For some people, working from home can seem like a dream opportunity. But they may not realise that this kind of position comes with a great amount of responsibility and challenges. Since these employees are not working in a centralised 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. It is important be able to stay motivated in your ‘home office’ while still feeling connected to the rest of the team.

Core Skills

As with any job position, certain skills and abilities are needed to be a successful teleworker and 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.

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 own 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, it is important that you are 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 have the knowledge of good time management skills and methods, but may need a reminder on how to use them.

Setting Expectations with Family and Friends

All teleworkers or virtual team members work in some sort of home office. This can prove beneficial to employees who cannot travel or want to stay close their family, but it can also cause a problem if the employee cannot separate business from personal matters.  Speak with your loved ones and people in the house or sharing an office and create some ground rules for when they are at work. Many employees have a set number of hours that they work, so a ground rule can be that you are not to be disturbed during this time and cannot leave the work area. Just as if you were in a regular office, company hours should not be used to make personal calls or errands and should be task oriented and job focused. Your manager may not need to become directly involved in the rules and guidelines you set with your friends and family, but it is important to keep them in the loop so they can support this process.

Tips:

  • Encourage employees to establish home and work guidelines with friends and family
  • Explain the need for structure in the office, even if it is at home
  • Offer assistance when it is needed

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