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Working remotely can increase both productivity and employee satisfaction. That's why this month, we're sharing TechSoup's tips and best practices on telecommuting in a three-part series. Don't miss part one and part two!
I work on the Community and Platform team. It's a technical team that is building our next generation website. My team is located in several locations including San Francisco; Corinth, Mississippi; and London, England. I live in Royal Oaks, California, south of Silicon Valley, so I telecommute two days a week.
For meetings or chatting, we use Skype a lot, which is good for group text chat or group voice and video if everyone is in a different place and has a good Internet connection. When you have most of a group in one location with a few individuals teleworking, and the Internet connection is poor, Google Hangouts is great.
Our team is looking at other affordable tools such as Google Chomebox for meetings and Microsoft Lync as well. As a nonprofit ourselves, we are always trying to balance affordability with quality, and looking for donated access to tools.
For work productivity and document sharing, Office 365 and Google Apps are great because they only require an Internet connection.
I find that the benefit of working remotely is that you can more separate "huddle time" and heads-down time to get things done. But there is no replacement for face time and having the opportunity to share a longer chat about what is happening in life outside of the objective of the meeting or the work at hand.
Building trust and confidence with co-workers is nuanced and requires a personal connection. That is harder to do without ongoing in-person contact. Our team needs a mix of remote and in-person contact.
I think it is very important to understand and create team competencies around how to use the best tool for the job. Unless you have access to super good AV equipment, I recommend choosing the quality of the connection over lots of features.
If your organization has not already planned a move to Office 365 or Google for Nonprofits, I recommend that you consider this.
Lastly, I would recommend that a telework strategy be developed that addresses communication tool effectiveness and more importantly, employee engagement.
Do you have any telework recommendations?
Image 1: AntonioDiaz / Shutterstock
Image 2: Michael Enos
Image 3: Citrix Online / CC BY-NC-ND
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