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We know not all good work happens in the office. That's why we're sharing TechSoup's tips and best practices for telework in a three-part series. Don't miss part one and part three!
I'm the lone Canadian staffer at TechSoup. I work from home, in my kitchen, in fact (that's where the best light is!). I thought I was going to hate working from home, but I actually love it.
Remote employees have always held the NetSquared community manager role. And I do mean remote, with people working as far away as London, England and Saudi Arabia.
So working from Vancouver, Canada is actually more convenient than before, because at least I'm in the same time zone as the TechSoup home office in San Francisco.
Working remotely works better than you'd think because my role is almost entirely externally facing. I work with volunteers holding technology-training events for nonprofits in 50 cities across 20 countries.
No matter where I'm based, I'd still be spending most of my day on email, Skype, Google+ Hangouts, and the phone. On average, I work with about 25 people per day.
The telework tools I mostly use are not complicated. Email, Skype, and Google+ Hangouts keep me in touch with my Netsquared organizers. To keep in touch with TechSoup staffers, I rely heavily on TechSoup's Yammer group. It's a kind of internal Facebook.
It's my water cooler, where I get the company gossip. And don't discount the importance of informal learning and conversation in the operation of an organization. … That's where all the real decisions are made.
Because most of my meetings are with people who aren't using an Outlook Exchange server, I also use scheduling tools like Doodle.com or Calendly.com to set up meetings.
I get huge benefits from teleworking. Working from home is great because it allows you to focus in on your work. You won't get sucked into the hurly burly of daily office life. No committee work for staff parties, no extra meetings where your contribution isn't clear, and no distractions from people walking about.
You can focus in and get your task done without interruptions. This is great when you're working on a big complicated piece of work.
Telework also brings some headaches. There is enormous value in face-to-face meetings and "water cooler" conversations.
If you don't have access to informal conversations and accidental knowledge, you can only learn about upcoming projects and opportunities for collaboration via official channels. And by the time things get to the official channel stage, most of the work is locked in stone and the opportunity for input is over.
I rely on advocates in the main office to help include my project in the daily work of the organization.
Not all work is appropriate for telework, but if a project requires focused effort rather than daily collaborative co-development, telework might be a good opportunity because teleworkers can be remarkably productive.
But teleworkers can also be forgotten. I recommend that organizations ensure that remote workers have a channel into the daily conversation of the organization.
Consider using something like Yammer, Slack, or even a Facebook group that all staff use, and ensure your teleworkers have regular communications with several people in the main office, not just their direct managers.
This post is part two of three. Check out part one, and stay tuned for more on how TechSoup does telework!
Image 1: Nataliia Romashova / Shutterstock
Image 2: Eli van der Giessen
Image 3: Monkey Business Images / Shutterstock
Image 4: Evgeny Karandaev / Shutterstock
Image 5: Dean Drobot / Shutterstock
Image 6: StockLite / Shutterstock