This Is How We Telecommute Today
When you think of telecommuting, what springs to your mind? Do you imagine lucky freelancers working on laptops in exotic coworking retreats? Or maybe millennials working in cafes? Perhaps you envision creatives replying to emails from a remote beach?
You are not wrong. All of those dream scenarios are possible thanks to mobile tech and always-on wireless connectivity. Trust me, as a digital executive, I know.
Who Is the Digital Executive?
The world of remote working and telecommuting doesn’t belong to freelancers and digital nomads alone. It’s shared by digital executives who manage teams and run businesses from locations all over the globe; not necessarily due to a love of travelling, but because they need to be wherever their clients are based.
With that in mind, here we cover some of the top tools and tips for on-the-go telecommuting executives in 2019.
Hostels Aren’t For Me, So Where Should I Stay?
Living out of a backpack isn’t the ideal solution for travelling execs, especially when you’re lugging around expensive electronics. Rather than holing up in a hostel or staying in a shared house, there are now tons of corporate housing options all over the world.
Just like hotels, the experience varies enormously based on your location, requirements and budget. In brief, you can expect a quality residential property that has been configured to provide short term accommodation; they’re usually fully furnished with a kitted-out kitchen and bathroom, linen, cable or satellite, Internet and phone connections.
These locations are set up with business travelers in mind and provide a private, self-contained environment, which makes working away from home easier and more enjoyable.
Other accommodation options for travelling businesspeople or digital nomads include co-living facilities, which are often found in city centers or interesting travel locations.
Outsite is one example, which has multiple locations across the US, Portugal, Switzerland, Spain, and more. These centers provide co-living facilities with coworking, so you can work during the day and then explore the area or relax with other guests during the evening and weekends.
What if I Still Need a U.S. Business Address?
Working remotely can be a boon for your business, but in most cases you’ll still need a U.S. business address. That’s because you still need somewhere to receive incoming business mail, and depending on your business, you may also need a dedicated address as part of setting up a legal business entity. The same goes for various business procedures such as opening a business bank account or applying for credit.
In these cases, a home address isn’t enough and you’ll need a separate business address. The good news is, you won’t need to pay for expensive commercial real estate that will sit empty most of the time. Instead, a virtual office can provide a recognized business address anywhere in the U.S. with mail receipt and frequent mail forwarding services, which is ideal for jet-setting executives.
It’s a flexible option that helps your business stay grounded in a specific market, be it the heart of the action in downtown or a low-cost virtual office in the suburbs, which serves as the front of your business and a public correspondence point.
In addition to a mailing address, virtual offices come with plenty more benefits to help keep your business moving. Combine it with a live receptionist service and have calls answered throughout the working week, which is perfect when you’re in a different time zone. Most virtual offices also provide appointment scheduling and remote secretarial services, which saves time and gives your clients a much more efficient service.
How Do I Manage a Workforce Remotely?
Whether you’re a freelance professional taking advantage of your ability to work anywhere, or you’re a startup owner travelling to drum up new business, you’ll need to learn how to collaborate with other people and teams remotely.
Moving from the office to an alternative work environment and putting distance between you and your team is not an easy change. The best way to face this process is to put certain procedures in place to help you along the way. This includes:
- Setting expectations: How will you communicate with others? Do you have set hours? When do you take breaks? How is work approved and delivered? Whatever your expectations, make sure everyone is fully aware of the processes and where necessary, document it.
- Agree on communication channels: Email is not a solution — instead it will most likely become a source of stress and a black hole of unread messages. For quick questions and team collaboration, try an instant chat platform such as Slack. For general catch-ups with the team, schedule regular (weekly or monthly) calls over an audio or video system such as Zoom, GoToMeeting, Skype or Hangouts.
- Schedule regular calls or meetings: When working remotely it’s really important to keep a recurring meeting in your calendar. It helps keep everyone in the loop and working towards the same goals. It also keeps team members accountable to their deadlines, because no-one likes joining a meeting without something to report.
- Structure group calls by project: When you’re having a virtual meeting with the team, sometimes the topic of conversation isn’t relevant to certain people. To avoid wasted time, structure calls by project, or task, and when certain people are no longer needed you can allow them to leave the call. That way, you keep the group focused and maximize everybody’s meeting time.
- Organize and manage projects online: For remote teams, a centralized project management tool like Trello or Asana is a great way to keep everyone updated on specific tasks and deadlines. It helps keep projects humming along and automatically sends reminders about upcoming deadlines and new tasks, which means less person-to-person chasing.
- Share documents online: Cloud storage and shared folders enable work to be stored securely in one place and shared with specific people. Google Docs is the obvious choice; it lets multiple people work on the same document and users receive notifications when changes have been proposed. Microsoft OneDrive is also an option. It’s essential for remote working and reduces the time-consuming burden of sending documents back-and-forth over email.
How Do I Get to Know a New Place?
Whether you’re travelling around or scouting out a new business market, it pays to get to know your local area. We’re not just talking about finding a local bar or a place to hang out after work; you’ll need to find a place to work with WiFi and electrical points to charge your laptop and cell phone.
Try these tools to help make on-the-go working easier and more enjoyable:
- WiFi and working: Find free WiFi using WiFi Map and track down great places to work with Work From. Another handy app is Work Hard Anywhere, which comes highly recommended by wandering workers. It’s a user-ranked directory covering thousands of laptop-friendly spaces across the world, complete with feedback on WiFi quality, seating, parking, and more.
- Ideas on the go: If an idea strikes while you’re out and about, try Evernote. It’s a note-taking app that lets you store images, links, text, and snippets of information with a useful web clipper tool.
- Leisure and downtime: For ideas on places to visit or dine out, Trip Advisor is hard to beat. With user-generated reviews and insider secrets, it’s a great way to get familiar with new places. Alternatives include Wiki Travel, which offers a general overview of places or locations to visit, and Trip Expert for hotel and destination reviews.
- The digital nomad’s bible: One resource we can’t miss out is Nomad List. It provides data on over 1200 cities across the world and offers a breakdown on key points like cost of living, Internet quality, walkability, WiFi, quality of life, and more.
Thanks to advances in technology, connectivity, and a burgeoning acceptance of the remote working culture in business, it’s now easier than ever to remain productive as a freelance professional, a telecommuting executive or a digital nomad. With a little planning and the right tools and policies, you can run a successful business and enjoy greater freedom and work/life balance, wherever in the world you choose to visit.