One of the main reasons why I quit my job and decided to start my own company was the need to be mobile. I wanted to live in different countries and work across different time zones. That does not mean that I do not work locally with people or travel to clients. It just means that I am not at a place in my life where I can commit to one location for the long term.
Only a few years ago working remotely wasn’t possible. Even these days some people have a hard time trusting you’ll deliver on time once you leave the office to work on an assignment from home or a café.
People are often amazed how I am able to deliver quality work with such short turnarounds. You might be surprised to hear that part of the reason, at least for me, is the ability to work remotely. It allows me to work from places where I can get into the “zone” quickly.
Since I registered my own business three months ago, I have worked on various projects with six clients and managed to write and publish a book while coordinating a remote team myself. It’s been busy, but I believe that with the right tools any assignment is possible. Here is an explanation of my processes, and a list of apps I use while working remotely:
I am a huge fan of Skype. It’s easy to schedule calls with anyone, anywhere in the world. Although often it’s not necessary to Skype, which is why I work with Podcasts.
For many of my clients it’s easier to share their briefings and feedback verbally, which is why my clients often send audio briefings instead of e-mails. It’s quicker for everyone and I can listen to my clients’ thoughts over and over again if needed.
Whenever I need to transcribe longer interviews or podcasts I use Siri to do it for me. I plug in headphones and simply repeat everything I hear and speak it to my iPhone while Siri types it for me in my phone's notes. It's an incredibly time-saving hack!
I am familiar with Basecamp and Podio. While I like that Podio enables you to customise the apps you need for your projects, I find it incredibly challenging if I’m not an admin of a work space. Basecamp feels far more democratic to me; it’s how I prefer to manage and be managed during projects.
I work exclusively in Google Docs. It’s the easiest way for my clients to see my progress and it’s also a great way for them to comment on my work. If I have to transfer local files, I do so by sharing a Dropbox folder.
Generally speaking, I save everything in the cloud to make sure nothing gets lost. It also gives my clients easy access to the work I produce for them.
I create all my decks, which I sometimes also publish on SlideShare using Keynote. They’re saved on Dropbox to make sure no information gets lost.
If I’m involved in a longer lasting project, I cut down on the number of emails by using Slack - a great chat tool to communicate with teams. All conversations and files uploaded to Slack are searchable, making it easy to search through what one has talked about in the past. Slack is available as a desktop, and also as a mobile app for your phone.
I use Freshbooks because it allows me to give my accountant immediate access to my invoices and expenses. I don’t need to drop off my receipts at his office. I do everything myself and give my accountant access to finalise what needs to be sent to the tax office. With Freshbooks I feel on top of the (accounting) game. A good feeling to have.
I hope this sheds some light on the way I work. What are the tools and practises that help you work on the go?