Virtual reality of a different kind – working remotely has changed the way many of us live. For one, it doesn’t involve putting on workwear in the morning! Even if you’re the sort that goes to a workplace AND works remotely from there, you still have significant autonomy over your time. What about those inside the four office walls that you collaborate with?
How does your team feel about this autonomy? Chances are, if you’ve been a successful remote worker for a while now, you’re doing it right. But if you’ve experienced a few bumps along the way, specifically related to your remote working, it is time to consider making a change – to your habits, that is.
Here are the core ingredients that go into making a successful, productive virtual employee.
1. Constant vigilance: Do you often miss reading emails? Do you find tasks only on the day they’re due? If this is the case, you need to get a grip as soon as possible. Take a day off from work and clean up your inbox, as well as your collaboration tool. Understand what is pending from your side. Add these tasks to a calendar and track them. With remote teams, no one has the time to keep checking with you on your deliverables. Remember it is also tougher than calling out across the office floor, so don’t be a lost colleague.
2. Communication: Today’s good employee must be an excellent communicator as well as a highly-skilled contributor. Stay in touch with your team and always stay up-to-date on what everyone is working on, their time off, etc. Also, communicate when you’ll be away and what you’ll be delivering. Just because you are physically away, don’t act like it.
3. Adherence to timelines: People are willing to compromise (slightly) on quality as long as the diligence levels are high. Don’t, however, use this as an excuse for shoddy work. Instead, use this principle to plan your tasks and set aside time to do your best, in time. You’ll get more opportunities your way if people think you are incredibly dependable.
4. Ringing the bell early: Sometimes, as a virtual employee, you may not feel like you are in a position to raise issues, or that they don’t concern you. However, everything that affects a business should concern you. If you’ve made a mistake, inform the team early on and offer help in fixing the problem. If the problem lies elsewhere, have a chat with your lead to present a neutral perspective. Do it as soon as possible instead of waiting for the issue to brew further.
5. Accept the isolation: If you are a virtual team member working alone/ from home, you may soon miss the lack of any human interaction. Even the most introverted among us need to speak to someone. If you find yourself turning to endless hours of scrolling through social media, it is time to seek help. Go out and join a group activity that interests you. Meet old friends after work hours. Accept that this is the nature of your job, and find ways to compensate.
Needless to say, get to know your team well. It may very well be the case that you’re all scattered all over the planet, but that’s no reason not to collaborate. Knowing the nuances of each person’s skills and shortcomings can help you accomplish your tasks with greater ease, and know whom to ask for help.
Being a good virtual team member is not so difficult. A lot of common sense etiquette and conviction that you are part of the team and want to continue to be one, will keep you grounded.