Where's the remote (worker)? | npENGAGE

Where’s the remote (worker)?

By on May 11, 2012

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After a recent relocation, I’m learning a lot about working remotely from a home office. Well, I don’t know if you can call my desk jammed into the corner of my bedroom a “home office”, but we’ll roll with it.

I’ve been fortunate that my team, which now covers three time zones and two coasts, has been so flexible and accommodating to the new arrangement. We’ve been tinkering around with a lot of different settings, options, software systems, and phone arrangements over the past few weeks. It’s definitely easier now than ever to work remotely, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy.

remote officeIt also got me thinking about organizations, maybe like some of yours, where remote working isn’t a product of having people who just happen to live in different areas, but is more a product of a lack of office space. Let’s face it, the overhead of having an office can be more than a lot of organizations and companies can justify.

So, I thought I’d take a few minutes to talk about some of the options out there (and I’ll let you know if we’ve tried them). If anyone else has ideas, especially ones you’ve tried, then let us know!

Google Hangout

When it comes to conferencing software, we already have one that we use as a company. But, for my team, we have a quick, 15-minute meeting every day, and we wanted to use something a little more lightweight. We all gather in a Google Hangout (via Google +), and knock the meeting out with out a lot of software overhead. Also, they seem to be adding a lot of features, inluding screenshare and a few app integrations that we’ve really been digging.(I’ve used Skype for personal video calls, and I’ve always been pleased with their software as well. I can’t say I’ve used it for group calls, but the preference for Google’s option is that it just requires a browser window.)

Conference Calls

Though not always the best way to keep everyone engaged, there’s certainly something to just gathering everyone on the phone for meetings. It’s not as personal as everyone being in the same room, but it certainly allows everyone to end up on the same page better than a slew of emails.

Chat Rooms

We have a chat room that we are all logged into for the majority of the day. Sometimes it’s silent, sometimes it’s chatty, but it’s always there as a way to communicate to a lot of people in a quick way.

Basecamp and Campfire

I can’t speak for Highrise or Backpack, but as far as web-based collaboration tools go, the suite from 37Signals is some of the best out there. It’s been a long time since I’ve used Basecamp as an actual project management tool, but it’s been an ongoing repository for document sharing for a while in my group of colleagues. The pricing is pretty approachable, and certainly allows for collaboration and visibility into ongoing projects.

Coworking Space

I’m giving this a shot for the first time next week, but a new crop of businesses out there designed specifically for people who don’t have offices. These spaces typically provide some work space, internet connection, outlets, and small kitchen-like areas. They are often open spaces, and basically allow for those people like me, who don’t work from an office, to have someplace to work. (If you’ve ever looked for a coffee shop to work from, you know that that can be hit-or-miss.)

If you’re an organization or a person who is dealing with the remote office in a different way, or you want to just talk about one of the options I’ve already mentioned, then leave a comment and let us know. In the meantime, I’ll be in my room…I mean, my office.

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