Working from home is a new adventure for many people. Adjusting to telecommuting versus working in an office, requires different ways of thinking and communicating.
Setting expectations from the beginning will ensure everyone is on the same page and will result in fewer misunderstandings later. You may not be sitting in the same building, city, state or even country, but that doesn’t mean you can’t work together.
Our dependency on each other increases as we learn to function in our living rooms rather than our cubicles. How you communicate and adapt to this environment makes the difference between a group of individuals who work from home and a remote team that is truly effective.
1. Dedicate a work area free from distractions and interruptions
Keep the TV off, the music down and disturbances to a minimum. Working from home should not be a substitute for daycare or a chance to catch up on chores. Make sure kids and inquisitive adults know not to disturb you when you are working.
2. Keep a work mindset
It may be tempting to work in your jammies, but getting dressed for work actually helps you focus. Jeans and a t-shirt are probably fine, but keep in mind, you should always want to look your best for that surprise video call.
Instant messaging tools like Skype, Google-Hangouts, Microsoft Teams, and RingCentral create a virtual office where you can share information in real-time. Phone calls can go straight to voicemail and emails can get deleted. Instant messaging allows you to ask a question to a group or an individual and get answers immediately without disrupting anyone’s work.
The importance of employee engagement is very high and shouldn’t be underestimated, especially since disengaged employees cost organizations nearly $550 billion annually. Having effective team collaboration tools in place help keep those communication channels open and drives employee engagement regardless of their location.
4. Find the best way to connect
You can’t yell questions over your cube or run down the hall to get an opinion when you work remotely. However, working from home does not mean working alone.
A strong team needs a way to bond as well as share information. Take time to relax! Staring at your computer all day is draining. You need time to put your feet up, tell a joke, catch up on gossip and sports scores. Keep a chat open where people can ask questions and respond to comments but also post jokes and send emojis.
Remember to keep a positive attitude. Sarcasm does not translate well over instant messaging. Keep your professionalism.
5. Keep your calendar updated
Time is important to us all. Working remotely can open opportunities to expand coverage and offer different shifts. Whether your team works the same office hours, or in different time zones, a calendar adds visibility that lets everyone see who is doing what, when.
Make sure to update your calendar and make it visible to everyone. Setting up a quick meeting or scheduling a video conference is easier when you can see who is available.
6. Keep growing
Careers still exist in a virtual world. Serious discussions and important talks still need to happen. Check in daily with your team members. Have the same open discussion you always have.
You don’t want to lose the personal feel of a face-to-face meeting. Use video conferencing for crucial conversation such as reviews, and one-on-ones to achieve the personal feeling of a face-to-face meeting.
7. Schedule regular virtual meetings
Team meetings are a time to share ideas and re-evaluate where you are as a team. Working remotely does not change that. In fact, for people that work alone most of the day, a team meeting can be a good way to get to know the others on their team. Make sure to not only share updates and news but celebrate team accomplishments and individual achievements.
Today’s work environment offers more challenges than ever before. Change pushes people out of their comfort-zone. New changes are always on the horizon. Successful teams know how to handle changes and are prepared for what may be next. Good remote teams know how to communicate and what is expected of them. Establishing the right habits from the beginning will ensure the effectiveness of any team regardless of where they work.
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