Human Resources

Stay engaged and connected while working remotely

Health Industry Hub | April 12, 2021 |

Human Resources: Making remote and hybrid working the norm is strengthening and diversifying the talent pool, while simultaneously improving employee engagement by giving them a better work-life balance.

In their latest book The Long-Distance Teammate, authors Kevin Eikenberry and Wayne Turmel, explore the strategies employees need to embrace to become a successful remote worker, and how these tactics will serve the employee’s career prospects in the long term.

Adopting a mind-set of a fully-fledged, in-touch and committed remote teammate will help you achieve meaningful – not just transactional – social and emotional connections.

The teammate outlook encompasses more than merely accepting that everyone, no matter where his or her desk may be, reports to the same manager. It’s about the commitment and effort you apply to become:

  1. A true teammate – The definition of a teammate runs deeper than that of a team member who simply has a parallel to-do list. Teammates share profound ties and work closely together.
  2. Connected – Remote workers’ connections must transcend Wi-Fi hook-ups. You must link to the work itself, your manager, your organisation’s strategy and your teammates.
  3. Engaged – It is true that organisations can bring employees closer to their work, their company and one another. But genuine engagement is self-determined. The benefits of being willing to engage include greater satisfaction, a broader viewpoint, more productive relationships, and access to the opportunity to grow and take on new projects.

Remote work has attractive benefits and notable drawbacks.

Working remotely presents numerous benefits and opportunities. Usually, you can focus on working without being interrupted. You can create a comfortable, personalised setting and implement your own schedule including the flexibility to balance your family needs.

However, remote work also involves day-to-day challenges including isolation which doesn’t stem from a lack of Zoom or Teams meetings. Colleagues may feel isolated if there isn’t space for vulnerability and sharing of struggles and challenges.

To keep on top of these, you must:

  1. Do your work on time; carefully plan and schedule your work.
  2. Establish and maintain good collegial relationships with your boss and teammates.
  3. Overcome the distractions of your remote location, including noisy children, barking dogs and blaring TVs.
  4. Adjust your behaviour and communication to meet the demands of working remotely.
  5. Find the personal strength to maintain your motivation and productivity even if no one encourages you or monitors your daily activities.

Maintaining energy is easier for office workers than for remote workers.

When you work in an office, energy is in the air. You can feel it. Sometimes, this energy – with its noise and disruptions – can interfere with your focus. That’s why many people like working remotely and being by themselves. No annoying fellow workers, background racket or distractions. But when you work alone, you are your only source of energy. You must generate sufficient motivation to keep your mental batteries charged and operational.

Most people – even introverts – need others around to stay charged up and engaged. Know yourself and consider whether you need other people around to help you stay motivated and mentally well.

Success depends not just on your work, but also on your contribution to teamwork. Keep the broader picture in mind.

As a remote worker, you must resist the short-sighted tendency to focus on your own work. Instead, consider how your work dovetails with that of your co-workers. To do this, visualise a box with two sections inside. One box contains all the activities and tasks you carry out on your own, but there is a second box surrounding it that encompasses your team’s work and your organisation’s significant goals. This box features the relationships, trust, communication and collaboration you build with your remote teammates. Keep this box in mind throughout
your working day.

When working at home, follow a daily schedule with firm start, stop and break times.

Maintaining inspiration when you work by yourself can be a challenge. Goofing off is easy; distractions are everywhere – just one mouse click and website away. The best way to stay focused on your work is to plan formal start and stop times for your workday. Create a routine by making these times essential elements of your daily schedule. Establish the good habit of working for 40 to 60 minutes, then taking 10 minutes off.

Refresh yourself by standing, stretching, exercising, taking a brief walk or whatever activity away from your desk enlivens you.

Stay on your manager’s radar.

Bosses and employees always experience separation, but that separation becomes more pronounced when you work remotely. Make sure your boss doesn’t forget about you or assume you’re happy because you are always a top performer.

Avoid letting out of sight become out of mind. Participate in all remote meetings. Share your expertise with your virtual teammates and your manager. Volunteer for challenging projects within your team or cross-functionally.

Being a successful remote worker requires smart prioritisation, tech mastery and long-term thinking.

Working with colleagues who share the same office with you isn’t complicated. If a task or piece of information isn’t clear, you can stand up from your chair and wander to the nearby desk of someone who can straighten things out and ask him or her to explain what’s what.

Since remote workers don’t have that option, how can virtual teammates work together effectively? Remote workers must:

  1. Understand what each teammate must do so the team achieves its shared goals – As a remote worker, you must see beyond your immediate circumstances and needs, and view the big picture. This means knowing what work the team has to do, how it will measure success, what goals it must pursue, and which audiences and stakeholders it serves.
  2. Develop a sound working knowledge of the technology, tools and processes that lead to team success – Use these essential elements properly to help your team succeed.
  3. Prioritise tasks so your individual work balances with your work for the team – Determining priorities can be challenging for remote teammates. Use a long-range view to discern your priorities and learn to differentiate the urgent from the important.
  4. Pay attention to your career – Consider your career and where you’d like to be in the future. What advancement opportunities does your employer offer? What about other organisations? Is your industry expanding? Consider what you aim to achieve in your professional life.

Know how to lead a remote team.

As a remote-team leader, you wear three hats: the “leader hat,” the “team member hat,” and the “communicator hat.” To be a great remote-team leader, wear each one of these hats. As a team leader, help your remote teammates engage and connect. Strive to build good working relationships as a team member. And, as a communicator, consider what information to share with your team and how to share it.

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