How to set up, manage and maintain remote offices

By Rich Hein, CIO |  IT Management

"The team will generally always chime in with other things they need, but that they wouldn't normally bring up because, 'we wouldn't want to bother you.' It's just basic human nature that we don't want to inconvenience someone with a laundry list. By showing a willingness to support, in person, our remote office, we continue to build that camaraderie and company culture," says Rosenbaum.

If you're considering allowing employees to telecommute, understand that each business is different. Start small and work with the employees in your pilot program to figure out what tools are necessary to get the job done and how best to communicate.

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Don't Fail to Communicate

Developing a communication plan is paramount. If you've worked remotely before, chances are at some point you've felt isolated. All parts of the team have to work even harder to ensure this doesn't happen. Communication is a critical part of any business, and this becomes amplified when you add remote offices into the mix.

Set up a weekly or daily call, even though you think you won't need it. It isn't unusual for these to get canceled due to other priorities or tasks on occasion, and that's OK. However, setting aside this time will provide the time to talk about more than just the most urgent tasks and projects at hand. It's also an opportunity to brainstorm ideas, which can be difficult to do via instant message or emails. Video conferencing is another great way to keep your locations in tune.

That said, nothing is better than real face time, and Rosenbaum recommends meeting that way often. "Nothing can replace face-to-face interaction. Because of this, we've put heavy emphasis on enabling cross-country travel as often as is necessary between teams, says Rosenbaum.

The bottom-line is to know what works for you and turn to it often.

4 Communication Tools to Stay Connected

Instant Message--Messengers like Yahoo, AIM and Google Talk are free and are a staple in most offices these days.

Video Conferencing--Conferencing solutions abound from elaborate and costly setups like Cisco tele-presence to free solutions like Skype.

Intranet--Build a great company portal that supports discussion, collaboration and HR information.

Telephone--Of course, you say. Make sure you use a quality phone system. Sometimes a phone call can save a dozen emails.

Collaboration: Where to Begin

Originally published on CIO |  Click here to read the original story.
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