I know a thing or two about working remotely. I sell remote support software (Instant Housecall — you should try it) and I’ve been working remotely for the past ten years myself. My developers are remote, my marketing person is remote, and while the blogger — you’ll be hearing more from her soon — and designer I work with are here in Toronto, they work remotely most of the time, too.
There are some things that MSPs, techs, other IT business owners — and their customers — can do while working remotely to make sure it’s successful.
Start your day off by getting dressed and walking to work. It sounds simple, but it’s easy when working from home to avoid getting dressed for work. You need to dress the part, and so do your workers. “Walking to work” (ie, around the block) is not only refreshing and good exercise, but it makes a difference in your mindset.
Meet with your team first thing in the morning, every day. Set up a time every day that you do an informal morning check-in. We’re an agile software shop, so we do a daily scrum. I don’t see why this could couldn’t apply to anyone in any line of business. We spend 15 minutes, no more, answering the following questions:
- What did you do yesterday?
- What will you do today?
- Do you have any impediments?
You can read more about how to conduct daily scrums at Mountain Goat Software. Watch this excellent video that illustrates very well how to do, and not do, a daily scrum. There are several advantages to meeting with your team at the beginning of each day
- you ensure that your remote workers are actually there and ready for work
- by asking those three questions, you know what they’re up to each day and can clear any blockers
- you can set up offline discussions with your team as needed
Book meetings, just like you would if you were in an office. It’s easy, while working remotely, to lose some of the structure you had when you were working in an office. IM’s can fly fast and furious. You never know if someone is in front of their computer. Booking meetings gives you the structure that you need
Never use e-mail when connecting with colleagues. There are a number of reasons for this, not the least of which is that e-mails are annoying, mess up the flow of your day, and require more time than other methods of communication. If you need to collaborate with someone, either do it inside a ticket on the platform you use (we use Jira, which also has a Service Desk app) or through instant messaging. E-mails are for external customers. IM and tickets are for internal work.
There are several tools in Instant Housecall that are good for remote workers. You can generate reports to see what your workers are doing, use standard remote support sessions to collaborate on a ticket or document, or if you have several workers who work at the same time, conference call is a great way to have everyone working on one computer at the same time. You can also create free subaccounts on Everything Edition so people can access their own unattended PC in the office.
In the next post I’ll talk about some of the tools we use to get the job done.
If you’re looking for remote support software, either to fix your customers’ computers, or to sell to your customers so they can remotely access their own PCs with subaccounts, give Instant Housecall a try.