By Matt Farber
As we are all well aware, the world has been abruptly forced into an era of remote work—and not just remote work but remote life.
The new norm is having your kids in the back of your Zoom calls, sharing an office with your significant other, and giving feedback on your daughter's homework while also providing feedback to one of your coworkers’ reports.
Remote work has been a growing trend for the past couple of years. Companies across the world have started seeing the benefits of having a remote workforce.
But that hasn't always been the case.
Back when Ryan Malone, our founder and CEO, decided to build a completely remote company, the idea of remote work was just that: an idea. It was something that people would hear about but not follow and it certainly wasn’t encouraged by companies.
SmartBug has been a remote inbound marketing agency for 10 years now, with employees all across the U.S., a couple of employees in Canada, and a few in Mexico and Central America.
Now that everyone is experiencing remote work, I see a lot of questions about productivity and the ability to stay connected and focused while not being in the same space as others.
I work with people from different time zones and feel just as connected as I would if I was with them in an office. How does SmartBug do it? Here are three ways that our remote team stays connected:
I’m sure that by now, you’ve used Zoom for your virtual hangouts and have been invited to a virtual happy hour or birthday celebration.
We talk to each other all day on Zoom. It allows us to message each other questions, thoughts, and of course, jokes throughout the day. We have individual chats, group chats, and anything in between. Zoom also has a messaging app you can download for your phone.
Pro tip: I recommend turning off Zoom notifications when you’re outside of business hours. Allow yourself to breathe and disconnect from work. It’s easy to end up working more than your regular hours while working from home. Turning off notifications will help you relax.
Zoom is also our conferencing system on the client end. We use it to schedule, conduct, and record meetings with all of our clients. It’s hard to think where we’d be as a company if it wasn’t for Zoom.
Working from home can feel isolated at times. You’ll sometimes feel like you’re working from sunup to sundown. Having virtual hangouts and calls throughout the day allows us to not just stay connected and productive, but it also allows us to have some human interaction and bond with each other.
2. Social Channels
I must say, it’s been interesting getting to know all of my coworkers through different technologies. It’s something I’d never experienced before. As you get to know new people and find common interests, you officially become “friends” when a friend request is sent and accepted on Facebook or a follow request is accepted and returned on Instagram or Twitter. This is where we get to see each other live out their lives.
We often wonder who is up to what each weekend, with some folks sharing their plans to see a concert, hike a mountain, or read a book. The plans come to life as photos, videos, and words shared through our social accounts.
It’s honestly a little shocking to me how much we have invested in each other’s lives by just interacting on social media. I think this is a huge benefit of having everyone working remotely.
I can assure you, if we were in an office together every day, we wouldn’t be nearly as invested in each other’s lives. It’s the unique remoteness that puts smiles on our faces when we call each other for a quick chat.
3. The Palooza
SmartBugapalooza brings it all together. It’s that one time of the year when we all get to meet each other at a work conference location TBD. It’s easily everyone’s favorite time of the year. We’re actually able to meet the people we’ve been talking to through a computer monitor for perhaps more than six months. It’s a total game-changer for everyone.
Personally, this is where my relationships with coworkers have changed from work relationships to friendships. Whenever that happens, you know you’re involved in something pretty special.
Technology keeps us connected while working from home. Working remotely won’t reduce connectivity. On the contrary, you’ll be extra focused and you’ll gain friends and places you can visit every now and then (when there isn’t a Pandemic around, of course).
Having a remote team reduces costs because your company doesn’t have to pay for an office space. With the economic disruption brought by COVID-19, many businesses may take the turn and switch to remote spaces for good.
Now that almost everyone has had a feel of what remote work is like, I can assure you that a lot of people will start looking at it differently. It may not become the norm, but many will start to incorporate it into their weekly routines.
This post was originally published in July 2016 and has been updated.