Roy Gilbert

Managing remote workers?

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Mar 9, 2020 at 12:01 AM

Nicolas Vandenberghe’s company has 42 staffers scattered among 36 cities in 15 countries. As technology makes it possible for people to be in constant touch while working remotely, businesses like Chili Piper are becoming the norm.

“We have Zoom, Slack, and a myriad of other collaborative tools — do we really need the in-person water cooler meetings?” asks Vandenberghe, whose business makes software to help companies manage meetings. Vandenberghe himself is continually remote, splitting his time between Brooklyn, New York; Los Angeles and France.

Whether it means a parent working from home while caring for a sick child, a staffer who logs into a company computer daily from a coffee shop or an entire law firm that operates online, remote working is gaining momentum at small businesses. Technology that makes communication and meetings easy is a big factor in the growth of remote working, but so is the shrinking labor pool that accompanies an unemployment rate below 4% for over a year. Many companies no longer look for help close to their home base.

It’s hard to find definitive statistics on how many people work remotely. Gallup’s most recent survey in 2016 showed that 43% of employees worked remotely in at least some capacity; that was up 4 percentage points from 2012.

But even as remote working grows, business owners find managing offsite staffers involves more than giving them the latest technology. Communication, for example, can’t be left solely to videoconferencing and messaging apps like Slack. Three […]

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