More and more companies have been making the switch to offer employees the flexibility to work away from the office. As a freelancer, you have the ultimate level of independence. The world is your office. Working remotely, though, comes with its own set of pros and cons. In this post I’ll explain how to have successful client interactions and team collaboration when working remotely.
The idea of virtual teams is not entirely new. In fact, with the ever-present push to diversify and think with a global mindset, it looks like telecommuting is here to stay. Remote working can be difficult, but many teams are finding success with non-traditional, virtual offices.
You may have heard of some of these eight companies that successfully operate global teams. The article even lists the collaborative tools they utilize to communicate, many of which I myself have used for enhanced productivity and collaboration as a freelancer:
Remote working can be extremely beneficial to companies of all sizes. Not only does it enable them to expand their candidate pool worldwide, but, according to this collection of studies, remote workers are actually more productive.As many of the articles linked above point out, communication and collaboration are the biggest disadvantages of working remotely. It can be difficult to coordinate schedules and time zones, and face-to-face, in-person meetings are still considered to be the most productive.
However, to combat this disadvantage, Bogdan Sandu offers several tips for increasing your effectiveness as a remote employee in his article on DesignYourWay. Many of his suggestions directly apply to freelancers, as well. Below are his tips and how to utilize them to keep your clients happy.
Make Yourself Available
The convenience and efficiency of popping into someone’s office to ask a quick question is virtually unparalleled. That convenience is diminished as soon as you step off-site as a freelancer or remote consultant. To keep them happy, make sure your client knows that they can call, email, text, or otherwise communicate with you whenever they may have the need. And be sure to respond promptly when they do.
However, frequently dropping tasks to answer emails can destroy productivity like nothing else can. Be sure to set aside (a relatively consistent) time each day—at least two hours or so—to shut out outside distractions and hammer out some quality work.
Working from home is fantastic, but can also introduce the urge to accomplish other, non-work related tasks. To stay focused, Sandu suggests setting up a dedicated office space in an area of your home away from common distractions. Make sure everything you might need is conveniently located in this pseudo-office to limit the need to get up to grab a tool and then be sidetracked by something you notice along the way.
Consider Time Differences
It’s possible that you might be working for a client in a time zone outside your own. When planning phone calls or video conferences, be sure to consider what their schedule might look like during the time you are proposing. Always include the time zone you are referencing when suggesting a time (e.g. 9 a.m. EST).
When working remotely, it’s easy to put off deadlines when your client can’t stroll by your desk and see that you’re scrolling through Facebook instead of working. Freelancing requires a level of self-control so you don’t procrastinate and miss deadlines. Find work hours that fit your lifestyle and stick to them.
Use Collaboration Tools
Communication tools are an absolute necessity when it comes to working remotely. Find one or two good tools (see the bulleted list above) that work for you and your client and that offer the functionalities you need. Once you pick your tool, get very familiar with it. Know how to accomplish every collaboration task you might encounter both forward and backward.
Remote working can take a little while to get used to, but it is the life of a freelancer. Once you get accustomed to it, you’ll love the freedom and flexibility. Follow the advice above to be on your way to becoming a master of remote productivity.