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January 31, 2017

Women in Leadership Meeting Recap: Remote Work

Where are you most successful and productive? Is it at home? At the office? Surrounded by people? Or, in a quiet environment? Improvements in technology have given people the ability to work remotely and where they feel they can be the most successful. As with anything, there are both advantages and disadvantages of remote work, and everyone has their opinions. Jessica Farnum, Technical Manager at Honeywell, has lived and breathed this concept of remote work. At last Thursday’s Women in Leadership group, Jessica shared her experiences and knowledge on how to effectively work remotely as a team.

How do you avoid distractions when working remotely?

When working remotely, you are bound to have distractions; whether it is pets, children, household chores, etc. In order to overcome these distractions, it is key to create a designated work area. Make yourself an office where you can close the door and avoid the distractions of everyday life that are present when working from home. It is also important to dress professionally and give yourself a routine. It would be easy to roll out of bed and begin working, but the more you feel and act like you are at the office, the easier it will be to get things done.

How do you stay in touch with virtual teammates?

It is important when working remotely that you maintain a strong relationship with team members; however, that can be easier said than done. It is important to have predictable and consistent schedules among the team, so you can rely on one another to communicate when necessary. There are also several different methods of communication that can be utilized to stay in touch and collaborate with one another. Google Hangouts and instant messaging can be two very effective ways to do this. One important thing to consider is to try to have all participants using the same communication method (i.e. on the phone) when interacting in order to ensure everyone is included and working together.

What do you need to do as a manager to create an effective environment?

It can be very difficult for managers to create an effective work environment when they are not in the same location as their employees. In order to combat this and create an effective work environment, it is important for managers to communicate with the team consistently. Having regular one-on-one communication is a great way to stay engaged with team members and ensure everyone is on the same page. In addition to these one-on-ones, where work is the focus, it can be helpful to inquire about the team member’s personal life. Building a strong personal relationship with your team will be beneficial when it comes to creating a positive work environment. Finally, it is important to address distractions and lack of accountability swiftly and directly. If these things are not addressed, the behavior will likely not be resolved.

What are the communication adjustments you need to make for a remote workforce?

It can be difficult to communicate effectively when working remotely because all of the non-verbal communication cannot be seen.  And, while it may not be visible, it is still important to take into consideration when communicating. Managing silence is one thing that can be difficult when you are not communicating face-to-face. Remember that silence is not a bad thing, allow people time to respond and if you need a response, don’t hesitate to call out and ask for one. It is also essential to continue thinking about your posture. Even though you can’t be seen, posture still matters for putting you in the best state of mind to get things done.

How can you create a virtual watercooler?

It can be easy to keep to yourself when working in a virtual team; however, it is important to make an extra effort to show others that you care and are interested in their lives. One member reinforced this as she shared the quote, “Nobody cares how much you know, until they know how much you care” with the group. Making time for small talk and discussing one another’s personal lives is an effective way to establish rapport and trust among the team. Being accessible and approachable for your team members will let them know you care, in turn, creating a positive work environment.

How does your organization handle remote work?

Posted by: Rachael Gaffney

Tags:  Meeting Recap, Women in Leadership Group, Remote Work

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