How to Prepare for the Future of Remote Work
No matter how you look at it, remote work is here to stay and is only going to get more popular. Our attitude toward work is culturally shifting, and now we want our work to be an extension of who we are, rather than just what we do to put food on the table.
Remote work plays a huge role in this because it allows us to fulfill our personal goals while we also fulfill our financial ones.
So how can we better prepare ourselves for a future with no office, and only a laptop in front of us?
I talked with four remote work experts, who are all part of remote teams. They all know that a workforce based across multiple countries and continents is on the way. Here’s what they had to say about preparing for the change.
When hiring new people, learn how to communicate and set expectations from the very beginning
The secret to creating strong remote culture lies in the on-boarding process, according to Jill Jensen, Executive Assistant to Ramit Sethi at IWT. It’s crucial to the success of a team that the people in it know how they can work best together — and for best results, this needs to happen from day one.
“Setting expectations up front is really important,” she says. “As remote workers, we have to be dedicated to solidifying that bond and reaching out and getting people started.”
But this can’t be an afterthought. Proper on-boarding needs to be a priority if remote culture is going to thrive.
“Do it right, right from the beginning,” Jensen warns.
Get ready to see people working from anywhere and everywhere
Glenda Hoon Russell is the founder of Drip Drop Creative, a virtual design agency, and can see in her own industry that remote work is growing, changing, and expanding in front of her.
“More and more people want to live at home and have a job from the city, so they’re choosing to work remotely,” Hoon Russell says.
Remote work provides the freedom and flexibility that allows them to be as productive as possible. And as our expectations for our careers change even more, who wouldn’t start thinking, If I can have a business completely online, why do I need an office?
Understand what each person is working on in the team, so you can work well together
With current and future technology, a lot of companies are unknowingly transitioning to remote work, and they just haven’t realized it yet. Because of this, it’s important to stay in touch with your team, and know what everyone is working on individually, so that you can work well together.
Heather Lee, Director of External Communications for Remote Year says that from their experience “an important part of making remote teams work is establishing clear expectations, methods and times for communication. It’s also important to have an understanding of what other team members are doing so that we can effectively work well together.”
The days where people worked in silos, focusing only their own tasks and not hearing from other departments, is almost gone. Instead, taking the time to connect and see the bigger picture will keep people motivated, informed, and start driving businesses forward.
Make time to actually see each other in person
The choice to work wherever you want is a huge bonus of joining a remote team. Even so, it’s just as important to make an effort to connect in person or at the very least connect with a video call.
Ian Murphy, Marketing and Content Strategist at Copter Labs, a web development agency, has really enjoyed the freedom to work anywhere, and uses video calls as a main way of communicating with his coworkers. “It’s really nice to see people’s faces, to get a smile or laugh out of someone, or be able to tell when someone is visibly upset. As Internet bandwidth and new tools […] improve, video conferencing will get a lot better, and remote teams should have regular video calls, even for little stuff. That way you feel like someone is maybe in the next room, not across the ocean.”
And as always, remember to keep it light. Murphy thinks “it’s absolutely crucial to find ways to have fun together, even if you’re physically apart. We expect people will do good work; that’s why we’ve hired them. But it’s really important to come up with a way to not be so serious all the time and enjoy yourselves.”
In addition to the video calls, he also suggests that teams meet up from time to time and visit each other because it helps you create a bond with the people you’re working with every day.
The Future is (Almost) Now
As larger companies start to embrace the future of remote work, it will be important to make an extra effort to keep people engaged and informed so that they feel invested in their work. The best way to do that is by creating a solid team that knows one another and takes the time to connect, despite the physical distance between them.
Meet the Experts
Jill Jensen, the Executive Assistant to Ramit Sethi at I Will Teach You To Be Rich, has 14 years of experience working remotely, and started doing this before it was, like, a thing. She’s inspiring, funny, and on-POINT.
Glenda Hoon Russell, Owner of Drip Drop Creative started out as a designer, realized that she enjoyed managing the projects more than designing them, and has created an international virtual agency that works with freelancers around the world. She has the ability to hire people from all over the world, and get fantastic contractors that have new stories, ideas, and visions, since they’re based in completely different places. Harnessing these differences is what makes these teams great.
Heather Lee, Director of External Relations at Remote Year, spends her days traveling around the world, and it’s part of her job! She had planned to work remotely and when her friends couldn’t go, found Remote year, and now does PR for them in whatever country they’ve most recently landed in.
Ian Murphy, the Marketing and Content Strategist at Copter Labs, has a history with remote working first with Future Insights, a company that specialized in web development conferences. Copter Labs has employees spread out across the US and the UK.