Implementing a Remote Employment Strategy

February 7, 2020

The Modern Workplace (or non-place) is here and it’s staying. In the employee-focused landscape we currently find ourselves in the middle of, if you don’t adapt to it, you will be behind the 8 ball and have a tough time attracting the highest quality employees. The good news is that providing a modern workplace can be as simple as implementing a remote employment strategy. This is still pretty new and uncommon in most industries, so it’s the perfect time to start putting a system in place to separate yourself from the pack and attract the best employees.  

Now I know what you’re thinking - classic millennial mindset. You know what? You're right and I'm man enough to admit it. But the truth of the matter is, regardless of the stigma of my generation - being entitled or lazy - we are the ideal employee for any company because of our technical abilities, adaptability, objective opinions and a mentality of continuous improvement. And guess what else we value? Freedom. Freedom to work our way. Freedom to be comfortable and feel as though our input matters. That is the modern workplace. If you can provide us freedom in our daily lives and environment, you'll receive loyalty and dedication in return. 

Now your second thought is most likely OK, maybe he has a point. But what do I need to think about in order to do this effectively and efficiently? What problems might come up and how should I deal with them? Where do I even start?

Right here, that’s where. 

After spending a year in-office getting to know Votacall's processes, sales tactics, platforms and expectations (and more importantly, meeting those expectations), I was presented with an opportunity to work remote as long as I continued on the path I was on of steady growth and above average performance. This meant my modern workplace would become my laptop, my phone and my action - not a place at all. The ultimate freedom.

Fast-forward to today. I have now been working as an Account Manager in Hawaii for two months. Knowing that a remote workplace was on the rise and not very known about, I’ve been paying close attention to what challenges may arise for a first time remote employee and employer, as well as how I managed to overcome those challenges, and the positive impact I have experienced as a result of this new “careerstyle.” In the rest of this article, I will give you my humble, objective opinion on everything I've experienced so far.

The Pro's

I know it's never good to start with the good and end with the bad, but I'm so confident in how much more significant the Pro's are, that it doesn't matter what order they come in.

Extreme improvements in my mental and physical health.

When I tell you I'm the farthest thing from a morning person, I could not be more serious. I sleep late on weekends, press snooze as many times as possible during the week, and will mean-mug everyone around me until I get settled and have 1-2 cups of strong coffee.

Not anymore.

In the last two months, I have been so content with my quality of life that I have rapidly transformed into someone I don't recognize (in a good way!). I wake up early, run, shower, and make breakfast and coffee before I start my work for the day, every day. In a domino effect kind of way, this led me to feel more alert throughout the day, more confident in everything I was doing (work and personal) and even motivated me to start taking my health much more seriously. In turn, I have lost 20 pounds in 2 months, gained a ton of confidence and have never been in a better place when it comes to my mental and physical health.

Motivation and taking ownership of my processes.

The second I learned my company was going to let me work remote and go to live in a place I have always dreamed of living in, I instantly felt more motivated than ever to do my job well. I felt trusted by my employer and superiors, confident in myself for getting to that point and excited for what I had to look forward to.

For some people, being on your own may be intimidating. For me, it was an opportunity to own what I was doing with no one holding me accountable except myself. It was a chance to do my sales dance my own way without feeling like someone was looking over my shoulder and see where it took me. The best part was, if my way didn't work, I could always go back to the way I was taught, ask my coworkers for advice and right the ship.

As an employer, you should always want your employees to feel comfortable taking risks and trying new things that could improve performance. As a remote worker, I felt the freedom to do exactly that.

Exposing myself to new people, cultures and ways of life.

Living in a city environment my entire life, I always wanted the culture shock of moving somewhere far away and experiencing a whole new way of life. I figured since I had the chance, I might as well take full advantage and take it to the extreme. So I decided to take my talents to the middle of the Pacific. In two months I have not only made friends with a totally different background and mindset, I have also met people from EVERYWHERE with the most interesting experiences. From a freelance marketer, to a telescope engineer, to Jim Carrey's landscapers (not kidding), the mindsets of these people are all so different and I have the opportunity to pick each of their brains. It's something, at least to me personally, that is invaluable on a personal and professional level and I never would have gotten that opportunity if I stayed put.

The Con's

The reason I saved the Con's for last, other than the reason I previously stated, is that the obstacles and challenges remote work can present varies greatly depending on: the employee, the employer, where they are working, what their job is, etc. I'm going to stick to the obstacles I have experience directly as a Remote Sales Associate and how I dealt with them to stay on track. I will also mentioned steps that could have gone easily gone wrong, but luckily didn't because of Votacall's ability to communicate and be flexible to reach a mutual agreement.

Negotiating a compensation plan.

This is the first thing you will have to tackle when implementing a remote working strategy. Questions an employer may ask themselves are:

Do you move to a commission-only compensation plan to make the employee prove they can stay disciplined? Do you keep things the same and trust them to continue producing? Do you introduce new guidelines to monitor and analyze the employees performance?

These are all important things to be considered, negotiated and agreed upon by both parties. It won't be easy, but if there is a strong communication and sense of trust between the employer and its employee, it shouldn't be something that voids the opportunity.

Staying connected to your team and their goals.

Without being in the same office as your team, it may be more difficult to stay a part of the team. In sales specifically, the feeling of comradery is an important one. It facilitates a competitive environment, pushes each associate to try to be better than their neighbor and makes the workplace a little bit more fun.

I'm not going to lie, this was a major issue for me at first. I missed my guys when I got out here. They taught me almost everything I know about selling and always pushed me to do better. After a couple of weeks, I got a little complacent. However, I started to make it a point to talk to each of them once a day, whether it was asking for advice or just some distant office banter, and that helped me tackle that issue quickly. Having access to our team numbers was also a motivator as I could see in real time where I stacked up against the rest of the squad.

Technical difficulties.

Something that may be overlooked when starting to implement a remote working strategy is the technology you will need. In my case, we had some issues at the beginning. My apartment didn't have a phone jack anywhere and the WiFi router was in my landlord apartment, so network connectivity slowed me down the first few days. Luckily, Votacall's support team is top-notch and our product VotacallGo! was made to accommodate remote workers, so it wasn't an issue for long. Within a week I had set up a fully functioning office in my apartment with dual monitors, a full-blown office phone system from inside my cell phone and a set-up and break-down strategy that took less than 5 minutes to execute.

Moving forward, these are all obstacles that can be ironed out and eventually avoided through trial and error.

I would say that overall, the last two months of my life have been the best two months I can recall in my lifetime. I'm in one of the most beautiful places on Earth and it has been a period of getting out of my comfort zone and learning how to motivate and depend on myself and it wouldn't have been possible without the ability to work remote. The point is that it's possible and can result in exponential personal and professional growth. The Modern Workplace, my friends, is here to stay.

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