Homeworking



  • A member of my IT tech support team is moving to another part of the country. Rather than losing him, I'm hoping to let him work remotely, with the occasional on-site visit if required (maybe once or twice a month).

    Although my company has lots of home and remote workers already, this is the first time I'll have managed one. Do you have any tips on how to make the arrangement as productive and pleasant as possible, in terms of how to manage him, what tools to use to communicate with him (eg slack), and how to keep him motivated and feeling part of the team. I know a number of you work from home, and some of you manage staff remotely (eg @Minion-Queen )

    I'm looking forward to it as it'll give us a chance to really utilise a few online tools like Slack, Trello etc etc that are currently under-used because the team is sitting directly opposite each other and so often finds it easier to just open their mouths and talk.


  • Service Provider

    Slack is good, but only if you have it for other functions. It's a "heavy" solution. Great for a team that needs it, terrible for just two people. If this is an ad hoc communications situation (meaning just you and him, not the whole company) then I would look pretty strongly at just using Skype. It's already there and works great and is free.



  • I've never used Slack. I just fancy trying it. We currently use WhatsApp when we're out of the office, which is obviously pretty limited but functional.



  • Here is my list of having him feel involved:

    • Skype have a helpdesk group in skype where everyone on the team can connect with him and discuss issues and goof around (goofing around is important to feeling included).

    • Skype is also great for screen sharing and video conferences

    • Skype works between multiple platforms at the same time (cell, tablet and desktop)

    • We use Screen Connect and multiple people can connect to one machine so that you can see what the other is seeing and work together (if skype is being a PITA).

    • Weekly meeting to go over all the important stuff (just cause a remote employee might be left out of the loop little bits here and there).


  • Service Provider

    @Carnival-Boy said in Homeworking:

    I've never used Slack. I just fancy trying it. We currently use WhatsApp when we're out of the office, which is obviously pretty limited but functional.

    Not sure that Slack will add anything more to that. Slack isn't bad, but it is a really bulky, heavy system meant for developers and their needs when in dev teams.



  • Oh, I see. Not what I imagined.

    I really just want a chat system that integrates with our helpdesk ticketing system (Freshdesk) and our project management system (Trello), which I know Slack does.



  • Having something that is outside of your helpdesk system, like Skype has major benefits as it is fully supported on all platforms. Easy to transition between desktop and phone. No real change in how you interact with each other no matter where you are. The only issue really is if on a cell sharing a screen kinda sucks due to screen size.


  • Service Provider

    @Carnival-Boy said in Homeworking:

    Oh, I see. Not what I imagined.

    I really just want a chat system that integrates with our helpdesk ticketing system (Freshdesk) and our project management system (Trello), which I know Slack does.

    Ah, that might be useful. Have not tried to do that. What would integrating with the helpdesk do for you? I'm trying to picture the workflow.


  • Service Provider

    @Carnival-Boy said in Homeworking:

    Oh, I see. Not what I imagined.

    I really just want a chat system that integrates with our helpdesk ticketing system (Freshdesk)

    FreshDesk, I thought that had inter-agent chat as a feature? Been awhile since I used it.



  • I believe it does, but I haven't used it. Note that I'm not just looking at chat between IT staff, I'm looking at using it company wide for users to chat to us. A replacement for them coming in to our office, which they won't be able to do when one us is working from home.

    We use Skype already, although I don't use it myself, so I will look at that, but I'm assuming Skype currently lacks the team features of Slack.



  • You can setup groups very easily in Skype. We do it all the time.

    We have a management team group
    Helpdesk group
    ScreenConnect migration group
    etc. etc.



  • Oh and this is normal skype not SfB (that sucks)


  • Service Provider

    @Carnival-Boy said in Homeworking:

    We use Skype already, although I don't use it myself, so I will look at that, but I'm assuming Skype currently lacks the team features of Slack.

    How do team features apply with two people?



  • I think he is looking for a way for their users to contact them via a chat versus dropping by the office.


  • Service Provider

    @Carnival-Boy said in Homeworking:

    I believe it does, but I haven't used it. Note that I'm not just looking at chat between IT staff, I'm looking at using it company wide for users to chat to us.

    Again, FreshDesk 🙂 Have a chat window on the support page, this doubles up because if no one is online, they get to fill in a ticket.

    You want to drive people to as few sources as possible.



  • I'll take a look. I suppose it comes down to the fact that I find Freshdesk a bit mediocre. It's ok as a ticketing system, but I'm not sure how much I want to extend it to other areas.



  • Why do they walk into your office/workspace now? Seems like a huge waste of time. why not call or email about a problem?



  • Because we're awesome and people just like to hang out with us



  • @Carnival-Boy said in Homeworking:

    Because we're awesome and people just like to hang out with us

    LOL - well, with logic like that, what is there to be done 😛


  • Service Provider

    @Dashrender said in Homeworking:

    @Carnival-Boy said in Homeworking:

    Because we're awesome and people just like to hang out with us

    LOL - well, with logic like that, what is there to be done 😛

    I think that the only answer is for the whole team to move to the house with the guy working remotely then!



  • Your whole team needs to be aware of the changes and important things can't simply be yelling around the office any more.

    You need more than one-on-one chat. Your whole company should already be using some kind of chat, if used for nothing more than "heading to lunch" or "I'll be gone tomorrow" type messages. We only used our Skype for stuff like collecting lunch orders for example, but at least it's there.
    Slack has the ability to just "be there" with everybody even if not used much. It can be handy for passing files, screenshots, links, groups and DMs.

    If Slack is too heavy and email is too whatever and phone texting is too cumbersome, and Skype is too "meh". Then you need something that fits in the middle, like Telegram or What's App.
    Telegram is chat but you have desktop, web, and phone clients that can be used. It's not as "big" as Skype or Slack but not as cumbersome as just texting. Plus you don't have the message longevity limits like Slack does. Messages are also encrypted.

    Trello is really a project-based tool, which can still come in handy for historical purposed. Put meeting notes there, roadmaps, idea boards, upcoming sales information, whatever. Your remote guy can easily take part in projects via Trello and communications via Telegram, Slack, or Skype, and then of course email.

    Your remote guy should have access to the other employees as far as chat, so I wouldn't stick with one-on-one messaging. You never know.

    Take a look at Telegram's features and compare to Skype and Slack and even Freshdesk. But chat/messaging tools are not the same category as Trello, that's project management and is compared to tools like Producteev and Asana or even Basecamp.

    Lastly, you don't have "control" over the remote person's hours and time per se, so you have to change focus to tasks or goals and benchmarks and projects.
    Don't think "how do I know how many hours he works"; think "is he getting work done that satisfies employment."
    In other words, is he getting satisfactory work done in reasonable time, versus trying to time track which is only a measurement of time, not work. You might even consider going salaried since time-tracking makes less sense with a remote worker. Unless their job is heavily based on particular hours "doing stuff".

    Good luck!


  • Service Provider

    We use Skype extensively. Partially because the core teams are several buildings away from each other. But it is good, because if someone is not local, they always see what is going on.



  • Skype while not the most stable thing in the world. Has been the best option for us. Works across multiple platforms all at the same time (I can be at my desk and move to my phone or tablet without skipping a beat).

    We can video conference to see live humans once in awhile.

    We can screen share.

    We can pick on each other (major regular all day long thing here)

    We can keep in contact all day long and share issues with a support item and have team collaboration

    We can just hang out and do things like watch a movie at the same time and comment back and forth

    We also can search the history really easily and keep track of old information when some bone head forgets to put them in their ticket notes.



  • We have a ticket system, we have SharePoint and OneDrive etc. for organization but skype keeps us in contact and in the loop. Being out of the loop for someone who is states, or literally across the world is detrimental to team building.



  • @guyinpv said in Homeworking:

    Don't think "how do I know how many hours he works"; think "is he getting work done that satisfies employment."
    In other words, is he getting satisfactory work done in reasonable time, versus trying to time track which is only a measurement of time, not work. You might even consider going salaried since time-tracking makes less sense with a remote worker. Unless their job is heavily based on particular hours "doing stuff".

    Good luck!

    We're all salaried here. Agree with focusing on how much work is being done rather than how many hours are being worked though. Most companies are focused on measuring hours worked - partly because it's easier to measure than work achieved, especially in IT where it's not like you can count the number of widgets a worker has produced in a week as you can with a factory line. I just need to figure out some KPIs.



  • Sounds like Skype FTW. Do you login with your O365 accounts or do you need separate personal Microsoft accounts?



  • I use my Microsoft account for it . Not Office365 that is not the same thing.



  • @Minion-Queen said in Homeworking:

    I use my Microsoft account for it . Not Office365 that is not the same thing.

    You're using Skype not Skype for Business, right?



  • Correct. SfB is unreliable at best (might be better than last time I tried but I doubt it). It also doesn't easily do the continuous group chats the free skype does. BIGGEST issue is you can't leave it connected on multiple devices at once. we all tend to wander etc. so move from desktop to laptop to cell phone without missing a beat. With SfB if you leave it open multiple places half the time none of them get messages or they only go to one device etc., it's a big PITA!



  • I don't understand why MS hasn't killed the old Lync product and moved fully to the 'Skype' product and just expand that. It seems like such a better and more mature platform.


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