Remote office workers

Via Web Worker Daily (excellent resource, by the way) I came across 11 tips for managing virtual workers.

Side note. I love this. Back in high school times everyone and their brother were talking about how great office jobs are. As compared to the factory and plant assembly lines that is. During the college days, everyone already knew how great office jobs are. And most progressive people were talking about working from home, virtual and remote offices, and stuff like that. Those were mostly dreams though, but they were spoken out loud. And here we are, just a few years later having plenty of people working without a formal office. And I am not 30 years old yet. End of side note.

Now, the tips are all worthy and spoken from experience. They are also aimed at software development company. Or at least the one that has to write software and hire software developers.

Here’s the list in brief, together with my thoughts on the subject (disclaimer: I have alsmost no experience in this area though).

  1. Its Not Cheaper. Maybe. But it certainly seems so. Office workers need equipment, Internet connectivity, furniture, phone, coffee and much more. While those who work from home might require some extra equipment, there are certainly a lot of savings involved too. Furniture and electricity come to mind. Coffee too. Though it depends on the place you’re working at. Maybe it’s not much cheaper to have virtual workers, but it should be. If it’s not, maybe there is a problem with workflow organization. By the way, I guess the salary bit can be lower for people working from home, cause, you know, they have it compensated in another way (think bathrobes).
  2. Hire Correctly. Agreed. With time though, the choice of people grows. (think: writers/bloggers)
  3. Document Everything. Indeed. This is true for every organization, by the way. These days there are so many great tools for documenting everything that it’s a shame not to use them. Ticketing systems, request trackers, content management systems, customer relations management systems, billiing systems, code versioning systems, email, instant messanging, forums, wiki, online word processors, project management and organization tools… Boy, I can go on for ever.
  4. Metrics, Metrics, Metrics. Agreed. Creative work is difficult to measure. Thus, metrics should be creative. Synergy comes to mind – using several simple metrics together should provide with a large and complete image of what’s going on.
  5. Once Per Quarter Go Face to Face. Excellent idea. Being in Cyprus, which is a rather small place, I thought more on a monthly or weekly scale. Consider the geography. And with those face to face meetings, make sure that food (read: at least pizza) and drinks (read: beer) are involved. Food and drinks make it all more social and less official. And that’s good for creative atmosphere.
  6. Don’t Let Engineers Go Dark. Ever. Amen to that, brother! I’ve seen much of it even in the “work in the office” companies. Testing, documentation, and source code versioning systems are a requirement. And much more. This is really important indeed.
  7. Telework Isn’t For Every Style of Work. Agreed. But it can be applied to a much wider variety of jobs than is though of now.
  8. Humor Doesn’t Scale / Translate. Mostly yes. Although some teams are lucky enough to create the “if you don’t get it, it must be a joke” culture. I’m glad to say that I’ve seen this. More than once. And that’s one of those little treasures that you don’t appreciate unless it’s gone.
  9. Require daily, functional work blogging. If I will ever have my own company, everyone, and I do mean everyone, will be required to blog. At least one post a week. There’s just too many benefits to not do it.
  10. Expect Failure so Date Before Marriage. Good advice even for the office companies.
  11. NON SHARED PHYSICAL OFFICE SPACE. Very very true. But this one should be understood by the worker himself. (hint: look back at hiring tip above).

Overall, as I said, a great list of tips.

2 thoughts on “Remote office workers”

  1. I used to work at the office for a long time. I do not like that and I think it sometimes is the waste of time. People,who work from 9 a.m. till 5 p.m., do not work hard all this time. Working home you can do your work when it is more comfortable for you. When I worked as a general director for a small travel company I allowed my book-assistant to work at her home. She could work nor only for our company and get a bigger salary I could pay. She was very pleased and me too.

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