How to Be a Team Player When Working Remotely
If you suddenly find yourself working remotely, you’re not alone. Is working from the office necessary anymore? Due to advances in technology, and the rapid adoption of connected devices, telecommuting now fits into the growing idea of work being a thing you do, not a place you go. According to a report by OwlLabs, 30% of the group they surveyed worked remotely 100% of the time. While 48% of that group worked remotely at least once per week – that shy of 50% of individuals surveyed.
As telecommuting becomes more attractive to businesses, how can you make sure you – as a remote worker – aren’t seen as a ‘slacker’, and demonstrate your value to your team? How is it possible to be a team player when working remotely?
Here are 7 ways you can get a jumpstart:
1. Build Trust Amongst Your Team with Regular Communication
According to Kenexa Research, telecommuting is a privilege enjoyed by those who have been with a company for 3-5 years. Chances are, you’re already a trusted employee, but failure to keep in touch with your team can result in mistrust. Make sure your team hears your voice, and sees your name or face every day, as they would in the office. This doesn’t have to be direct contact, it may be through your avatar while you are editing a document, or seeing you are ‘online’.
2. Include Yourself in the Company Culture
Depending on your personality, as a remote worker, you may feel moments of isolation or loneliness. This is particularly true if you had spent years before coming into a workplace every day.
You’ll want to push yourself to interact with other members of your team. Luckily, there are plenty of tools to keep your team connected. Establish a sound communication tool so that you can stay up-to-date on what is happening within your department. This will add comradery throughout your entire team.
Use a voice and video communication platform over text. This will not only allow you to feel your voice is heard but act like distance from your team is non-existent.
Try using an audio messaging app like Voxer or schedule meetings on video conferencing platforms, like Zoom.
Some other ways to stay connected with your company:
- Attend training programs
- Add quarterly or annual visits to your team headquarters as apart of your contract. If everyone is remote, help organize a company offsite, where all team members can connect
- Organize weekly, bi-weekly or monthly companywide meetings
- Bookclubs, Wednesday night knitting, or weekly chat and chews
Remember, making sure you feel connected with your entire team is as important for your own satisfaction as it is for company culture.
3. Use a Range of Communication Tools to Make Collaboration Seamless
We mentioned this briefly, but be sure to put in place communication solutions that are efficient, and fit your team’s working style. Your team leader may start doubting telecommuting if it takes several exchanges to complete a simple task. Make sure the collaboration tool allows for work across devices and networks. As a flexible worker, you will need a solution that works on all your connected devices, wherever you live. Here are some tools that will help you learn how to be a team player:
- Voxer: A real-time audio messaging app – listen to messages live or later
- Zoom: Video conferencing platform and meeting house – for in-house or customer communication
- Trello: Project management tool to adds accountability and deadlines for your team members
- Miro: Visual whiteboard for distributed team collaboration
4. Focus on Results, Not Time
One of the biggest deterrents to working in a dedicated office space is if you have designated hours for operations. Today, many companies are slowly started to incorporate flexible work schedules to help employees maintain a work-life balance.
When working from home, some might find it difficult to sit for an extended period of time. Some may prefer to take breaks throughout the day. Or perhaps work a non-traditional 9-5 schedule.
As a remote worker, you are required to manage your time. No one is looking over their shoulder to make sure you arrived at 9 on the dot. You can design your schedule any way you see fit. As long as your long-term projects and daily tasks are completed you’ll be in for a smooth ride.
You may not be working the same hours as your team, but your success will be determined by your results. Make sure you still outline quarterly KPIs with your team and send weekly emails on your completed deliverables.
5. Work in a Productive, Neat Space
Telecommuting is a commitment, not all work environments are going to be suitable. Experiment with different spaces and find what works best for you: a spare room in your home, your kitchen, or and designated spot in your bedroom. Just make sure the space is both not too distracting and that you are actually getting work done.
Design your workspace with any bells and whistles that you need to work effectively. Purchase a standing desk, medicine ball to sit on pr pick up some funky artwork at your local art dealer or thrift shop.
6. Take Breaks
Equally as important as measured productivity, is emotional productivity. Taking mental breaks to refocus the mind to allow for a renewed perspective will help inspire you to complete a task or brainstorm a new idea. The beauty of working from home means you have control of your working environment and schedule.
A few of our personal favorite mini-break habits:
- Rather than taking a meeting at your desk – take a “walking meeting” down your street
- Close your eyes for five minutes and breathe or break out into a few yoga stretches
- Throw in a load of laundry so you can spend your weekends spending time with loved ones
- Oh, and don’t forget to call your Mother
These mini-breaks mimic the natural pace of office-life and will help you collaborate effectively with your team.
7. Checkout at the End of the Day
Working from home can cause your personal life and professional life to mesh together. Make sure you outline your office hours and stick to them. This will be tough – but necessary. This will help ensure that you complete tasks by the end-of-the-day so you can avoid feeling guilty when you attached to your desk on off-hours.
While there are many benefits of working from home, telecommuting can be stressful. But, when remote work is needed, there are countless ways to ensure you do your job to your best ability with the allocated resources.
Are you ready to be a team player?
If you’ve recently been forced into a remote-work lifestyle you are not alone. Developing skills and creating healthy habits will demonstrate your ability on how to be a team player when in a distributed team.
Remote work may sound dreamy but the realities can be drastic from that Hollywood Esque feeling that bubbles up when you think of remote work. Perhaps your children are home from school, your internet is down, or you are simply distracted by a pile of dirty dishes. Whatever the case may be, you will want to make sure you focus your attention. That way, you don’t only produce high-quality work – but you’re 100% present for your entire team.
Originally published 10.30.14. Updated on 4.7.20.