Office Space in the Cloud? Not that new, actually.
The workforce is changing. According to research from GCUC, a coworking conference series, the collaborative work space industry is expected to continue to grow every year. Not only are employees working more from home and from coffee shops, a surprising and growing number of people are now working from collaborative work spaces, like WeWork.
Office space is expensive; So for smaller businesses, outsourcing work and eventually allowing new team members to work out of the office - or ditching a traditional office altogether in favor of a collaborative work space - seems appealing.
It can be a great way to save money and allow you to hire more flexibly, since things like availability and location become less essential for new hires. However, managing a team that is scattered across libraries, coffee shops and collaborative work spaces can make it more difficult to keep track of the entire team.
If you have team members that you allow to work away from the office, or if your entire team works from home, being communicative is key.
You need to be clear and available for off-site team members and you need to be sure to set realistic and tactile expectations.
A remote employee doesn’t need to be in an office by 9am every morning. But if you know you need certain things accomplished by a certain point each day, don’t just assume that off-site team members will know that.
Some examples of what you should do:
Be sure to explicitly state not only when you would like certain projects to be done by, but also when you’d like work on certain projects to begin.
Try to have regular meetings with off-site team members to keep everyone on the same page as far as what’s expected from them.
Show clear examples of what you’d like to see done and how.
Instead of using a phrase like “ASAP,” set a real timeframe that you’d like to have a project completed by and then be willing to communicate with that team member about whether that timeframe is feasible.
Don’t just rely on email and phone calls, either! There are plenty of apps available that will allow all your team members to message each other instantly. On top of helping you to touch base and set firmer expectations, it will also allow other team members to communicate quickly and feel a part of a team - even if they never come face to face.
When taking this advice, however, it’s important that you don’t become overbearing.
Micromanaging a remote employee is just as bad as micromanaging one that you see every day. It harbors resentment and reduces morale, which stunts creativity and productivity. The clear benefit to a team member of having the flexibility to work remotely either permanently or at times is that they’re able to create their own schedules and work in an environment of their choosing.
Make sure you’re able to deliver these values to team members, or you’ll find them looking for work elsewhere. Instead, just make sure you’re clear about what you want from them, and also keep lines of communication open so that they feel free to be honest with you.
A good, collaborative and communicative working relationship between you and remote employees will help you get more out of every team member - even if you’ve only met via Skype!