Remote work has exploded as a form of steady employment across the globe. Approximately 43 percent of American employees report spending at least some of their time working remotely, whether they finish tasks at home or take them on a business trip.
Small business owners, in particular, have thrived on remote work. It allows them to travel, develop an excellent work-life balance, and reduce their bottom line.
But it’s not necessarily easy to keep in touch with your team when you’re away from the office. It can be difficult to assert authority and maintain a professional link with clients as well workers. It’s also hard to leave your business without constant supervision.
But as long as you rely on technology and critical thinking, staying in touch with your team won’t be a challenge. Here are some tactics you can try.
1. Use WiFi Calling and Texting
Cell phone coverage is getting better all the time, but a few dead zones persist here and there. If you’re traveling to a remote region where coverage could be spotty, you can use your phone’s WiFi calling and texting capability to check with the office. Even when your wireless connection is poor, you shouldn’t have difficulty staying in touch.
2. Get an In-Flight WiFi Plan
Not so long ago, cell phone use was impossible during a flight. Now, you can make calls and texts and work on the Web through in-flight WiFi, if WiFi calling is enabled on your phone.
In-flight WiFi usually costs about $10 per flight, but some cell-phone service providers, such as T-Mobile, offer free WiFi and unlimited texting for at least an hour on each flight. That’s usually plenty of time to check in at the office and work out any issues.
3. Make a Plan Ahead of Time
Often, any concerns relating to your business can be addressed simply by setting things up before you go out of town. Start by leaving multiple items of contact information so the right people can contact you at any time, and establishing the chain of command in case you can’t be reached.
Make arrangements to check in at a certain time each day. If you plan ahead, you can find a WiFi hotspot or get to an area that has good service to call or video-conference with your team.
4. Make Use of Tools
Apart from your cell phone and service provider, dozens of tools can make long-distance communication easy. For small businesses, the software is often free or highly affordable, since you don’t need the large, premium package to operate smoothly.
Here are some excellent communication tools worth investigating for potential investment:
- Slack: a digital HQ where teams can communicate online
- Trello: a project management system to track time and collaborate on assignments
- Google Drive: a content-gathering tool to store files and manage content on the cloud
- Zoom: a video conferencing and screen sharing application
Any of these will keep you up to date on office activity through instant communication, no matter where you are.
5. Be Available and Respond Quickly
Most important, don’t check out while you’re traveling. If a question, concern, or emergency comes up, your team should be able to contact you swiftly and receive a quick response.
If you’re not available, they might choose to proceed without your clearance and make decisions you might not have approved. So keep your phone on you with the volume turned up whenever possible.
If you’re unable to answer the phone or an email right away, try to respond within a few hours. This should keep everything running smoothly and limit unproductive time in the office.
Staying close to your team has never been easier, thanks to the countless productivity application and tech tools out there. The next time you leave the office, prepare your company and your team with some or all of these communication tools.
Author: Jenna Cyprus is a freelance writer from Renton, WA who regularly covers tech, business, marketing, and social media. Follow her on Twitter.