It sounds corny, but in today’s globalized world, it is inevitable that you will work with someone on a purely virtual basis, or be forced to work on long-term projects with someone while they are out of town for a significant amount of time for that project.
Check out this article on 21 Statitstics About Remote Work Trends in 2018 by SkipTheDrive. Did you know that 56% of startups worldwide have outsourced at least some part of their work?
But how do you do it? How do you communicate well with each other? How do you keep up the relationship so that there aren’t any misunderstandings from texts or emails? And how do you keep production on target?
Well, we are going to figure it out.
For the next four weeks, I will be in Washington D.C. for a work trip and training program. This will serve as the perfect opportunity to test run for our long-distance partnership.
Mom and I have always known that at some point we will have to take our partnership to task by making it long-distance. As much as I love Tucson, being close to her, and close to my grandparents, there just isn’t a lot of job growth opportunity for my career, nor is there any for my husband. Since we are still working out the logistics of how to make this side hustle a full-time thing, I have to take this opportunity in D.C. It was a hard choice, but sometimes you just have to see where life takes you.
Check out this article 17 Stats about Remote Work in 2018 by Remote.co. This article shows the great advantages to working remotely. Did you know that working remotely can actually lead to more employment engagement, rather than less?
So here is the deal. For the next four weeks, we will be testing what works and what doesn’t in terms of communication, scheduling, and actually producing. Mom has always been on the producing side, so that part won’t change all that much, except for me not being able to help out with all the packaging. That will definitely be tested once we get our next big order. We might have to invest in some part-time help (super exciting that we are at that stage!!).
If you have any tips, suggestions, or things that you want us to test out over the next four weeks let us know in the comments below!
I have split up the rest of this post into three sections to explain our current process and then what we plan to do differently. At the end of the four weeks, I will be doing another blog post to report back on what worked and what didn’t. The three sections I will be most concerned with are communication, scheduling, and producing.
So let’s get started!
Currently: Right now we have the luxury of easy access to face-to-face communication. We both work in the same building for our full-time jobs, we live in the same city, and we are just near each other a lot in general. On the weekends we usually get together at least once for packaging or for a family dinner so we can take advantage of these opportunities for face time.
However, now we will not have that luxury. We will have to actively set times to meet and institute new ways to communicate what we are planning for the week and month ahead. There will be a lot of communication through emails and text or in other words no face time (unless we actually use FaceTime…. Then there will be lots!).
Our plan: We want to commit to meet at least once every weekend on the phone for thirty to sixty minutes. Those talks will cover our plan for the next week (social media marketing and upcoming events) and we will also leave time for what was difficult over the previous week and strategize ways to overcome those obstacles. It is also important to keep track of things that worked well. This will serve, in theory, as a boost to our productivity by seeing that not all is bad. I will be keeping a log of these instances to update at the end of the four weeks. This will be a good de-brief for us as well; we won’t need to re-invent the wheel for when I move to D.C. full time.
Currently: Over the weekend we write out a rough outline for the upcoming week. We include each day and each social media outlet with space to write ideas, pre-planned captions, and the like so that it makes posting a lot smoother. It’s also our way to keep ourselves from sporadically posting and to get ourselves into a good routine.
I usually work about 45 minutes to one hour every day of the week, excluding Saturday which we spend a few hours packaging. I don’t have a specific time of the day that I spend that 45 minutes to one hour, it is usually in between either doing chores, working out, and going to work. This could be in the morning or after I get home from work.
Our Plan: We plan to continue the practice of creating a weekly rough outline. We had mostly been doing it virtually any way, so now we make sure to write it out during our weekly phone call. We will sketch out our plans and then make a google document for the week which we can both print out and use as a checklist.
I finish work at 5 PM every day, so I plan on spending my 45 minutes to one hour as soon as I get back to the hotel (around 5:30 pm) to make sure my mind is still fresh and that I get the work I need to get done, done. I will try this the first week- however, if I am not as productive as I would like to be I will change this to 45 minutes before I go to work in the morning.
Currently: Mom is the powerhouse behind all baking and I come in to help with the packaging which we usually do on a Saturday. This is mainly for our weekly farmers’ markets and for our monthly antique fairs.
Our Plan: This is our weakest link, in my opinion. Right now we don’t have a plan. This all depends on if we get a large order, or not. We can’t plan for something that we don’t know is coming. We can strategize different ideas, but we can’t rely on anyone or anything since we don’t know the intensity of the order or if that person or thing is available in the time frame that we would need.
If we end up getting an order for 1000 cookies again, or for a significant order with a short deadline we will have to communicate immediately to see how we can figure out the logistics. On one hand, I hope we get a large order because it will help our business. But on the other hand, I am anxious about how we will handle it.
I am excited to test this out. I hope that we get some good lessons from how to work well in a long-distance partnership so that we can share them all with you.
Have you worked with someone outside of your area on a long-term project? How did you manage it? What worked and didn’t? We would love to hear from you in the comments below!