Slack, Skype, Zoom: Remote Work Becoming the Norm

At more small businesses, any watercooler chat takes place in a messaging app. Staff meetings are held via Skype. There might not even be an office.

Having a remote staff can be a good fit for many companies. Among the upsides: It expands the pool of job candidates, and lowers a company’s overhead since there’s no need for a big office. But there can be downsides, including the risk of personal and professional isolation. And sometimes interaction isn’t quite as effective as it is in person.

“There is only so much that you can communicate through text,” says Max Sheppard, CEO of TrustedPros, an online service that helps people find home-improvement workers. “This makes it difficult to gauge employee emotions, morale, and well-being.”

Sheppard, like many other owners, uses messaging programs like Google Hangout and Slack that let remote staffers hold group or individual chats. He has six employees, all in the Toronto area. Video services like Skype and Zoom are also popular.

Many owners have at least one meeting a year that brings far-flung staffers together. Some, Sheppard among them, gather with employees for periodic dinners or other social activities.

Employees overall are doing more telecommuting, though it’s hard to quantify how many work remotely and how many of those are at small companies. In a report from Gallup released earlier this year, nearly a third said they work remotely 80 percent or more of the time, up from nearly a quarter who said that in 2013.

Culture Clash?

Having some staffers work remotely while others are in one office can create separate cultures, and some remote employees may feel left out.

At Todd Horton’s software company, KangoGift, four staffers work together in Boston and six are remote, scattered in Europe and India. Communication can get problematic — some employees feel so distant they forget to keep…
Source: Mobile Tech Today

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