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January 22, 2014

Remote Workforces are Flexible and Productive, but Require Rigid Communication

Having employees work from home is a great way for businesses to save money. When workers operate from within their homes, they tend to take fewer sick days and are often even more productive than they would be in an office. Not having to pay for office space to house a whole fleet of workers is a nice bonus too.

However, maintaining a remote workforce is another thing entirely. According to Jeff Hyman, who runs a data-driven weight loss company exclusively run by a remote workforce, the key to a properly managed group of telecommuters is effective communication. Many employers worry that employees will waste time by working from home, but Hyman found that they wasted just as much time in the office, if not more. Working from home removes constant distractions like coffee breaks and drop-ins, and he even found that workers that get together to collaborate value their time highly and are extremely productive as a result.

Hyman cites several communications technologies for his company's success, including Skype video-conferencing, Dropbox, Google Docs, and various other software for instant messaging and screen sharing. Video conferencing and screen sharing are both possible through the same program by simply switching the input channels to or from a camera to an active monitor. Both are extremely convenient ways for workers to collaborate, communicate and receive feedback on their work.

With today's technology, telecommuting is not just limited to the big businesses. Tools like WebRTC, which translates video communications to a standard format, are not only free to use but are also available on any Web-browser. This means that smaller companies can also afford to let their employees work from home, which is very attractive for businesses that simply can't afford an office large enough to fit everyone.

Other tools like DeskRoll even make it easy for employees to access these same tools from mobile clients, like their tablets and smartphones. Ultimately, this makes it easy for workers to add variety and freedom to their workstyles, working from anywhere that gets the creative juices pumping. Some employees work best while sitting in their home offices, while others excel at the beach or in their local library. The big takeaway from this is that telecommuters find what works best for them, and brings their best to the table for the business they work for, creating a win-win situation.

Edited by Blaise McNamee
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