So much has changed this year, and we have all been forced to adapt the way we think, act and work in order to survive. With the profusion of global lockdowns around the world over the last few months, one thing we have all become familiar with is remote working – from the comfort and safety of our homes. As someone who works independently anyway, this is not unfamiliar to me – in fact over the years I have often escaped the heat of the Dubai summers to work from cooler climes for a few months – but I think a lot of people don’t think to consider some of the key factors which ensure that working remotely is a success.
Keeping clients and suppliers in the loop
Honesty is always the best policy. It may be tempting to sneak away now that most of us are not meeting face to face – after all, if you’re working remotely what does it matter where exactly you are – but the truth will always out. Plus, surely you want to have an open and honest relationship with your stakeholders? You should be able to trust each other, and they won’t trust you if they find out you’re halfway around the world when they thought you were just down the road.
Having reliable Internet 24/7
I never used to worry about this too much, especially if heading to Europe, but actually there are lots of times it may not be possible to get a good signal, particularly one strong enough for sharing large files and holding video calls. I was introduced by friends to Skyroam, a global Wifi hotspot. I bought the device (which is small enough to fit in my handbag) and whenever I need good reliable wifi, I start it up and pay for 24 hours worth of Internet. It’s fantastic, I’ve used it all around the world, from jungle lodges in Nepal to trains in Peru – and even my grandmother’s house in the UK!
Updating timings of meetings and communications
I’ve been caught with this one several times when travelling, where for some reason my calendar does not update to the new timezones – some meetings do and some don’t and I still haven’t worked it out! Therefore whenever I’m heading out, I make sure to check the times of any recurring meetings, and make sure that when I get to my destination, these times are still right in the new time zone. Make sure that they are still going to be times that you can attend – and be alert for (we all know that evening meetings are not really going to be the most productive or creative!) The same goes for your outbound communications, make sure any social media posts are scheduled if necessary so that they go out at the optimum time for your audience to read, rather than the optimum time for you to post, and that you try to keep emails within working hours for a better response.
Ensuring your workspace is conducive to productivity
Whilst technically it’s true that most of us can work from anywhere, the reality is that we can’t really be productive and effective in any location. We need somewhere quiet, with adequate lighting and space for a laptop and any paperwork. If we’re conducting video calls, we need a clear back drop and no background noise. We need reliable internet and all of the tools we work with at our disposal. When you’re working ‘on the hop’ it can sometimes be difficult to find these spaces, so make sure you plan your working hours to take into account the times you will be able to access them.
Working with someone reliable on the ground at your origin
Nowadays I find that I can do pretty much all of my work from anywhere I choose, however there are odd occasions when I am needed on the ground at source. In these COVID times this is much less than it ever used to be – all of my meetings are held over video call, media interviews are all conducted by phone or email, and there haven’t been any live events to attend or support – but it pays to be prepared for any eventuality, and should there be any issues, clients and partners need to have a person on the ground they can turn to – particularly if these fall out of the working hours of your current time zone. Making sure you have people you can trust to turn to in these times can be invaluable. Make sure they know enough about your business and the way you work, and that you files are all easily accessible and easy to share via the cloud, so that should something unexpected happen, you can have support fairly easily and quickly.
These simple details are not rocket science but are easily overlooked, particularly when you are travelling and in temporary accommodation, but with a little bit of forethought, you can ensure you are adequately prepared to make the transition simple and quick, to ensure minimal disruption to your work flow. We’ll be putting this to practice next week, so do let us know how we get on!