It was 2012, and I had just been hired as a project manager for a Fortune 500 company. I got a “warning” from my fellow project managers on certain things that we didn’t mention to people who worked in the corporate headquarters. The most important: discussing that you worked from home.
People at the corporate office treated you differently because they were oblivious to the commitment and dedication it takes to “work-from-home.” Many people have misconceptions about working from home, and many don’t even feel it’s a “real job.” They think that you just wake up in the morning, and roll out of bed to your computer in your pajamas … oh wait, I do!
But in all seriousness, thanks to Covid-19, we’ve now seen businesses rely on remote teams to keep the doors open, thus legitimizing the “work-from-home” position.
Over the last few years, I have made the world my office. I am an avid traveler and have had the privilege of bringing my family with me. This allowed me to run a successful business while sharing many stages around the world with some of the most incredible people on Earth.
The future of the workplace is remote
You might say, “Oh, remote work is not for me,” or, “I tried it; it just didn’t work.” I get it. I’ve found that working remotely is actually much harder for the average person. Here are some of the reasons why:
- You don’t get that “energy” when you walk into the office with your colleagues.
- You don’t get to have that fun conversation at lunch with your team.
- You have to battle with your own self over priorities and deadlines.
- No company parties, no birthday celebrations with your co-workers, and no rumors to laugh about.
- Dealing with the distractions that come with working at home, such as kids, noise and pets.
- Trying to explain what you do to your family and friends.
But now, due to the pandemic, people have finally embraced remote work, even if not everyone likes it. Business owners are now seeing the advantages to creating remote positions in their company that allow flexibility and “future-proofing” their businesses from any future catastrophe that could close their doors.
Successful remote work requires two things: the ability to work from anywhere and technology. Both of these aspects are critical to building effective remote teams.
Read this question slowly and carefully: What are the limitations of your business that prevent you from operating it remotely? When I ask my clients this, the answer is usually the same: “I don’t have time to train someone to do it.” What that really means is that you don’t have a documented process and clear instructions for vital parts of your business operations. It’s time for you to erase the stigma of remote work with two important things: documenting processes and a communication plan.
Set your priorities straight, and then document them
At least 70% of your business should have a system. You can not create a 100% systemized business because, for instance, you can’t make a process of business decisions. Having a checklist for your basic business functions is a great start.
If you were one of those people thinking, “I don’t have time to make time. How can I document my processes?” you might have a priority problem. You can overcome this by using what I call the 90/10 Rule, which basically means making a list of your tasks and starting with the most important ones. If you write down a list of 10 things that you need to accomplish, there is usually one item on that list that is more important than all nine of the others put together. Most are busy kicking the rocks beneath their feet instead of pushing the boulder that will change everything.
Ask yourself: “What are some of the things you are doing in your business that you know you shouldn’t be doing?”
- Think about the activities.
- Write them down.
- Record yourself doing them so you can document the process.
It’s almost like Alcoholics Anonymous’ first step to solving the problem: acknowledging that you have a problem.
The “remote team communication” plan
Once you document your processes, it’s time to delegate them to your remote team. Without a communications plan, this can be a nightmare. Make sure you set up a remote team communication plan so your team works effectively and performs at the highest levels.
Here are some of the important considerations to nclude:
Define your instant communication platform. Instant messaging — whether via Slack, Discord, Microsoft Teams, etc. — will allow you to send a message to your remote work team members, especially for concerns that need immediate answers.
Establish planned meetings. Having daily, weekly or bi-weekly meetings with your remote team builds bonds and accountability. With technology, it’s possible to establish planned group and one-on-one meetings. You don’t want your remote work team members to feel they’re forgotten or that you think that everything is working smoothly when it’s not.
To email or not to email? In a Wired article, Will Schwalbe, co-author of the book Send: Why People Email So Badly and How to Do It Better, suggests that every workplace should have an email policy, with training on how to conduct themselves when using emails.
You may want to consider who can access your email as necessary. For instance, my executive assistant wakes up an hour earlier than me to check all the emails that I’m getting. She delegates some of the emails to remote team members, so instead of me giving instructions, she does it on my behalf. What’s left to me are the emails that really need my decision before it’s given to the right person in the remote team.
This is a great time to build and manage a business that you can bring anywhere, put together the best remote team and start experiencing the life you have dreamed of.
Remote work is no longer a thing of the future; it is now. The stigma that plagued work-from-home culture has been erased. The next time a pandemic hits, successful entrepreneurs will future-proof their businesses by having remote teams that continue to thrive from the comfort of their home office.