Our team members have to work from wherever they are. Because of the nature of what we do and the tools available to us, we figured that remote work is the best we can get and we do not ever regret this. But there are also challenges tied around this style of work.
First – and mightiest of all the challenges that come with remote work is communication. Our entire team has to collaborate on work from a distance, anyhow that is going to be possible. We even have to hire from a distance, we interview candidates applying to join our team and take them in to work with us without any physical meeting.
The only way we could do this was to run a workable communication strategy. Our options were internet and telephone communication, of which, among these, the internet was the most effective and efficient in terms of performance and cost. We could spend lots of money and time trying to talk to a team member at a time on phone and still not get the message across clearly or successfully. Or we could spend lesser money and time talking to several team members at a time on the internet and have the message clearly and successfully passed. We have settled primarily for the internet and set the telephone aside for occasions where it becomes really necessary. With an email and instant message combination we get on with team discussions and editorial productions. Our content writer in Lagos and our reporter in Anambra are on our instant message group, with our content editor. When they have works to bring in, they send them in email to the editor. They can keep in touch and discuss more about the works on instant message, especially when a response is urgently needed.
The second – is supervision. You cannot watch team members from a distance, you can only rely on what they report to you and the results they produce. This almost makes supervision only a myth in a remote work setting. But supervision still needs to be done anyway. What is really true is that we cannot supervise in real life, we end up doing it with all we can get to do that is as best as supervision – which is control. Controls are always in place to help regulate how things happen wherever they are fixed. We put control strategies and policies in place to help us do what we will want to do during supervision. Our team members are made to keep to a written set of work instructions, output level and delivery timeline. With this, we can follow up and analyse their work by seeing how much they kept to the instruction, the output level and the delivery timeline.
Another one – is cohesion, bonding. That common bonding we find in real life relationships does not exist between members of a remote work team who have never had a real life meeting and even several more meetups and hangouts. Real life rules still apply to remote work settings. I had a real life meeting with a few members of our team in Lagos and I saw the difference. It made me understand why our team members need to have some real life meeting, at least whenever possible. It has helped me understand what is responsible for certain behaviours of team members who I have never met in real life. Nothing we can do to stop the need for bonding in our team. The rules will not change for us. Teams require that bonding to unlock harmony, cooperation and understanding within it. We want to unlock ours too, we will find and take every opportunity to do so.
Skill and imagination are all we require to solve many of the problems we find in life and work. Remote work can be challenging, but we can overcome and get the best out of it with skill and imagination. Just so you know it, it is working fine for us so far. Remote as it gets, we love it.