How to Organize a Team of Remote Knowledge Workers (Article 1 of 2)

Written by PortMA

How to Organize a Team of Remote Knowledge Workers (Article 1 of 2)

In this article we share some of our internal methods and designs to managing the remote work we do.  We’ll share with you our project management tools, how we use them, and what we’ve learned.
Work life is changing (or maybe it’s changed and it’s time to drop the “ing” all together).  It used to be that we separated our  worlds into “personal life” and “work life.”  We had two sets of everything and we put on the costume to go to the office and then took it off when we got home.  That doesn’t seem to be the case anymore.

Changing the Meaning of Work/ Life Balance

Maybe it’s social media or maybe it’s the values of a new generation, but the worlds seem to be overlapping or even melding together in recent years.  More and more I see people working where and how they find most constructive.  There are less cube farms and more home offices.  Better laptops and more comfortable chairs.
This has certainly been the case at PortMA.  We started in the same place, working on the same workstations, next to each other.  First went the dress code, then the workstations themselves.  Today, we work from an office desk, a coffee shop, an airport, or from our homes.  We’re available for our clients during normal business hours (and sometimes not so normal) but we work more during the hours that work for us.
Don’t get me wrong. We work hard.  When the work demands we put in our 50+ hour weeks just like others in the agency world.  We just do so a bit more on our own individual terms than might have been the case five years ago. Getting to a place where this remote work was feasible took a fair bit of technology, new work habits, and a different level of transparency.  This is how we do it.

Adopting Cloud-Based Tools That Replicated Cube Farm Efficiency

First of all, we needed to replicate the work flow benefits of a shared file and email server without having to host an onsite network room.  We needed to get on an email and calendar platform that afforded us all the same benefits that MS Outlook had. Likewise, we needed to be off our individual C:/ drives and onto a shared network so we could collaborate on documents.
The email and calendar platform came from Google for Work (Or “Google Apps for Business” depending on who you ask.)  We’re all on the same page, using hangout status to tell people where we are throughout the day. We use hangout chat and video chat to communicate, and a secure platform to store email and the like.
Although the Google platform was working well, Google Drive didn’t do it for us.  We were, and are, too dependent on MS Office to make the switch to Google Docs.  Our Clients use Office and we need to be able to send them compatible files.  So, we lean on Dropbox.  Dropbox sharing, back-up, and user administrative tools are top notch.  An added bonus is that each of us have direct access to the files we needed, where ever and when ever we need them.
Read more on how we how to organize a team of remote knowledge workers on Thursday.