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Mindset Shifts for Virtual Work Success

Love it or not, remote work has suddenly gone mainstream. Out of necessity born of the COVID-19 virus, companies are turning to virtual solutions to keep workers active, engaged and above all, safe.

As an experienced leader who has worked remotely for many years, I understand both sides of the virtual work argument. Yet the evidence is strong: Put simply, working remotely works. However, effectively working or leading in a virtual world requires mindset shifts for leaders as well as employees. Here are a few:

Three Mindset Shifts for Leaders:

  1. Assume the best: By far, most working adults want to do a good job and contribute to the organization’s success. Trust your virtual workers to do exactly that and let them know it.

  2. Set clear expectations: Tell your team member exactly what's expected, when it’s needed and why its important. Establish measurable results directly connected to the employee’s work. When working remotely, results matter much more than “time in seat”.

  3. Communicate: Informally check in; also schedule mutually convenient times to ask genuine, open-ended questions such as “How can I support you?” or “What is one challenge you’ve faced that you didn’t expect?” Schedule video chats if you can; there is power in visual connection between humans.

Three Mindset Shifts for Employees:

  1. Mind the boundaries: The same focus and attention to detail that that you apply at the worksite will contribute to your success in a virtual arrangement. On the other hand, the lines between work and home life can be easily blurred, resulting in overwork or dissatisfaction. Decide with your leader exactly what’s expected, and collaborate on the right work schedule for your role.

  2. Keep in touch: Out of sight, out of mind is a phrase that rings true for virtual workers. Yet communication is two-way. If you’re feeling out of touch, call, IM or reach out to connect with your leader or team members. Check in often with your leader to ensure that you’re delivering exactly what’s expected.

  3. Commit to full transparency: Manage breaks and distractions the same way you would in the office. If a problem pops up requiring you to step away from work for a while, ensure that someone knows about it. The best employers understand that life happens, and transparency goes a long way toward building the trust that makes for a successful virtual work experience.

Remote work can be a powerful tool for employee retention, job satisfaction, and yes, even for productivity. Approach it with the right mindset and you’re well on the way to success!

Additional Resources:

Ibis Coaching is offering a free workshop on Effectively Managing Virtual Workers for leaders and HR professionals, on Friday, March 20, 12 noon – 1:00 pm. The program grants 1.0 SHRM PDC. Click here to register.

Since professional development shouldn’t stop when working remotely, we’re offering virtual group coaching in two tracks – one for leaders and one for team members. Fees are heavily discounted to support organizations during this challenging time. Contact to learn more.

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