Working remotely for some consultants is the norm, and for others, it’s still uncharted territory. No matter your position, there’s no denying the importance of flexibility to be able to work from any location. With the advancements in today’s technology, this flexibility no longer has to come at a cost.
A common misconception many remote doubters have is that working out of the office is less productive and the work will suffer. After working remote on a team with members in dispersed locations, I’ve found that productivity has less to do with the environment you’re in and more about the processes and communication you have in place.
Establishing productive habits while working remote starts with these 5 tips:
Be deadline-driven: This first tip should come easy to consultants. Deadlines and structured goals make it harder to be a slacker, in or out of the office. Set clear individual and team goals and schedule regular status check-ins to keep everyone motivated. Gantt charts are a powerful tool for aligning project tasks and milestones to help teams stay on the same page to succeed. When built using cloud-based software, everyone can view the progress of the project in the Gantt chart and stay accountable for their task dependencies.
Keep real-time communication open: Instant messenger apps, like Slack, help teams stay aligned throughout the day. Being available online is the modern-day open office door. This type of communication helps questions and reminders to be as quick as stopping by to chat in person. Other notifications, such as approval requests for timesheets or invoice reviews can also be sent through Slack, so employees aren’t distracted by a variety of messaging centers.
Equally important to this tip - don’t forget the fun! Company culture and building relationships with your coworkers are major parts of the puzzle to have dedicated staff who work hard. Slack is a great channel for engaging in chats with coworkers as you would at lunch or by the water cooler.
Cloud-based collaboration: The cloud is key. Nothing is more restricting to productivity than desktop-based applications that tie you to your computer at work and can’t be freely shared with others for feedback. Professional Services Automation software is a must for keeping your firm connected from managing projects (like our tip about Gantt charts), tracking time and expenses to billing and reporting. When all of this important information is saved in one place, you no longer have to worry about losing track of important files or sending the wrong version of an Excel sheet.
Be mindful of your time: Although people worry about remote work having more distractions, sometimes the opposite can happen. Motivated employees may find that fewer workplace distractions means more time for deep focused work, but be aware to not let yourself burn out too quickly. Pause for 5-minute breaks, take lunch and try to stick to regular work hours even if you don’t commute. Having this structure will help keep you engaged throughout the day, and reduce the added pressure of feeling like you have to work more since others in the office can’t physically see you.
Mobile app: For those who work on the go or on-site regularly, a mobile app extension of your PSA software provides further flexibility. Even without wifi, users can keep a record of time and expenses as they happen to improve accuracy. It also provides convenient access to client, project and staff information when away from your desk so there are fewer things in your way from getting work done from any location.
Bonus Tip: Working alone can sometimes make you forget that there are real humans on the other side of your keyboard that you’re interacting with, and you can get in your head about communication. Ever received a message that sounded short to you only later to find out you misinterpreted it? Two easy ways to prevent this are to either provide context around your message so your tone isn’t misjudged or when communicating constructive feedback or something more sensitive use video chat or a phone call. It’s always better to spend a little extra time communicating and hearing the other person’s voice, rather than make assumptions.
Looking for tips on keeping morale high while working from home? Check out our blog post on the new initiatives we've taken to ease the stress of physical distancing. Click here to view.
To learn more about how BigTime can streamline your firm’s procedures and communication for remote employees, please request a personalized demo here.
P.S. With many of us having kids at home during this crazy time, we thought we'd try and help you out a little bit. If you’re looking for a few minutes to catch up on your email—or just take a sip of coffee in peace—we feel you.
The BigTime marketing team got together and created a 5-page, printable coloring book for you and your kids to enjoy. We hope you and your family have as much fun coloring as we did designing it!
About the AuthorMore Content by Trilby Lawless