Are you considering going ‘Virtual’? You’ve been hearing about these Digital Nomads for a while now. Maybe you’re wishing that could be your life too. What is a Digital Nomad? Sounds like an exotic type of gypsy. Well in a way perhaps. But Digital Nomads are basically workers who use technology to work remotely. If you’ve been thinking about working on a beach somewhere else than your typical 9-5 office gig, this blog post is for you.
Remote working is fast becoming a necessary part of our work lives. Like it or not, Millennials, who will make up 60% of the workforce by 2020, have a marked preference for flex work (hours and location) and it is a point of filter for the jobs they take or reject.
With advances in tech – ubiquitous Internet, video conferencing, collaborative tools – working remotely has never been easier, and the rise in Digital Nomads seems to indicate that the trend is going to keep increasing.
These advances are not just great for small companies with remote workers; big, international companies with offices world-wide benefit as well. SAP, IBM and GE are three big players that leverage the advantages that distributed teams offer, and manage to thrive despite the distance between offices and workers. Increasingly though, I am noticing a trend in companies who used to be in an office setting and are encouraging their employees to work outside the office. But it’s starting to look like more and more companies are enjoying the options that remote work offers – Flexjobs compiled a list of 125 companies whose teams mostly work from home. Outsourcely is a job hunting site for 100% remote work. So, how can you get started?
If You’re a Company Owner
CEOs and Founders need to think about offering remote work to employees as a way to entice them to join or to stay. Let’s face it, the prospect of not fighting traffic and working in our pyjamas at least a day a week is something most of us would jump at. Instead of salary increases, give your team a bit more flexibility, and see how that positively impacts morale and productivity.
If You’re an Employee
Your boss has offered you a chance to work from home – yay! That doesn’t mean you can spend the day surfing the web or doing laundry. In fact, I encourage you to be as productive as you can be. Limit distractions – mute the phone, turn off the TV, put the cat in a separate room. Not having to commute means you have a bit more time on your work day. Be available – don’t miss calls from your colleagues, and answer email and Slack messages promptly. The more seamless you being away from the office seems, the more trust your boss and team will have that you can DO this.
If You’re Looking for Work
It’s easier to find remote work with companies who know you. Reach out to past employers and offer them to do contract work remotely. Maybe they wouldn’t have accepted that a few years ago, but hey The Times They Are a-Changin', chances are they are too! Check out Remote.co and Outsourcely to start looking for virtual opportunities, and check out those sites you love as well. I often see posts for content writers, digital marketing specialist and virtual assistants for website that have grown and need help.
Here are a few tips and tricks I use to manage remote teams or to work collaboratively with teams from various locations:
- Slack – Email is SO last year. If you’re not using Slack, encourage your company to jump on the bandwagon. It makes communication so much more transparent and helps bridge the gaps between teams and colleagues. Before there was IM, then we used Skype, now there is Slack. Start Slacking – it’s good for you….
- Drive – Drive came out in 2011 and it is great for online collaboration. Contrary to its competitors, Google Suite was designed for the cloud and it shows. It eliminates redundancy, it helps keep everything secure and allows true collaboration in real time.
- Online PM Tools – There are many project management tools available, and they all have pros and cons. Depending on the type of projects your company has, your team size and how many resources you allocate to projects, some tools will work better for you. But an online project management solution offers visibility to who is doing what, when – which is necessary with remote teams. Check out Asana, Basecamp, Trello, Jira, Hubspot, Wrike to name a few.
- Video & Web Conferencing – There is something unique about in-person meetings. Being able to see body language offers so much insight that is lost in a phone call. Use tools that allow video calls and screen sharing. These make a huge difference when you need to tackle a serious issue or show a colleague something that isn’t online. Google Hangouts, Skype, GoToMeeting, Join.me, Zoom, Anymeeting are some tools you could try.
- Co-working Spaces – It can get pretty isolated working alone from home. Although coffee shops are good, sometimes you need a space that’s a bit more professional. Co-working spaces are great for that. Get a membership for a few days a week – this is enough to break your routine and the monotony of solo work. If you choose the same two days every week and sit in the same areas, you’ll start making connections with co-workers who will come to expect you. It’s virtually like having a real team outside the office. Wework is worldwide, check out http://www.desksurfing.net/ for others.
We no longer have to sit in traffic for hours to get to work. So pretty soon you may no longer need an office. Or should I say, your office will be in the cloud where all the fun stuff is. At Amplify – the first audio marketing agency in the world – we have a virtual team of 14 people across 11 times zones. From Brisbane, Australia to New Jersey, USA, we work with professionals who value the flex time. As well as the autonomy and the freedom to work from home, the coffee shop around the corner, or the beach in Thailand. And the best part of our team is exactly that variety of people from all these different places. I wouldn’t trade it for anything.