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Three Critical Success Factors for Remote Work

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Michele Rowan

Remote working is exploding as a result of mobile technologies. A growing segment of the workforce prefers it, and it saves huge spend on real estate and related costs.

But lagging behind the rapid technology expansion is well thought through organizational strategy to absolutely ensure that remote workers are as productive and as engaged as their in-house counterparts.

Who are your mobile workers?

• Office-based employees that travel for work, work from various campuses, and sometimes work from home.

• Field workers or road warriors that are constantly on the move, and rarely in the office, except when necessary.

• Home-based employees, who visit the office only when required.

• Office-based employees who work from home (or other location) when it suits their personal lives.

Three critical success factors for leveraging remote work

1. Job match. Not every job is a good fit for remote work. Expectations and output should be clearly defined, contracted, highly visible and discussed with frequency. Roles that require extensive think tanking and brainstorming (greater than 50%) might be better served in an office environment. Jobs that require less than 50% face-to-face collaboration for output are a good match for remote work.

2. Self-assessment for employees. Is there a certain "personality type" that will thrive in a remote environment? People that are accustomed to and prefer autonomy certainly drive the success rate, and a strong technical aptitude is recommended, given IT is no longer down the hall. Beyond that, innovative companies develop self-assessment tools for employees as a first step in the process (with company requirements included). The fit for employees is personal, and when possible, their nomination as step one mitigates risk of poor performance or dissatisfaction. The majority of applicants and employees will disqualify themselves - long before you ever have to - with a well assembled self-assessment.

3. Cultural match. High powered connectivity and visibility of others is compulsory. Think of it as replacing your office landscape - the place where people work together (formal and informal), learn from each other (formal and informal), and socialize. A social platform (Chatter, Yammer, or Socialcast) becomes the all-in-one place where work and ideas are exchanged, updates are issued, colleagues are recognized, and problems get solved. A second best practice is the use of video for one to one and team meetings. Video mitigates the risk of "missing out" on the power of face-to-face interactions.

Mobile gear and technologies are available in all shapes and sizes, and pass muster of most security requirements.

The last bit of effort needs to be invested in comprehensive, low-effort connection of your people - broadly and deeply, making work easy to get done, from just about anywhere.

Learn more at the 2014 Remote Working Summit, Dallas February 4-5.