I love to read about – surprise! – virtual teams, though sometimes an otherwise insightful article comes to the wrong conclusion.
In this article from Daniel Kline at Madison.com, he outlines some problems with working from home, chalking them up to “it’s just not for everyone” reasoning. Let’s take a look at some of what they’re getting it, and see how strategies from Virtual Team Builders can help.
Virtual Workers are Lonely
As Kline says:
Though I often work from coffee shops or a shared work space, I don’t have co-workers in those locations. That can be very lonely, especially when you have something you really want to talk about.
This is a common refrain among virtual teams without a structure in place that foster inclusion and interaction, but it’s easy to introduce some strategies that bring people closer together. Make a point of ‘doing lunch’ with colleagues, using virtual meeting rooms to chat while eating, or play an icebreaker game to start off virtual meetings. Both a great ways to add ‘water-cooler’ spontaneity to your day and build productive working relationships.
Virtual Workers are Forgotten
It may not be fair, but it’s a simple reality. The people in the office have causal interactions and impromptu meetings that a remote worker won’t get to be part of.
Great virtual managers often institute regular open-door office hours, opening a virtual meeting room for drop-in conversations with remote colleagues. Before virtual meetings, it can also be helpful to distribute a map showing where each participant is joining from – this helps keep everyone top of mind during the meeting, and encourages team members to call on one another for input and feedback.
People Assume You’re Always Free
As Kline astutely points out:
Your family and friends can also create problems that make your supposedly dream setup not as perfect as you hoped.
Just as your roles and responsibilities are (ideally) clearly defined in your work life, virtual workers need to make clear to those in their personal life that working from home is no different from working at the office. Set the same boundaries you would if you were heading into the office every day, and you set yourself up for success.
The Virtual Takeaway
The hidden problems of virtual teams are far from insurmountable – in fact, with a few simple strategies in place, virtual team managers and leads can set their colleagues up for tremendous and sustainable success. Learn about mentoring for virtual managers is a great way to add virtual-specific strategies to your toolbox.
Interested in learning how to transition your face-to-face learning to live on-line learning? Virtual training can be just as effective and less costly than the in-person model.
~ Claire Sookman, founder and president, Virtual Team Builders