The Human Family Crash Course Series {5} ~ Communication {4} ~ How To Win In A Virtual Workplace

Welcome fellow souls to « The Human Family Crash Course Series, » a new project collaborated together by empress2inspire.blog and diosraw0.wordpress.com. Together we will be working on a different topic for each crash course; our fifth topic is focused on «Communication.» Each topic will have eight posts with posts on Mondays and Thursdays. We hope you enjoy our series and we look forward to knowing how our posts have inspired you!

Virtual workplaces, in which employees operate remotely from each other and from managers, are a reality, and will become even more common in the future. There are sound business reasons for establishing virtual workplaces, but their advantages may be offset by such factors as setup and maintenance costs, loss of cost efficiencies, cultural clashes, isolation, and lack of trust. Virtual teams and telework are examples of such arrangements, but they are not appropriate for all jobs, all employees, or all managers. To be most effective in these environments, managers need to do two things well:

~Shift from a focus on time to a focus on results
~Recognise that virtual workplaces, instead of needing fewer managers, require better supervisory skills among existing managers.

If you’re like most people today, you are facing a whole new set of challenges around how to manage your workload, share ideas and build relationships while working remotely. It’s not just about the work. You will also have to learn how to maximize socialization between your boss, colleagues and customers. Step up. This is your time to shine. Never ever in your life have your environment been so conducive for working. No travel time. No nagging work colleagues. Your own space. Access to unlimited food and drink, no one is judging how many times you made the trip to the coffee machine or snackbar. I mean what else do you want? Fully embrace this moment to make sure that you come out on the top. I mean what better time to surf when everyone else is coasting?

Here are a few ways to set the stage effectively and increase your impact ~

You need to be ready to work a little harder to communicate. Think of it like commuting. Back when we were going to the office, you had this commute time to prepare for things transitioning from your home life to your work life. Those boundaries are no longer there, I understand. So it is easy to feel like your home life and work life have kind of blended together. If you really want to fully take advantage of this moment here’s few tips:
~Make sure when you are talking in these virtual meetings, that you are being concise and powerful. You really want to make sure you are organised and you really don’t want to be that person who everybody wishes would just log off. In order to do this well, you have to plan ahead.
~Make attempts to connect with the people in your meeting after the call. Are you setting up coffee chats or are you setting up virtual happy hours. Doing this is very important to maintaining relationships with people in your meetings because you may not have that much time to talk to them during your meeting.
~When you are interacting with the team on zoom, keep your videos on, make sure your head and shoulders are visible on the calls. Also remember to smile often to let people know that you are still part of the conversation and not feel like they are speaking with an expressionless statue.

~Be responsive. When people can’t see you, they don’t know if you are working, and what you are working on so I think it’s more of the old “Out of sight and out of mind concept”. Nowadays, it’s not so much about what you are doing but who knows what you are doing. You have to be constantly interacting. I have noticed that people who I work with and have a high responsibility stake and the ones who are most responsive when I communicate with them. They know they need to be responsive. Sometimes it is more of an individual contributor who knows what they are doing and not so worried about their communication and takes them longer to get back. We need to remember that the higher we move up the more our jobs rely on communication. Here are a few tips :
~If you are going to be away from your seat, put an on break reply to the emails or messages you get. Let your team know you are taking a break.
~Send an email acknowledging someone’s request or email. It is good etiquette. This shows you are in the loop and you are responsive. As the tasks are being completed, let them know.

~Do what you say you will do. In our virtual workplaces it may be a little bit easier to drop the ball on things because you are not seeing your coworkers walk by your desk, things may not be front and centre, there are a lot of other things on our mind these days. So it’s a lot easier to hide. We need to make sure that we are really on it. I think some workplaces have a lot of pressure even when we are working from home, the intensity and urgency is pervasive. But for important but not urgent tasks, you need to create that sense of urgency yourself so that you do not become lazy about it. So here’s a tip~
~Know where your action item list is. We all have our things to do but do you know where yours is? Put it on your calendar. Do not have multiple to do lists. Get that piece figured out.
~Set up regular meetings with colleagues and stakeholders and people who help you stay accountable and stay on track.
~Keep your promises. If you tend to promise too much, maybe make an effort to manage expectations.

It takes a little hard work to be successful. So don’t coast. Remember the universe is bending in your favour. It is time to reach up and grab the opportunity. We are all going to come out of these cocoons like perfect communication butterflies successfully navigating the future of our crazy world. We would love to know about your communication and workplace hacks for succeeding in this virtual world. Please share.

~Garima {Empress2Inspire}

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