Running Remote: The Benefits of the Boundless Employee
Muffled noise. Hi. Hello. Can everyone see me/hear me/see my screen okay? Great! Let’s get started.
Ah, the familiar sounds of the start of a conference call or as your luck would have it, this week’s blog on remote working. Businesses from forward-thinking companies have begun to recognize the demands for and benefits from offering flexibility in remote working. A Gallup survey released last week revealed that 43% of employed Americans said they spent at least some time working remotely. That is an increase of four percent since 2012. Remote working in some capacity has been on L & D Mail Masters’ radar for some time now, and we’re still working to find the right range of opportunity.
While not all professions are conducive to remote working, those that work with ideas and information create opportunities for a more flexible work environment. Companies and employees alike are finding the option of offsite working beneficial in many ways. For companies, it allows them the flexibility to hire the best candidate for the job they need to fill, not just the best candidate within a geographic area. This also gives them an increased insight into markets when there are employees working in other regions of the country. For instance, I am employed by L & D Mail Masters which is based in southern Indiana, but I am based in Austin, Texas. Austin happens to be an entrepreneurial, tech city nicknamed the “Silicon Hills.” This means new business ideas, new marketing techniques and innovative communication is often tested here, so I get a first look and can bring that knowledge back to L & D to spark ideas.
Employees, when given the option, are happy to plug in remotely. They report being more productive and often work beyond the typical office hours when ideas spark. A majority of professionals, 82% said they would be more loyal to their employers if they had flexible work options.
While remote working can help increase productivity and creativity by reducing interruptions and general distractions, it can also hinder collaboration, but ONLY if you let it. We saw a need for a tool that would help us create a more collaborative, dynamic environment than email and i-message/text messages would allow. Enter Slack. Slack is a powerful team communication tool that allows fluid conversation creative and collaborative work demand. It has been named one of the world’s most innovative companies according to Fast Company. After using Slack in an educational environment for 1 ½ years, I was convinced it was right for our department. We launched at the end of December and are excited to incorporate this tool into our daily communication.
Here are some of the lessons we have learned (and are still learning) while implementing a remote working policy:
- Start with a “test” department or group of workers. Launching a remote working environment requires cooperation among your IT staff/provider and continuous feedback on what is working to keep the team connected.
- Look for tools to help your team stay connected and diagnose any connectivity issues.
- Employ good conference call etiquette for those who are not in the room. Instead of talking about “this” and “that,” make sure you refer to what you are talking about, so those who cannot see “this” know exactly what it is.
- It does not have to be all or nothing-try giving employees the opportunity to work from home in some limited capacity to see what works for the company.