In my time at Reach Further we had a flexible working arrangement for different employees that for many involved working remotely. The nature of our social media business meant that being physically in the same office was just not necessary for team members to carry out their roles. We owed that privilege to the development of online technology that not only enhanced what we did in our online work, but became an integral part of our team and client management.
I’m not just talking about remote email access and having Skype sessions. Using online collaboration platforms like Podio and Basecamp meant that we could manage our projects, all client work, our time and most importantly actually encourage collaboration across the team.
Having a central point for communication and collaboration encouraged us practice what we preach and maximise the valuable time we have by increasing opportunities for access. In addition to other valuable tools such as Dropbox (file storage), Freeagent (online accounting software) and Google+ Hangouts (Video conferencing) we could become a fully functioning remote team of workers that didn’t need to be in the same office space.
That meant that when the bad weather hit last winter, nothing needed to change in our working day. It proved to be a way of working that suited all employees, particularly those with young children, older parents and those that faced a long commute to the office.
But what about the effects on the team of not working together? There are clear benefits to remote working, from however there are considerable drawbacks that need to be accounted for in a particular type of team. It can be argued that without physically being in the same location to complete work, the team camaraderie and understandings can not always be maintained throughout. Also there are issues that may arise, including trust and experience levels, but also the actual measurement of work by managers may need to evaluated.
As with most types of working situations, there are benefits as well as drawbacks. In our team it really worked, partly due to the fact the tools we used were our bread and butter and only enhanced our learning. In my presentation below I outline the benefits and drawbacks of remote working and help you see if it could work effectively in your team. Take a look and let me know what you think.