Please, for the love of all that is good and holy, if you only do *one* thing in this section, invest in decent video conferencing. When you have remote employees, *every* meeting they are in will necessitate a video conference.
Of all the common points involved with remote work, this one always stands out. Whether your team is 100% remote, partially remote (i.e. some people are remote while others work in offices), or distributed (everyone works in an office but the offices are geographically different) the most common complaint is video conferencing.
There are two avenues that I have seen that fail:
- The company goes the cheap route and invests in nothing. The employees muddle through with Skype, Google Hangouts, or whatever random solution they can get through the expense reporting system.
- The company invests in tech but a) it’s usually poorly designed, b) it’s poorly maintained, or c) the rooms in which video conferencing (VC) tech exists are too few and usually booked.
It’s hard to believe in 2016 that most small, remote companies haven’t latched on to a solution*. It’s even crazier that big, distributed companies still struggle with VC tech. As the author of this piece notes “If it takes 20 mins out of every meeting to get people dialed in, it frankly sucks.” And worse, sometime during that 20 minutes inevitably someone will announce “let’s go to voice only”, the team switches to an antiquated conference calling number, and voila… you have an inefficient, frustrating meeting that reinforces the belief that remote/distributed work cannot work as well as co-located.
What’s the solution? Easy, set a goal for VC meeting efficiency and monitor as you would anything else. Imagine you had a build system or source code repository that broken between 12.5-25% of the time (i.e. 1-2 hours daily) and cost your engineering team that much productivity; would you allow that? If the tool isn’t meeting your company’s goals… replace it with something that is.