As a new year approaches, remote workers spend a lot of time thinking about what’s changing for 2017.
Actually, we don’t.
We spend a lot of time worrying.
That’s not the same thing at all.
Here are four trends for remote workers we predict will impact the way we work together in 2017:
- Your team will become more remote, even if it’s not officially a “remote team.” On any given day, (and especially Fridays) look around you and count the empty desks. Some of these may be hold-overs from the last round of layoffs. More likely, though, people are traveling or working from home. Sometimes they’ll say, “It’s because I get more done.” Sometimes it’s a sick kid or terrible weather that can’t get in the way of the work that needs to happen on the Jameson Account. Either way, people are working and they aren’t where you thought they’d be. Do you have a plan, or are you just kind of dealing with it and hoping stuff gets done?
- Someone will throw a hissy fit about the way your team uses email. It will probably be you. Whoever it is, know that email is now the number one complaint about how teams communicate. Will you continue to gripe and complain, or will you have an honest conversation with your team and change some of the annoying behaviors?
- There’s a Skype for Business wave coming. Most big companies avoided Vista and Windows 2013, but finally, they are moving to the newest version of Windows, and especially the office suite. Part of that wave is Skype for Business. The good news is, it’s a dandy little program that does pretty much everything tools like WebEx Meeting Center do. The bad news, most people have no idea how to use it beyond instant messaging. Even if you aren’t using it in your organization, odds are a vendor, client or strategic partner will be. How will your organization prepare everyone? (and trust me, you’ll want to prepare them.)
- Webcams will be a thing, whether you want them to be or not. A lot of the excuses for not instituting webcams—bandwidth, equipment, concerns about the NSA using them to creep on you—are rapidly becoming less relevant (at least when it comes to bandwidth and equipment.) Don’t try to mandate use for everyone all the time. Start with one-on-one conversations and encourage the work-from-home folks to meet visually with their peers in the office. Once you get used to seeing someone in an ACDC t-shirt instead of a button-down, it gets easier from here.
If you and your team have kicked these issues down the road rather than deal with them, it’s probably time to face facts. Addressing them intentionally will be a lot easier than trying to put out fires when the problems arise. And they will.
Have a great new year. Let us know if we can help.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Co-Founder and Product Line Manager
Wayne Turmel is the co-founder and Product Line Manager for the Remote Leadership Institute. For twenty years he’s been obsessed with helping managers communicate more effectively with their teams, bosses and customers. Wayne is the author of several books that demystify communicating through technology including Meet Like You Mean It – a Leader’s Guide to Painless & Productive Virtual Meetings, 10 Steps to Successful Virtual Presentations and 6 Weeks to a Great Webinar. His work appears frequently in Management-Issues.com.