A little over 3 years ago, I left Orlando to live in Greensboro, NC as my wife took advantage of an exciting promotion within her own company. Luckily, this did not require a career change for me and I was able to continue with IDEAS and remain part of the Story Team. However, working remotely from afar has not always been easy and it has required me to be more attentive and responsive than I had been while I was working onsite.
Today, working remotely from a technological standpoint is a no brainer. 20 years ago, it would have been near impossible. 10 years ago, it would have been difficult. But with online meetings, video chat, desktop and screen sharing capabilities, remote server sites and file sharing, and kinds of social media platforms, working remotely is no longer a technical challenge. However, it remains just as much a personal commitment and social challenge as it has ever been.
The key to successfully working remotely is Trust. An employer needs to be able to trust that you are showing up on time and delivering a full day’s work while being out of sight. More importantly, your colleagues must have faith that you will not drop the ball or let them down when they are relying on you to deliver. Likewise, your ability to maintain trust with clients requires your full faith in those back at the Studio to deliver when you are not there in perform to guide and confirm.
Maintaining this highly attuned trust requires continual communication and connection. I play several social games on my smart phone exclusively with other IDEAS colleagues to maintain a daily sense of connection and presence aside from actual “work stuff”. When I am at IDEAS every month or so, I not only reconnect with the social scene at work, but I also reconnect with friends. While returning to the hotel after a long day can often seem appealing, nourishing these relationships is critical to maintaining this trust.
While there’s lots of advice on how to successfully work remotely, such as having a dedicated work area in the house (below), keeping regular work hours, etc., the most important factor is maintaining the creative trust among your peers and colleagues so that you never really left, you’re just not around as much as you used to be.