As I noted in 5 Actions for Leading a Virtual Team, the Impacting Leaders team is comprised of mostly virtual employees. I asked my team to think about the actions they deem to be essential to success as a member of a virtual team. Here’s what they had to share:
- Respond to emails and phone calls promptly. Expectations for a quick response are usually higher for virtual workers.
- Build camaraderie! Take the time for pleasantries before diving into the project. Make the effort to get to know one another. Have fun and laugh together.
- Check in with your teammates. How is their day going? Are there any projects you can help out with? Update them with what you have on your own plate.
- Inspire and motivate one another. Like anyone else, most virtual workers crave excitement and purpose in their work.
- Ask for input and advice. Collaboration is just as essential – if not more so – and it must be done intentionally because it can be very easy to work in your own silo.
- Find ways to learn together. Do a book study or attend a webinar together and spend time discussing it.
- Be willing to go above and beyond. Working from home is a perk, so be willing to give outside of your normal hours to pull off a priority project or help carry the load.
- Allow for some boundaries. At the same time, know that your teammates can’t always be “on.” Do your best to respect their down time.
- Have regular team meetings. What are the priority projects everyone is working on? What do our clients need? What do we need to start preparing for?
- Active communication is essential. If you need help, ask for it. If you’re drowning in projects, say something. If you’re feeling isolated, speak up. Don’t assume your teammates or leader intuitively knows what you’re thinking.
- Have a dedicated workspace. Your couch or kitchen table probably isn’t a feasible place for you to establish your home office.
- Establish a routine. Start work on time. Have regular hours. Get out of your pajamas. Keep a project list. Professionalism is still important in a virtual environment.
Gone are the days when virtual employees were viewed as part-timers who may or may not be watching Jerry Springer as they work. Virtual employees are a growing segment of today’s professional workforce, and they have the same high aspirations and abilities as those who commute to their workplace each day.