One of the trickiest things about working from home is actually also one of the trickiest things about working in an office. Efficiency is a challenge no matter if you’re in a cubicle farm with a dozen co-workers crammed into the stalls around you or you’re logging in from a home office with a cat in your lap and a kid in the kitchen.
When working remotely, though, you might as well consider yourself as something like a tightrope walker. You are truly up in the rare air of the big top without a net below. In an office, you don’t always have to be working at maximum efficiency when it comes to communications, addressing work projects, and so forth. Sure, it helps. But when you’re on site, there are loads of easy options for face-to-face meetings, wandering into the next office for a pep talk, or simply grabbing lunch with your coworkers and coming to grips with a big assignment. Osmosis is a real thing in the office world.
At home, forget it. A lot of the supports of the in-office environment just aren’t available when you are on your own at home. So this means that you need to take advantage of the tech tools on offer for remote workers today.
First up is a good way to facilitate communication. Forget about email and texting. While both may be great for quick queries, they don’t let you really talk, or focus your conversations around a specific task or set of tasks. For this you need something a little more robust, like Slack, Microsoft Teams, Hangouts Chat, Discord, or one of the many other popular team messaging programs out there.
One potential caveat? Letting things get complicated with too many channels or groups. Assess what you’re doing every so often with your team, otherwise these programs can create conversations as convoluted and as impossible to follow as email threads.
Project management software is also vital. What you and your team here will employ will generally be the choice of your employer. Just make sure that you use whatever is provided here. While you of course still have to check in with your manager when working remotely, you need to rely on a digital assistant as well to keep you on track.
Remember, you can’t just wander into the next office to ask a question. So let your project management program guide you. Some of the best bets currently include Asana, Basecamp, Allthings, and nTask, all with varying features and costs.
Lastly, you need an online filing cabinet that everyone uses to track and share files. Chances are awfully good that you were using something like Google Drive, Dropbox, Box, or another cloud system even before you started working from home. But now that you’re not physically present in the office much or even at all, everyone on your team needs to rely on one resource. That way, everyone can be independent and efficient. Once more, remember that you can’t easily talk to your office neighbour if you’re looking for a particular document or image file.
In some ways, relying on tech tools as a remote worker is a little like being able to delegate authority. Be sure to embrace the desktop options that you need to be successful, as even though you may now be working from a home office hundreds or even thousands of miles from the HQ, you can’t afford to act like you’re completely on your own.