The Key to An Engaged Workforce: Show Up Mindfully

When you telecommute to your virtual office each day which may be steps away from your kitchen where your first cup of coffee is waiting for you, you’ve likely already checked emails, fulfilled some personal obligations and thought about work deadlines before you’ve officially started your “work day.”

By the time we’re at our desks or dialing into a conference call, our minds are flooded with tasks we didn’t finish yesterday or what we have to do in the coming days or weeks. This often translates to never being full present or aware with the task in front of us or in conversations with our colleagues and employees.

How many times have you been on a conference call and have been checking your email at the same time or working on another task? For most of us, multitasking is the new norm, but neuroscience research shows that we’re the most productive when we are focused on one task. Multitasking is nothing more than our brains switching from one task to another.

The result – we’re showing up to the workplace more unfocused, less productive and more unaware of the cues of others than ever before.




Prepare yourself to show up, prepare your team

When you’re working virtually, you can’t see someone’s reaction  to you unless you are using webcam or video conferencing technology. Without these tools, we have to listen for the tone of voice, the pauses and even the silence.

This means that the first step to let your team know they have your undivided attention is to listen. By listening – not checking your smartphone or looking at your computer – when you’re not face-to-face with your employees will not only allow you to read the subtle clues, but will also allow you to look at situations in a new way versus running on autopilot.

Before your next meeting or one-on-one conversation, think about how you can prepare yourself to show up:

  • Take 30 seconds to one minute to sit quietly, take some deep breaths and be aware of the present moment before running to the next task.
  • Put away your smartphone so you won’t be tempted to check or respond to messages as they arise.
  • Ask yourself, are you focusing and listening to what your team needs or are you absorbed in the work you need to get done?

The power of awareness

Subconsciously we often show up to work in a non-mindful way. We don’t consciously think about how we show up or the impact our unconscious behavior has on other people or the project we are working on.

Take a few minutes to thinking about the following:

  • How you currently show up?
  • How you want to show up?

If you weren’t sure about either answer, don’t worry. Begin by asking yourself these questions?

Ask yourself the following:

  • When I sit down at my desk do I feel tired and overwhelmed or present and calm?
  • Before responding to an employee who’s hasn’t been performing well, do I call and email him/her right away or do I step away from the situation to assess before responding?
  • When I’m on a phone meeting and not face-to-face with others, do I usually check my phone or have my eye on my computer screen?
  • Do I respond with awareness of a situation or am I simply reacting with my first thought, opinion or judgment?
  • Do I take time each day for myself to do one healthy and stress relieving activity – meditation, yoga, exercise?

After answering the questions to yourself ask a colleague you trust the same set of questions about how they think you show up and what is the impact on your team. 

     Next, ask yourself these questions:

  • Does your self-reflection align with your colleague’s perception of you? Is there a gap between your view and your colleague’s view?
  • Does your colleague see areas of improvement? If yes, what will you do with that information?

While mindfulness may be the catch phrase of the moment, it’s impossible to ignore the evidence of how focusing your attention on the now or simply showing up and being present in the virtual workplace will allow leaders to look at situations in a new way, which will trickle down to their employees resulting in a happier and more engaged workplace.

Once you’ve answered the questions and discussed with a colleague you trust, check back for our next article where we’ll discuss the steps you can take to start to change your behavior and begin leading a present and engaged virtual workplace. It all starts with you!


By : Claire Sookman /September 29, 2014 /Performance Increase in Homeworkers /0 Comment Read More

Three Techniques to be a Stress-free Virtual Worker!

Is stress getting you down? Sometimes, work related work pressures can become so overwhelming, that all you want to do is crawl into deep dark hole, initiate foetal position, and just forget that the world exists. But this won’t solve any of our problems. So, instead of wishing for stress free days, actually feel stress-free! Here are three tips to help you to unwind for the long weekend.

1)      Learn to Relax!  Use the long weekend to focus on yourself. While it is important to keep work related matters in mind, remember that it should not completely control your life. Not leaving time to relax is mentally tolling; this means not only will you have exhausted yourself physically, but your work quality will also suffer. If you are too tired to work, chances are you won’t—at least not as well as you would if you were energized and rejuvenated. Many often believe that continuously working past one’s physical limit is the only way to stay on track and produce proper results. This is a myth. If your brain is tired, you will not be half as productive as you think you will be. A tired brain means sloppy work!

2)      Keep your Work-Life Balance in check – As a virtual worker, it is quite easy to blur the distinction between work-time and home-time, because work-time is…well…at home. Not being able to keep the two apart may make you feel as though you are working all the time. Be careful, as this is dangerous. Without maintaining the balance, you may start to resent your work and feel as though you have no time to yourself. A simple solution to this is that as soon as the clock hits 5 pm, literally check out of your office. Turn off your machine(s), get out of the house, go to the gym—just do something else! Working overtime may be helpful for catching up with certain tasks, but just make sure you do not overdo this. Also, if you manage your time well, you shouldn’t even have to work past five (but that’s a discussion for another time!)

3)      Don’t multi-task! Surprising, right? Despite the various talks about the benefits of doing many things at once, there is scientific evidence that this type of working style is not helpful. An article in the Washington Post explains how doing too many things at once can “scatter” your attention. It also stops us from thinking creatively because we may be focusing on more tasks than our brains can handle. This can stop us from “original thought—or to make wise decisions”, says Teresa Aubele and Susan Reynolds, the writers of Psychology Today, who were featured in the article.

So what does this all mean? This long weekend, take a step back to breathe. Your work will still be there once you go back the next week, so try to use the time you have for yourself! You will find that relaxing will actually help you be more productive in the long run (as long as you don’t overdo it!).

If you have any thoughts or comments, please send them to We would love to hear from you!

By : Amir Ahmed /May 06, 2014 /Blog, Managing Stress in a Virtual Environment /0 Comment Read More

    Virtual Team Builders is a training and consulting company that caters to corporations and teams who depend on effective virtual collaboration to succeed. Our training is targeted towards the unique challenges faced by teams operating in a virtual environment; challenges that are present whether members work 90 feet apart or 3000 miles apart.