Written by: Elizabeth Ritger
We’re always telling advisors to give clients a behind-the-scenes look at their companies, so today we’ve decided to give you a more in-depth view of ours!
At Twenty Over Ten, we work remotely, meaning most of our employees are stationed all over the country. Having a more “virtual” business is becoming a very popular way to conduct business as technology becomes more efficient and user-friendly. Global expansion of companies is also a recent trend, making remote work more and more common. From New York to North Carolina, we’re lucky enough to work with an awesome and diverse group of people.
Collaborating from home definitely has its perks, including low overheard and a lot of flexibility. However, it also requires a great deal of communication and organization. With team members across the globe, it can be a real challenge to find a time for everyone to get together and have their opinions heard. For anyone interested in learning more about a remote workplace, we’re sharing some of the most important lessons we’ve learned and the technology that makes it all possible.
Communication is Key
When you aren’t in an office and don’t see your coworkers face-to-face everyday, it can be hard to establish a good relationship with a solid foundation of understanding. However, in order for a business to run smoothly, communication is one of the most important factors. It’s necessary to get tasks done, deal with clients in a timely manner and make sure your business has consistent responses and functions.
This means that the platform you’re using for communication is one of the most important things to consider. At Twenty Over Ten, we use Slack as one of our primary sources of internal communication. This app allows you to create different groups, tag people, and send pictures and files. We have separate conversation threads for each company department, such as marketing and sales and customer service. We also have a general channel for when an announcement needs to go out to the whole company.
Other great platforms to use for both written and videos chats can be HipChat, Wrike, Skype and Zoom. Whatever you decide to use, make sure it remains organized and that the entire staff is well trained on how to use it. This will ensure that you have the least amount of problems when you’re trying to get important tasks done.
Have Defined Group Leaders
Even if your company is small, you probably have a few different departments. While it is important to let every member have equal say, it can also be helpful to delegate a leader for each group. This person can be responsible for touching base with each member, assigning deadlines and bringing new information during whole team meetings.
This person can also be who everyone presents ideas to for their group. When you come together for larger company meetings, it can be hard for everyone to feel heard if there are many people trying to voice opinions at once. If you have one person assigned to present for each department, the whole process will run much smoother. People will also be less frustrated if they feel heard.
Take Time to Connect With the Whole Team
Depending on the nature of your company, it varies how often you’ll need to get the entire group together. However, you should try to do this at least once a month. This is a time to update everyone on major company news and make sure all employees are on the same page regarding big picture tasks. You can also designate a time for each department head to give a summary of any changes or updates in their realm. A successful company is one where everyone has a cohesive and full understanding, especially when dealing with distance.
Another perk is to take these meetings as a chance to connect everyone in a fun way. At Twenty Over Ten, we have everyone answer a question during our team meetings such as “what’s the best movie you’ve seen in the last month” or “what’s one exciting event coming up for you?” This gives you an opportunity to get to know a little more about the people you work with, especially since you don’t see them face-to-face. When you work remotely, you miss little chances to connect over various hobbies and interests. While this may seem trivial, having these connections can make you closer to your coworkers and make it more enjoyable to communicate with them.
Be Open to New Opinions
With people stationed in different places, chances are there are going to be many different perspectives. This is especially true if you’re working with a culturally diverse group. Different countries, and even different parts of the US, often have a unique way of handling conflict, presenting ideas and conducting business. This can come as a bit of a shock when you’re not used to it, so make sure you maintain respect and understanding in these situations.
Conflict can also arise more easily when you’re only communicating online or over video. There may be small issues that escalate because you can’t talk about them in person. Keep an open mind and give everyone a chance to explain themselves! Many times a misunderstanding doesn’t need to be blown out of proportion. This comes to handling new approaches to problems and ways of conducting business as well. It may be hard to communicate ideas from far away, but a coworker can usually end up teaching you something new and helpful if you’re open to it.
Use Reliable Technology
When working remotely, well-functioning technology is everything. If your WiFi goes out, your laptop crashes or the chat system you use malfunctions, you’re missing out on hours or even days of productive work. This can be detrimental to the operations of your company. It also puts extra stress on any members of the team that can’t reach you.
If you have an important call or meeting, make sure you test it before it starts. Check to make sure your WiFi is stable, update your systems regularly and eliminate any extra background noise. Having technology issues during an important meeting or letting the client hear a screaming toddler in the other room comes across as very sloppy and unprofessional.
Stick to a Routine
We know how easy it is to use remote work as an excuse to wear pajamas all day and sneak naps on the couch in between meetings. While this may be tempting, most people are significantly more productive if they have a set routine to stick to. Even if you work from home, try to wake up at the same time everyday and do something to prepare yourself for the day. This may include working out, reading the newspaper, walking your dog or having breakfast with your family. Whatever it is, try to do it everyday in order to have a more efficient mindset.
It’s also important to have a quiet place to work. Be honest with yourself if you’re not going to get much work done at home. Find a local café or library with a good WiFi connection to do your work. If you can work at home, have a separate room and keep distractions out. Remember that even though you’re not in the office, it’s still a work day. That being said, also try to set a time to stop working. Unless you’re working on a special project or have an irregular meeting, it’s okay to have a certain time to turn off your devices and relax in the evenings.
If you are thinking about working remote, think about these tips and tools to get organized before you start. Hopefully you’ve gained some insight into how we run things and can learn from our experience.
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