The evolution of work has seen the old-fashioned “telecommute” become the new “remote”, let alone digital nomadism. While IBM is “quietly dismantling” work from home options, the current trends rather suggest that remote work is the new normal.
Talking about international remote work (as opposed to digital nomadism), I happened to work remotely, mostly for Europe, from the USA, from Japan, Eastern Europe and various other places.
I also worked for a Scottish startup (based in Glasgow) while living in Australia and am currently still sitting in Australia while working with Absolute Translations, headquartered in Australia but with the CEO living and working in (and from) Singapore.
The “how to” to make it successful is actually quite simple.
At least the X Factor is. First and foremost, what is required is trust and understanding.
Without it, regardless of whatever tools, or organization, are put in place, the outcome will not be favorable.
Technology these days makes it quite easy to work from anywhere.
With a laptop and some internet, the foundations are set. Speaking of Internet, subscribing to the internet or buying a personal mobile hotspot is highly recommended, not only for security reasons but also being able to benefit from an acceptable connection.
Connectivity can be an issue, especially if – and it is one tool that is generally used too – the company allows access to shared data via a VPN.
Note that a VPN should be mandatory to keep corporate data – and infrastructure – safe(r).
Beyond that, with instant messaging and a number of tools on offer, the only requirement is to keep in touch regularly and ensure managing to have a couple of hours matching the other regions to be able to interact with people (for updates and fixing issues).
As such, voice communication is crucial (and easy via the likes of Skype, WhatsApp, etc.).
In this regard, my smartphone play a crucial role for me as I do have about a dozen clocks available to be able to keep track of times and organize catch-ups accordingly (also made easy by Google calendar allowing to schedule based on different time zones).
The bottom line is that working remotely is “easy” for anyone willing to put a little bit of effort into it and get organized.
As for the toolbox, as mentioned, a laptop with power adaptors, smartphone (unlocked to be able to add any SIM), ideally a mobile internet device and, then, a VPN, collaboration tools (Google Suite, Slack, etc.), communication tools (Slack still here, Skype, WhatsApp, …).
At the end of the day, the two main obstacles to working remotely are:
– Seriousness; the ability not to drift, stay focused and organized. And deliver
– Mental strength; being able to handle loneliness, working from a distance and in a context that can easily favor depression if not handled well
Flexible – and remote – work isn’t just the future of work; it is already here and the concern of both workers and companies should be to make sure to be ready, organized and make it successful.