Staying Connected When Working Virtually
When many of us think about working virtually, we think “no make-up, no uncomfortable shoes, no awkward silences in my one-on-one, and no interaction with that one person who always seems to track me down with mind-numbing questions before I’ve even made it to my desk!”
Sounds like a pretty sweet deal, right? Sure, it can be great, but it’s not all pajamas, morning breath and messy hair. Remember, your identity within your team is shaped by emails, conference calls, and instant messages! If you’re considering a virtual position, or struggling to adjust to life in your home office, get better prepared to prove your worth by browsing the suggestions below.
Commit to Using Multiple Modes of Communication
As a virtual team member, you should be sensitive to how others communicate most effectively. While you may be comfortable delegating tasks via email with ten documents attached, your team might benefit from a short conference call in order to feel fully informed. To avoid confusion and ineffective meetings, make an effort to become well-versed in your team’s communication style.
Choose a Face-to-Face Communication Tool
There’s nothing quite like a face-to-face meeting, so how can you accomplish that from across the country? Check with your IT team to see if there is a video communication tool most commonly used in your office. If not, do a little research and find out what works best for you. Whether it’s Skype, GoToMeeting, WebEx, or another webcam program, choose a user-friendly tool and commit to using it for as many meetings as possible.
Pick a Point of Contact to be Your Eyes and Ears
Virtual employees are not visible, so making sure your presence is felt is important. Try picking a teammate you work well with to be your eyes and ears. If you’re accidentally left off a meeting request, they’ll forward it. If you’re not aware of an important call tomorrow, they’ll give you a heads up. Not only will this help with making sure your voice is heard, you’ll feel better knowing you’re on top of everything going on in the office.
Make the Extra Effort to Attend Events and Celebrations
“The hardest thing about being a virtual team member is nurturing and building relationships with other team members,” says NCU’s Senior Marketing Manager, Alexis Castorina, who works virtually from her home in Pittsburgh, PA.
To overcome this hurdle, work with the social committee in your office to get a schedule of events for the year. Then, take the time to plan ahead. Scheduling your visits to the office when special events are planned will help you get to know new team members, ensure that everyone remembers your face, and keep you engaged with office culture.