Just weeks after the PM told Britain it was time to get back to the office, the message has changed again: work from home if possible.
It’s a situation millions have been in since March – often for the first time. Communicating with a remote team and maintaining rapport with colleagues dispersed around the country has been a new challenge for many.
As Virtual PAs though, remote working goes with the territory.
We’ve developed a few tips and tricks, and certainly a few mantras which ensure our clients don’t miss out on our presence. So if you’re managing a team, or struggling to feel a part of your workplace, we get it. Here are 5 things to bear in mind to make sure remote working goes smoothly.
1. Talk “face to face” at least once a week
Whether it’s Zoom, Google Hangout, Microsoft Teams or simply through WhatsApp, get some time on screen together regularly. The key here is that this is not just about work: it’s helping to replicate the natural office environment you’re used to, so make sure you take time to chat generally about what’s going on and how people are feeling.
2. Message regularly between meetings
Whilst you can’t videoconference all the time, it is important to keep in contact as much as possible. So message regularly between meetings about the small things: updates on progress, requests for help, wellbeing checks etc I use a mixture of WhatsApp, Trello, Slack and Asana, depending on what works best for my clients. There’s such a wide variety of platforms out there, it’s worth investigating which one suits your team.
3. Be honest – always
In all these conversations, honesty is your best friend. With limited chances to communicate, it’s much harder to pick up visual clues as to how someone is doing. It goes both ways: you be honest about how things are going for you and ask your colleagues the same. If you all understand how everyone is feeling, you can properly and effectively work to support each other as a team. In an office this happens naturally as part of normal conversation but when working remotely you have to make much more of an effort to share work and non-work updates.
4. Do what you promise – without fail
This is key to building trust. If you say you’re going to do something, then do it. If you don’t, people can lose faith because they can’t see you and so will assume the worst. This breaks trust and your colleagues or clients will feel they don’t know where they stand. To avoid this, be very clear and set KPIs to manage expectations.
5. Be yourself
Many people find videoconferencing awkward and working alone isolating. Let’s face it, most of us have had periods during the last 6 months where life itself has felt rather hard. It’s really important not to cover up these vulnerabilities by putting on an “online persona” or coming across as a bit of a robot. It’s fake, and people can sense that and feel disconnected. People like to work with people who are relatable, which is why honesty is so important.
The bottom line is that team building remotely does take work but that openness and honesty are your new best friends. Perhaps frankly discussing your feelings and experiences would have seemed like oversharing in an office environment, but when all the other props and cues of team working are removed, you can’t expect others to understand how things are if you don’t tell them.
Open, honest conversations – and plenty of them – will bring your team together. Engaging with your colleagues or your clients in a more considered and holistic way is actually likely to strengthen bonds and result in better relationships going forward. You may look back on this period apart as instrumental in forging a closer and more effective team.
If you’d like to know more about how a VA could support your business, why not book a free Exploration Call with me?