Telework and Telecommuting a.k.a “Working from Home (WFH)” was one of the key perks offered by multinational corporations to many key executives. While, WFH used to a key privilege and was considered for only crème de-la crème of the organisation, especially in the traditional ones. Ongoing, CoVID19 crisis made it ‘Need of the Hour’.
For some people, working from home can seem like a dream opportunity. But they may not realize that this kind of position comes with a great amount of responsibility and challenges. Since these employees are not working in a centralized office, they may have the advantage of having flexible schedules and shorter or no commute, they can have disadvantages when it comes to working with others, receiving feedback and being able to communicate with teammates.
There certain key skills which one might need to employ for being successfully transitioning, from a office-worker to teleworker. And these skills are no different, what you learnt in school or university or most of your parents would have taught in childhood. Many of them have been emphasized many times by your parents and peers.
Broadly, there are 4 core skills you may want to consider for building and managing a virtual team namely:
- Time Management
- Organizing and Planning
While self-management can mean different things in different fields, for teleworkers it means being able to manage your job duties and responsibilities on your own, with very little supervision from management. This requires a lot of self-discipline and a sense of self-awareness as to what the employee is capable of and accomplishing it. Remember that while many things can be managed by the teleworker, nothing replaces the manager’s role in their professional development.
Writing from my experience, the following tips which I picked up from working from home for past 3 months on Self-Management are following:
Solving your own problems
Teleworkers often face problems when working in an office away from the team’s location. Since they are not always in reach of management, you will have to learn how to solve these problems on their own. For minor problems, such as computer malfunctions or even an unhappy customer, you should be prepared to solve the problem and possibly prevent it from happening again. The key is to make sure that you have the resources needed to solve problems can and will arise. Lay out action plans with your teammates regarding what to do when a problem arises. Determine how much they should handle on their own and at what point they need to reach out for help.
Responsibility of the organisations is to setup frameworks and policies to make the office-worker to tele-worker transition easier by adding informal channels and forums where problems faced by people can be shared and commonly learned.
Motivation is one of the key aspects of being successful at work, especially on a virtual team. It has been shown that employees who are motivated in their work are happier, more enthusiastic, and more productive. If you are not motivated in your work, you will not be able to function in your home office, much less with the rest of the group.
From organization point of view, keeping people motivated by regular catchups helps staying focused and not only from professional standpoint but also personal level. As people-leaders, it is part of the job to create and monitor a goal plan for every team-member. This helps in understanding and reviewing actions and course-correcting oneself.
With Great power of Freedom… Comes Great responsibility
Any truthful employee will tell you that when management is not present, they will be more lenient in their current assignments or duties – like “when the cat’s away, the mice will play”. But teleworkers will not always have a member of management around them, so they must avoid that feeling of wanting to play and should remain focused on their work. You should be able to manage your time and activities in the same manner as you would in any other office and not abuse the new freedom you have been given. So.. Stick to a regime/plan, in the end you are accountable for your work.
From organisation viewpoint, one might want to showcase the trust and empowerment to make team members feel important and responsible. That can happen, with motivating and carefully planning activities and deliverable.
3 R’s of Habits – Recognize, Remove and Replace Bad Habits with Good Ones
Honestly, when someone asks us to name one of our bad habits, many of us will answer that we don’t have any. But this type of attitude does not help us improve or develop through goals and work. When we look at our typical work day, make a list of the bad habits you have been exhibiting, such as procrastinating or taking short cuts when writing a report. Similarly, you might have some good habits. Hence, Introspect and reflect on your “Good Habits – Bad Habits”.
Identify ways these bad habits have been hindering either how assignments are completed or how they are affecting your overall work and replace them with increasing the time spent on good ones. Repetition is the key to all learning, so by repeating your good habits and improving old behaviours, they will eventually become good habits that you will not have to remind yourself about.
In summary, Pursuit of self-management which our parents, teachers and to certain extent organisations have always motivated to pursue. With this pandemic crisis, the opportunity couldn’t be more fitting. Benefits of self-managements are leaps and bounds and no amount of words can emphasize them even more.
Hoping that this article helps you build this quality.