Today I had a conversation with an association that works virtually. Each staff member works from their home and reports to the headquarters. As we discussed their current setup, it got me thinking about virtual teams and remote work. Is it successful? Does it work? Are there strategies in place to successfully run your association remotely?
Working remotely is actually pretty common place nowadays. Technology allows us to perform our tasks from a computer and internet connection. The tricky part to telecommuting is communication and accountability. Today we compiled a list of helpful tips from “work from home” experts. Check them out below.
Skill Set – As a Manager
“One of the biggest misconceptions about managing remote workers is that it requires an entirely different skillset.” – Rebecca Knight of HBR
Because remote working is somewhat new to some association managers, they’re convinced it requires a unique management style. Knight points out that while telecommuting teams may have a different environment, their needs and responsibilities are no different than a regular office based team. As a manager of a virtual team or not, it’s important to follow these guidelines to successfully run a team.
- Set Expectations – “As the manager, you need to set clear, deliberate expectations in advance and establish ground rules for how interactions will take place,” says Mark Mortensen, an associate professor of Organizational Behavior at INSEAD. Establishing boundaries from the get go will help ensure everyone is on the same page.
- Positive Vibes – Because you’re working remotely, through a device, it’s important to emphasize company culture (even more so than an office based team). “Ensure remote workers feel connected to other colleagues,” says Keith Ferrazzi, the founder and CEO of Ferrazzi Greenlight.
- Arrange Physical Meetings – If possible, arrange at least one physical meeting per year. Face to face interaction helps establish trust and comfort. This interaction can also make employees hold themselves accountable.
- Clear Communication – Establish ground rules for staff communication. That may mean weekly conference calls or daily email check-ins. “The key to managing relationships with remote employees… [is to] set an appropriate cadence of communication,” says Ferrazzi.
Skill Set – As an Employee
A good colleague of mine works from home for a national nonprofit organization. She mentioned that the only way to get work done is to create a work space. Designate one room as your home office. Set up your desk as if you were in an office and set guidelines for yourself. How frequently will your personal life enter your work life space? If you know yourself to be easily distracted, be sure to set up strategies to avoid this distraction.
“You need natural light and a door, so that you can separate your work from your home life when the workday is done,” says Bill Murphy in INC. If you have video calls, be sure to have a space in your home office that has a clean background “or at least hanging a backdrop so people aren’t distracted by home-office clutter,” (Murphy).
Think about your productivity levels at the office. How do they compare to your at home office? You probably don’t count time talking to co-workers as a waste of time, right? So don’t be too hard on yourself when your at home productivity levels are not 100%. They probably won’t ever be. “Own your day” as Murphy would say. Unless you’re set to a rigid 9-5 structure, let yourself work at your most optimal times of productivity. And accomplish other tasks when you’re feeling distracted.
Do you work from home? What are your tips? We want to know! Reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.