Tag: Remote Work

Why Self-Management is Important for Virtual Team Members

Why Self-Management is Important for Virtual Team Members

Access our ultimate guide to building and managing virtual teams

While self-management can mean different things in different fields, for virtual team members it means being able to manage your job duties and responsibilities on your own, with 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 virtual team member, nothing replaces the manager’s role in their professional development.

Self-management can cover a wide range of aspects and situations. Self-discipline plays a large factor in how we handle our everyday activities and actions. Often we may ignore what needs to be fixed first since we do not want to admit our own faults or shortcomings. But a part of self-discipline is being able to realize what has to be done to correctly manage ourselves and succeed.

Virtual Team Building Events - Remote Team Building
TBAE will customize a virtual team building event for your remote team in line with the desired outcomes, values and ethos of your company and number of remote staff to participate in the event.

Solving Problems on Your Own

Virtual team members often face many obstacles and problems when working in an office away from the central location. Since they are not always in reach of management, these workers will have to learn how to solve many 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.

Questions for solving problems:

  • “What has happened?”
  • “What would it take to resolve this?”
  • “Can I do this on my own – or do I need help?”
  • “What is the next step I should take?”

Being and Staying Motivated

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. Sometimes at the beginning of an assignment, you can feel highly motivated, but that motivation can wane if you do not take action. Review what has happened so far and realize how far you’ve come and how far you need to go. While periods of low motivation can happen now and again, it is important to make sure it is only temporary and do not sink into a permanent situation.

Keys for staying motivated:

  • Establish your goals
  • Create a plan of action to achieve these goals
  • Feel good about your achievements and build on them
  • Review any mistakes made and learn from them

You Have More Freedom – Don’t Abuse It

Any truthful employee will tell you that when management is not present, they will be more lenient in their current assignments or duties – similar to “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.  Whether a manager is present or not, assignments will still be due and the employee will still be subject to reviews and evaluations. Company supplies still belong to the company, so the employee should not be using them for personal use, such as making personal calls or printing flyers with the company copier. 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’ve been given.

You and Only You are Accountable

Working from home can seem like a leisurely job with few problems, but that is not always the case. You are working as an individual entity (when not working as a team player) and are held accountable for your work, or lack thereof. You cannot fade into a sea of faces or cannot pass the blame to a member of management when a mistake is made. Do not allow outside distractions or problems to hinder what you do inside the office. You are the only one that can be held accountable for the actions you take and what you do in the office. Because of this, you should focus on all duties, job performance, and ensure that you keep a ‘clean nose’ at all times.

Recognize and Remove Bad Habits

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. Identify ways these bad habits have been hindering either how assignments are completed or how they are affecting your overall work. Then create an action plan as to how you can remove these bad habits from your work routine. Plan ways to finish work ahead of time or how you can improve how long it takes to enter a report. Sometimes admitting what we do wrong can be a challenge, but once we do and take the steps needed to fix them, we’ll not only feel more confident about ourselves, but our job abilities as well.

Ask yourself:

  • “What am I doing that is hindering my work?”
  • “Is this something I can change?”
  • “How does this habit affect me?”

Reflect on Mistakes and Learn from Them

Many of us have been led to believe that making a mistake is a bad thing and should be avoided at all costs. However, the opposite is true. Making mistakes is something that will always happen and can serve as a learning tool when viewed in the right direction. In the office, when we make a mistake, one of the first steps is to see what happened to cause the mistake. Was it something you did or something that could have been changed? Then, reflect back on it and determine what you can do to learn from the mistake. Is this something you can avoid in the future? Is this something that you can handle differently the next time it happens? Don’t let mistakes make you feel like a failure – instead view them as a method of continued learning and growth.

Establish Good Habits

After determining our mistakes and bad habits at work, we are definitely ready for some positive thinking! Establishing good habits at work can be just as important as simply identifying the negative ones. The key to establishing good habits is in knowing how to control yourself in your environment and sticking with it over time. First, determine what habits you want to establish and would benefit you at work, such as trying to complete projects on time and remembering to run software checks on your company computer. Determine what you need to do to make this a habit (write it down or add it to a routine). Then don’t be afraid to put your plan into action. Repetition is the key to all learning, so by repeating your new action plans and improving old behaviors, they will eventually become good habits that you will not have to remind yourself about.

Tips for creating good habits:

  • Identify what you want to change
  • Write reminders to follow in the beginning
  • Fit new actions into your routine until they become habit
  • Give yourself ample time to adjust, usually between 30-60 days

Be Assertive with Yourself

You will not always have a manger or supervisor present, so it is important that you are assertive enough with yourself to ensure that your work is done. When planning out your work schedule, make decisions about what needs to be done and how you will do it. However, if you fail to be assertive and make yourself focus, all of your assignments, tasks, and duties will fall apart and will not be completed. You can only control your actions, so you are the only one that can make assertive decisions and ensure that you are managing your time well enough to succeed.

Keys to being assertive:

  • Say what you are going to do and stick with it
  • Remember to focus on the task at hand – don’t get side-tracked
  • Hold yourself accountable for these actions or mistakes that can occur

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How to Be an Effective Virtual Team Member

How to be an effective team member.

Access our ultimate guide to building and managing virtual teams

As with any job position, certain skills and abilities are needed to be a successful member of a virtual team. Common skills needed are ways to manage your time and organize all assignments and duties. When building your virtual team, remember to find employees that can work well under minimal supervision and can function with different types of technology.

Virtual Team Building Events - Remote Team Building
TBAE will customize a virtual team building event for your remote team in line with the desired outcomes, values and ethos of your company and number of remote staff to participate in the event.

Self-Management

More employees are choosing to work from home or outside the standard office. It not only saves the company money, but it allows them to expand into other areas and cover more ground. But when working outside of a standard office, you must learn to self-manage. A manager cannot always be present and cannot always watch over your shoulder. You must be able to monitor your progress and be able to keep track of your assignments and deadlines.  If you do not have basic skills of self-management, then you won’t be able to function in a virtual office.

Common tools for self-management:

  • Make a schedule and stick to it
  • Keep a calendar of important dates and deadlines
  • Check-in with team members periodically to stay in the loop

Time Management

When you work with little supervision, you must be able to manage your time on your own. This does not necessarily mean you must manage every minute or try to force yourself to stay focused. Time management means recognizing when you have deadlines and knowing how long it will take you to finish a project or assignment. Sometimes you can let in too many distractions or try to take on too many duties at once. This in turn can cause you to manage your work time poorly and fail to do a good job. Your manager cannot completely manage your time and resources for you. Instead, they will give support and offer advice on ways to stay focused and on track. Many employees know good time management skills and methods but may need a reminder on how to use them.

Organizing and Planning

When a virtual team member has to work in their own office, you need to be sure that all files and assignments (paper or electronic) are fully organized, which is a form of self-management. Ensuring that the office is always organized can boost productivity and reduce errors made by misplaced files or a forgotten assignment. Planning is also an important part of organization because you need to be able to manage your time and resources – especially since you do not have a manager to supervise you at all times. Be encouraged to adopt a universal or adaptable filing system to organize your work for easy access. Also feel free to utilize different methods of planning and organizing your time, such as day planners, email timers, or reminder systems.

Common tips for better organization:

  • Create a pattern in your day to organize and plan different tasks
  • Keep a calendar or planner with important dates and reminders
  • Plan ahead and know what assignments or deadlines are approaching
  • Set up your email account to remind you periodically of important dates
  • Use a filing/storage that can be adapted in case there are any changes or modifications

Communication

Communication can be a difficult aspect to master with a virtual team. You will not only deal with traditional communication issues among team members and management, but you can face additional problems that can cause you to feel additional stress.  With your peers not being able to directly come to you when they need to talk; this extra time to reach out to teammates can be a cause of friction. Everyone needs to be aware of the various methods of communication available to them, including email, phone, fax, mail, etc. Employees should know how to use each method of communication and what kind of information they can be used for. Be open and clear about what you want from your teammates and let them know of ways they can reach you if they have a problem.

Example forms of communication for remote workers:

  • Email
  • Instant messaging
  • Phone call
  • Text messaging
  • Video call

Conclusion

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 receiving feedback and being able to communicate with teammates. To be a successful member of a virtual team you must learn to self-manage and manage your time on your own. Ensure your home office is organized and all files are properly stored for easy retrieval. Communication can be the most challenging part of being part of a virtual team and you will have to be clear about what you want from your teammates and when and where they can reach you.

One of the most effective ways to overcome challenges that virtual teams face is through a virtual team building activity. TBAE offers interactive virtual team building events that will help your virtual team to bond and enhance communication among remote workers.

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13 Bad Habits to Avoid When Working Remotely

13 Bad Habits to Avoid When Working Remotely

Access our ultimate guide to building and managing virtual teams

Many people are finding themselves in the position of having to work from home for the first time in their careers. Although there are many benefits of working remotely, there are also pitfalls that you need to avoid to remain effective in your profession.

Related: How to Be an Effective Virtual Team Member

The following are a list of bad habits to avoid when working from home that will not only affect your productivity but in many cases your mental health.

  1. Being accessible and available for everyone 24/7.
  2. Not taking regular breaks.
  3. Not having a break for lunch but eating in front of your computer.
  4. Holding yourself to the same high standard every day.
  5. Always wanting to look busy due to fear of looking “lazy”.
  6. Not getting enough sleep.
  7. Agreeing to take calls at inconvenient times because you want to be seen as agreeable.
  8. Not maintaining a healthy work-life balance and not separating work and life enough.
  9. Allowing your schedule to become too flexible.
  10. Checking your phone that one more time before going to bed.
  11. Getting involved in things that need to be done in the house in the time set aside for work.
  12. Sending one more email or making one more call when you are supposed to log off for the day.
  13. Never seeing your friends or family.

…And all the other things we regularly do because we feel obligated to do even if they are not realistically possible.

Virtual Team Building Events - Remote Team Building