Virtual Teams For Dummies book cover

Virtual Teams For Dummies

By: Tara Powers Published: 07-31-2018

Set your virtual team on a path to success

In the global marketplace, people can work practically anywhere and anytime. Virtual teams cut across the boundaries of time, space, culture, and sometimes even organizations. Rising costs, global locations, and advances in technology are top reasons why virtual teams have increased by 800 percent over the past 5 years.

Packed with solid advice, interviews and case studies from well-known companies who are already using virtual teams in their business model and their lessons learned, Virtual Teams For Dummies provides rock-solid guidance on the essentials for building, leading, and sustaining a highly productive virtual workforce. It helps executives understand key support strategies that lead virtual teams to success and provides practical information and tools to help leaders and their teams bridge the communication gaps created by geographical separation—and achieve peak performance.

  • Includes research findings based on a year-long study on the effectiveness of virtual teams
  • Mindset and skill shift for managers from old school traditional team management to virtual team management
  • Covers the communication and relationship strategies for virtual teams
  • Examines how the frequency of in-person meetings affects a remote team’s success

Written by an award-winning leadership expert, this book is your one-stop resource on creating and sustaining a successful virtual team. 

Articles From Virtual Teams For Dummies

page 1
page 2
page 3
26 results
26 results
Is Working Virtually Right for You?

Article / Updated 06-18-2019

Virtual work as a career choice is a decision that requires thought and planning. Although at first it may seem daunting to make the switch to working remotely, it can create a fulfilling and rewarding work experience for both the employer and the employee if done with care, clarity, and intention. These sections discuss why virtual work is popular, how virtual work can affect on your life, and some questions you can ask yourself to discover whether virtual work is best for you. For many people, the benefits of working virtually are obvious — no commute, flexible schedule, focused productive time to work, and of course, working in your PJs. But if you’re considering switching to a virtual work model, take a closer look at the benefits you may not have considered. Here are six benefits for why you may want to work virtually: Time management as a virtual team member Working virtually provides you with more personal time throughout the day. Because you’re cutting down on the daily commute, you have more time to exercise, walk your dog, meditate, sleep, cook healthy meals, get your kids to school, enjoy hobbies, connect with family and friends, and do whatever else you like to do. Virtual work also gives you more control over your schedule. To some degree, you can set and customize your work hours. For example, if you start work at 4 a.m. to connect with colleagues from Hong Kong and London, you may take a break from 9 a.m.–2 p.m. and then begin working again at 3 p.m. Virtual work arrangements enable you to meet other demands for your time during the day. If you find you do your best work at night or early morning, you can find a virtual opportunity that fits your schedule. Self-direction for virtual workers You can thrive in a virtual working environment if you’re most engaged and plugged in when you’re able to direct your workflow, plan your daily tasks and priorities, and hold yourself accountable for accomplishing your goals and your team’s. The ability to control your schedule is a powerful opportunity to grow professionally and personally. Money made on a virtual team When you work virtually, you can make a decent living working from home, no matter where you’re located. Based on a special analysis of U.S. Census data conducted for FlexJobs by Global Workplace Analytics, the average annual income for most telecommuters is $4,000 higher than that of workers who don’t telecommute. Even if you live in a rural area of the country, with the right set of skills and technical savviness, you can work virtually in a role that compensates you well. You can also cut down on your personal expenses such as gas, auto maintenance, clothing allowance, and meals when you don’t have to be in an office environment every day. Happiness from working virtually Virtual workers report a higher level of job satisfaction and overall happiness and lower levels of stress when working from home. Due to a flexible work schedule and less time commuting, you have an ability to incorporate more things into your day that are joyful and fulfilling. Virtual work eliminates much of the politics of working in an office so you can focus on doing the work without all the distractions. In addition, virtual work provides the opportunity to work in a more diverse team culture. You can work with teammates spread across the United States or the world. You can discover more about different cultures, work ethics, beliefs, and values. Diverse teammates share novel life experiences that can expand your awareness and appreciation of others. Phase into retirement as a virtual team member Every company I work with is concerned with the real issue of brain drain in the workplace, which happens when you’ve been with a company for a long time and carry around years of institutional knowledge that hasn’t been documented, written down, or captured anywhere and now you’re ready to retire. If you’re in this position, a phased approach to retirement, such as working in the office two days a week and at home three days a week, then going part-time virtual two to three days a week is a smart way to help you glide into retirement. More importantly, it helps your company transfer the cultural knowledge that you’re carrying around in your head through opportunities to train, mentor, and coach others and gives you the chance to solidify your legacy. World travel as a virtual team member If you’re planning on being a virtual work freelancer, you have a lot of interesting options available, including choosing where you want to work. Depending on your role, traveling around the world while you work on various projects and teams is completely possible and thousands of people do it successfully every day. Jobs that align nicely with virtual work and world travel include web designer, developer, online marketer, copy writer, blogger, digital director, data manager, engineer, SEO analyst, technical writer, account manager, sales, web hosting, marketing manager, customer success manager, grant and proposal writer, editor, and many more. These jobs represent an opportunity to see the world while working remotely, and to you this may sound like a dream come true. Certainly, this type of work situation is rich in benefits including: Being able to relocate anywhere Controlling your work schedule and the hours you work Needing only a laptop to make a decent living Never having to step foot in a corporate office setting Meeting people from all over the world Being able to immerse yourself in a different country with different customs and ways of living Having more balance in life The personal impacts of working virtually Despite the benefits of working remotely, being a virtual team member isn’t short of struggles. Your mom will call and text you at all times of the day because she doesn’t think you actually work. Friends not working will ask you to take the day off to go shopping or out to breakfast. Neighbors will politely ask if you can let their dogs out while they’re away or drive them to a doctor appointment when their car breaks down because you’re obviously not that busy. These requests will happen, and your success depends on how you handle them. As a 17-year veteran of remote work, my daily struggle of working virtually is real. While writing this, my daughters are screaming in the background while competitively playing video games. My new puppy is trying to scratch his way into my office, whining and barking for my attention. Kids from the neighborhood just rang the doorbell, and because I hesitated for a moment to finish a thought, they peered into my office windows, forcing me to stop what I was doing to answer the door and address them. Losing focus can easily lead to multitasking and pull your attention away to deal with low priority items, which makes time management a challenge. The daily life of a virtual worker can be difficult and frustrating at times, but the benefits still far outweigh the challenges. Here are some ways being a virtual team member can impact you: Transition: When you work in an office, your workday typically ends when you leave for the day. The transitional drive from work to home allows you to shift your energy and mindset so that you’re ready to focus on your partner, kids, parents, roommates, or pets when you arrive home. That transition is more difficult when you work virtually, often feeling like work never shuts down, which can impact cultivating deep relationships with your family, friends, or pets because you’re constantly distracted by work texts, emails, pings, dings, and rings. Consider how you’re going to make an effective transition when you’re finished with work. If you have a designated workspace, close your laptop, turn off the lights, and shut the door to signal that you’re finished with work for the day. Take a brief 30-minute walk around your neighborhood. Doing so can work wonders for a shift in mindset. Family: Oftentimes family members don’t understand that you’re actually doing real work when you’re home all day. Every day when my kids get home from school, they want to talk to me, share their day with me, or show me something they created. Occasionally after a rough day, they want to talk out their emotions with me. Unfortunately sometimes I can’t stop what I’m doing right at that moment. When your children or pets can see you, but you’re not able to give them your immediate time and attention because you’re in the middle of working on an important project or leading a webinar when a family need pops up, it can be difficult for them to grasp. It’s very conflicting. Juggling between the two can sometimes seem like you’re drowning and no one is around to throw you a life vest. Boundary management: Boundary management refers to the separation of work and home. When you’re working virtually, managing boundaries can get extremely blurry. Choosing to shut off work and focus on personal interests is one aspect of setting boundaries. Another more difficult task is to set boundaries with others. Virtual team members frequently complain about unspoken expectations imposed by themselves or others that they’re always available in order to prove they’re actually working. This mentality is aligned with issues of control and a lack of trust. Setting clear expectations with team members and your manager about your availability is an important aspect of working successfully in a virtual environment. Advocacy: A recent New York Times article highlighted how people in the office exclude virtual workers, which can easily happen when the whole team isn’t virtual. Virtual team inclusion requires a willingness to make an extra effort and consistently speak up and provide input, reminding your team, boss, and people in the office that you have something to contribute and can add valuable insight. Be your best advocate and work diligently to keep lines of communication open. When you’re not included in a meeting invitation or a meeting gets rescheduled and you aren’t notified, speak up even when doing so is uncomfortable. Make sure that your voice is heard even if you’re not in the office. Distraction management: Consider how you’ll limit distractions in your virtual office. You may work from home, work in a remote office in another city, or work from a coffee shop. Make sure you create a workspace that allows you to get work done and be present for virtual calls and video conferencing. Ignoring this important aspect of working remotely will tarnish your performance, reputation, and long-term success in your role. Will you excel as a virtual team member? Regardless of where you live, how old you are, or what your gender, race, or physical abilities are, virtual work is an option for you. Keep in mind though that not all jobs can be accomplished virtually, and current research reports that management, office, sales, and administrative jobs make up 43 percent of virtual jobs with the fastest growing remote opportunities in therapy, virtual administration, client services, tutoring, and state and local government. It’s difficult to know for sure whether virtual work will be a great fit for you or whether you’ll be a productive, engaged virtual team member until you give it a try. If you desire and intend to succeed in this type of work environment, make sure you’re aware of the challenges you may face and the proven characteristics of successful virtual team members. Use the table to assess whether virtual work is a smart choice. Considering Working Virtually Questions to Ask Yourself Yes No Will I commit to presenting myself professionally over the phone and on video conferencing (such as making sure my office environment is presentable, limiting distractions, dressing professionally, and so on)? Will I manage conflict effectively with team members by asking questions, assessing emotions and feelings about decisions, and working to gain verbal agreement? Will I commit to communicating daily using various technology tools and agree to address important issues by picking up the phone or participating in videoconference meetings? Am I okay with limited in-person interaction on a daily basis? Can I be effective at brainstorming ideas and solutions with my team members over the phone? Am I willing to set time aside to get to know my virtual team members personally so that we can develop a strong, collaborative relationship? Can I organize my time effectively so that I have a productive workday that meets the needs of my team members? Can I commit to reasonable work hours and turning off work at the end of the day if I’m working from home? Do I have a practical workspace where I can get work done virtually without interruptions? Does my family support my desire to work virtually and do they understand what I need from them to be successful? If working on a global team, am I willing to shift when I work and sleep to connect with team members in different time zones? Am I self-directed and can I accomplish daily tasks and priorities without any check-ins or prompts from others? Am I willing to hold myself accountable for accomplishing my goals without my manager’s daily support? Do I have self-confidence and trust with team members to self-advocate when needed? Am I willing to set clear boundaries of when I’m working and when I'm available with my family and friends? Can I commit to a transition routine that will help me shift from work to home and be present with those around me? Assess your skills for virtual freelance work Working with a variety of clients as a virtual freelancer may sound like the best gig around, and I’d have to agree. Yet, this type of remote work isn’t always a possibility due to your life circumstances, and it requires keen social skills and a few strong character traits. Being a successful freelancer requires a high level of resolve, great communication skills, sales and networking ability, relationship building, time management, and organizational skills. You have to be willing to put yourself out there, market your services, ask for referrals, and deliver great customer service in order to keep a steady flow of repeat customers. Most importantly, you need to be good with your money. Sometimes work opportunities will be plentiful and other times work will dry up. Be prepared to save your money when you’re financially stable in order to coast through times when you want to take a break or can’t land a lucrative project. Freelancing is a lifestyle choice. It’s easy to feel alone, and it’s up to you to make an effort to supplement your work with a rich, dynamic lifestyle.

View Article
How to Provide Feedback and Accountability to Virtual Team Members

Article / Updated 10-31-2018

Virtual team members who succeed at their job tend to be self-directed and take more individual responsibility to meet their goals and deadlines. High-performing remote employees are usually supported by a leader who sets clear goals and expectations, gives the team the freedom to make choices about how to design and take ownership for how the work gets done, and trusts them to make it happen. When accountability is present on a team, people are willing to call out performance or behaviors that hurt or inhibit the team. When this level of trust and transparency exists, a lot less time and energy is wasted on wondering what people think. Furthermore, team members are more willing to accept feedback and own their mistakes, and a strong sense of team exists. However, if your team has traditionally worked in an office environment, this mindset shift to self-directed work and a strong sense of ownership can be tricky for both the leader and the team. Team members may be waiting for the leader to tell them what to do, may give them approval to do it, or may be afraid to take any risks on their own. Team leaders may have traditionally imposed accountability by directly supervising the work, creating elaborate incentive plans, or always making the final decision. So, the question of the day is how do virtual teams create accountability practices that are healthy and transparent and supported by everyone on the team? Even though holding one another accountable can be uncomfortable and challenging, doing so is critical for virtual team success. Try these tips for creating healthy accountability on virtual teams: Recognize that accountability is everyone’s job. It’s not just the leader’s job. Create clarity on roles and responsibilities. Teams that have a high level of clarity find it easier to hold each other accountable and point out behaviors or performance that are impacting the team in a negative way. Measure success on results, not on time worked. Involve employees in setting realistic deadlines and schedule check-ins for progress updates. Establish a strong level of commitment to goals and expectations. Help your virtual team members understand what everyone is doing and what is expected of each team member. Provide direct feedback. Some people are uncomfortable providing feedback because they haven’t practiced it enough. Check out a simple process of giving feedback in the figure, which focuses on solutions for the future, rather than past behaviors that didn’t work. Practice this regularly with your team members to increase their confidence in giving feedback. Encourage the team to notice, support, and positively reinforce when team members engage in peer-to-peer accountability in team meetings. Although pointing out when another team member makes a mistake may feel uncomfortable to hear, doing so establishes a habit of transparency and honesty that is ultimately necessary for virtual team success. Use technology appropriately. Technology is an effective tool for visually mapping both team and individual progress and where things are getting stuck. Project management software can facilitate who sees who isn’t pulling their weight, meeting deadlines, and moving the project along. Shared calendars can help team members understand what other team members are doing — whether they’re out of office, traveling for work, and so on. Using these tips to set up your virtual team to practice an accountability culture can help you build a virtual workforce that has high standards, exceeds goals, and has a strong bond. You can identify problems quickly, and poor performers will feel pressure to improve. In addition, team members will freely offer honest feedback to one another. The high level of respect team members have for each other will amaze you, and you can steer clear of politics, hidden agendas, and secretive conflicts that can easily take down a virtual team.

View Article
How to Create a Virtual Team Onboarding Process

Article / Updated 10-31-2018

The onboarding process is a time when employees need to feel welcomed to the team and have everything clearly explained to them so that they can hit the ground running in their new role. Here are some important steps you can take to develop a strong onboarding process for your remote employees: 1. Have tools and technology ready. You may provide a laptop, phone, or other office equipment to your remote employees. Make sure you send them to your new team members’ remote offices before the first day. Whether you like it or not, not having the tools and technology ready to go communicates some unsettling messages like “we weren’t really ready for you,” “we were too busy to focus on you,” or “we have more important things to do than to get you set up.” 2. Send a welcome care package. Ship your new hires a care package full of company swag and a message from the team to arrive on their first day to welcome them and showcase a bit of your culture. Your newly hired remote employees will love it because they immediately feel a part of team. Some of the best welcome kits that I’ve seen include these ideas: Company mugs, water bottles, T-shirts, hats, pencils Company journal with the values on the front and an explanation of the values on the inside cover Leadership books that the team members have read and reference frequently to improve team culture and relationships Team welcome cards signed by everyone (ideally, handwritten but electronic signatures can work too) A welcome message from the CEO or founder A calendar of important company events, including all-hands meetings, company retreats, and so on A checklist of tasks to complete in the first 15 days that includes connecting with different people in the company, doing research on the company website to answer trivia questions, taking pictures of their remote office, sharing where they live and a story about themselves, and completing important HR paperwork, nondisclosure agreements, or benefits. Even if you don’t have a bunch of company swag, look to several online companies that specialize in beautiful care packages for onboarding. Whatever you decide, just be sure to make your new hires’ first day special. 3. Plan and budget for one in-person meeting the first month. Many virtual companies I work with swear by the practice of investing in meeting their new employees in person the first week or month. The manager may visit the new team members at their home or town, or the new team members may journey to the home office (if one exists) to meet the company executives. Doing so provides a chance to hear stories about the company culture, vision, and values. Furthermore, it speaks volumes to the new team members about how important they are to the team. If time and expense is a deterrent, have a face-to-face meeting using videoconferencing technology. 4. Create a training and coaching plan developed for their role. Develop a training plan for your new hires to introduce them to the company, culture, products, and their role priorities. This plan most likely includes self-study, online training, coaching by the manager or other team members, and more. The key is to get them up to speed on the most important aspects of their job role and the company culture and values. 5. Have them meet the team. You can get creative with this one as well. When introducing the new team members, you may do a virtual conference with the whole team and have each team member share a snapshot of what’s out his or her window or an interesting hobby. You can also schedule each team member to have a one-on-one meeting with the new team members during their first week. You want to make them feel part of the team family quickly so build ample opportunities for the team members to engage with them early and often during their first 30 days. 6. If you’re the manager, be savvy with your touch points in week one. The first day is super-duper important when onboarding your new team members. If you’re the manager, the best-case scenario is to meet your new team member face-to-face. If that’s not possible, meet with them via a videoconference call first before anyone else, which is your opportunity to build the relationship, discuss expectations of working together, help them understand how the team and company are organized, explain what they need to know about the culture, and share some personal insights about each other. I also recommend you plan a meeting at the end of their first week to answer all their questions from week one, dive deeper into job level expectations, discuss more about the company and team culture, and chat about their priorities, goals, and measures for the first 90 days. (Refer to the section, “Focusing on the first 90 days” for more specific guidance.) 7. Watch out for the new team members being overwhelmed. Starting any new job can feel like you’re drinking from a fire hose. Schedule frequent and regular check-ins to touch base and keep a pulse on how your new hires are doing. Keep in mind that if they’re struggling, they may keep quiet about it because they want to be seen as competent. Make sure you ask open-ended questions to check for understanding or confusion. 8. Partner them up with a buddy. When you read this list for onboarding, you’re probably a bit overwhelmed. You may also be thinking about where will you find the time to accomplish everything. I understand, which is why I strongly suggest having a buddy, also known as a mentor, for every virtual new hire for the first 30 to 60 days. Having a buddy is a powerful way to make sure that your new remote employees don’t slip through the cracks the first few weeks and feel isolated and alone.

View Article
How to Organize Your Virtual Team

Article / Updated 10-31-2018

Choosing a structure for your team is vital. It outlines the way people relate to one another, how your team is organized, how roles are assigned, and how people communicate and make decisions. Selecting a team structure involves a variety of frameworks that are flexible to shift and change in order to support changing team goals and priorities. Basically, your team structure is the glue that holds everything together and helps your team grow. The following sections help guide you in creating the optimal team structure for your virtual team. Virtual team structure Teams can be structured in several ways, and the way a team is structured usually depends on company culture, goals of the team, roles and responsibilities, and the way team members interact and communicate. Some structures are more rigid than others, and with a virtual team, it’s important that your structure is flexible to allow for much more self-directed work. Here are the most common team structures: Hierarchical: This is the old-school team structure where a clear chain of command exists from the leader down to the front-line employee. Decisions are made at the top and passed down to the bottom of the structure. Team members at the bottom of the structure don’t have authority to make decisions on their own, and this type of structure is slow to make changes and adapt to quickly shifting market conditions. The military and some traditional companies still use this structure. Matrix: Most large companies today like Starbucks, Apple, and even Wal-Mart have moved to a matrix structure to be more adaptable to market needs. In a matrix structure, people report to different managers or teams for different reasons. It may have some level of a hierarchical structure for reporting purposes and performance management, but it allows for more flexibility on a daily basis to get the work done. For example, an accountant may report into the CFO for performance purposes but she also reports to the project team manager for specific projects that the accountant supports, which allows for faster communication and decision-making. Flat: A flat structure removes any hierarchy and spreads out decision-making and responsibility. Teams are self-managed, and employees have freedom to decide how to get their work done and when. Communication is faster and direct. Holacracy: This is the newest organizational structure made famous by Zappos. In a holacracy, responsibility is distributed among groups called circles. The circles make their own decisions about what gets done without reporting up any chain of command. Employees can have different roles in different circles based on their skill set and what a particular project needs. Your team structure should support your team goals and how you want communication to flow on your team. On a virtual team, I most often see a combination of a flat or matrix structure for getting work done and a hierarchy structure for reporting purposes. The key to success is that everyone on the team is clear of the structure being used and the leader is flexible, adaptable, and willing to shift gears if things aren’t working. The importance of virtual team frameworks Team frameworks are used for things like product development, communication, high performance, decision-making, feedback, coaching, team building, and more. Team frameworks are extremely common, and a leader usually recommends them based on positive past experiences. Many frameworks presented in popular leadership books are researched and proven to work, all with the same goal: to assist your team in building trust and efficiency and accomplishing results.

View Article
How to Determine Virtual Team Member Roles

Article / Updated 10-31-2018

Defining your team members’ roles, the function they will perform, and the way they need to interact with other team members can help you hire the right people for the job and create a sense of clarity and calmness for your virtual team. With clearly defined roles for your team, you’ll quickly be able to identify the type of people you need and use that information to attract and hire the most qualified candidates. You also have a higher chance of collaboration and sharing of information when people know exactly what is expected of them and of their teammates. Without the daily oversight on a virtual team, roles and responsibilities can easily overlap and redundancies can occur without anyone being the wiser, which can create confusion and frustration on a virtual team. Why team members' roles are important You never want to hear a team member say, “I didn’t do it, because I thought it was Dan’s job.” That’s why going through some type of role clarification exercise at least yearly is important for your virtual team. Here are some steps to help you with role clarification: 1. List the two to three key deliverables or objectives each role produces for the team, the impact of those deliverables, and the resources required for their success. For example, a team member may be responsible for creating and distributing monthly sales forecasts using data from your SalesForce Customer Relationship Management platform. This data impacts her sales team’s focus and efforts, and it also impacts the overall sales goals for the company. 2. Assess what’s missing and what you need. Questions to ask include the following: Are there any functional areas in which you’re lacking? Are there important priorities that continually get put on the back burner or don’t get done because of a lack of resources? When comparing your goals for the upcoming year with the skills on your team to achieve them, what gaps exist? Are there objectives that are no longer important and relevant that would free up more time for a particular role? Are team position descriptions accurate and a strong guide for what each job is responsible for? 3. Recalibrate current roles. You may find some tasks should be reorganized based on a team member’s skill set. 4. Hire for new roles as needed. After you’ve clearly defined the roles and responsibilities of each team member, you’ll have a clearer picture of team roles and responsibilities. This activity also helps you define the relationships between team members. Team members will know their key tasks and responsibilities as well as with whom they’re expected to work or collaborate. Incorporate systems thinking to support how your team works together Systems thinking is an understanding that any small change in how your team operates could significantly impact the rest of the organization. Teams that use systems thinking make it a habit to consider all the links, connections, and interactions between people and components that make up the system. The system can be your team, your company, or the entire industry you serve. The importance of systems thinking for your team is that it helps to move you away from using a bandage approach to solving problems and making knee jerk reactions and decisions. With systems thinking, your team develops a theory as to why something is happening or what may happen and then engages in innovative thinking to discover different ways of changing the system to improve performance. This systems-thinking approach can help virtual team members adopt a much more integrated and holistic view of their work. They spend thoughtful time analyzing, considering, and discussing the interconnectedness of tasks, processes, roles, practices, and decisions that need to work together for the whole system to function optimally. It keeps teams from deciding in a vacuum without considering the full impact to the rest of the system (human or nonhuman). So, your virtual team may be at risk for a system failure. You’re probably asking yourself, “What the heck does that mean?” A system failure occurs when a team or team member fails to see the connections between people or processes needing to work together for success. Sometimes those failures can be traced back to confusing goals, lack of commitment, a flawed process, lack of feedback, or lack of collaboration on a team. The key is to practice good team habits where systems thinking begins to just happen naturally. Here are some suggestions for doing so: Implement rewards. Award the team or the group rather than individuals so that members focus on what everyone needs for success, not just what they need. Set goals and priorities together. Agree on top priorities together and allow the chance for input and debate. Doing so provides an opportunity for team members to explain how others impact their priority or why their priority needs to happen first to support other goals. Encourage virtual lunches. During these virtual lunches, team members showcase their work and how others’ roles and responsibilities make their work possible. Commit to discussions after problems, issues, or mistakes. Support all team members in discussing their contribution and what they could do differently in the future. Address team conflict early. Don’t let conflicts break down the system. Support team members in having virtual meetings where they discuss what they need from each other for success. Consider hiring a third-party coach to help them navigate the conflict effectively. Ask great questions. This is the best way to help your team think more holistically and understand how any decisions made can impact others or where the root of the problem exists. Here are a few questions you can ask your team members the next time a problem arises: What has been happening or what has happened? Have we seen this happen before or something like it? What are all the contributing factors as to why this is happening (for instance, people, processes, policies)? Why do you think that? Are there any patterns that keep reoccurring? What is the impact? What about our thinking allows this situation to persist? What assumptions are we making? Why? The primary goal of using these questions is to expand the thinking of your team members so that they may notice where a small change or shift could have a significant impact. This shift could be around a communication approach, a policy, or a process.

View Article
How to Choose a Virtual Team Framework

Article / Updated 10-31-2018

If you’ve ever tried to create a quality product without a defined, proven process in place, you most likely failed. That’s because quality doesn’t happen on accident. Quality happens when the outcome is intentional, habitual, consistently reliable, and repeatable. Selecting a team framework is a quality process that is important for team success and helps build team culture, consistency, and trust. You may have different frameworks for different reasons. Regardless of the frameworks you use, the key to adoption is to collectively decide and agree on a framework that your team members are willing to apply in their everyday interactions with one another and when leading projects. In this section, I share with you a simple framework I’ve used for team performance from my 20 years working with teams that you can discuss and customize together with your team. The suggestions I provide can help you lead this important conversation and make decisions that support high levels of virtual team performance. Use a framework that builds trust and mutual respect You may be thinking, “What’s a team framework and why do I need one, especially if my team’s values are clear?” Not surprisingly, high levels of team performance, trust, cohesiveness, and respect don’t happen spontaneously or because of a divine intervention. High levels of team performance come from making choices about how your team works together and handles team dynamics, roles, responsibilities, and important processes, such as onboarding, decision-making, and so on. Team values align with and support your framework, but usually they don’t focus on process, roles, and goals. Rather, values define how the team members agree to work together to achieve goals. I frequently get asked to work with teams that are spinning their wheels trying to figure out why they aren’t functioning at higher levels or why they continue to be dragged down by conflict, sabotage, and conflicting agendas. They usually spend a lot of time defining goals, deadlines, financial measures, expectations, and process. But what they’re missing is a strong team framework as their foundation, which ties everything together and creates team culture. Areas included in a team framework may include any of the following: The way the team is structured Workflow systems Communication systems Onboarding process Rewards and recognition systems Shared vision Integrated goals Defined roles and responsibilities Process for how resources get allocated Process for how decisions get made What measures define success Agreement on how the team builds trust and demonstrates respect The figure shows an example of a team performance framework that I built for a team. Notice the key areas of focus that this team agreed on that would significantly impact its performance. The team used this framework to discuss and agree on behaviors, expectations, and success measures for each key area and decided how the team members would hold each other accountable for living this framework on a daily basis. Feel free to use this sample framework to start the conversation with your virtual team about the foundational stages, steps, or building blocks that ensure your team is set up for success. Take time to specifically define what your framework means for your team and how your team members live the strategies in the framework daily in every interaction. Let your virtual team decide the framework The key to a strong framework isn’t one predetermined by the team leader. Instead, the best way to develop a strong framework is to bring your virtual team together for a strategy session and decide on it together. The more team members weigh in on what to include in the framework, the more buy-in and acceptance they’ll have for adopting it and living it in their day-to-day interaction with each other. They’ll also feel more comfortable and confident calling out other team members when they notice they aren’t operating in accordance with the agreed-upon framework. Here are few questions to ask your team members to involve them in deciding on your team framework: What are the five most important questions you need to have answered to feel like a valued team member? What must exist for you to build trust and respect with another team member? How will we know that the team is performing at its optimal level? What would you notice? What poorly defined processes have contributed to dysfunction on other teams you’ve been a part of? How do you recommend we agree to resolve team conflict? Make decisions? Manage conflicting priorities? Involve your team in building your framework for a strong foundation on which you can always fall back. Your team can use your framework time and time again to reset expectations about working together, handling problems, and building trust. Your framework is something to share with interview candidates and provide them with information about your team culture. It helps them consider what it will be like to work on your virtual team and what will be expected.

View Article
How to Define Your Virtual Team's Purpose and Identity

Article / Updated 10-31-2018

Having a clear purpose for your virtual team and every team member role impacts how you interview, who you hire, how you work with other teams in the company, and what your goals, priorities, decisions, problem-solving methods, workflow, processes, and more are. The steps to defining purpose is much deeper than simply stating your team exists to “find new business”, “make the company money”, “hire great employees”, “handle customer service”, or “build widgets”. A powerful team purpose trumps everything in business. It attracts the type of team members that go above and beyond to make sure the team hits its goals. A strong purpose statement answers the age-old question: Why are you here and why is this team important? The following sections walk through several steps to help you define a powerful purpose aligned with your company vision for your virtual team, communicate why your team is important, define your team priorities, and put a stake in the ground for how your team will be remembered. Align your virtual team with company vision and values Often referred as the secret sauce to success or the glue that makes it all work, alignment creates the guiding path to what gets done, how it gets done, and how teams work together. It’s a consistent message that flows between strategy and culture. It starts at the top by defining what your company stands for and cascades throughout your organization to impact even minor day-to-day tasks. Think of alignment as golden thread that runs through your organization, down to every team, to every job role, and to every person. It should be apparent from your vision, values, purpose, culture, operating guidelines, strategy, systems, processes, tenants, and more. The Alignment Funnel illustrates the importance of alignment. When strong levels of alignment exist across an organization, financial decisions, hiring and firing decisions, and even customer acquisitions are a heck of a lot faster, simpler, and dare I say, strategic. For example, if one of your top strategies as a business is product differentiation, then examples of alignment on your team could look like: Hiring innovators and inventors Setting up a team work culture that embraces a try-it mentality Providing your employees time to research the latest technology and discover new ideas and then report back to the team about them Establishing clear organizational and team alignment is critical for high performance on a virtual team because these two alignments drive the team purpose, goals, priorities, and day-to-day decisions and actions. Because you can’t watch over team members, stop by their desk for a conversation, or meet with them regularly face-to-face, clear alignment provides virtual team members with clear guidelines when making decisions or solving problems on their own. When I work with teams, I strongly advocate for establishing a habit of building, demonstrating, and discussing alignment. As a consultant, the first question I ask to understand the value of what they are asking me to do is “How does this team program, coaching initiative, or intervention align with your purpose, vision, or values?” If alignment doesn’t exist, then they’re probably doing something that isn’t important or is a waste of time. Here are several questions you can discuss with your team and finalize the answers as you consider purpose and alignment for your virtual team: What is the overarching directive or core purpose of our company other than making a profit? What are we here to do? Some examples include Walt Disney World: To make people happy Southwest Airlines: To connect people to what’s important in their lives through friendly, reliable, and low-cost air travel Why does our company purpose matter? How does the work on our team support our company purpose? What is our team here to do? How does each job role on this team support our team purpose? What is each job here to do? Why are the company values meaningful? How can our team live these values out loud every day, such as In team meetings? On team projects? When faced with conflict? When onboarding a new team member? How do we agree to treat each other on our team? How will we know that our team has been successful in living our purpose? When building alignment for your virtual team, look for every opportunity to tie the work being done to what’s important to the company. Doing so gives breadth and depth to projects, goals, and roles in your organization. Regularly check in with your virtual team members to discuss alignment and why what they’re doing matters and how it ties into the bigger picture. Communicate why your virtual team exists Even though your team may be 100 percent virtual or partially virtual, every team member needs to have a reason for getting out of bed in the morning and showing up. No matter the field your team is in — sales, software development, marketing, recruiting, or customer service — talking about what work you’re doing, why it matters, and who it impacts is important. Being able to clearly articulate to all team members why your team is necessary and why every job on the team is necessary will attract team members who care about your message and show up every day because they believe they’re making a difference. Everyone wants more than a paycheck; they want to know that the work they’re doing matters. Here are four questions to discuss with your team and help you communicate your team’s purpose: Who do we serve? Who is our customer? (Think both externally and internally.) You may serve more than one type of customer. What product or service do we provide? Why does this product or service matter? What problem does it solve? What benefit does it provide? How are we different or unique? What are we known for? Putting it all together, you end up with a statement or story that is meaningful and powerful. Here’s an example: We provide the most up-to-date software development research before it hits the market to our developers and engineers, helping them to build best-in-class healthcare systems that save people’s lives. Communicating the team’s purpose and the impact it has can change slightly from project to project or even shift mid-project. This clarity can provide focus, engagement, and momentum. It helps the team move forward in the same direction and in pursuit of the same goal. For example, in the movie Apollo 13 rocket engineers quickly changed their purpose from sending astronauts to the moon and back home safely to getting the astronauts home alive. Make sure your purpose is simple, concise, free of corporate jargon, easy to remember, and inspiring. Furthermore, it needs to highlight your team’s uniqueness. Your purpose is what makes people on your team want to spend energy on moving in the direction of progress. A good team purpose makes people feel fulfilled and valued. Be clear about virtual team priorities Without fail, there will be more projects, goals, tasks, requests, and requirements than your team can possibly implement and focus on in any given week, month, or quarter. When considering how to help your virtual team achieve high levels of performance and success, focus on establishing, adjusting, and communicating priorities on a regular basis. And because your team is virtual, you must keep everyone on the same page with direction, focus, and shifting goals. Prioritization requires balancing the benefit of each task or goal your team is responsible for against the benefits, costs, and implications involved to decide what’s more important. Having clear priorities for your virtual team will help the team: Focus on the most important requests and requirements Plan for workflow, handoffs, deliverables, timeframes, and so on Manage their projects more effectively Make decisions when presented with conflicting goals Allocate their time, energy, and resources Most teams that I work with don’t have a good method for prioritization, and it’s not because prioritization is difficult. It’s because prioritization takes a commitment of time and a structured practice to determine where to focus. Here is a seven-step method for prioritization that I recommend: Build a collective list of tasks. List all team member tasks that significantly impact results. (After your team is established, you can do this together using a virtual whiteboard.) Remove any ongoing goals such as coming in under budget or hitting revenue goals. Identify tasks between urgent versus important. Any tasks that have serious consequences to the team, business, or your customers if not completed in the next 90 days are considered urgent. Focus on the following to help you break down tasks into the two categories: Put tasks in one of two columns: Urgent or Important. Analyze the value for each urgent and important task to the team and business by assessing the level of impact each task has to people, process, or profit. Rank them in order of urgency first, followed by value. Analyze dependencies necessary to complete urgent tasks. Define tasks that always take priority. These tasks can be major client requests, CEO requests, or system breakdowns that immediately move to the top of the urgent column. Determine time, resources, and effort required. Making this determination is helpful when you have too many priorities. It helps you decide whether to check off the low effort priorities first or start on high effort priorities. Start cutting. Only focus on priorities that your team can reasonably accomplish in the next three to six months with the time and people resources you have available. If accomplishing more priorities is necessary, ask for more resources. Assign tasks and review regularly. Clarify what needs to be done to accomplish the priority, who is going to do what, and when the tasks need to be finished. Review progress on priorities consistently with your team. Be ready to adjust. Change happens every day at a rapid pace. Prepare your team members for shifting priorities by keeping them updated on any recent developments or company decisions that may impact their priorities. Virtual team members can easily get off track if priorities aren’t clear and progress isn’t regularly assessed. Keep in mind that your team members should only have one top priority at a time or else they’ll think everything is important, won’t understand what matters most, and will have difficulty deciding on where to focus. Always communicate to your team that although one person may be the expert assigned to complete a task or priority, the entire team is responsible for achieving it. This creates a shared team goal and support for team priorities, no matter where someone is located. What do you want your virtual team to be known for If your virtual team doesn’t have a good team brand or reputation from the get-go, changing poor first impressions can be an uphill battle. With a lack of face-to-face interactions, social outings (where team members can get to know each other), or personal contact with others, after your team has lost credibility, your virtual team leader and all team members will need to work hard to regain it. That’s why I recommend that in collaboration with your team members, you discuss and agree on what you want to be known for or what you want others — whether it’s other teams, customers, vendors, or the CEO — to say about you. Maybe your team wants to be known as the go-to experts or the fastest problem solvers in the west. Whatever it is, discuss and agree as a team on how you all can achieve this recognition in every interaction and with every opportunity.

View Article
How to Create Your Remote Worker Brand

Article / Updated 10-31-2018

Building your virtual brand, otherwise knows as You, Inc., is an area that you want to give time and attention to developing strategically. You have a digital footprint that follows you everywhere you go, no matter where you are located in the world. Ask yourself these important questions: Does it represent you in the best way possible? Will it help you land your next remote job role and get you paid what your worth? Gone are the days where your resume proved that you were the best person for the job within 50 miles of your office. As a virtual worker, you have to be the best person for the job in your entire state, time zone, and possibly the world. Virtual job opportunities by their nature create a more competitive environment. Your location, the way you position yourself, and your virtual brand aren’t relevant. What’s key is that you actively develop, manage, and grow your virtual brand with the intention to land your dream job. The following sections discuss the key parts of your brand — your resume, portfolio, and online presence — and what you can do to make them stand out. Rework your resume as a virtual team member Almost every job you apply for will request that you submit your resume electronically either by email, by Internet job boards, or on the company’s website. You need to know that many companies search their database of resumes for keywords related to the skills and experience for which they’re looking. As a result, modify your resume, remove formatting for ease of submission into any database, and include keywords that can help you jump to the front of the line for any search teams related to the position you want. Here are tips when rebuilding your resume that can help you land your next virtual job: Load your resume with keywords related to the position(s) you are interested in. Carefully read the job ad and description to identify important keywords; many times employers repeat them more than once. Research several virtual opportunities and make a list of the keywords they mention in their ads. You can then rewrite your resume and include those keywords if you have the skills and experience required for the job. Focus on your accomplishments beyond the day-to-day tasks you do in your job. No one cares about your job responsibilities; they care about what you did that was extraordinary or how you took initiative. For example, if you’ve reduced expenses, led a major project, landed a huge client, or improved a process, highlight the financial impacts, time saved, or increases in efficiency. Here are a few questions to help you capture your accomplishments: What were you most known for in your last job? Is there anything you could do better than anyone else? What was it? How much better did you do it? Are there examples of projects where you were given an impossible deadline, problem, or issue and experienced success? Build your virtual team portfolio In addition to a resume, if you’re poised and ready to go after the next virtual job opportunity, you also need to have a portfolio. A portfolio provides evidence that you’ve actually successfully done what you’ve listed in your resume. It shows samples of your work that demonstrate quality, level of expertise, and attention to detail; furthermore, a portfolio showcases your personal approach. Portfolios can be assembled and printed for face-to-face meetings, but it’s far more common today to use a digital online portfolio that can be part of your personal website, LinkedIn profile, or blogspace. Here are some steps to putting together your portfolio: Decide what to showcase. People who design creative works usually don’t have any problem, but if your accomplishments are nonvisual, consider showcasing brainstorming sessions, progress updates, or a blog post about the problem you faced and the solution. You can also build a simple infographic that points out a process in which you were involved. Only pick the best examples. Showcase only your best of the best even if it’s just five examples. I made the mistake of posting videos of my early training days online. They were poor quality and honestly, and I wasn’t that good. Keep your portfolio simple. Make your portfolio easy to navigate with clear headings about what you’re highlighting. Consider putting projects into categories so employers who view your portfolio don’t waste time trying to find something specific. Be clear about what kind of work you want and how to contact you. Clearly state the specific kind of work you’re seeking, and make sure you provide a clear way to reach you. For example, “I’m looking to join a cohesive team that needs an innovator who can analyze trends and quickly generate new revenue stream ideas. Please email me at [email protected]” Share what makes you special. Include a brief video or picture collage. Make a statement about who you are and why potential employer would want you on its team. Your portfolio is only a part of your bigger brand. Your resume, work experience, testimonials, and web presence are just as important. Establish your online presence as a virtual team member In today’s job market, particularly if you want to be a virtual go-to person, having an online presence is a must. Your online presence, which includes everything from your social media footprint (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn), says a whole lot about you. Because people make assumptions about things like your reliability, ability to communicate, professionalism, trustworthiness, and even cultural fit by checking out your personal sites, profiles, social media, blog posts and more, making sure your online presence represents you truthfully and completely is so important. Here are some ways you can create an online presence that stands out and represents you: Build a personal website to share with potential employers. If you’re in development, design, engineering, marketing, or any job where you need to showcase your work to be competitive, a personal website that includes your resume and portfolio is the way to go. Highlight your experience and spotlight your best qualities. Use a simple landing page and break down your resume into key areas such as your bio, work experience, portfolio of examples, education, testimonials, and more. You don’t need to hire a professional web designer. Many professional, easy-to-use sites, such as www.squarespace.com, www.godaddy.com, and www.wix.com, are available. Just search online. Be consistent with your virtual brand. Make sure that what people see on your personal website or in your portfolio is the same brand they will see if they visit your Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, or Instagram. If your goal is to be seen as a thought leader in marketing, recruiting, computer programming, or AI technology, then focus on creating blog posts, making comments, and writing articles that showcase your knowledge. Do a collateral review of anything about you online and determine what needs a refresh or an overhaul. Keep your personal social media private from your professional online presence. A good general rule: Live by the motto that what happens in Vegas should stay in Vegas and not online for the world to see. Remove or refresh anything online that doesn’t position you in that light. For example, carefully scrutinize personal photos from your best friends’ wedding, guys’ fishing trip, or girls’ weekend that could tarnish your online credibility and reputation. Engage with any company or people who you want to find out more about or potentially work for. For example, share a recent accomplishment or featured news story about a company that you’re following and add your thoughts about what makes the company a great place to work. Tag the company profile so it shows up on its feed. Potential employers who plan to hire you without ever meeting you in person are going to do their due diligence and see what you’re up to online. They will look at your posts and check out what and whom you follow, comment on, and even like. That’s why you want to take your online presence seriously and build your brand the right way because it will influence their decision to hire you. Keep current on the latest communication and collaboration tools If you’re making every effort to experience success in a virtual work situation, make sure you’re in the know about the latest trends in virtual technology. Employers are keen on understanding your level of comfort with different technology, but more importantly, they’re interested if you have an open mindset to learning new technology. Here are some tips for staying one step ahead of the ever-changing technology you’ll most likely use as a virtual team member: Read. Make it a habit to read at least one to two articles, blog posts, or whitepapers each week on tech trends related to virtual collaboration, communication, or project management. Network. Join online community groups or attend virtual conferences where you can connect with other virtual workers and hear about what technology and tools are shaping their work experiences. Invest. Attend conferences and seek out online courses, tutorials, or webcasts where you can get find out about the latest technologies. Volunteer. Sometimes the best way to discover something new is to jump in and start using it. Search for volunteer groups that use virtual technology to connect and collaborate. Doing so is great way to experiment with collaboration tools to prepare you for the next opportunity and give back to your community. Shop for virtual worker–friendly clientele If you’re searching for your next virtual opportunity, look no further than FlexJobs for the top companies with virtual work. They represent the innovators that are leading the way for virtual work around the world. Not only do these companies support virtual work, they embrace and promote it as a culture. Research this list of companies and the jobs that they have available. This is a great place to find the kinds of jobs top companies want to fill with virtual employees. Identify key skills they’re looking for, the keywords to add to your resume, and the most important characteristics they want. Align yourself with companies that you believe in and cultures that value their virtual employees. Research their values and why what they do matters to their employees, their clients, and their community. Finding a company that interests you and you’re passionate about makes it easier to start the conversation about your next virtual opportunity. Focus on healthy work-life balance as a virtual worker Work-life balance is an odd term because in my opinion there isn’t ever truly a separation of work from your life. Rather, work is part of your life. For me finding balance relates to the dynamic relationship between the achievement of reaching your goals and the fulfillment you get and the positive or negative influences that either support you or distract you. Influences can be external like friends, family, finances, coworkers, your boss, your neighbors, your house, and so on. Internal influences are things like your mindset, habits, thoughts, perspectives, beliefs, and emotions. Finding a sense of balance doesn’t magically happen. Achieving a healthy work-life means making a commitment to frequently assess what is having a positive influence for you as a virtual team member and reducing or eliminating the things that aren’t.

View Article
Do You Have a Virtual Workspace That Works?

Article / Updated 10-31-2018

Your virtual work environment can look different depending on the project you’re working on, your role, your remote working agreement, your company policies, and your living situation. You have several options when working virtually (at home, in a coffee shop, hoteling with your employer, and more). Every environment offers pros and cons and can influence what you’ll consider, what you’ll propose to your boss, or what the next type of virtual opportunity you’ll pursue. Home office needs for virtual team workers Many virtual workers chose to work from home. If this option is for you, you have several home office needs to consider. Think about where can you carve out a space that is private and quiet when needed and doesn’t interfere with what your roommates or family is doing. Arranging your home office can be tricky, but with a little creative thinking, you can usually make it work. Here are several essentials and a few nonessentials to make room for when scoping out a workspace in your home: Work desk: Your can work on a kitchen table or a makeshift table as long as you can limit distractions and it’s comfortable to sit at for six to eight hours per day. Seventeen years ago, my first desk was a piece of wood, propped up by two crates in the corner of my bedroom. I sat cross-legged on the floor to work. Of course, I don’t recommend doing this, but I was determined to work from home and did whatever was necessary to make it work. (Waking up at 6 a.m. and checking emails did create issues with my husband.) Computer desk: If you need a larger workspace for writing, drawing, or design work, you may need a separate computer desk or a standing desk. Computer or laptop: Your employer usually supplies your computer or you need to purchase your own as a freelancer. Depending on the type of work you do, you may need an additional larger screen so you can always have more than one window open at a time. Phone: You need a cell phone that gets good service. Furthermore, having a separate work phone and dedicated work number may be helpful. Depending on where you live, you may need to consider getting a backup mode of communication, such as a landline to ensure uninterrupted service, particularly for your conference calls, particularly if voiceover Internet protocol (VOIP) doesn’t work. Internet service: Reliable Internet is one of the most important things you need to work from home and can be a deal breaker if it’s not effective. You may need to upgrade your Internet service to ensure you have the fastest and most reliable speeds available. Frequent videoconferencing may require that you connect to your modem using an Ethernet cord so you don’t lose video connection. Be sure to check what is offered in your area. Printer/scanner: Most likely you need a printer available when working from home as well as a scanner to scan important documents to your company, clients, manager, or teammates. Filing cabinets: If you’re not storing everyone on the cloud, you most likely need filing cabinets that are fireproof or that you can lock up to keep important documents. Office chairs: If clients ever meet at your home office, you need somewhere for them to sit. Bookshelves: Keep in mind that you’ll need to have somewhere to store your work or you’ll eventually be living with piles all around you. Keep your workspace tidy and efficient by using files and bookshelves to organize materials. Lighting: Make sure that the lighting in your office makes the workspace feel inviting and allows you to see your entire workspace clearly. Workspace lighting should include natural light, overhead, and task lighting. Natural light during the day is best and helps with your mindset. However, most virtual workers I know also work in the evenings, so having lighting that illuminates your workspace properly is important to steer clear of eye strain and headaches that can keep you awake. If you’re lucky enough to have a dedicated office space in your home, keep in mind that it should make a good impression about the company and you. For example, a dreary basement office isn’t conducive to creative thinking or warm and welcoming for clients. If your office is in a busy area of your home, consider investing in some noise-cancelling headphones to reduce any unwanted sounds. Furthermore, when working from home, having good organizational skills is a must or you’ll quickly discover your work is spread out all over your house. Keep your space organized, have a place for supplies that is easily accessible, and institute a good filing system to keep track of your top priorities and projects. A messy desk makes focusing difficult. Each week, take time to organize your desk and manage filing. On a quarterly basis, go through magazines, articles, and other must-read items you have. If you can find the same information online whenever you actually need it, toss it. Annually, plan to clean your files, bookshelves, and office supplies and get rid of anything that you don’t use frequently enough. How hoteling works for virtual team members Hoteling has been a rising trend to cut office expenses and improve collaboration among coworkers and teams. Hoteling provides temporary workspace in the office, such as a cubicle, conference room, or open collaboration areas that employees or teams reserve for a short period of time. Studies show that traditional office space is only 50 percent utilized on average due to sick time, vacation days, and travel; hoteling works effectively for companies that already have people working virtually one to three days a week. Hoteling requires you to use an online reservation system to search and reserve a space in the office for the day, and you never have the same dedicated office space. This trend has helped to improve collaboration between virtual coworkers, save cost, and allow companies to spend money on other important investments like technology, software, or hiring. If you’re considering virtual work and your company offers hoteling as an option, give it a try. Upsides to hoteling Hoteling can be a great fit if you want to work virtually part time and with others in the office part time. It offers several benefits to both companies and employees as long as you approach hoteling with clear goals, expectations, and an open mind. Some pros associated with hoteling include the following: Cost savings: Companies benefit from significant cost savings due to space utilization, which, as a result, allows them to grow without renting or purchasing more office space. It also permits them to invest in more important things like people, technology, and research. Project collaboration: Hoteling can be perfect for collaboration on specific projects because you get to choose where you sit and what team members you sit by. Project teams can reserve an area together, such as a conference room to bang out a project or to solve an issue on a development initiative. Team building: Teams can hotel on the same day by reserving an open collaboration area and work side by side for the day. It allows team members to know each other personally when most of the team works remotely and engage with each other on a more personal level. Quiet time/privacy: If you’re in the office and need focused work time, you can move if you need to and find a more quiet or private space to work. Downsides to hoteling Here are some cons associated with hoteling: Difficulty locating people: Depending on the size of your company, finding people can be difficult. Because each space is assigned a number, you could roam the halls searching for someone’s hotel space and waste a lot of time in the process. Lack of cleanliness: People can be dirty. Leftover food, wrappers, and even dirty dishes in a hotel space are common complaints. Loss of belonging and personal space: When hoteling, you don’t get a space to call your own that you decorate with pictures of your kids, hobbies, and favorite vacations. It can seem impersonal and lonely. Issues with having a mobile office: Be prepared to lug around your work because you don’t have a desk or drawers. Packing and unpacking can be time consuming and it’s easy to lose something. However, some offices provide employees with a locker so they don’t continually have to bring work back and forth from home. Security concerns: There’s a greater risk of security violations or information getting into the wrong hands when employees are regularly moving sensitive documents from one place to another. How to be a successful hoteler: What to do If your company offers hoteling or you’re considering working for someone that does, here are a few things to keep in mind to be a successful hoteler: Be proactive. Plan to hotel strategically and in a way that supports your goals. With what team member do you need to build a better relationship? What project do you need more involvement? What space supports you in doing your best work? What space provides you with natural light next to a window? Set reminders to book your space in advance, depending on your goals. Promote team building. If you’re located in the same city, encourage your team members to book a common area or conference room on the same day each month and use those opportunities to do a little team building. Suggest that out-of-town team members fly in quarterly to hotel onsite with the team. Build cross-functional relationships. Thoughtfully reserve space next to someone in another department that you should know better. Offer to go to lunch together to discuss insights about a recent project or idea that the company is launching. Break down cultural barriers. Hold yourself accountable. Clean up after yourself and think of the person who will sit there after you. Encourage your company to provide cleaning supplies for each hotel space. Zen out. Occasionally, you’ll end up in a hotel space that’s double booked. Work together with your space mate to come up with a plan or look for other options. Treat people with respect and kindness. Mistakes happen. Virtual workspaces around the world You may have the opportunity to work all anywhere in the world as a virtual team member. Keep in mind that not all coffee shops, libraries, or other places where you can set up shop may be conducive to getting your work done efficiently and on time. You need to scope out a workspace wherever you plan to live that has strong and consistent Internet. If you’ll be on team calls and occasional meetings, assess the noise levels or if you have access to a private room or area where you can have a productive conversation. Research these considerations ahead of time so that you’ll have a workspace where you can set you up for success as a virtual worker.

View Article
FlexJobs: The State of Virtual (Remote) Work

Article / Updated 10-31-2018

If you’ve ever searched for a job with a flexible work schedule, you know that there are a lot of too-good-to-be true listings and just plain scams. Sorting through all the junk postings makes it hard for anyone to find the truly great flex jobs that are available. Ten years ago, FlexJobs was created to solve this problem. By vetting the job opportunities, FlexJobs is now connecting thousands of people seeking flexible schedule jobs with companies seeking flexible employees. Everyone wins. Along the way, FlexJobs has become a leader in the flexible job movement. here is Brie Weiler Reynolds's, Senior Career Specialist at FlexJobs, take on the state of flexible jobs. What are the trends for flexible work? “More growth! All indications say that we will continue to see more — more people demanding flexible work schedules and more companies seeing the value to having flexible employees. Remote work has grown 115 percent in the last ten years, and it will continue to grow. For people currently working in the office, they’ll have more opportunities to try out a flexible work schedule for one to two days a week. We’ll probably also see baby boomers delaying retirement by seeking flexible work as a way to be active.” What’s driving growth today? “Ten years ago the biggest single driver of remote work was technology. Employees could dial in from anywhere and everyone had mobile phones. Now you have Millennials making a statement in the workforce — they have grown up with technology and connectivity their whole lives. They want to work when and where they want to work and, most importantly, they see it as a standard way of working — not a perk to be earned. This generational shift will drive the trend in the coming years.” What do remote workers need to know? “There are a lot of things first-time remote workers need to know, from how to set up your office, the best products to have, and how to set boundaries and use technology so you can work efficiently. For great advice on taxes and insurance, we work with an advocacy group called 1 Million for Work Flexibility, and they have great advice and a community of experts to help. Or check out the blog where we have a lot of great information for freelancers and contract workers.” What do you say to the naysayers? “Every time a major company speaks out against the benefits of telecommuting we revisit this issue. The reality is, it’s pretty rare. Since 2013, we’ve seen six to seven major companies pull back — and in that same time, hundreds of companies have started or grown their remote programs. The success and growth of flexible work options far outweighs the impact of a few large companies who step away from it. In these cases, there is usually something else going on at the company, like a drop in overall performance, lack of product development, management turnover — it’s not that telecommuting is the problem.”

View Article
page 1
page 2
page 3