to work remotely can be viewed as a perk, but it should also be viewed as a way to get the best performance out of your team, and to keep them happy (and healthy) so that they can continue to perform at their peak level.
  • No Geographic Limits to Hiring
    The talent pool is limitless
    No more relocation costs, removing someone from friends and family and the place they currently call home and hoping that they fit into their new surroundings - a lot of companies like the idea of relocation because it shows the employee is “invested” - but what they’re really doing is trapping that person into a new city or town they might not really want to live in.
    Think of all the times you may have found the perfect candidate for a job, but for whatever reason they didn’t want to move.
    Now you can hire the best and the brightest, wherever they may be.
    Traditional Solutions Are Not Working
    Traditionally this sort of problem has been solved in two ways:
    Companies searched for talent in other markets and paid them to relocate
    Companies opened offices in other markets so that they could tap into talent in that new market
    Smart technology companies will recognize the benefits of hiring top talent to work from home in remote markets and expand their workforce with top technical talent from other markets instead of scraping the bottom of the local talent pool.
  • IS IT RIGHT FOR YOU? (5 minutes)
    Working well from home requires disciplined, focused self-starters who can thrive without much face-to-face interaction.
    Companies’ talent management programs must identify who fits that bill, and employees must be self-aware enough to assess if they have those traits as well.
    Teleworkers need to have:
    Good communication (especially writing) skills: Email and phone will replace most in-person communications
    Outside relationships: Since you'll be away from the in-office community, you may need to establish stronger friendships outside of work
    Organization skills: Your desk and your files are really yours to maintain
    General technology comfort: Telecommuters need to be able to perform basic computer tasks and use online technologies like email, IM, and web conferencing
  • SELF-SUFFICIENT
    Self-sufficiency and motivation: Since no one's watching over your shoulder, you need to be self-motivated
    You are your own IT department.
    Check your calendar & email first thing so you know what’s ahead for the day
    Know what your priorities are
  • COMMUNICATION
    Working remotely means you have to be better at communicating.
    Never leave people wondering where you are or if you're doing your work.
    Leave no question as to what you're doing and what you're getting done.
    Go out of your way to either get your work done or give a status to say what you did and when it will be done.
    Ask lots of questions, build consensus and confirm vocally.
    Be clear and direct in what your trying accomplish – verbally, confirm via email.
    Communications overall – the greater effort it takes to communicate frequently/effectively
    Over communicate – copy entire teams on emails.
    Provide feedback for your teammates – often, using Atlas!
    Update Atlas, let people know what you do/are responsible for.
    Attempt to match communication styles and preferred methods with you team.
    Be proactive and reach out, often. It’s up to you to not be forgotten!
    Calendar and AIM Alert your status – out of the office, in a meeting, etc.
    Be vocal and forthcoming with information – don’t leave people guessing.
    Be on time or early to meetings.
    Fill your peers in on informal “hallway” discussions/decisions that impact work
    Make personal connections - share your personal life info too.
  • ORGANIZATION SKILLS
    Be able to prioritize your day - keep track of what needs to get done.
    Know what you need, or how to get it.
  • NOT FOR EVERYONE
    Carefully consider all the factors that will make telecommuting either successful or not for you personally (such as your ability to focus without supervision, comfort with being isolated from the office, quality of home/remote working environment, etc.).
    You may have problems in projecting a professional appearance if for example the dog is barking, the kids are loud, or the TV is on whilst you are on the telephone.
    Telecommuting is only right for you if you are self disciplined and will able to get work done despite the distractions that go along with working from home.
    The ability to work from home can be tempting, but it is not for everyone. Telecommuters must be able to follow a strict schedule and be independently motivated.
    An ideal telecommuter should be able to work with minimal supervision and have the self-discipline to dedicate the same amount of time to the job as a traditional office worker.
    Personal work habits are important considerations when transitioning from traditional office worker to telecommuter.
  • CHALLENGES FOR EMPLOYEES (5 minutes)
    Missing out on the “water cooler” informal conversations
    Not knowing/feeling the morale in Dulles - read about what’s going on in the company by the news, rather than by communication from managers
    Missing key information only shared locally - not included on Town Hall Meeting invites
    Conferencing etiquette & technical difficulties - difficult to hear
  • AIR QUOTES = YOU’RE CHEATING
    Another misguided perception is the “Oh, you’re “WORKING FROM HOME” air quotes.
    If you don’t believe it, neither will they.
    It doesn’t matter how productive you feel you’re being at home, there will inevitably be people in your workplace who think you’re somehow ‘cheating’ by working-at-home.
    Often they’ll make subtly snide comments, insinuating that you’re not working, that you’re sleeping in, watching TV or getting household chores done.
    It goes back to this belief that if you’re REALLY committed to work, you’d be AT work.
    If you happen to be on the other side of that equation - working remotely - you might be inclined to:
    send emails to people before the start of work hours (so people knew you’re awake)
    dive to make sure I answered my phone on the first ring.
    The goal was to let no one think I was doing anything BUT working.
  • PERCEPTION IS EVERYTHING
    There’s already a stigma attached to “Working from Home” - the idea that you’re not really working, that you’re sitting around all day watching TV or doing laundry.
    Even if you're working from a remote location (near or on the beach) don't flaunt it. You're supposed to be working.
    Some senior management leaders visualize telecommuters as being “fuzzy slipper types” who are taking advantage of arrangements at the expense of profitability.
    In reality, Telecommuting is probably the worst possible work dodge-around.
    Someone in house can often hide in the office - just by merely showing up you’ve already shown your commitment to the job.
    A remote worker who doesn't pull their weight leaves evidence everywhere:
    unreturned phone calls
    e-mails that die on the vine.
    That means a telecommuter is likely a top performer who stands ready to prove the arrangement both comfortable and productive.
  • OUT OF SIGHT, OUT OF MIND
    The last thing you want to do is to fly under the radar.
    The odds that someone will forget to call you into a meeting, or forget to tell you about what happened in a chance hallway conversation - those odds are already against you. Don’t tempt it.
  • OUT OF THE LOOP
    You’re going to miss some things - breakfast burritos, cupcakes, bagels and donuts
    Not knowing/feeling the morale in Dulles, Palo Alto, New York
    Missing key information only shared locally
    Have friends (and allies) inside the office who you can reach out to for information.
  • 5. Set Boundaries With Your Family And Friends
    This is pivotal not only to your success at working from home, but to your personal relationships! When you first begin telecommuting, friends and family may not understand the demands this requires of you. A friend whose sitter cancels may call you for a favor, “Can you watch the kids, since you are working at home?” You may get invitations to lunch or drinks, which down the road you may evaluate you can work into your schedule periodically.
    In the beginning, you need to be careful to set a tone for your family and friends as well as good work habits for yourself.
    --
    DISTRACTIONS
    If there’s anything that comes up and you’re not sure if you should do it -- ask yourself, would I do this if I were in the office? If no, then don't do it.
    If you can, work in a room away from the television / turn it off.
    Laundry, chores - work somewhere you don't have to see it. (Out of sight, etc.)
    Kids, pets (and sometimes other family members) require attention. If you’re watching your kid are you putting 100% of your time into your work - working from home is not a substitute for daycare.
    You’ll need to manage friends and family who don’t understand that even though you’re at home, you’re not available (to babysit, wait for a package, etc.)
    Pets - take for a walk before work.
    Creating a physical boundary between work and other activities is a good solution.
  • Being in an office creates a herd mentality:
    If people around you are working, you’re working.
    If they’re by the water cooler chatting, you might be more likely to take a break.
    When lunch comes, you eat because everyone else is eating.
    They pack up for the day, so do you.
    At home, there’s nobody but you.
    Set routines - keep regular hours
    Make it clear to managers when they are not available.
    Use AIM to set status message - online at 9am, away at lunch, offline at 5pm
    Set daily breaks (for lunch, take a walk around the block - just get away from your desk/computer for a few minutes).
    It’s easy to become a workaholic when the boundaries between where “work” happens and where the rest of your life happens are blurred.
    It’s more difficult to disengage from work - there’s no beginning or end to the day, resulting in working longer hours.
  • 3. Set Up A Comfortable, Separate Space For Your Work Area
    This is critical to your success as a home-worker. Your space should be relatively free from distractions such as family, pets, home telephone, the television, even an attractive view if you are new to telecommuting. You should have a good quality chair and large monitor if you are primarily working at the computer (who isn’t!).
    LACK OF FOCUS
    Hard to focus at home? Get away from the distractions.
    Stop multi-tasking - uni-task instead (do one thing at a time).
    Be fully engaged when attending meetings (we know its hard not to multi-task)
    Find a place where you can be your most productive.
    Not comfortable - need proper work environment, chair, desk (not couch or bed)
    Don't have the right software (check this while you're still in the office)
    Don't have the right files (use Dropbox)
    Avoid FOMO (Fear of missing out) - you don’t have to respond to every IM or email the minute it appears in your inbox
    Hide windows you don't need
    Turn off email notifications
    Ignore Twitter and Facebook
    Use fullscreen tools
    Find a system that works
    File shit away
    Keep your shit tidy - keep it clean: your workspace should reflect your system
    Own your email
  • 6. Set Specific Work Times Or Goals
    Goals are important to keep you on track, as well as to validate your progress. Working at home can be very positive in terms of autonomy and independence, but it can be lonely and unfulfilling without the regular feedback that comes from working in an office. The telecommuter needs to feel confident he or she is doing what is necessary to be viewed as successful and to feel secure in his or her job. Paranoia can set in pretty quickly without the regular input of fellow co-workers.
    --
    TIME MANAGEMENT
    Do you know how many hours a day you’re actually putting in? Use TimeKeeper app to keep track.
    Create a routine & stick with it
    Maintain a regular schedule, it’s crucial to staying balanced
    Define your business hours and share with your team
    Try working East Coast hours, or if you work with an entire team on the West Coast, try shifting to their schedule
    Create a dedicated workspace, it helps un-blur the workday boundaries
    Use task and to-do lists
    Use a ticketing systems (Jira)
    Be aware of time zones and try to avoid meetings in off-hours
    Use Task Manager in Outlook/Entourage and set due dates and prioritize work
    Be present when you are “off the clock”
    Self discipline is the key to managing your time!
  • At some point you may begin to miss human contact.
    Go to a coffee shop or library
    New York Times recently did a story on how more and more “digital nomads” are coming in and using hotel lobby space during the day.
    Also seek out co-working spaces in your area.
    This will be different for someone who considers themself an introvert or an extrovert.
    Extroverts might seek out co-working spaces so that you can work among other people.
    Introverts may enjoy working alone at home, but it’s still a good idea to get outside and interact with people once in awhile. Walk the dog, get coffee, intercept the mail when the mail carrier stops by.
    Take deliberate actions, including using technology, utilizing their own personal social networks and increasing opportunities for face-to-face interactions to increase informal communication.
  • Challenges for Managers
    Communications overall – the greater effort it takes to communicate frequently/effectively
    Limited informal communications & not physically around
    Out of sight, out of mind
    Giving exposure to other team members/projects
    Ensure remote employees get exposure to others in and outside of the your org.
    Physical visits and in-person time are important
    Visit the remote site and work remotely, if WFH visit and take to lunch!
    Push decision making so decisions are made by all direct reports, regardless of location
    Set the same expectations – whether in the office or remote
    Regular engagement (1/1’s and informal catch up meetings) go a long way
    Make frequent communication a priority
    Be fully engaged when attending meetings (we know its hard not to multi-task)
    Remember, out of site out to mind, so proactively communicate!
    Managers might be reluctant to allow telecommuting due to discomfort over not being able to keep immediate tabs on their workforce.
    There are a lot of challenges for managers when working with virtual teams.
    In a traditional office setting, a lot of value is placed on physical presence.
    People are predisposed to believe that the people they SEE are more committed and more productive than those they CAN’T SEE.
    It’s a lot easier to micromanage, to stand over someone’s shoulder.
    It’s also easier to let things go - to not be on top of what everyone is doing - because in theory, you could just walk up behind them to find out.
    Some supervisors simply do not know how to assess the performance of employees beyond taking roll call.
    Maybe the manager can’t communicate effectively through phone calls and e-mail.
  • Managing a virtual team or a virtual employee takes extra effort.
    So allowing someone to work remotely - “It isn’t something you just do. You don’t just send people out of the office with a laptop and expect it to work.”
    Managing virtual teams is a cultural change.
    One of the biggest obstacles for employers is the issue of control.
    Managers of virtual teams need to:
    carefully coordinate activities
    clearly communicate expectations
    help employees avoid isolation
    and select individuals with the right work habits who can effectively work remotely.
    This all takes extra effort.
    Workers collaborating together from two different offices in two different geographies is much the same as collaborating together from two different home offices.  
  • PRECONCEIVED NOTIONS
    There are a lot of preconceived notions about how work “works best.”
    Face time is king.
    People who work from home are just slacking off.
    Studies show that managers often view telecommuters, accurately or not, as uncommitted.
  • SEAT TIME
    Just as an exercise, track how many times in a week you get up from your desk to try to find someone but can't."
    FACETIME
    When bosses and co-workers see an employee at work, they tend to think more highly of that person.
    -------
    Their evaluation is even more favorable if the sighting is after normal business hours.
    If you were there in normal hours, you were viewed as “dependable and reliable”
    Outside of normal working hours, you were viewed as “committed and dedicated.” - NO MATTER WHAT YOU’VE ACTUALLY ACCOMPLISHED
    Most often the process is probably unconscious and spontaneous, without deliberate thinking or awareness,” - Kimberly Elsbach, professor in the Graduate School of Management at University of California, Davis
    Workers who have recorded a lot of face time will tend to score better in “trait-based” reviews evaluations -  “team player,” “good leader” or other vague characteristic.
    The lack of face-to-face social interaction hurts unit cohesion as people who are working remotely tend to not feel as strong ties to their department and their coworkers, and communication becomes less effective. In actuality, communication becomes MORE effective. Think of it as a vision-impaired person’s heightened sense of hearing or touch. The need creates the reality.
    ADVICE FOR MANAGERS:
    Be mindful of these face-time dynamics when conducting performance appraisals
    Take a look at actual goals accomplished and work completed.
  • Managers need to keep in touch with their direct reports, talking on a regular basis, setting clear performance goals that can be quantified, and then measuring and evaluating those goals to ensure they’ve been achieved.
    1. Understand Your Employer’s Expectations
    Will your job requirements and duties be the same at home as in an office environment? How much support will you receive as a home office worker?
    Some companies have very stringent guidelines about what equipment and support will be provided by the company and what they will not. Companies will often provide a computer and telephone and will support each, but not a printer or a fax machine, for example. It is important to clarify where your company stands and what they are willing to negotiate on.
    http://www.careerealism.com/tips-working-from-home/
    SET EXPECTATIONS
    Managers need to keep in touch with their direct reports, talking on a regular basis, setting clear performance goals that can be quantified, and then measuring and evaluating those goals to ensure they’ve been achieved.
    For telecommuting to work, "you must have deliverables — things that everyone agrees you've got to get done."
    Get rid of the people who aren't pulling their weight, not telecommuting itself.
  • One of the issues that was brought up when Yahoo initiated their work-from-home ban was that managers often didn’t even know what their employees were working on.
    Check in, find out if they’re on track, if they have a clear understanding of the goals, and if they need help.
  • You should probably IM with your manager at the very least, once a day - even if it’s just to say good morning, how’s it going, and see if they need help with anything.
    Use text chat for quick interactions. Tools like jabber, IRC or Skype work well.
    Use persistent chat rooms so that team members can join to see what they missed while they were offline. Tools like jabber and Skype work well.
    Expect all team members to login to the team chat room for most of their workday. This makes it possible to have ad-hoc conversations without scheduling meetings
    COMMUNICATE
    Talk more, not less. Make frequent communication a priority.
    Managers and remote workers need to communicate more often than if they were sharing an office, using all the tools — e-mail, IM, phone and, if necessary, video.
    People skills are important. It is mandatory for telemanagers to possess the ability to read people, to understand what is being said and not said, simply by the tone of voice or words being used. Non-effective telemanagers do not listen and therefore miss important cues necessary for successful telecommuting. In some cases the only communication between managers and associates is via e-mail or telephone. Therefore, the need to communicate well can never be overstated.
    Regular engagement (1/1’s and informal catch up meetings) go a long way
    Stay connected with text chat during the work day. Everyone on the team should have a text chat client installed. Persistent chat rooms are also useful so people can review information they missed while not logged on. Here are some tips and tools to get you started:
    Use text chat for quick interactions. Tools like jabber, IRC or Skype work well.
    Use persistent chat rooms so that team members can join to see what they missed while they were offline. Tools like jabber and Skype work well.
    Expect all team members to login to the team chat room for most of their workday. This makes it possible to have ad-hoc conversations without scheduling meetings
  • Selecting similar work for remote workers keeps productivity expectations high for everyone.
    Invite to the same meetings, give everyone the same opportunity to participate.
    INCLUSION
    Make sure the employees working remotely are given the same access as in-office employees - to information, to attend meetings - include them wherever you can.
    As someone who works remotely - there’s always a little bit of pervasive paranoia - that you’re being left out, that you’re being passed over for a project.
    Ensure remote employees get exposure to others in and outside of the your org.
    Physical visits and in-person time are important
    Visit the remote site and work remotely, if WFH visit and take to lunch!
    Push decision making so decisions are made by all direct reports, regardless of location
    Set the same expectations – whether in the office or remote
    include telecommuters by inviting them to holiday parties and corporate outings.
    Select similar work for remote team members. Selecting independent work that requires less collaboration might seem like a good idea at first, but doing so will isolate remote team members and limit their productivity. Selecting similar work for remote workers keeps productivity expectations high for everyone. Use these tools to make remote collaboration on high interaction tasks like programming or document writing:
    Have voice calls while working on tasks together. Get a good headset so you don’t have to hold the phone while on a call.
    Use VNC or other screen sharing tools to pair program or edit a slide deck together
    Use google docs to actively co-author documents
  • 9. Understand Your Work Style
    It is crucial for you to understand how you work best. Do you work best according to your moods? If so, keep track of your tasks according to task type: computer work, telephone work, meetings, etc. This way you can perform these tasks when you are at your best.
    10. Track Your Work And Progress
    Your employer may have a specific way for you to track your time. It may be as simple as e-mailing your supervisor when you start and stop your work. It may be a more elaborate time tracking system where you record your specific activities in time increments or journal style. It may be a good idea to keep track of what you are doing in more detail. It may come in handy if you are asked to justify your time or when you would like to ask for a raise.
    11. Assess Your Progress Weekly
    It is important to organize your work in such a way as you are able to quickly and clearly see what you have accomplished. Often, this is accomplished through effective use of a calendar system like Outlook.
    In some industries, the billable hour or journal system (even a combination) are standard. However you approach it, you need to be able to clearly determine you are on target to reach your goals.
    12. Make Adjustments To How You Accomplish Your Job
    If something is not working, don’t be afraid to change it. As a telecommuter, you may be a pioneer at your office, company or industry. No one may have all the answers. Invest time researching ways to improve your productivity. Don’t be afraid to ask, “Is there a quicker, better, more effective way out there?” Seek it out, albeit carefully. Don’t jump on the first bandwagon that comes along.
    Try it out tentatively – not all solutions meet all users’ needs.
    13. Ask For Help Or Input
    Have regular meetings with your boss or co-workers. These meetings could be weekly, monthly or quarterly. The meetings may be more frequent to begin with. Talk to others from a similar field who also telecommute. Use social networking to stay in touch and obtain advice in answer to a question or before you ask it. Be selective about which groups or lists you sign up for or follow.
    You don’t want social networking to become a distraction rather than a way to stay in touch and obtain input!
    --
    Write things down. This is a good idea even if you only have local workers because sometimes people are out sick or on vacation. Writing down steps to complete common tasks, tools you use to collaborate, how to setup a development system and other things is just a good practice in general. Use these tools to write down useful information so that everyone on the team can all locate it easily or direct others to it when needed:
    Create a wiki where you can document useful project information
    Create a sharable document library for more static information like technical documents or product manuals
    Use a threaded discussion system to collect feedback on a document or design idea
    Use a defect tracking system to document all information about system bugs instead of using emails or text chat
  • Have a second computer.
    Know how to address IT issues.
    Have files accessible.
    Have a plan B in case the power goes out or you need to relocate.
  • BE VISIBLE
    Reach out just to say "hi" in the morning to check in - remind them that even though you aren't in your cube, you're just an IM away.
    Make sure people (especially your manager) know what you’re working on, and when you expect to deliver
    Having daily standups for your entire team is a great way to keep up with what everyone is doing,
    It also helps to keep you honest about what you’re doing, and you know what’s expected of you.
  • BE FLEXIBLE
    Have a range of methods to communicate: If a co-worker prefers email to IM, do what makes life easiest for them.
    Be available if something comes up and a meeting is forgotten or rescheduled.
    Offer to do whatever you can to help.
  • Find a space where you’ll be most productive.
    Your workspace should be relatively free from distractions, like family, pets, home telephone, the television, even a window if you think it will keep you from focusing on your work.
    Set it up just like you would in the office - with a good quality chair and a large monitor if you’re working primarily at the computer.
    ----
    4. Make Sure You Have Everything You Need
    A computer, workstation, phone, printer and fax are a given. BUT, you will also need paper, ink cartridges (you would be surprised how quickly these seem to need to be replaced, even in a “paperless” environment), possibly letterhead, pens, sticky pads, etc. Think about many of the things you use in your office and the well stocked supply cabinet there.
    Will you visit the office periodically to replenish these common items or purchase them and be reimbursed? Iron this out in advance.
    14. Take Care Of Yourself
    It is hard to do your best when you don’t feel your best and especially hard when you don’t have regular input from others! Get up at a regular time and get dressed. Have your breakfast and coffee before work if that is your habit. If you usually brown bag it, pack a lunch to eat when you are ready. Meet co-workers or friends for lunch periodically if you are in the habit of this. Set regular breaks and quitting time. Avoid the temptation to work when it should be family time and remember to exercise and go to bed at the appointed hour.
    --
    WORK/LIFE BALANCE
    The balance between work and “life”
    Knowing when to turn work off for the day and “come home”
    Keeping normal business hours
    The perception of always being available
    Managing work volume and prioritization
  • ALWAYS BE CAMERA-READY
    Don't show up to meetings in your PJs - find a balance between loungewear and the suit and tie.
    Always be prepared and “camera-ready” for any last-minute video conferences with your boss,
    It’s to your advantage to get your mind (and your hair) in a more organized place for work each day
    Study: You’ll feel better and work better if you’re showered and dressed.
  • NO EXCUSES
    Working from home should never be used as an excuse for why you...
    Were MIA when someone needed you.
    Didn’t show up for a meeting.
    Didn’t get your work done.
    2. Meet And Exceed Your Employer’s Expectations
    You should also make sure your boss knows you are in fact consistently meeting and/or exceeding his/her expectations. You may work 9, 10, 12 hours a day, but it won’t matter if your boss doesn’t know it or you don’t get the anticipated results!
    How will you communicate your efforts and results to your employer?
    Don’t rely on them to evaluate this. Your performance, or lack thereof, may not come up until there is a need for a scapegoat or something goes wrong.
    4. Make Sure You Have Everything You Need
    A computer, workstation, phone, printer and fax are a given. BUT, you will also need paper, ink cartridges (you would be surprised how quickly these seem to need to be replaced, even in a “paperless” environment), possibly letterhead, pens, sticky pads, etc. Think about many of the things you use in your office and the well stocked supply cabinet there.
    Will you visit the office periodically to replenish these common items or purchase them and be reimbursed? Iron this out in advance.
  • Don’t become the telecommuter that everyone hates.
    The one that’s always calling in every 20 minutes asking if someone can email them a file they need to work on.
    Or that you’ve forgotten your VPN password again.
    Or that your laptop is just sooo slow.
    Cardinal rule of telecommuting: your doing it cannot create MORE work for people in the office. You need to make it effortless for all your co-workers, which means:
    knowing how to troubleshoot your own networking problems
    shelling out for a faster home internet connection if you need to and
    making damn sure you have access to the files you need to get your work done.
  • SCREEN SHARING
    Know the tools you have available - and be versed in as many as you can.
    Do whatever you can to make it easier for the people on the other end.
    Have your screensharing set up and turned on before the meeting starts.
    Find out if your team has a Join.Me account.
    Make sure the conference room you’re in has internet access.
    Don’t waste everyone’s time setting it up during the meeting.
  • FILE SHARING
    How to share files remotely
    Virtual teams also tend to move a great deal of files and information between team members. This can be time consuming to say the least. The cloud again has offered a number of solutions that offer secure file storage. Virtual teams can share folders and easily upload and download materials. Leading service providers include:
    DropBox
    SugarSync
    Wuala
    Google Drive
    PogoPlug Team
    These services offer, remote workers a great way to manage what can often be huge amounts of data that need to be worked on by a number of team members. With high-speed access to the Internet now almost ubiquitous, these services offer businesses, with remote workers, an efficient means of working together.
  • VIDEO CONFERENCING
    Polycom Video Conferencing
    Screensharing (JoinMe, WebEx, Polycom)
    Set up meetings, call into meetings
    Have VVMR and WebEx set, ready and shared in advance
    Use Polycom for audio, ensure it is positioned well and everyone can hear
    Repeat questions from the room
    One speaker at a time
    Avoid multiple and side conversations
    Remember Polycom mics pick up all sounds…tapping fingers, whispers
    Use mute if you are simply listening
    Introduce everyone in the meeting – phone and room
    Announce who is speaking
    Reach out to people on the phone, let them speak up.
    If possible, try to have all participants join virtually
    Be conscience of time zones
    Be flexible and try a variety of communication/conferencing methods
    The tablet videophone is here
    Remote employees will of course use a range of mobile communications devices. Today the smart phone has the power of a laptop, and tablet PCs like the iPad and the Samsung Galaxy Tab cementing their position as a vital component of virtual team management, all small business owners should exploit what these devices have to offer.
    Apple of course has the lion's share of the tablet PC market, and if you look at the specifications for the iPad it's easy to understand why they are fast becoming the defacto video conferencing solution; the latest iPad comes equipped with a built-in 5 megapixel camera, a high-resolution 2048x1536 screen capable of displaying 1080pHD Video, Apple's FaceTime video calling app and 3G or wireless connectivity.
  • How many times have you tried to set up a meeting with someone on the opposite coast, and accidentally scheduled something for their lunchtime, or 8pm your time?
  • Great to bookmark this so you can easily get to it: everytimezone.com
  • Stay in touch with coworkers on social networks. Get to know them - develop camaraderie.
    7. Stay Connected
    It may be a good idea to start out telecommuting just a day or two a week and increase gradually from there. This will provide you the opportunity to slowly transition how you will communicate in a more natural way. You will find you and your co-workers may e-mail or call more often to stay in touch. You will determine which issues and/or co-workers to attend to and which to not.
    Increased productivity due to decreased co-worker distraction may be a major benefit to working from home.
    -
    STAYING IN TOUCH
    What's the best way to stay in touch? (AIM, Skype, etc.)
    Not just what’s best for you - but what do your co-workers feel most comfortable with? Make it as easy as possible for them to stay in touch with you.
    If that means using Skype instead of Polycom, get yourself an account and learn how to use it.
  • DIGITAL ETIQUETTE - The “right way” to reach out to someone.
    How to handle these differing standards? Easy: think of your audience. Some people, especially older ones, appreciate a thank-you message. Others, like me, want no reply. “It is important to think about who the relationship is with,” Mr. Senning said.
  • EMAIL
    be succinct
    don’t forward a forwarded forward
    use a clear concise subject line - let the recipient know what to expect
    don’t forget the attachments.
    --
    Responding with Thank You
    "Who sends an email or text message that just says 'Thank you'?" wonders Bilton, who gets a little snippy when someone sends a short, polite, and altogether relatively non-invasive message. He sounds a little harsh, is what everyone's saying — and maybe he's taking this all a bit too seriously. But still!
    Sender: Daniel Post Senning, a great-great-grandson of Emily Post and a co-author of the 18th edition of Emily Post's Etiquette, suggests that you "think about who the relationship is with." So, like, if you're emailing back and forth with Nick Bilton, for example, don't you dare send him a thank-you message. But it's hard to know how any individual (aside from Nick Bilton, of course) will react at any given moment. So, go situation-by-situation: After a job interview, for example, it might hurt more to not send a message. Or after someone without a lot of time on their hands gives you some advice. Or acts of unnecessary kindness. Or, you know, big gifts. Otherwise, defer to not sending a thank-you at all. (This is especially the case for birthday messages on your Facebook wall.)
    Recipient: Chill out. It doesn't take that much effort to read a thank-you message and move on. "You're welcome" is not necessary, but that doesn't mean a thank-you isn't nice every once in a while.
    Solutions: Write a Sunday-afternoon blog post on the New York Times website telling everyone how much you hate gratitude. Or, you know, thank someone in person the next time you see them.
  • INSTANT MESSAGING
    Instant Messaging is a great tool to use for one to one quick messages (where you need a faster response than email)
    You can simulate a conversation without the awkwardness of being on the phone.
    You can send files - screenshots, images, video, or audio - to help better convey or illustrate your conversation.
  • Express personality when you can’t see facial expressions - it’s easy for things to get misinterpreted over IM or email.
    EXPRESSING PERSONALITY
    Telecommuters who flourish also are adept communicators.
    But that skill goes beyond simple chit-chat to also include a knack for being able to interpret things without face-to-face contact.
  • 1. Understand Your Employer’s Expectations
    Will your job requirements and duties be the same at home as in an office environment? How much support will you receive as a home office worker?
    Some companies have very stringent guidelines about what equipment and support will be provided by the company and what they will not. Companies will often provide a computer and telephone and will support each, but not a printer or a fax machine, for example. It is important to clarify where your company stands and what they are willing to negotiate on.
    2. Meet And Exceed Your Employer’s Expectations
    You should also make sure your boss knows you are in fact consistently meeting and/or exceeding his/her expectations. You may work 9, 10, 12 hours a day, but it won’t matter if your boss doesn’t know it or you don’t get the anticipated results!
    How will you communicate your efforts and results to your employer?
    Don’t rely on them to evaluate this. Your performance, or lack thereof, may not come up until there is a need for a scapegoat or something goes wrong.
    Write things down. This is a good idea even if you only have local workers because sometimes people are out sick or on vacation. Writing down steps to complete common tasks, tools you use to collaborate, how to setup a development system and other things is just a good practice in general. Use these tools to write down useful information so that everyone on the team can all locate it easily or direct others to it when needed:
    Create a wiki where you can document useful project information
    Create a sharable document library for more static information like technical documents or product manuals
    Use a threaded discussion system to collect feedback on a document or design idea
    Use a defect tracking system to document all information about system bugs instead of using emails or text chat
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