The last time we checked in, I spoke of how we are in an interim period in terms of returning to the workplace. Some people are starting to return to the office with protocols in place for social distancing, limited occupancy, and increased sanitation. Some continue to telework full-time. Still others fall somewhere in between – a hybrid approach. In terms of telework, I feel like we are still all over the place. Some workplaces that had already gone back to the office have even recently transitioned back to full-time remote work. No matter where you fall, these friendly pointers from Miss Telework Manners may be helpful to you. In this installment, I offer solutions to two additional challenges you may be facing during these unpredictable times. Read on!
Telework Tips for the Extrovert
Dear Miss Telework Manners: Everyone seems to love remote working…that is, everyone except me! I feel so isolated on a professional level by mandatory telework. I used to love nothing more than sitting at a conference table with my colleagues working on a project. I feel like telework is not allowing me to grow professionally. Not to mention, I miss hearing what is going on in the lives of my coworkers - the water-cooler type of interaction that an office allows for. Is there anything I can do until I can return to my office?
-- The Office Social Butterfly
Dear Office Social Butterfly:
While you may feel alone while teleworking, you are certainly not alone in your thoughts about remote working. Many others feel the same as you. Here are some ideas that may help you to feel less professionally isolated:
- Regular contact through instant messages, email, phone calls, and virtual meetings is essential. This seems so obvious but you would be surprised how many people are hesitant to reach out to people who are working remotely because they don’t what to “bother” them. Nonsense! Most of us are working remotely. If it is during business hours, bother away.
- Videoconferencing is your friend for collaboration. I understand how productive it is to sit at a conference table and spread your papers out and work on a project with your coworkers. Videoconferencing can be just as helpful. I actually prefer videoconferencing for this type of collaboration because everyone can look at the same document and can edit it in real time. Now that’s productive.
- Set aside time for small talk. During this time of mandatory telework, it is important to set aside time for water-cooler type interactions that can be otherwise lost. An easy way to accomplish this is by allowing five or so minutes at the beginning of a virtual meeting to give everyone time to interact.
- Participate in an online webinar or another type of socially distant training. Just because you have to work remotely doesn’t mean you cannot continue to sharpen your skills. During this time, many places are offering web-based training options. You may even find a really great one in your field for free.
- Consider a virtual coffee meeting. This can be a great way to catch up on your coworkers’ projects as well as to maintain relationships.
Hope these tips work for you. Hang in there!
Think Before You Click “Send”
Dear Miss Telework Manners: I am a manager of a medium-sized department. I work long hours and when I think of something that I want to convey to an employee, I send an email or text. Sometimes this falls outside of business hours. I figure if it is not urgent, they can just respond the next work day. I have a friend who is also a manager who told me that I am being inconsiderate in doing so. I don’t see how that is inconsiderate. I am not expecting them to respond if it is outside of work hours. What do you think?
-- Trying to Be the World’s Best Boss
Dear World’s Best Boss:
I know that working from home might cause you to fire off a message whenever you think of something you want to convey to a coworker. I am guilty of this from time to time myself. However, when you are in a leadership role, you may want to think twice about sending a non-urgent message to an employee outside of business hours. Doing so may affect the employee’s ability to decompress and unwind. If you are worried you will lose your thought, perhaps draft an email but schedule the message to be delivered during work hours. Hope that helps!
I hope you have found this week’s tips both helpful and enjoyable. Here’s wishing everyone a productive and healthy work environment, wherever that may be! Be safe and well, everyone!