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Monday, April 10, 2017

How to Best Work Remotely

I've been working remotely ever since I met a 20-something animator from Sourth Africa in 2001. And 16 years later I'm still at it. Here are 3 top tips for working remotely.

I was sitting in a coffee shop when a young man with a distinct accent leaned over and asked directions. It was 2001, New York City. Long story short, in the end I found out he was from South Africa, was here on business and then flying to Montreal for another meeting. When I asked "So after Montreal do you have meetings elsewhere or are you headed home?" Without an hesitation he simply said "Home is wherever my computer and backpack are."

"I want your life!" I said. While I have worked remotely since 2001, it was in 2003 that I went to Argentina and had to do so wihtout the support comforts of 'home.' I've worked as a sole service provider as well as run compenies, and done so remotely. In 2013 I set up a digital agency in India, with a 3,000 square foot office for our staff of 20. Still, I worked from any one of a number of cafes. Today, we've stripped down our core team and now we all work remotely; sometimes together, sometimes not.

Whether you're a one-man (or woman) show, or you're running an enterprise with some -- or all -- of it's workforce remote workers, there are some core things to know.

A one man (or woman) show: If you're working on your own, you need to be as efficient as possible to generate a high-output of quality work with as little time as possible. Some people call this time mangement. Can anyone really manage time? At best you can merely manage what you can or can't get done with a certain amount of it.

The key to being time-effective however is not banging out task after task day after day. It's automating as much of your work-load as is possible. RoryVaden hit the nail on the head when he said that
"automation is to time what compound interest is to money.'
The more you can automate your work load, the more time works for you -- instead of you chasing time.

With new tools being introduced to the marketplace each month, there are plenty of  tools to automate your work load, depending of course on your industry.

The Basics
No matter how advanced we get, email is no going away soon. I found G-Suite by Google to be a Godsend; it allows you to manage mutiple domains, emails, email ids, docments, calendars and more, and one-click integration with the Google world of products, like G+, photos, YouTube, Blogger and other 3rd party apps. The mor integrated you are the more time works for you.

No matter what sort of service you provide, you have to invoice people, or companies. So no mater what get a paypal account. Also look into QuickBooks online (billing and accounting) or other apps from the Google marketplace, and make sure that you can import and/or sync contacts, as well as set auto-recurring invoices and/or vendor bills. The time I saved with automated billing was extraordinary.

Tasks. Working on your own you need a way to manage tasks. Again look for ways to integrate this into projects, contacts and the like. G-Suite, for example, allows you to save an email to your task list and for that task list to populate in your calendar. This may be enough for you. If not, there are plenty of other higher funtion task lists to choose from.

Even though you're a single person operation, you may need to collaborate with others. if so then a task list where you can invite and collaborate in important. And depending on how much work you're managing, you may something more robust -- like a full project manager system. Through a lot of trial and error I settled on TeamWork. I those it because it allows me to invite people in, and then commincate via the project/ task with the collaborator able to respond via email, making it easier for them, thus more likelythey'll use my system.  

If your running a remote workforce: You will need to address a different set of parameters. Most important is trust in your team. You must be confident that they are well motivated to reach the company goals without you being in their presence. The best way to achive this is to motivate them to work because they want to, not because they have to. Second, communication and productively tools are essential. They must be a combination of real-time communication tools (this can be G-suite chat, or slack, or Skype), as well as longer term project management tools, like a CRM for sales and marketing, project management system as discribed above, and an integrated billing and accounting system with recurring automated features.

3 top tips for working remotely.  

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