How We Work Remotely

October 21, 2014


A remote worker is an employee who works from home, usually with their own PC, rather than working in the office. Remote workers have become an increasingly reality with the prevalence of high speed internet access and a rise of “cloud” services. It’s an increasingly viable element of daily work life, though comes with it’s ups and downs. For over a year Nick, one of our web developers, has worked remotely and we’re going to share some of the lessons we’ve learned. As a web design agency we do have some advantages in being able to have a remote worker, and how we manage it won’t work for everyone, but it could give you some ideas to try out.

Having a remote worker can bring many benefits to a business, the primary being that you can reduce overheads by having a smaller office. Being able to work remotely reduces geographical limits on employees; you can hire from around the world, and employees don’t need to lose their job if they’re moving away. From an employee perspective it can provide for greater flexibility; not having to take a day off if needing to be at home for a delivery, avoiding the work commute,  being in an environment familiar to them.

When making use of remote working you mainly need to look at the resources you have at hand. There’s a growing market of cloud services which I’ll discuss in a bit, a large element is making sure the worker is in an environment constructive to working. A home office is ideal, or a spare room. Sat on a coffee table with a laptop in front of the TV isn’t going to be the most productive work environment, but it’s worth saying. It’s up to you and the employee if the equipment will be provided by yourself or if you’re fine with the employee using thier own equipment though make sure you have some kind of “bring your own device” policy in place.

Our main provider of cloud tools has been through the Google Apps for Work suite. alongside the usual business tools such as email, in the form of Gmail, there’s a lot of cloud functionality that means we can work together regardless of distance. It can also be set up with smartphones and tablets, allowing limited work on the go too.

Communication is a large issue to be tackled. Keeping in touch with your remote team members makes sure everyone is on the same page, as well as keeping up office camaraderie. We make use of Google’s Hangouts; it ties straight in to Gmail, provides both text and video communication, and and the “Screenshare” functionality is great for sharing what we’re working on at the time with the rest of the team. Skype is another popular option for this purpose, which we also use for allowing Nick to be called via a landline phone.

With our workflow we have Sarah in the office designing visuals for websites, and all the required files are then uploaded to Google Drive, accessible to all members of the team online.  There’s many different cloud storage services such as Dropbox, and Microsofts Onedrive. Drive also has limited office programs bundled in, allowing to easily work on the same file together, Microsoft offer similar tools with the Office365 suite if you’re more familiar with Microsoft Office.

For short time remote working we’ve found Team Viewer to be a useful tool. We already use Teamviewer for trouble-shooting issues with clients, and it means that when working from home a worker can connect directly to their work PC in the office, having access to all their files and programs.

Hopefully this has been of use and can spring start your business into looking into the potential benefits of remote work.

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