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The remote workers perspective

They have feelings too

Technology is making our lives easier and more flexible. Technology is enabling a remote workforce; we are becoming aware that having a body sitting behind a desk isn't a requirement, so long as the work is done (and done well) by a certain date, does it matter where the work is done from?

The services OptimalPeople provide are able to be done remotely for the most part, and our buddy company OptimalBI also embraces the remote worker. This blog discusses some of the considerations of remote working, and in particular, attending virtual meetings.
Imagine you're having a meeting in your office, half of your staff are physically present, and the other half are attending virtually/remotely. What do you need to consider?

The basics
Holding a half/half meeting like this isn't actually that much different to having everyone physically present. All normal meeting etiquette applies; accept/decline the invitation, give your apologies if you'll be late or can't make it last minute. You know the drill.

Technology
Do your research into which tool will be best for you. Will you need voice only? Do you need to screen share your presentation with the remote worker? How will interactive workshops work? We currently use Sococo which has good voice and screen sharing, however it flakes out a bit when we use video. We also use Google Hangouts a tiny bit as well.
You should also think about the infrastructure you need. Do you have a speaker/microphone that can pick up voice from your room? Is it clear? Can you use it with your laptop or phone? If you're going to use a webcam, you really need to do your research, will it be able to give a clear picture in a dimly lit room of the presenter and what ever they're writing on the whiteboard?Make sure the laptop you're using doesn't hibernate, sleep or run out of battery part way through.

Think about the remote worker
It can be quite difficult to attend a meeting as a remote worker, spare a moment to put yourself in their shoes. They're often working with below par audio which means they miss those quiet yet important side comments that contribute to the meeting. Speak up, clearly and one at a time. Let them know what's happening around you if they can't see, if someone has had to leave the room to take a phone call - how would they know unless you tell them?

Embrace remote working, see yourself on a beach on some tropical island and being able to work. The technology is available now and getting better as we speak, but our culture needs to adapt to this way of working. It'll happen faster if you get on board with it.

In the mean time I'm going to invest in a time share in Hawaii.

Special thanks to Barry Stevens for his perspective on remote working, and to Nic Cox who is doing his best to include Barry in our remote office shenanigans!

~ Bronnie (with help from Barry)