By Joanna Samuels
Working off-site offers a unique opportunity for a work-life balance as well as freedom for some employees to manage their time—as long as the deadlines and goals are met. However, respecting boundaries, opportunities for informal learning and teamwork can be virtually challenging.
Reviewing the following basic suggestions can go a long way to ensure that you have productive and harmonious remote working relationships.
1) Learn the technology in advance. Get comfortable with the tech. Test the internet connection, audio and sound. Always clarify the virtual format for team meetings/projects.
2) Pick the perfect spot. Find a quiet location to work away from overhead lights. Sitting near a window is the best because of its natural light. Bad lighting can make it difficult for an interviewer or teammate to see you. Make sure you have the equipment you need and that it works: computer, mouse, keyboard, scanner, ergonomic chair, desk etc. Some employees have the services of a specialist to help set up a safe workplace in their benefit package.
3) Eliminate distractions. Make sure that you are alone and nothing interferes with your conversation, including your phone and email notifications on your computer. This includes pets too.
4) Consider the “appropriate” method of communication. Think about when you should send an email, use the phone, or host a virtual meeting. Platforms such as Slack and Asana provide instant messaging, which is a great option too.
5) Virtual meeting etiquette. Whether you’re using Zoom, Teams, Bluejeans or Google Meets, be professional. Keep your microphone muted unless you want to speak and refrain from using private chat. Position your camera and don’t go overboard on backgrounds.
6) Pay attention. Don’t multitask and treat this meeting as if you are there in person. Be punctual and prepared for your meeting and reduce the likelihood of interruptions.
7) Be an amazing virtual team player. Working together is key for a successful virtual experience. Find out how your supervisor and your co-workers like to communicate and stay on top of results. Focus on goals and accomplishments instead of your tasks and responsibilities. Set boundaries and respect off-hours time.
8) Be sensitive to differences and diversity. In today’s global workforce, and virtual workplace, a lighthearted joke could be an insult. Avoid discussing controversial topics such as religion, politics, or sex. Respect different opinions and personalities. Always be considerate of your co-workers, staff and supervisors.
9) Isolation is a concern. You may often feel alone working by yourself. However, remain considerate of your co-workers, staff, and supervisors by ensuring that you are accessible. When a colleague, supervisor or customer sends you an email or text, respond quickly and politely. Don’t ghost your peers. Nothing is more disruptive to virtual collaboration than a disappearing or unavailable remote worker who refuses to respond to communication attempts.
10) Be professional. First impressions matter. Dress business casual. Sit up straight and smile. Connect into the meeting early and stay mindful of your body language and facial expressions. Make sure you are fully awake before appearing on camera and don’t eat during the meeting.
11) Self-care. Because working can sometimes be stressful, set yourself some boundaries at work. Continue to schedule work-life balance activities—walk, run, and pursue outdoor activities after work. Eat well and stay hydrated.
For most of us the idea of a hybrid workplace, virtual or in person, is here to stay. Learning how to remain flexible, professional and engaged in the best
way to accomplish your career goals.
Joanna Samuels, MEd, is an adult educator with an expertise in career/job coaching and community/business partnership building.