IT people want the flexibility of working remotely to improve their work/life balances, but they have to demonstrate that they can handle the responsibility that comes with it in order to continue to be trusted with that opportunity (read: no daytime television). Gina Trapani, a founding editor of Lifehacker, details how to master the art of working remotely for HarvardBusiness.org, focusing largely on communication:
Email will be the primary means of communicating with your remote worker or manager, so you’ve got to get good at staying on top of your inbox. This is especially important if you’re in different time zones and wake up to new messages sent while you were sleeping and send out a few before your local quitting time
…Not every office uses IM, but when your project requires short bursts of communication or consultation, instant messaging is quicker and more efficient than email.
…Not only can a regular 10-minute phone or Skype call save you time by preempting long email threads, it can also help you touch base in a human way. The sound of your remote manager or freelancer’s voice saying “How was your weekend?” or “Welcome back from your vacation” can go a long way to building an effective working relationship.
Please follow the above link for more detail, including some of the technologies that support said communication.
For Axis Group, we really like GoToMeeting for web conferences and have a VoIP system set up such that when you dial my extension at our New Jersey office, it rings my laptop, wherever that might be. I also use Digsby to aggregate a few IM programs and my work-related Twitter account (sorry, I don’t do recreational tweeting).
Two more resources for seamless switching between different computers at different locations: Xmarks and Evernote. Xmarks is a IE/Firefox/Safari plugin that keeps your bookmarks synced to their server, so you can have your most up-to-date bookmarks available wherever you go. Evernote is a fairly comprehensive program similar to Microsoft OneNote, but it’s free. People use it for everything from managing recipes to personal finance; I use it like a personal Wikipedia. It, too, syncs your notes to their server, so its perfect for to-do lists and other continually updated project information. Both can be accessed on the web, so they’re especially handy when you don’t have the rights to install software on a machine.
My home productivity center
And, found in a From the Tips Box post on Lifehacker, here’s a website that will potentially help if you are trying to provide remote technical support (or if you just want to quickly grab your IP address): SupportDetails.com