The first time I worked remotely on a team was an adjustment. It felt like I had to re-learn how to work: how to connect with others, how to structure my day, how to stay engaged, and feel part of the team. Over time and with some creativity, the things I used to do with the team if changed slightly, could still work. Here are some of the lessons I learned.
While you don’t physically sit in the same space as your co-workers, you still sit within the same infrastructure, just virtually. Use the tools you now have at your disposal for collaboration. Instead of walking over to your co-worker’s desk, think of their computer as the new “desk” and knock on the virtual door. For example, within Teams, the little bubble next to my teammate’s name shows if she is busy, in a meeting, free, away, etc. Instead of scheduling another meeting on our already packed calendars, when her indicator shows she is free, I send an IM, asking for a couple of minutes to quickly collaborate on something we are working on. I “knock” on her virtual door.
Before working remotely, I had a routine, which included the drive to and from work and regular trips to run errands. Working remotely changed how much I ventured out of the house, which led to feeling isolated. It became too easy to order online and have it delivered versus getting in my car and venturing out to the store. Here are some things to add interaction with others back into your schedule:
As an executive coach, I regularly observe behavior. One thing I’ve noticed is that most people aren’t comfortable turning on their cameras in virtual meetings. We feel okay being in person in the room, but when we see ourselves on screen, we become shy and change our behavior. I am not immune to this phenomenon. The silver lining is that I’ve also noticed that once you work through the discomfort, you can once again, have a natural interaction as you had in person. Here are some tricks that I’ve adopted:
You no longer run into others while grabbing coffee in the break room or inviting someone to go out to lunch. In the remote environment, there is more temptation to fill the time with work versus infusing social interaction into the day. While you can’t physically go to lunch together, you can invite someone to a virtual lunch or go grab a coffee and take a break. We all need regular mental breaks to maintain our effectiveness. Make the time to take a break and keep building connections.
This article reflects the views of the author and not necessarily those of Fairygodboss.
Kristy is an executive coach and talent management consultant, who is known for helping individuals, teams and organizations reach their optimal potential, one conversation at a time. What is your Next conversation? Check out Next Conversation Coaching to see how she can help you today.