One of the most powerful aspects of telecommuting or working virtually is that, whether you are an individual contributor or a leader, you have more choice about how you show up to your colleagues.
Unless your laptop camera is very high quality resolution, people meeting with you virtually probably won’t notice the bags under your eyes from staying up the previous night with a sick child or that you didn’t have time to take a shower after your morning run.
The key to leveraging the world of virtual work is to be well known as a productive and personable team member. These 12 practices will ensure you consistently show up as positive, focused, and energetic. How many of these best practices are true for you?
- Before calling or emailing, I plan what I want to communicate and consider the best approach considering the personality and the perspectives of the recipient.
- When I answer the phone, I look away from my computer so that email and instant messages don’t distract me.
- When I speak up on a conference call or virtual meeting, I deliberately smile so I sound more pleasant and approachable. (Yes, people can see and hear the difference!)
- I use IM status codes deliberately to communicate when I need to focus and don’t want to be disturbed and when I am open for conversation.
- I show genuine interest in my colleagues’ lives outside of our immediate project work by asking questions about their interests and sharing a bit about myself to build trust.
- When I work on a project or task with someone, I take time to collaboratively share expectations and agree on deliverables to prevent misunderstanding and conflict. I do not promise what I may not be able to deliver.
- I have a way (phone app, computer screen, etc.) of quickly recognizing the current time zone of a colleague and I modify my communication appropriately. (For example, you could start an email request with I know you are probably ready to leave for the day, so when would be a good time to chat about xx?)
- I demonstrate respect for others by adapting my behavior based on their availability and workload, and I show appreciation for their efforts.
- My shared team calendar is always up to date so that my team knows when I am available for meetings.
- If I write an email when am annoyed, angry, or frustrated, I save it as a draft and review/edit it later before sending it.
- I never multitask on one-on-one meeting calls and limit my multitasking when on large conference calls or meetings. (Exception: forwarding someone a document to facilitate discussion is acceptable since it supports the conversation.)
- I only use the Reply All email feature when I am confident everyone on the list wants or needs to know the information I am sending.
In addition to reducing commuting time and saving money on a wardrobe, working virtually also allows you to choose how you show up to others. Use these behaviors to be the person everyone wants on their virtual team!
About the author
Carmela Southers is a senior consulting partner with The Ken Blanchard Companies who specializes in increasing organizational, team, and leader effectiveness in the virtual work world.